A CPI(ML) Weekly News Bulletin
Vol. 4; No. 2; 9-1-2001
In this issue :
In our last issue we wrongly reported that the martyred Com. Birsing Timung was a member of Karbi Anglong Autonomous District Council. Inconvenience due to the error regretted. - Ed.
Defying the chill of January's wintry weather, political temperature in West Bengal has begun to rise with the beginning of the new year. Yet another TMC show of strength, yet another Bangla bandh, yet another NDA 'fact-finding mission', once again a shrill clamour for imposition of Article 356. At the heart of the new round of controversy lies the allegation of a massacre in Chhoto Anguria village of Garbeta block in terror-stricken Midnapur district of West Bengal. While the TMC cries foul against the CPI(M)'s politics of terror and violence, the district and state administration appeared bent upon dismissing the whole event as a figment of TMC's bankrupt political imagination. Meanwhile, the PWG has claimed that the victims belonged to the pro-PWG Mazdur-Kisan Sangram Samiti.
The pattern seems predictably familiar. Violence was a major component of the TMC's anti-CPI(M) crusade in Midnapur and the Mamata brigade had managed to inflict heavy blows on the fabled election machinery of its well-entrenched adversary. The TMC's victory in Panskura by-election had sent shockwaves through the CPI(M) organisation in Midnapur. And the response came in the form of a campaign of counter-violence. In Sushanta Ghosh, deputy minister for transport, the CPI(M) discovered a new 'hero' who spearheaded the CPI(M) campaign of 'recovering' the Midnapur villages. Meanwhile, her irresponsible politicking over the unprecedented Bengal floods and the overused gimmick of resignation had begun to eat into Mamata's stocks and it looked as though the TMC wave, which is largely based on a growing negative reaction to the omissions and commissions of the Left Front's nearly quarter century old rule, had begun to recede.
Now the Garbeta carnage has only served to refuel the Mamata offensive in West Bengal. It will however be a mistake to see the whole thing in the context of a CPI(M) vs TMC tussle for power. Moreover, West Bengal cannot be indifferent to the manner in which the two parties conduct this tussle. If Bengal cannot brook the TMC's bid to upstage the Left Front government through organised fascist terror or central intervention, it cannot condone such cold-blooded acts of retailiatory or pre-emptive violence on the part of the CPI(M) either.
Violence in the West Bengal countryside has been simmering for quite some time, and even apart from its antagonism with the TMC, the CPI(M)'s track record in this regard has been quite dubious. It is now well known that the influential and powerful sections of the rural rich have entrenched themselves in the CPI(M) and the panchyat system, and the incidence of violence to stop any kind of dissent in the countryside has a strong social or class dimension to it. We have not forgotten the Karanda massacre in May 1993 when five agricultural labourers were burnt alive on the panchayat election day for the simple reason that they had grown disillusioned with the CPI(M) and had crossed over to the CPI(ML). The Suchpur killing in Birbhum last year was also a clear case of massacre of agricultural labourers. And regardless of the number and political affiliation of the victims in Garbeta, by all accounts it is yet another case of slaughter of the rural poor.
Let there be an independent judicial enquiry into the Garbeta carnage. The onus of locating the dead lies squarely with the administration and so far the role of the administration has been quite suspect. The CPI(M) and TMC cannot be allowed to play with the lives of rural poor. And in any case, we cannot let the truth become a casualty. Let the bitter truth come out in all its gory detail. The cause of the oppressed, the cause of people's democracy and social progress, demands nothing but the full truth.
Party General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya sent a letter on 9 January to the President of India on the grim situation regarding lack of communal harmony in the newly created state of Jharkhand. Following are the excerpts from the letter :
"It has not yet been two months since the newly created state of Jharkhand came into being. But the new state has already witnessed a rapid deterioration in the situation in terms of communal harmony."
Citing the incidents in Bokaro Steel City and of rape and assault on a Christian missionary school at Kurppania in Bokaro Thermal, the letter says: "The new chief minister did not have the sensitivity to visit the place and provide any kind of succour to the victims. Instead his government started working overtime to deny the very incident. This cover-up mission however stands fully exposed now. "
Next citing the incident of police firing on the day of Eid on 28 December in Ranchi following the crushing of a girl by a BMP truck, the letter says: "Instead of trying to pacify the agitated masses, the police opened fire, shooting down three, injuring several others, and leaving an entire community and all peace-loving citizens shell-shocked. Even as the administration smugly defends and dismisses the incident, senior officials of the police and CRPF are now locked in an open quarrel apportioning blames for this firing. Following the subsequent expiry of the DSP of Hatia, Mr. UC Jha, who had played a key role in communalising the event by calling upon Hindu bystanders to flee before opening fire, the police have begun to systematically harass and persecute innocent youth in Muslim-inhabited neighbourhoods of Ranchi. "
Asserting that all this suggested a systematic pattern of communalisation, the letter says that "given the delicate social composition of this new state, this consequences of such communalisation cannot but be extremely worrying." Demanding the President's urgent intervention "to correct the course and send out the message that such communalisation will not be tolerated" the letter demanded "independent judicial enquiries to ensure justice and restore people's confidence."
Criticising the appointment of Mr. Prabhat Kumar, an accused of the Babri Masjid demolition case, as the Governor of the new state, letter says that "this has only emboldened the communal forces and all who abuse the law from. All peace-loving secular-minded people of Jharkhand therefore expressed their strong disapproval of having an Ayodhya accused as the first Governor of Jharkhand. On 6 December, 2000, the eighth anniversary of independent India's darkest day of shame, the whole of Jharkhand reverberated with resounding cries of "Prabhat Kumar, Go Back".
Reiterating the demand for removal of Mr. Prabhat Kumar as Governor of Jharkhand, the letter says that
"The creation of a separate state of Jharkhand has fulfilled a long-felt demand of the people in this region. The new state already has more than its share of problems. We will hate to see a Jharkhand afflicted with the communal cancer. We hope you will do all you can to save this new state from the looming communal danger and uphold the banner of secularism and people's harmony in the mosaic that is Jharkhand."
Bhilai Industrial Area Party Conference was held at Khursipar in Bhilai town of Durg district in Chhattisgarh on 5 January. Out of 45 delegates invited to attend the conference 35 including 3 women delegated attended the conference. Com. Swadesh Bhattacharya, PB member was central observer. Com. Rajaram, CCM in charge of Chhattisgarh was also present. Com. Shambhu Singh presented the work report on behalf of the outgoing committee in which a review of Party activities in past two years including participation in legislative assembly election, role in trade union work, local democratic issues and the recent "Strengthen the Party" campaign. The conference decided on the new tasks and elected an Industrial Area Committee which elected Com. Shambhu Singh as its secretary.
Forum for Democratic Initiatives, Delhi held a seminar on "Anti-poor operation in Delhi: An agenda for democratic intervention" at Gandhi Peace Foundation Hall on 8 January. It was attended by around hundred people. Com. Rajendra Pratholi, Staate Committee Secretary of CPI(ML), Dunu Roy of Sanjha Manch, JP Singh of Forward Bloc, Harish Tyagi of SUCI, Mrigendra of CPI(ML)-New Democracy, Rajendra Mittal of Samajwadi Jan Parishad and Vidya Shankar of Loktantrik Samajwadi Party spoke on the occasion addressing . Rajesh Tyagi presided over the seminar conducted by Prakash Chaudhury. Convenor Ravindra Sharma offered vote of thanks.
Almost all speakers felt that the grim situation created by the high-handedness of the government and the Supreme Court in favour of the eletes demands coming together on a common platform to fight the demolition of small scale industries. They blamed government's subservience to globalisation for the present tragedy. Com. Pratholi said that it was a political issue and cannot be dealt at trade union level so all political forces opposed to globalisation should come together on this issue.
Observing Party's national call "Lootera Bhagao Krishi Bachao"(OUST looters,Save agriculture), Party's Bihar State Committee and Bihar Pradesh Kisan Sabha organised Padyatras (marches on foot) in all the blocks of the state from 3 to 8 January, which was widely welcomed by the peasants. More than 900 teams undertook these padyatras in 300 blocks of 30 districts of the state, in which, apart from leaders and cadres, more than 20,000 peasants also took part.
During the padyatras, small sittings, street corner meetings etc. were held at squares, schools and baazars in each village. The padyatras culminated in dharnas at block headquarters throughout the state on 9 January.
The whole campaign including padyatra and dharna was lauched to protest the anti-peasant, anti-agriculture attitude of the central and state governments and press the demand to open up adequate number of purchasing centres to buy foodgrains at support price from the peasants and start "food for work" scheme.
The padyatra was inaugurated by Com. Ram Jatan Sharma, Secretary of Bihar State Party Committee and Com. Nand Kishor Prasad, Polit Bureau member at Champaran on 3 January. Those who took part in padyatras in various districts include PB member Com. Ram Naresh Ram, CCmembers Com. Pawan Sharma, KD Yadav, Saroj Chaube and Arun Kumar, Party and BPKS leaders including Com. Rameshwar Prasad, General Secretary of Bihar Pradesh Khet Maazdoor Sabha, Comrades Amarnath Yadav, Satyadev Ram, Nandji Ram, Akhilesh, Rajendra Patel, Shashi Yadav, Ravishankar Ram, Meena Tiwari, Dhirendra Jha, Shivpujan Yadav, Satya Narain, Nand Kumar Nanda, Dinanath Mehta, Shambhunath Mehta, Ram Narain Mehta and Rajaram Singh, Convenor of Bihar Pradesh Kisan Sabha.
All the left parties including CPI, CPI(M), Forward Bloc, SUCI, MCPI, RSP have also resolved to carry on a sustained militant campaign against the anti-peasant attitude of central and state governments. Under the joint programme, dharnas will be held at all district headquarters in the state and street corner meetings will be held on 15 and 16 January. It has also been resolved to observe Bihar bandh on 17 January.
As propaganda material for this campaign, Party State Committee pulished a 2-page folder on the agrarian crisis and distributed 10,000 copies.
The 14th round of 'Janambhoomi' programme during which Chandrababu Naidu govt. offered one lakh LPG connections and rice coupons to destitutes under 'Annapoorna' scheme was greeted with opposition protest pointing out that the government has failed in ensuring minimum support price to farmers. Thus the government action amounted to first making a beggar out of a farmer and them offering him alms.
In East Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, the government nicknamed the Janambhoomi programme as "Raitha Janambhoomi Programme", one especially for peasants. The Left parties had decided to gherao the ministers and officers and question them when they hold meetings in the villages. In this course, while a meeting of the Chief Minister was going on in Cherabrolu village on 6 January, a militant protest was organised by theParty. An altercation began between Com. Arjun Rao and the Chief Minister, in which the Chief Minister was heckled and openly criticised. Shortly after Com. Arjun Rao was caught by police and beaten up. As Com. Mariyamma was proceeding on her way to attend the meeting, she was also arrested. On the same day another local committee president was arrested. Com. Kumari was arrested and kept in a lockup. This was followed by raids on most of the houses of our comrades.
The protest extended to 12 villages and in all two MLAs, two MPs, one minister and several officers were heckled in different pockets.
In Kottapadu village of Krishna district, the convoy of the Chairman of Marketing Committee was stopped and he was gheraoed by our comrades.
Around 50 peasants in Fadilpur village of Raiganj in North Dinajpur district of West Bengal launched a militant campaign on 22 Dec. 2000 to establish their right on 16 bighas of land for which pattas have been already issued in theri name but some anti-social elements patronised by CPI(M) had forcibly ousted the rightful owners from the land and kept it under their control. Some days back the peasants had cropped paddy from this land and now it was the time to sow. However, in this course they were attacked by the anti-social elements. But they resisted and the attackers after one hour of encounter ultimately had to flee.
Tribal leader Com. Dhena Soren,a veteran of many armed battles and a witness of ups and downs in the radical Left movement, breathed his last on 23 Dec., 2000 at the age of 75. A condolence meeting was held in his memory at Barua Narainpur village of North Dinajpur district of West Bengal, attended by large number of tribal and other peasant masses. It was presided by Com. Nagen Das. Com. Sahdev Das and Nirmal Debnath, local party leaders addressed the gathering.
In pursuance of "Garib bacahao, Delhi Bachao" (Save the Poor, Save Delhi) campaign launched by Party's Delhi State Committee, dharnas, demonstrations and processions are being brought out throughout Delhi from 5 to 20 January, 2001, representing militant protest to anti-worker, pro-elite polcies which are resulting in eviction of small scale industries and driving out millions out of employment in Delhi. In this course, "Vishwas Nagar Chalo" call was given by local area committe and a rally was brought out on 9 January. It was led by Party CC member Kumudini Pati and State Secretary Com. Rajendra Pratholi along with other state committee leaders. Also, one day dharna and mass meeting will be held at Aazadpur Chowk on 20 January and a dharna at Patparganj on 21 January.
If the one half percentage cut in the key interest rate rather than the customary quarter point by US Federal Reserve (Fed) surprised everybody, a quarter point cut in the secondary rate on the following day without waiting for the next month scheduled meeting of Federal Reserve Policy Committee sent panic waves. This had not taken place in the face of soaring oil prices, sliding economy and sluggish stock market in the past several months. It was more dramatic than the Fed response to Russian debt debacle in the midst of Asian financial turmoil. A financial crisis that Clinton described as the worst for 50 years. Moreover, it was the first half percentage cut in the key rate since 1992 following the early '90s recession.
The fading of euphoria following Fed's cut in a single day indicated to the chronic disease of the US economy which was more fundamental. On 4 January, old economy stocks lost 33.34% points while the new economy stocks shed 49.86% of the 324 points it had gained on the previous day. General Motors added to the gloom by announcing 20,000 lay-off at 8 plants amidst growing auto crisis.
What was the real cause behind the Federal cuts? The survey published a day before showed that the manufacturing fell much more sharply to the lowest since April '91. Service sector activity, which has so far offset the contraction in the manufacturing, slid to the lowest. Nasdaq, which deals with technology stocks, was down 55% comparing with last year. In the financial sector credit markets are drying up, market for initial public offering has more or less closed, past loans of banks have begun to turn bad loans. Monthly estimate of lay off among top US corporations tripled in one month (Nov. to Dec.) from 44,152 to 1,13,713 in De Canter. Nearly 5 lakh jobs have been wiped out over the last 6 months. Consumer confidence fell to its lowest, retail sales are much weaker, inventories building up and economy is suffering with over-production and under consumption.
All these evidence show that US is in the mode of falling into a sharp downturn, it is at the threshold of recession. Indian export to US will likely to decline, particularly its software export, exclusively to US. However, with the abolition of quantitative restrictions US overproduction will get an outlet at the expense of our national economy. If Bush administration persists on his proposed US$ 1300 bn. tax cut over the next decade as a prescription to the faltering US economy, RBI may be compelled to fall in line with Fed to cater the MNCs, unlike the time of East Asian crisis, because day by day the Vajpayee govt. is bringing the Indian economy more in convergence to US, which suits the latter.
The Changing International Climate
The year 1998 had been one more tumultous year in this era of great uncertainties. Amidst reigning chaos, however, one may discern, through a deeper probe, certain subterranean trends that are most likely to erupt in major upheavals with the turn of the century.
Till yesterday the apologists of globalisation boasted that the 'golden age' of capitalism has come to stay and that they had answers to all the problems of the world economy. But 1998 changed all this. With the collapse of the Asian Tiger economies and the crisis fast spreading to Latin America, the panic button has been pressed. Now the shadow of a worldwide recession are looming large and the policy makers at the IMF and the World Bank, unsure of themselves, are not coming forth with the usual prescriptions with any degree of confidence. Clueless about the cause and, therefore, of the solutions, global managers are hinting at various alternative options including the increased role of the state in economic planning. Till the other day this was anathema to the rabid proponents of neo-liberalism...
As a consequence of these debacles to the project of globalisation, the ideological and political climate of the world is changing once again. ...
The collapse of the UF and moreover, the failure to grow and worse still, the erosion of the base of CPI and CPI(M) in some states, have raised serious questions within them on tactics towards bourgeois opposition. Again there is a strong resentment on joining hands with the Congress. Sentiments of the overwhelming majority of the left ranks as expressed in their party congresses, were for the Left to unite and act independently. The slogan of left confederation, therefore, reflects the aspirations of the left ranks as well as that of the broad masses of the working people.
On the pretext of a crisis of Indian agriculture, owing to the increasing pressures from the WTO regime, social democrats are urging the rural poor to give up their struggle and rally behind the rich farmers. With similar arguments the anarchists too have floated a common platform with the rich farmers' organisations. This is a classic example of two extremes meeting at a common point.