CPI(ML) HOME Vol.11, No.46 11 - 17 NOV 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

The Popular Momentum that Propelled Obama into US Presidency

The emphatic victory of Barack Obama in the US Presidential elections has generated a great deal of interest and enthusiasm, a veritable ‘Obamania’, across the world. There are indeed several special aspects to this remarkable victory. That he is the first black person to be elected to the highest political office in the US; that his campaign emphasised ‘hope’ and ‘change’ at a time when the US is passing through an extremely gloomy period in its history, and, above all, that his arrival marks the much-awaited end of the hated Bush Presidency, and a decisive popular rejection of its hallmarks, have all added up to make this probably the most memorable election in recent American history. For political observers watching this election from afar, the most encouraging aspect perhaps has been the passionate popular participation that made this election an energised extension of not only the fight against racism but also the wider anti-globalisation, anti-war campaign.

Liberal sociologists in India have already begun reducing Obama’s victory to a sanitised sign of the ‘greatness’ of American democracy and the ‘maturity’ of the African-American community. But, racism in the US is not just a shocking memory of a cruel past; it is still very much a continuing social reality. For large sections of the American working class and the poor, race and class combine, reproducing conditions of systematic discrimination and deprivation. And the African-American community’s sustained struggles against racism have shaped the polarisations of US politics over decades and centuries, from the Civil War through the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the radical Black Power movement in the 1970s and up until the present. If Obama’s eloquent oratory tapped into the depth of an entire community’s yearning for justice, the silent tears of Jesse Jackson, noted US civil rights campaigner and himself a Presidential hopeful of yesteryears, beamed live into television sets across the world, reflected the sense of vindication that Obama’s victory has generated in millions of American hearts.

But what kind of change will Obama’s Presidency bring to the US and its policies? The American ruling elite sees Obama as a political bailout package for the crisis-ridden establishment. Parallels are being drawn between Obama’s promised platform of change and Roosevelt’s New Deal that had rescued the American economy from the ravages of the Great Depression. Through his famous New Deal Roosevelt had translated the Keynesian doctrine of large-scale state intervention (socialisation of investment) into a policy paradigm and the whole thing got a boost from World War II and its outcome that favoured the US and its allies. However desperately the US may need another Rooseveltian rescue act, it is not easy for Obama to replicate that experience in the present juncture in which the US is faced with not only an unprecedented financial crisis but acute political and military challenges.

The early transitional signs emanating from Team Obama indicate more continuity than change in matters of both economic and foreign policies. The political team is dominated heavily by recycled Clinton era strategists while the 17 members of his Transitional Economic Advisory Board are drawn mostly from among top corporate bosses and financial barons. The choice of someone like Rahm Emanuel – a leading member of the rightwing Democratic Leadership Council and a known neo-liberal fundamentalist and pro-Israeli hawk – as the chief of staff can hardly be interpreted as a sign of any salutary change. Obama’s foreign policy pronouncements have been replete with warnings against Iran and Pakistan and his occasional suggestions of withdrawal of US troops from Iraq have been tempered by his emphases on sending fresh military reinforcements to Afghanistan. In the domestic domain, Obama and his managers have already begun to emphasise the need to lower expectations and temper hopes of bringing about the change promised all through his election campaign, notably signalling a slower pace for the reform of the healthcare system, which had been emblematic of the campaign’s rejection of the callousness of neo-liberalism.

While in no way dismissing or underestimating the great importance of Obama’s victory and the possibility contained in the present juncture, progressive forces in the US must keep up the popular momentum that has led to such an emphatic victory for Barack Obama with his promised platform of change. Obama must now be held accountable and the people must find ways to prevail over the well-entrenched forces and designs of corporate and imperialist betrayal. The same also holds for anti-imperialist forces in other parts of the world. Instead of losing our way in the spectacle of Obamania, we must all doggedly pursue our anti-imperialist and socialist agenda, grabbing with both hands the opportunities opened up by the present crisis and the end of the Bush era.



We deeply mourn the sudden passing of Comrade Ashok, 61. Comrade Ashok passed away on the morning of November 12 in Patna. His death was unexpected and sudden – it appears that he suffered a cardiac arrest. Comrade Ashok is mourned all over the country by comrades who remember him as a senior comrade who had been with the party since its early days, and who always worked with tireless energy and unfailing good humour.  

Born in Kawakole in Nawada district, Ashok joined the ML movement and the party as a wholetimer right since his student days in 1970. His younger brother too had been a wholtetimer of the party. Ashok Ji escaped Patna Central Jail in 1971 when underground.

 Comrade Ashok worked in Nalanda as well as several other districts of Bihar. He was a State Committee member of the party in Bihar and then was elected Central Committee member of the party between 1982-88. He was a member of the party’s Central Technical Team, and served as in-charge of Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra and also helped to build the party in Chhattisgarh and TATA Nagar. All along, he was closely associated with the theoretical work of the party. He was one of the editors of Lal Jhanda, a party publication, the Assistant Editor of Lokyuddh and ML Update and closely involved with the work of translating, compiling and publishing the works of Charu Majumdar, Jauhar and Saroj Dutta. He was also the political in-charge of the party’s team of MLAs in the Bihar Assembly. Comrade Ashok had a remarkable capacity to integrate others with the party, through his sense of humour and his own example of hard work. He remained active right till the very last moment of his life.

He attended every party Congress from the second Congress downwards. Comrades recall how energetically he participated in the recently concluded Third National Conference of the AIALA at Ballia. Comrade Ashok’s loss is an enormous one for the party – and is deeply felt by all who knew him and had worked with him.

Red Salute to Comrade Ashok


AIALA Third National Conference: A Resounding Success

The historic city of Ballia in Poorvanchal area of Uttar Pradesh, hosted the Third National Conference of AIALA. Since its founding conference held in Bhojpur, AIALA has grown in leaps and bounds and the current Conference vowed to continue the movements, membership, militancy and political assertion of the rural poor in contemporary politics. This conference was held with a membership of 25 lakhs, 880 delegates, 73 observers and 58 guests. Amongst the delegates, there were 761 men and 119 women. Two hundred volunteers from Uttar Pradesh looked after the venue and the logistics of the Conference. Rajasthan and Chattisgarh could do not send their delegates due to the elections in the states. However, delegates from 16 states and 122 districts participated in the two day Conference.
The Conference started with the Mazdoor-Kisan Rally on 7 November 2008, which was attended by thousands of people. The rally flowed into the TD College ground where it assembled into a massive gathering. The rally was addressed by CPI(ML) General Secretary, Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary, AIALA Dhirendra Jha,, AIALA National President and ex MP from Bihar, Rameshwar Prasad , ex-MLA (Mairwa, Siwan) and AIALA leader Satydev Ram, UP State Secretary of CPI(ML) Sudhakar Yadav, Kisan Sabha State Convener Uttar Pradesh  Ishwari Kushwaha.  It was presided by AIALA State President, Krishna Adhikari and convened by AIALA State Secretary Shriram Choudhary. The Reception Committee that welcomed the Conference included senior lawyer Ajay Singh.

 The strength of the rally’s turn out drew the interest of Ballia city’s residents, many of whom came to see the gathering or discussed about it. The city was decorated with red flags, posters, wall writing and festoons for the occasion and wall writing in different languages could also be seen at the TD college ground.

A condolence resolution was read out at the beginning of the Delegate session, to pay homage to comrades who have lost their lives since the last Conference in Rajamundri—Comrade Jeeta Kaur, Comrade Ajanta Lohit, Comrade Langtu Phangchuk, Comrade Kameshwar Yadav and others. A minute’s silence was also kept for those who have lost their lives in the assaults by communal and fascist forces. The house also mourned the loss of life and property in the floods and condemned the neglect by the government of hunger related deaths.

The Draft document for the Conference was read out by outgoing General Secretary, Dhirendra Jha and on 8 November, 30 delegates from across the country spoke on the document and indicated areas for consideration. Apart from this, several Central Committee members of CPI(ML) congratulated the growing strength of the organistion and the assertion of class struggle in the rural areas as a step towards the assertion of the working poor in the politics of the country.

The Conference elected a 163 member National Council and a 43 member National Executive. Comrade Rameshwar Prasad was re-elected as the President and Comrade Dhirendra Jha as the General Secretary apart from 10 Vice Presidents and 8 National Secretaries.

Songs and poetry—in Hindi, Bhojpuri, Punjabi, Oriya, Telugu, Bengali, Assamese, Tamil and other languages—were rendered in the course of the two-day event. The venue for the Conference was renamed to honour comrades who have laid down their lives in the struggle to assert the rights of the working rural poor. The sessions were held in a hall named after Comrade Umesh Paswan, the stage after Comrade Moti and the city was named after Chitu Pandey.  An exhibition was put up to depict the status of agricultural workers. Another set of posters also depicted the movement from 1857 to the movement towards the assertion of the rural poor. The area looked festive with displays and book stalls and delegates took the opportunity to look at the new publications and hear the newly composed revolutionary songs and music.


11th National Conference of Jan Sanskriti Manch

The 11th National Conference of JSM was held at Kheoli-Rameshwar (Varanasi) on 9-10 November 2008, with the main slogan of ‘Against Imperialism: for Democracy’. Kheoli-Rameshwar is the village of revolutionary poet Dhumil whose birth anniversary falls on November 9. Prior to the conference, the President and all other office bearers of JSM along with many litterateurs of Varanasi visited Dhumil’s home, where a meeting was held to pay respects to the poet. Prof Manager Pandey said that Dhumil developed the sharpest political critique of Indian bourgeois democracy in his poetry. He was the first in Hindi poetry to celebrate the Naxalbari movement in the ’70s, at a time when state terror ensured that nobody had the courage even to speak of Naxalism, let alone celebrate it. Dhumil changed the diction of poetry. His poems articulate the perspective of the common people in their own language. Dhumil hoped and aspired for a radical change in the character of Indian left.

Bangla poet Nabarun Bhattacharya inaugurated the conference. He criticised the official left in Bengal for pursuing the same pro-imperialist development policies and the same kind of state terror on people’s movements as other non-left bourgeois parties. He hailed the fighting spirit of the people of Singur and Nandigram and appealed to intellectuals and cultural activists to always actively side with the people’s struggle. He said that we have a great tradition behind us of cultural resistance. Neruda, Mayakovsky and Eisenstein are with us. Later Nabarun also recited 2 of his most well known revolutionary poems in Hindi translation in the poetry session which followed the inaugural session. Hindi poet Asad Zaidi was the special guest at conference. He spoke of the challenges of fascism, and its Indian variety namely Hindutva and lamented that the political system which we inherited from the colonial rulers and the also the oppositional political culture that prevails, in fact strengthens the logic of fascism in our country. He urged that organisation alone can lead to a radical anti imperialist anti fascist cultural practice. No individual effort can be a substitute. Zaidi also narrated his  most hotly debated poem on 1857 which criticizes the derogatory stance of the so-called Indian renaissance on our first war of independence. State secretary of Progressive Writers’ association Jaya Prakash Dhumketu hailed the initiative of Jan Sanskriti Manch for choosing Dhumil’s village as a venue of the conference. Prof Manager Pandey concluded the inaugural session outlining the challenges of imperialism and fascism and the ways to confront them. He dwelt on the anti-national and anti-people surrender of our interests to U.S. imperialism by the Indian ruling classes. The poetry session in memory of naxal poet Venugopal followed the inaugural session. More than 20 poets including Viren Dangwal, Manglesh Dabral, Ashtabhuja Shukla, Asad Zaidi, Nabarun Bhattacharya, Rajendra Kumar, Ramesh Ali, Basant, Pankaj Chaturvedi, Shambhu Badal, Hari Om, Vyomesh, Shobha Singh, Mukul Saral, and Achyutanand recited their poems. A delegation of Paschim Banga Jatiya Gana Parishad represented by Amit Das Gupta and Com. Nitish and a three member delegation from Orissa including Poet Ramesh Ali Basant whose house was ransacked by the RSS also participated and spoke at the conference. PWA General Secretary Kamla Prasad’s letter of greetings for the conference was read. Noted documentary filmmaker Meghnad also addressed the conference. On November 10, the General Secretary’s report was debated by delegates from U.P, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh and Delhi. The conveners/secretaries of every state and other national level bodies of the organisation such as Sanskritica Sankul, and theatre and film divisions of JSM also submitted their reports. A 95-member council and 27-member executive was elected with Manager Pandey as National President and Pranay Krishna as General Secretary. The Conference adopted resolutions demanding ban on Bajrang Dal and other RSS outfits involved in terror activities, condemned the Jamia Nagar encounter as well as that of Rahul Raj in Mumbai and demanded highest level enquiries in both, condemned the harassment of youth in the name of terrorism at Azamgarh and elsewhere, condemned the false cases registered in U.P. against human rights’ activists and demanded immediate release of Dr. Binayak Sen. The conference paid rich tributes to Palestinian poet Mahmood Darvesh, Pakistani progressive poet Ahmad Faraz and feminist writer Prabha Khetan among others who died recently. A book of poetry by Comrade Vijendra Anil was released in his memory at the conference.top


Hunger Strike by Jute Mill Workers Continues

The workers of Gouripore Co Ltd are continuing their hunger strike & dharna demanding expedite disbursal of their PF / Pension benefits. The dharna is going on in front of Titagarh PF office since 10th November, 2008 under the banner of Gouripore Mojdur Banchao Mancho and BCMF (Bengal Chatkal Mojdur Forum), affiliated to AICCTU.

 The Gouripore jute mill has been closed for over 10 years. Workers have not got their pension or PF yet. The struggle for PF & pension has been ongoing for more than two years. On the opening day of the dharna and hunger strike, more than one thousand workers of Gouripore jute mill participated.


AICCTU Struggle for festival Bonus for Unorganised Workers in TN

The Puducherry Government released Rs. 400 as bonus for construction workers last year. AICCTU, TN demanded that the TN CM, Mr.Karunanidhi, who is fond of comparing conditions in different states when it comes to bus fare, land distribution etc, should take the Puducherry Government’s gesture into account and release Rs. 1000 as bonus for Pongal, for construction workers and unorganized workers.

With this demand, the Tamilnadu Democratic Construction Workers Union affiliated to AICCTU organized state-wide demonstrations on November 3. Demonstrations were held in Chennai, Coimbatore, Villupuram, Tiruvallore, Salem, Tanjore, and Kanyakumari districts. In these demonstrations more than 1000 construction workers participated.

On the anniversary of the November Revolution, the Workers’ Rights Forum affiliated to AICCTU organized state-wide demonstrations on the same demand in Erode, Salem and Chennai. In Chennai more than 500 unorganised workers participated in the demonstrations. Com A S Kumar, SCM addressed the gathering. In Salem more than 100 unorganised workers participated. In Erode around 150 workers took part in the demonstration. In Kanyakumari, around 100 workers participated in the demonstration.

On November 7, in Tirunelveli district, the Workers’ Rights Forum held a conference demanding house site patta for the unorganized workers. As the house site patta issue is a burning issue in various pockets of this district, this conference drew more than 1000 unorganized workers. Comrade S Kumarasami, PBM, attended this conference.

In Coimbatore, Pricol workers organized a convention on ‘Fall of Imperialism and Rise of Socialism is Inevitable’ on November 7. More than 100 Pricol workers participated in this convention. Comrades N K Natarajan, GS, AICCTU and Krishnamurthy, State Secretary, AICCTU addressed this convention.


Rally against Land Grab for Liquor Factory in Pudukottai

In Pudukottai, the party took up a rally on November 3 against land grab for a liquor factory. This rally is a part of the campaign the party has taken up for the past 4 months. Before this rally, one lakh signatures were collected as part of a campaign in and around the villages where the liquor factory is coming up and land acquisition has taken place. The campaign was well-received by people. 

With these signatures, a rally was organized in Pudukottai at the Collector’s Office. The police neither denied nor granted permission for the rally, but on the day of the rally, on November 3, police tried to obstruct the rallyists from reaching the place from where the rally was planned to start. The rallyists were determined that they would march to the collector’s office as planned and the police had to give in. The collector, who went on leave on that particular day, knowing fully well that there is rally of the people of the affected villages, had to eventually come to the rally venue and receive the signatures.

The rally was led by Com. Aasaithambi, SCM and Com K G Desikan, SCM, along with comrades Valathan, Govindaraj, Thangaraj, Mookkian, DCMs addressed the rally.


AISA-RYA Torch-light Procession on Uttarakhand Foundation Day 

On November 9, Uttarakhand Foundation Day, the RYA and AISA held a militant torch-light procession in Pithoragarh against the Khanduri Government, which they termed an enemy of all unemployed people of the state. Some of the key demands raised in the procession included immediate declaration of an Employment Policy for the unemployed youth of Uttarakhand; filling of all 70, 000 vacant posts at one go; and unemployment allowance until the vacant seats are filled. Instead of meeting these demands, the Khanduri Govt is encouraging retrenchments in keeping with the policy of privatization. On the pretext of Pay Commission recommendations and the excuse of fund crunch, posts in government departments are being cut and people are being employed on contract: a policy which is nothing but retrenchment by the back door.   

RYA and AISA activists gathered at the park in Ghantakaran Chowk and sang revolutionary songs. This was followed by the torch-light procession led by AISA inc-charge Harish Dhami, and other AISA activists Chandra Singh Imlal, Lakshman Johri, Basant Giri and Narendra Khetri as well as RYA activists Sushil Khatri, Basu Pande and Anil Kumar. The procession, winding through various parts of the town, reached Gandhi Chowk, where a public meeting was held.

Addressing the meeting, student and youth activists said that the BJP in its election manifesto had promised government jobs within three months to all educated and skilled youth who were unemployed. But the Government had yet to formulate any employment policy to generate the promised jobs. Since the state was formed, neither BJP nor Congress led Governments had conducted any honest efforts to fill the 70, 000 vacant posts.

Apart from the AISA and RYA activists, the meeting was also addressed by CPI(ML) District in-charge Govind Kafalia, district committee member Jagat Martoli, District President of the Educated Unemployed Association L M Bhatt and Harish Bhatt, also of the same organisation. Members of the above organization also participated in the procession.

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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