CPI(ML) HOME Vol.11, No.12 18- 24 MAR 2008

The Weekly News Bulletin of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)(Liberation)
U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi 110092. Tel: (91)11-22521067. Fax(91)11-22518248


In this Issue

No Bonanza, Only Deception

Recently, there has been a big media hype about two packages of the UPA Government. The Congress and its allies called these packages boons and bonanzas. One was the loan waiver for farmers and the other one was the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations. The BJP went on the defensive and the opportunist Left was elated that its secular strategic partner had scored some electoral points.
The UPA Government, getting more and more alienated from the aam admi, sought to project these two schemes as its gift packages to the people. They played with statistics to cover up their deception and treachery.
At the other end, rightwing ideologues, the articulate neo-liberal lobby, cried themselves hoarse that these packages were a drain on the country’s coffers and came out with gloomy predictions.
Sonia, Manmohan and Chidambaram claimed that 4 crore farmers would get a benefit of Rs.60000 crore. But even after the budget announcement, suicides continued unabated and the farmlands of Vidharbha still remain killing fields. The loan waiver scheme does not address the real and substantial issue of loans from private moneylenders. The arbitrary two-hectare limit effectively threw out the suffering peasantry of the drylands.
The Sixth Central Pay Commission (CPC) recommendations are shown to be granting a hectic 40 per cent pay increase to nearly 45 lakh Central government employees. Comrade Yechuri yelped his welcome by heaving a sigh of relief on the arrival of the “long overdue benefit”. Here again the BJP is put on the defensive.
What exactly has the Sixth CPC recommended?
The existing basic pay is Rs.3,050. The basic pay plus dearness allowance for those in that scale on January 1, 2006 stood at Rs.5,763. Now they are offered Rs.6,760. This is nowhere near 40 percent increase.
The annual aggregate cost to the exchequer due to the pay increase is shown to be Rs.12,561 crore. The CPC admits that a large savings on pensions and a small one on training will bring down the package by Rs.4,586 crore and reduce it to Rs.7,975 crore. But even this will vanish into thin air if the governmental gains due to reduction in holidays are taken into account.
It has not met the legitimate expectation of Rs.10000 as minimum pay by speciously linking it up with the plight of the BPL households.
It is falsely stated that the ratio between the lowest and the highest salaries will be 1:12. The babudom at the level of secretaries will get Rs.90000 per month plus their fancy cars and posh bungalows. The heads of IRDA and TRAI will get Rs.3 lakh per month. The higher you move in the hierarchy, the fatter will be your pay packet.
There is no noble objective in merging Group D with Group C. Group D jobs will be outsourced. Again, doing away with the pension eligibility service requirement of 30 years has a not-so-hidden agenda. There will be a higher severance package for those between 15 and 20 years of service. The CPC boasts that it has acted as a role model when it has filled up when 48 posts were sanctioned and when it has finished its job within the stipulated time and within 60 percent of its budget (Fourth CPC had 209 posts and the Fifth had 141 posts). There is method in this madness. There is a sinister motive behind this devious design. Less people. Less posts. Less holidays. Less costs. But more work. You name it, and you have it, whether it is fixed tenure jobs or contractualisation or corporatisation.
The loss to 38.41 lakh pensioners would be Rs.4,044 crore. But the CPC, with all the cruelty at its command, offers a heavenly gift to the pensioners by prescribing that they would get higher pension at the age 80, 85, 90, 95 and 100.
Holidays slashed. CCA done away with. New recruits and pensioners will not get Central Government health care. They will be thrown to the insurance sharks, while the CGHS is cast aside.
There would not be any bonus. An arbitrary, subjective, budget-neutral, performance-linked incentive would be the substitute.
The Central government has accepted the concept of a minimum pay for its employees in principle. Why not the same yardstick be applied to anganwadi workers, ASHA workers and paramedics, parateachers, noonmeal workers and the like, working under various names in the Central as well as State governments? Will not the logic and rationale behind minimum pay fixation by the government to its employees apply to the rural and agrarian labourers and all types of unorganised labourers? More so, when aam aadmi feels the harsh pinch of an all-round, steep price rise of essential and other commodities. In the coming days, the UPA Government will have more such questions to answer and we know that it will find it very difficult to give any answer to the people.
A Note on the Rajya Sabha Polls
In the absence of any suitable Left and democratic option, CPI(ML) legislators abstained in the March 26 biennial elections to the Rajya Sabha. The elections revealed some interesting emerging signs of political 'reconciliation' and realignment, like the growing proximity between the Congress and Samajwadi Party, rapprochement between the RJD and LJP in Bihar and two SUCI MLAs in West Bengal Assembly voting for the losing candidate of Trinamool Congress. The SUCI, it seems, initially decided to stay away from the RS elections, but on Mamata Banerjee's request the party decided to vote for the NDA constituent. The party has already announced a tie-up with the TMC in the forthcoming panchayat elections in Bihar. Meanwhile the CPI(M) and Congress joined hands to support an 'independent' candidate from West Bengal, in the process ensuring the defeat of the TMC candidate.
In Jharkhand political demarcations gave way to a grand convergence in favour of the Mukesh Ambani nominee Parimal Nathwani, a key player in the Ambani network. Congress, JMM MLAs defied party whips to vote for the Reliance man as did many 'independents' and others cutting across party boundaries. For the sake of 'saving' his opportunist coalition, the Chief Minister of Jharkhand had to refrain from casting his own vote. But the victory of Nathwani has clearly revealed the well-entrenched politics of corporate plunder in Jharkhand and the utter political bankruptcy and opportunism of the ruling UPA constituents in the state. The CPI(ML)'s bold stand against this politics of horse-trading has earned wide appreciation in democratic circles.
At least two other Ambani men have also made it to the Rajya Sabha: Y Trivedi from Maharashtra, who is one of the directors of RIL and also treasurer of the NCP, and NK Singh, a key person in the Ambani think-tank Observer Foundation, from Bihar with JD(U)-BJP support.
The direct entry of corporate bigwigs in Rajya Sabha exposes the pretentious nature of the 'office of profit' discourse which does not see any conflict of interest in legislators having open loyalty to specific corporate houses. Also at stake is the 'federal' facade of the Rajya Sabha with Nathwanis entering the RS from Jharkhand. The pioneers have of course been Congress leaders themselves - Manmohan Singh continues to be an MP from Assam.

AIALA's Nationwide Campaign Concludes in Block-level 'Seize the Office' Protests Against Reducing NREGA into a Show-piece.

The month-long nation-wide campaign of All India Agricultural Labourers' Association (AIALA) concluded on 27 March with it's 'Seize the Block Office' programme against governments' intentions of making the NREGA a fountain-head of loot and corruption. The campaign also highlighted various other issues important for the life and livelihood of agricultural workers in all parts of the country. AIALA has demanded a CBI enquiry into the NREGA scam in the light of the CAG interim report’s findings, and that the State Governments must hold a special session of the State Assembly on the issue of the failure to implement the NREGA and that all states must ready a White Paper on the issue.
On 27 March AIALA activists seized and locked the Block headquarters in all parts of the country, while protests were held at hundreds of places. The Block Seizure was carried out in many states including Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Rajasthan, etc. While in Orissa seizure campaign was organised on 17-20 March. In Karbi Anglong district of Assam more than 350 activists were arrested 27 March at Howrahghat Block hq. This has been condemned by AIALA leaders terming it an attack on the democratic rights of the rural poor. In Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, AIALA participated in the gherao of state Assemblies.
AIALA congratulated the agrarian workers for the success of the programme. The Congress party is playing a deliberate political gimmick with the NREGS while at the grassroots the Scheme has been rendered totally ineffective, and it has been turned into a centre of loot and corruption like earlier schemes. It's pathetic implementation can be seen in the incident of one agarian worker who committed suicide after failing to get a job under the scheme. Moreover, amidst the so much hype around the NREGA, the total per capita/per district fund allocation has now been reduced in the current budget.
AIALA has demanded that Job cards must be issued to all those poor families who demand it; guarantee of 200 days of work per card holder per year; and make the number of job-card holders the basis for budgetary allocation for NREGA. AIALA has also demanded strict legally enforceable provisions whereby 100 days’ salary be cut from the pay of officials of panchayats, Blocks and districts where 100 days job guarantee and payment of minimum wages is not ensured, and the concerned DM-DDC be sentenced to 100 days in jail.
The other demands highlighted during the month-long campaign are to roll back the policy of restricting the poor to a pre-fixed ‘BPL quota’ and to publish fresh BPL lists based on comprehensive ground surveys; to give the Right to Food legal status; to make food-grains scams to be a cognizable offence and to strictly punish the guilty dealers and officials.
AIALA also demands to provide 2 acres of cultivable land to all the poor and landless, to extend the insurance scheme to cover all poor people; to scrap the SEZ Act 2005;  and in order to stop the systemic corruption in panchayats and all pro-poor schemes, create a comprehensive structure of people’s vigilance and monitoring involving representatives of agricultural labourer and peasant organisations, besides various other demands.

27 March Report from West Bengal

In Dhubulia block of Nadia Distt. large number of people (nearly 550) laid siege at the block office for 4 hours. All the official work remained paralysed. Agitation continued till some of the demands were accepted.
In Nakashipara in Nadia 250 people assembled and marched to the BDO to hand over the demand letter.
In Burdwan Distt in Purbasthali-1, Purbasthali-2, Kalna, Burdwan-1, Jamalpur, and Bhatar mass agitation took place and memorandum was given to BDO.
Three potato growers committed suicide in West Midnapur, Bankura and Burdwan due to losses. In these places demand was given to declare the support price of potato at Rs200 per bag (50kg). When the WB Govt. declared the support price at only Rs.125 we also demanded to pay insurance benefits to the peasants. In Kalna block job cards were not distributed in some areas. We forced the administration to distribute them the very next day.
In Dadpur block of Hoogly dist 450 people assembled and laid siege at the block office for 2 hours. In Pandua and Bolagar 125 people assembled and stopped the block work for 2 hrs. In Dhaniakhali 40 people assembled.
In Hirband block of Bankura Distt. 65 people assembled to present demand letter. In Kaliachak-1 and Kaliachak-2 agitations were held at the BDO office and demand letter given. In Fanshidewa block of Darjelling Distt. 350 people joined in the gherao of the block office that remained closed for hours. Earlier we were successful in assuring legal right for tillers over some surplus and captured land in the area after a long struggle against feudal forces and the administration. So the participation was comparatively better.
In Mainaguri and Babulhat block of Jalpaiguri Distt. more than 100 people assembled to lay siege the block office. On 11th March at Habra in South 24 Parganas Distt. a huge demonastration was held and a large number of participants were women.
From 1st to 14th march nearly 75 panchayat level 'padyatras' were organised. Deputations met officials and cycle rallies and agitations were held.
The recent participations and programmes show that new forces are taking part in their class issues. All these forces are from traditional left. It can exert pressure on CPM and forth coming Panchayat election would be an election for change.
In Chapra and Tehatta participation was 150 each. In Palacipara 100 people assambled. In Nabadip 40 people assembled and sent deputation.

Assembly Gherao in Tamil Nadu

In Tamil Nadu, while the official left is pleading before DMK leadership to lead the anti-BJP front, in the face all-out betrayal of the interests of the rural and urban poor of the state on the part of DMK government, party gave a call to gherao the assembly raising the burning issues of the toiling masses of the state. All over the state, party took up a vigorous campaign in the last three months. Demand for 2 acres of land for the rural poor, which were an election promise of the DMK government, which is a burning question in the rural parts of TN, and which was thrown to oblivion by both opposition and ruling parties of TN including the official left, drew rural poor in large numbers. Thousands of urban and rural poor rallied on the demand of 5 cent house stead land in many parts of the state particularly in the western districts of TN during the campaign. An intensive signature campaign was held on the issue of rights for trade union recognition in which 1.5 lakh signatures were collected by Pricol workers and workers of Solidarity Forum of Poonamallee and Tiruvottiyur. Hyundai workers also took up a SMS campaign and collected 1000 SMS on the demand. A convention was organized by Tiruvottiyur solidarity forum on the demand of trainees being involved in direct production are to be regularized. There were efforts on the part of the government to disturb the gherao preparations and mobilization. Permission was denied; comrades who set out from Tirunelveli toward Chennai to participate in the gherao were arrested and detained in Tirunelveli itself: a bus owner in Pudukottai was threatened by the local police and he returned the advance paid for the vehicle booked for the trip to Chennai; comrades of Tuticorin were prevented from entering into the railway station; vehicles of Tiruvallore comrades were blocked on the way to the assembly and so on. In spite of all these disturbances, on 27th of March, more than 7000 urban and rural poor gathered in Chennai and announced that their demands have come to the center stage of TN politics.
The colorful rally was led by Com. Balasundaram, State Secretary, TN. Com N.K.Natarajan, SCM flagged on the rally. As the gathering was not allowed to proceed toward the assembly, a demonstration was held near the assembly when the assembly was in session. Com.S.Kumarsami, PBM, Com.Swapan Mukherji, CCM, Com. Shankar, CCM, Com. Janakiraman, SCM, and Com.Gunasekaran, SCM, addressed the gathering.

Workers' Demo at Pondicherry

At Pondicherry, workers under the AICCTU banner held a three-day hunger fast from 19-22 February against retrenchment, demanding confiscation of land and freezing of accounts of fly-by-night factories that have closed without payment of workers’ dues. The Labour Commissioner of Pondicherry intervened and assured action. Following that, on 19 March, there was a joint demonstration at the Labour Commission by AICCTU, CITU, AITUC, HMS, and UTUC on the same demands.

Attack on CPI(ML) Office at Ghazipur in UP

The attack on CPI(ML) Office was conducted by a gram pradhan (Hafiz Khan, husband of gram pradhan) who has been involved in misappropriation of funds and corruption in connivance with the BDO. This is the same person who threatened the Party's District Secretary earlier (reported in ML Update). During the gherao of Gazipur Sadar Block the BDO, who is involved in many cases of corruption, actually arranged this attack through the gram pradhan. The goons in two tractors led by the above mentioned pradhan came to the party office and started pelting stone. They fled after some time when police was called at the spot.

Jharkhand Employees Strike

On March 7, 2008, frustrated by the Jharkhand state government’s refusal to respond to their demand for Central payscales and other rights, four fourth grade government employees at Ranchi attempted self-immolation at the state’s secretariat building; one of whom sustained critical injuries. Angered by the criminal callousness that had driven their colleagues to such a step, Jharkhand employees launched a determined and militant struggle. The Jharkhand Non-Gazetted Employees’ Federation, the revolutionary trend within the employees' movement, played a central role in this movement, in which hundreds of fourth grade employees sustained a strike for ten days, gheraoed the secretariat, held a gherao of the State Assembly on 18 March, and brought Government offices to their knees.

AICCTU Taluk Conference in Karnataka

CPI(ML) is engaged in organizing rural poor in Northern and Southern Karnataka while organizing the working class in Bangalore. AICCTU is active in organising the unorganised workers of Bellary, Davanagere, Koppal and Mysore districts. As part of this effort, the Gangavati taluk conference of AICCTU was held on 9 March which was preceded by an impressive rally of unorganized workers, including auto-technicians, construction labour, brick-kiln workers, tractor drivers and various types of rural workers.
The rally culminated in a convention chaired by Comrade Uma Shankar, taluk president of AICCTU and addressed by Com. J Bharadwaj, SLT member of the party, Basavaraju, VP of AIALA, Vittapura, Convener of Koppal Zilla Bachao Andolana (against the SEZ in Koppal) and Advocate Hasmuddin. V Shankar, CCM, delivered the concluding address. The conference elected a 21-member working committee.
On March 18, a Dharna was organized in front of taluk office of Harappanahalli in Davanagere district. The protestors demanded patta for ‘Bagaihukum’ lands under possession of peasants and basic amenities. Comrade Ramappa, secretary of CPI(ML) in Karnataka addressed the gathering.

Shahadat Saptah in Andaman

CPI(ML) and Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA) observed Martyrdom Week from 23rd to 31st March. On 23rd morning participants paid tribute to the Martyrs by garlanding on the portrait of Bhagat Singh and conducted street corner meetings in villages and towns all over South Andaman area and in part of Middle Andaman in vehicles decorated with portrait of com. Bhagat Singh continuously upto 25th delivering speeches stressing on "Sampoorna Aazadi " which Com. Bhagat Singh wanted for the entire people of India through Communism.

Powerloom Workers Strike

More than 10, 000 powerloom workers at Kumarapalayam, near Erode, TN, are on strike since 24 March, demanding an increase in wages. The Union affiliated to AICCTU is at the centre of this struggle.

Karz hatao-Kisan Bachao Campaign (Waive Loans Save Peasants)

The All India Kisan Shangharsh Samiti, affiliated to CPI(ML) held its two-day national meeting at Narela in Delhi. Some of the important decisions taken in the meeting are movement to demand for waiving of all loans, public or private, of farmers tilling upto 4 hectares of land, 24th April will be observed nationwide as Karz Hatao-Kisan Bachao day and the peasants and farmers from all over the Country will hold a mahadharna in front of Prime Minister in Delhi. It was also decide that if all this does not compel the Govt. to waive all loans of the farmers then the nationwide movement will be heightened.
It was also decided to hold Block-level Kisan conferences in 255 blocks, 65 Distt. and 8 states. Another decision taken was to enrol seven lakh members of Kisan Sabha in different states.


CPI(ML) expresses condolences on the death of Rajendra Shodangi, an anti-SEZ anti-displacement campaigner from Orissa who succumbed to malignant malaria on March 27, 2008. Comrades Khitish Biswal (CCM, CPI(ML)), Radhakanta Sethi, and Yudhisthir Mahapatra were present at his funeral and the Orissa State Committee, in session in Bhubaneswar on March 27-28, observed a minute's silence as a mark of respect.

Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for CPI(ML) Liberation from U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi-92; printed at Bol Publication, R-18/2, Ramesh Park, Laxmi Nagar, Delhi-92; Phone:22521067; fax: 22518248, e-mail: mlupdate@cpiml.org, website: www.cpiml.org
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