mlupdate, no. 38, nov. 10, 199
Foil the Saffron Scheme of Price Rise and Privatisation
The NDA is about to complete the first month of its second term in office. The same old faces, the same old schemes, but this time around the saffron drive displays much greater speed and aggression.
The steep hike in diesel prices was the first indicator. Despite countrywide protests and resentment possibly also reflected in the BJP's failure to win any of the six last seats which went to the polls on Oct. 28 the NDA has refused to roll back the hike one bit. And all the NDA's state bosses, from Chautala to Mamata Bannerjee and Ram Vilas Paswan to Karunanidhi, as well as the Congress, the largest opposition party, nodded in approval.
Smarting under mounting allegations of corruption, the BJP has now bounced back with the CBI's chargesheet on the 13-year old Bofors scam. While the inclusion of the name of Rajiv Gandhi, the one-time Mr. Clean of the Congress, has understandably irked Sonia and her men, it is anybody's guess if the Hindujas, who are very close to the BJP's own Mr. Clean, will ever be booked. Meanwhile following the infamous IRDA bill seeking to throw open the country's crucial insurance business to foreign financial giants, we now have this declaration about the impending privatisation of the State Bank of India.
The NDA's brazen display of defiance is not confined to the economy. The HRD ministry is moving in top gear with its saffronisation plans defying protests from all corners. The same attitude marks the government's response to the cyclonic disaster suffered by Orissa. Mr. Vajpayee continues to refuse to declare the Orissa disaster a national calamity of unprecedented proportions.
The NDA is evidently in a hurry to push through as much of its saffron agenda as early as possible. It is perhaps guided by the old wisdom : "Make hay while the sun shines." It also obviously hopes to stun the people into submission with calculated display of speed and aggression.
The only way the people can beat back this sinister saffron strategy : Heat up this winter with the warmth of popular resentment and resistance. If November '98 had marked a high point of people's anger against the saffron offensive, let us try and take it higher in November '99. As the Lok Sabha begins its winter session on November 29, let us greet it with roaring protests all around.
Come Forward, Join Wholeheartedly Relief Work for Orissa Cyclone Victims
A national calamity of unprecedented scale has engripped Orissa. The disastrous cyclone, besides leaving tens of thousands dead, has rendered millions of people bereft of food, cloth and shelter. Added to it are epidemics threatening as many lives.
They need your help, your care.
Form cyclone relief committees, visit each and every door, arouse fellow feeling of the masses, collect money and material whatever is possible and send it all to Orissa.
All party committees and members must stand by the affected people of Orissa at this critical hour of national disaster.
Protest Against Hike in Diesel Price Continues
Black Flag Shown to Rajasthan Minister
Black Flags were shown to the Rajasthan Minister of Energy, Dr. Chandrabhan, against Electricity Reform Bill at Jhunjhunu on Oct. 30 by demonstrators who had earlier staged a dharna organised by Rajasthan Kisan Sangathan and Inquilabi Mazdoor Union at Jhunjhunu Collectorate on Oct. 28. Hundreds of agitating poor peasants demanded that the entire district be declared famine-hit, proper relief be provided to villagers and fodder to animals, hike in diesel price and increase in electricity tariff be withdrawn, minimum wages for agrarian labours be fixed at the rate of minimum Rs. 100 a day, guarantee of a minimum employment of 20-days a month for daily workers, etc. A ten-point charter consisting the above demands was submitted to the DM. Com. Phulchand Dhewa, secy. of Jhunjhunu district Party unit addressed the agitationists.
Dharna at Hazipur
A well attended dharna was staged at Hazipur, the district headquarters of Vaishali in Bihar on Nov. 4 and a 20-point memorandum was submitted to the DM. The dharna was addressed by the District Party Secretary Com. Yogendra Rai and others.
People Demand Ouster of BJP Misrule in UP
At a popular level, shocking reversals in states, like the one BJP faced in UP in the 13th Lok Sabha elections, are interpreted as people's verdict against the state government's misrule, the so-called 'anti-incumbency factor'. In media analysis, however, the crisis in UP is being portrayed as a fight between Kalyan Singh and Kalraj-Rajnath-Lalji nexus, or that between Adwani and Vajpayee camps. Thus overlooking people's role in the state the crisis has been reduced to a tug of war going on in the corridors of BJP leadership.
Is it not a fact that people at large in UP want to get rid not only of Kalyan Singh but the BJP rule itself? They are justified, because it is under this regime that the persons who swore to finish off bhay, bhookh and bhrastachar have set new records of atrocities on dalits and other oppressed people and corruption at high level. In dozens of places women were paraded naked and molested in public. It is this state where the largest number of mafia elements and history-sheeters were included in the ministry. It is here that the legislative assembly became the arena of open display of guns, dog-fight and heinous manoeuvres in which a good number of treasury legislators including the speaker, ministers and even the chief minister were involved. As the gravest assault over toiling people, factories were closed, workers were retrenched at a large scale, wages freezed, bonus were embezzled and all avenues of employment and development throttled by mafia. When workers took to road opposing all this, mafia-management and police ruthlessly attacked them. Human right and civil right movements became a thorn in the eyes of the government.
As a part of the wholesale privatisation campaign, commercialisation of education is in full swing. Primary and secondary level education is being given on contract. While fees have been steeply hiked, syllabi are been communalised. Sangh elements have been appointed as vice chancellors in Varanasi, Allahabad, Gorakhpur, Lucknow and Kumaon universities. And it this regime that tried to cast state machinery in utter communal and authoritarian mould, by letting the RSS chief address IAS officers and instruct them on style of work.
Against these misdeeds, not only workers and peasants but students, teachers and employees too have taken the path of agitation. Their objective is not limited to removal of Kalyan Singh, they want to settle score with BJP govt. itself. Progressive and democratic people of the state will not rest until they get rid of BJP misrule, a burden on their back.
IRDA Bill Flayed
There are reports of nationwide protest against IRDA bill not only by insurance employees federations and central trade unions but also by prominent citizens. Mr. Rajindar Sachar, former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court, said, "privatisation of insurance is a challenge to the sovereignty and economy of our country." Any attempt to pass the insurance bill will mean flouting the will of the electorate."... "What urgency or special considerations have motivated the new government to go for immediate privatisation of insurance? I can understand multinationals waiting greedily for a harvest of the vast investable funds of the LIC, which now stand at over Rs. 105 lakh crores", observed Mr. Sachar. He sees "BJP and the Congress(I), political rivals but partners in this scheme of global economy." He describes the new rules of globalisation as "A typical case of perverted priorities and lack of care for the underprivileged is manifest in the systematic government policies of demolition of the public sector, on the untenable plan of its being a drag on the national exchequer."
Indonesian Presidential Elections
On October 20, Abdur Rahman Wahid, Chairperson of Muslim association Nahdlatul Ulema, was elected President of Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim majority country, defeating Megawati Sokarnoputri, Chairperson of Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, by 60 votes, 363 to 303. A day later Megawati was elected vice president defeating Hamzah Haz, Chairperson of Muslim United Development Party and a member of Nahdlatul Ulema, by a margin of 142 votes in a 700-member People's Consultative Assembly. After defeating Megawati, Wahid himself proposed her name and the "Central Axis" parties supported her. A day before the elections President Habibie's vote of confidence on accountability speech was rejected by the house. Widespread rejection of Habibie's candidacy by the people and major newspapers, students' agitation on the demands of "Habibie out", "End dual power (political and military)" which peaked on October 17-19 contributed to undermining the support of Golkar Party. There couldn't be a candidate who was closely associated with Suharto. Habibie withdrew from the contest, General Wiranto too bowed out of the race for vice president. The house was divided into two blocs, one consisting the centrist forces, the ruling party and the military faction. The other consisted of Megawati's party and National Awakening Party, which emerged from Wahid's Muslim association and with his blessings and finally switched its alignment from Megawati towards Wahid. Wahid himself was supporting Suharto bloc on most of the issues. The composition of the new cabinet indicates the alliance of Suharto era elite and non-Suharto era elite.
On 23 October a seminar was held in Varanasi on "Cultural Challenges in 21 Century", presided over by Ajay Kumar, vice chairman of Jan Sanskriti Manch. Awadhesh Pradhan initiated the seminar and several speakers including Ramji Rai, Brij Bihari Pandey, Krishna Mohan, Balraj Pandey, Daya Shankar Rai, Raj Ballabh spoke on the topic. The next day National Council of JSM met to decide about the forthcoming national conference to be held in Varanasi on 8-9 May, 2000. It was also decided to issue an appeal to all progressive cultural personages and organisation to launch a united campaign against cultural nationalism.
Vice chairman of JSM Ajay Singh and Begusarai unit of JSM in association with other progressive forces condemned the communal fascist forces' attack on Sahmat artists in Lucknow.
Reports from Bihar
Dharna Against Communalisation in Bihar
CPI(ML) Bihar state unit staged a dharna at JP Chowk, Gandhi Maidan on 4 November against the communal frenzy being spread against Christian and other minorities. Comrades KD Yadav, Prabhat Kumar, Shashi Yadav and others participated in the dharna.
Fast in Hilsa Jail
Party activists in Hilsa Sub-divisional Jail led by Com. Parmanand Prasad and Karu Bind along with 55 other prisoners staged a fast for 8 days in protest against corruption and goondaism inside the jail. Only after the negotiations with authorities on 3 November did they end their fast.
Demonstration for Flood Relief
Recently hundreds of flood-victims demonstrated demanding flood relief at Sahebganj block office in Muzaffarpur. Police resorted to brutal lathicharge and later raided the house of a local party leader in a bid to implicate him in false cases.
Bokaro Bundh on Nov. 9
CPI(ML) and RYA organised a procession on Nov. 6 at Tupkadih in district Bokaro, demanding arrest of the culprits who had recently kidnapped and killed a girl of Tenughat. Under instructions of Tupkadih SDO, local police lathicharged on the procession. After retreating temporarily, the processionists reassembled at 4.30 in the afternoon and this time the police resorted to firing in which a number of them received minor injuries. Not content with this, the police raided houses in the locality and killed two of the BSL employees, who had just returned from the factory. To protest against this brutal police assault and killing of innocent workers, AICCTU has resolved to organise Bokaro bundh on Nov. 9.
Agrarian Labours Demonstrate
About 1000 people including more than 400 women staged a militant demonstration on Nov. 5 demanding fulfilment of the schemes under Indira Awas Yojana, distribution of old age pension, red ration cards and government land etc. at Patepur block office in district Vaishali. The demonstration was followed by a well attended mass meeting addressed by Party State Committee member Com. Prabhat Kumar Chaudhary, district committee secy. Com. Yogendra Rai and others.
Mass Meeting to Break Criminal Gang's Terror
Thousands of people assembled in a mass meeting organised by the party at Nadawan Bazar under PS Dhanarua in Patna district early this month, to break the terror unleashed by notorious Pandav gang operating in the area for last few years. The entire market had remained closed for last 50 days due to this terror. Reportedly the police and administration were in connivance with the gang, so they chose to overlook general public and even thousands of shopkeepers' grievances. On the contrary, section 144 Cr. P.C. was imposed to prohibit any political initiative by CPI(ML) or any other organisation who stand by the aggrieved masses. However, defying this people enthusiastically participated in the meeting which was addressed by Party District Committee members Comrades N.K. Nanda and Sheopujan Yadav.
Road Jam against Molestation by Police
Road jam was organised by Party activists at Daudnagar in Aurangabad district in early November to protest against molestation of a girl student by a police constable at the Sub-Divisional Office. As the news spread hundreds of enraged people flocked to the place and caught hold the offender and beat him black and blue. Later the main road of Aurangabad was blocked for 6 hours under the leadership of the CPI(ML) MLA Com. Rajaram Singh and CPI MLA Ramsharan Yadav. The administration assured to arrest the culprit within 24 hours.
Mass Meeting to Condemn Rape by Police OC
Intensifying the movement against rape of a Nat nomadic tribe woman by the OC of Tiyar police station in Bhojpur, a mass meeting was convened recently to condemn this incident. Addressing it the AIPWA National Secretary Com. Saroj Chaubey demanded immediate arrest of the rapist. CPI(ML) MLA Com. Rameshwar Prasad in a letter has complained to the DGP that the district administration and police are trying to shield the rapist police OC and threatening the woman to withdraw her complaint.
Demonstration before DRM at Danapur
Danapur division of Indian Railway Artisan Staff Union staged a demonstration before Divisional Railway Manager in which 200 demonstrators participated demanding full deployment of surplus staff. The union will hold its zonal conference on Nov. 24.
Protest Against Student's Killing by RPF
RPSF personnel killed a student throwing him out of a running train when he resisted their extortion spree. In a militant protest against this heinous murder AISA-RYA burnt the effigy of railway administration at Bakhtiyarpur and demanded arrest of RPSF personnel and institution of murder case against them, and compensation to the victim. Bakhtiyarpur bundh observed next day under their call was completely successful. When their demand was not met, on 6 November they burnt the effigies of Mamata Bannerjee and Digvijay Singh, union and state ministers for railways. AISA-RYA have decided to stage a demonstration in front of the Governor on Nov. 9.
Hundreds of weaving mill workers staged a dharna at the office of the Raibareily DM in UP on Nov. 6 against 30% cut in wages, flaying of workers' trade union rights and refusal to payment of Diwali bonus. AICCTU vice-president Com. Rajesh Dwivedi led the agitation. Under the pressure the DM talked with the mill management, resulting in acceptance by the latter of all the workers' demands including Diwali bonus.
Some criminals killed local party activist Com. Ajay Paswan near Chiksaura High School in Hilsa block of Nalanda district in Bihar. Our homage to Com. Paswan.
CPI(ML) Deplores Govt's Apathy to the Woes of Cyclone Victims of Orissa
Leaders Rush to Orissa, Party Launches Relief Work
CPI(ML) has deplored in unequivocal terms the apathy of the Centre and the state government of Orissa on the question of providing relief to the cyclone-hit people of Orissa. The party has demanded from the Vajpayee government to declare the highly disastrous cyclone a national calamity and to do all the centre can to redress the woes of the people of Orissa.
Party CCMs Com. Kumudini Pati and Swapan Mukherjee attended a meeting of the Odissa Forum on Nov. 5 in Delhi. These leaders along with Com. Ranjit Abhigyan, Member of the Party Central Secretariat also joined Nov. 6 rally organised by the Forum at Teen Murti in New Delhi. A delegation of the rallyists led by Retired Chief Justice, Delhi High Court, Mr. Rajindar Sachar, Jatin Das, a noted artist and Prof. Manoranjan Mohanti met the Prime Minister and submitting a memorandum urged him to act considering the real magnitude of the Orissa disaster.
Com. Jayant Rongpi, M.P. and a member of Party CC, Com. Hemsing Tisso, Party's HDPC secretary and Deputy Chairman of Karbi Anglong Council Chairman Com. Daniel Teron reached Bhuvaneshwar on Nov. 10 and handed over a cheque of Rs. 1,00,000 to the Orissa Chief Minister's Relief Fund. A team of Party leaders from West Bengal also reached with the first lot of relief material. Party has launched a country-wide campaign to collect relief materials with particular emphasis in West Bengal and Bihar, the neighbouring states. Entire Party ranks in Orissa have been directed to plunge into relief work. Thousands of pamphlets were distributed in West Bengal asking people to come forward to rescue the people of Orissa, the victim of an unprecedented national calamity.
The True Faces of Govt Relief in Orissa
Villagers scuffle with railway police over sharing food and relief materials on the track near Pithakalia railway station, curtsey : Hindu , Nov. 3
A man being punished for stealing some food to feed his hungry family near Paradip port town, curtsey : Hindustan Times, Nov. 4
Though (the relief centre at ) Mahakalpara (District Kendrapara) was opened on Nov. 1, till the morning of Nov. 3 no relief had reached there. Angry people gheraoed the block officials. ... In the district headquarters town of Kendrapara, total chaos prevailed. The collector was said to be away and Junior Sub-Collector Madan Mohan Deo was in charge. Only 10 truckloads of rice reached him and that too on Nov. 2.- Hindustan Times, Nov. 5