In this Issue
Grasp the Situation and Grab the Opportunities!
Consolidate and Expand the Gains on All Fronts!!
Strengthen the Party and Unleash the Full Initiative of the Entire Organisation!!!
Central Committee's Call for the Pledge Campaign
(18 December, 2008 – 16 January, 2009)
(In lieu of editorial)
After decades of aggressive expansion, world capitalism is passing through a period of grave crisis. Big banks and other financial institutions have begun to collapse like nine pins in the US, the headquarters of the world capitalist economy. Huge sums of money are being pumped in by the American state to somehow keep these moribund institutions going. Passionate believers and advocates of unassailable American supremacy have begun talking about the decline of the US and a global shift of power from the West to the East.
For communists and anti-imperialists who had been sought to be pushed back by the marauding offensive of corporate globalisation and imperialist war, the time has come to hit back and surge ahead. Right in the US, the American people have made their presence felt through a powerful mandate in the recent Presidential elections which goes beyond the symbolism of sending for the first time a Black man to the White House. Inspired by the bold examples of Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia, Latin America continues to defy the hegemony of US imperialism. Across the world, more and more people are getting organised to challenge the offensive of the US-led imperialist camp on all fronts.
Conditions are now particularly ripe in India for launching a powerful popular assault on the policies of the Indian ruling classes. Our comprador rulers have always looked up to the US as the ultimate model, following US-designed policies in every sphere. As a consequence of increased integration with the US, we are now importing every aspect of America’s crisis on to our soil. While the financial crisis has been triggered by Wall Street, the three-day siege of Mumbai that has come to be known as India’s 9/11 clearly showed that as a strategic ally of the US, India has now become a key theatre and target for global terrorism. With the comprador rulers getting increasingly discredited and exposed, revolutionary communists must come forward to save the country from the crisis that has been inflicted by imperialism and its Indian lackeys.
The elitist economic policies catering to the greed of the rich and the powerful and ignoring the need of the working people, rural or urban, have landed the country into a comprehensive economic crisis. Yet in the name of checking the economic crisis, the government is announcing further concessions for foreign capital and Indian monopolies. Even in a situation of crisis, the government diverts more resources in favour of capitalists by depriving the working people. We must resist this course and fight more vigorously for the basic needs of the masses.
77% of Indian people live on a daily expenditure of less than Rs. 20. It is only by increasing the income and purchasing power of these people that the domestic economy can be saved and home market expanded. The way to rejuvenation of the national economy lies in the working class resistance to the onslaught of big capital, in the rural poor's fight for employment, wages, land, housing and subsidised supply of foodgrains and other articles of mass consumption, the peasants' struggle for cheaper inputs and easier low-interest credit and the student-youth battle for right to education and employment.
Even as we fight for a self-reliant economy and a vibrant democratic polity, the current crisis is also providing fodder and fuel to fascist forces and trends of diverse hues. Of late, we have seen a marked increase in violent attacks propelled by aggressive communalism, terrorism and/or regional chauvinism. Loud demands are being voiced in the media for resurrection of POTA or promulgation of even more draconian laws and for giving a free hand to the police and armed forces. In the wake of the recent terror strike in Mumbai, Indo-Pak relations have once again begun to deteriorate with cries of war rending the air. And the US is only too interested in fishing in the troubled waters of the Indian subcontinent.
Rabid rightwing forces in India seem to have discovered a golden opportunity in the post-Mumbai situation. We must thwart their design. There is a growing public outcry against ruling politicians in the country. We must try to channelize it towards a progressive democratic direction and emphasise greater popular participation and assertion to promote healthy democratic politics of the people. The fascist forces and jingoist communal campaigns can only be defeated by intensifying the people’s movement for democracy and the CPI(ML) remains ever committed to move ahead resolutely in this direction.
Comrades, our Party had suffered a major setback soon after its formation in 1969. Thanks to the brave sacrifice of our immortal martyrs and the tireless and resolute efforts of the working class and the rural poor and the sympathy and support of broader democratic sections of our society, our Party was able to overcome that setback and revive and expand itself across the country. “The interests of the people are the interests of the Party,” said Comrade Charu Mazumdar in his last writing and under the inspiring leadership of Comrade Vinod Mishra and the Party Central Committee, our Party revived itself by unleashing the energy and initiative of the people in every sphere.
Ten years ago we lost Comrade Vinod Mishra right in the middle of a meeting of the Party Central committee. In his last writing presented to the Central Committee, Comrade VM had placed the following central task before the entire Party: “A strong communist party firmly upholding the red banner of revolutionary Marxism, a powerful movement of the rural poor and an all-round initiative against the designs of the saffron power are the three major challenges before us in this year. Social democrats as well as anarchists of all hues are facing serious internal disorders due to faulty tactical lines and every advance we make will further destablise them and establish us at the head of the left movement. Such a development is absolutely essential for building a democratic front that is really a people’s alternative in contrast to various versions of bourgeois alternatives.”
These last words of Comrade VM remain extremely relevant at the present juncture. During the last ten years, the Party has worked steadfastly to expand and intensify its rural work, strengthen the network of Party organization and uphold the red banner of revolutionary Marxism. Guided by the collective wisdom of the Party and armed with the revolutionary spirit that defines our Party, we have succeeded in spreading the Party to newer states and areas and crossing the 1,00,000 membership figure at the time of the Eighth Congress held in Kolkata in last December. And as far as our rural poor mass base is concerned, at the 3rd National Conference of AIALA held at Ballia a few weeks ago, we recorded a membership strength of nearly 25,00,000.
If we can now organise this entire strength in a vibrant organisational network down to every panchayat and every ward of every town wherever we have some work, and unleash the full energy and initiative of this organised force in terms of militant mass struggles and bold political assertion, we will be able to realise Comrade VM’s vision of putting our Party at the head of the Left movement and building and projecting a genuine people’s alternative in contrast to various bourgeois alternatives.
The Kolkata Congress initiated a determined inner-Party struggle against all the alien trends like liquidationism, factionalism and federalism that weaken the Party and unleashed full-scale mass initiative towards fulfilling the Eighth Congress clarion call “People’s Resistance, Left Resurgence”. As we complete the year 2008, we can reasonably claim to have won some encouraging primary victory in this direction. The series of Party State Conferences and national conferences of mass organisations held in 2008 have unleashed a lot of energy and enthusiasm and indicated considerable potential for growth in almost every area.
As we begin a new year, we must grasp the new situation and grab all the opportunities that have come our way, consolidate and expand all the gains we have secured in 2008 and unleash the full initiative of the entire Party and its mass base. In 2009 we are set to face Lok Sabha elections as well as Assembly elections in several states. In April 2009, we will also be observing the 40th anniversary of our Party’s foundation.
Let us all strive hard to make 2009 a year of bigger victories.
Eternal glory to our immortal martyrs!
Long live Indian Revolution! Long live CPI(ML)!
Agitation for Flood Relief in Puducherry
The CPI(ML) in Puducherry and AICCTU, AIALA, RYA and Movement for Protection of the Homeless held a big rally on 5 December 2008 demanding adequate and immediate relief to the victims of recent heavy floods and the Nisha storm.
The rally was led by S Balasubramanian, State Secretary of Puducherry. The rally passed through main thoroughfares of Puducherry town and culminated in a large demonstration in front of the collectorate of Puducherry.
A detailed memorandum to the Chief Minister was submitted through the collector. The demonstrators demanded: Rs 5 lakhs compensation to those who died in the recent heavy rains and floods and Rs. 75,000/- for those injured, and Rs 25,000/- for those who lost their homes in the floods; 50 Kg rice along with 10 litres of kerosene at the rate of Rs 2/- per Kg/litre to all BPL families, and 25 Kg of rice with 10 litres of kerosene at the same rate for non-BPL families; compensation of Rs 25,000/- per hectare to those whose land has been devastated; immediate implementation of NREGS works in all rural areas and urban poverty alleviation scheme works in urban areas; waiver of house and land taxes in the affected region; Rs 25,000/- to each village panchayat and Rs 10,000/- to each Municipal ward towards immediate relief work; expediting the construction of houses for urban poor in the tsunami affected areas; stern action against the officers of Revenue, Disaster Management, Electricity and PWD Departments who failed the people during the crisis.
CPI(ML) Performance in Assembly Elections
In the recently held Assembly elections, CPI(ML) had contested 6 seats in Chhattisgarh, nine in Rajasthan, one each in Madhya Pradesh and Delhi. Some of the seats where we made a notable beginning are: –
Salumber (4081), Dhariawad (4214), and Pratapgarh (5334) in Rajasthan (where we polled fourth in the latter two constituencies); Masturi (664) and Jagdalpur (547) in Chhattisgarh; and Narela (882) in Delhi.
Workers, Students and Youth March to Parliament against Terrorism, Communalism, and Regional Chauvinism
On December 12, the streets of Delhi saw the largest mobilisation yet since the Mumbai terrorist attack of November 2008, with many thousands of students, workers and youth marching condemning the heinous attack in one voice, and paying tribute to the memory of its victims.
The media may be full of war cries trying to whip up a communal jingoistic frenzy, especially amongst youth, against Pakistan, and promoting army rule or dictatorship as an antidote to terror. This din is trying to drown out all the saner voices speaking out against US imperialism, or demanding investigation into the Sanghi terrorist network, punishment for regional chauvinists and communal hate-mongers, and justice against fake encounters and framing of innocents by the police. The March to Parliament on 12 December was a spirited rebuttal of these attempts to silence the voices of democracy and whip up a communal, anti-democratic and jingoistic frenzy.
Thousands of workers, students and youth from all over the country, under the banner of All India Students’ Association (AISA), Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA), All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) and All India Agricultural Labourers’ Association (AIALA) marched towards Jantar Mantar from Ramlila grounds, holding up banners and placards and raising slogans proclaiming “Stop importing terror and economic crisis from the US,” “Shame on BJP for garnering votes in the name of terrorism,” “People’s Security = Democracy + Secularism + Anti-Imperialism; Recipe for Terrorism = Dictatorship + Communalism + Pro-US policies,” “Ban MNS-Shiv Sena,” “Why bail for Raj Thackeray and Jail for protesting students – UPA-NDA must answer.” At the head of the March were CPI(ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, Politburo member Swadesh Bhattacharya, AICCTU general Secretary Swapan Mukherjee, AISA General Secretary Ravi Rai, RYA President Mohd. Salim and General Secretary Kamlesh Sharma, as well as Shri Kundan Singh, father of Rahul Raj, the young job-seeker killed in a police ‘encounter’ in Mumbai, and Prof. Naval Kishore Chaudhury, HoD, Economics, Patna University. Shri Kundan Singh held up a portrait of his son along with one of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh. The March culminated in a massive meeting at Parliament Street.
The meeting began by paying homage to the victims of terrorism, communal violence and regional chauvinism. Conducting the meeting, AISA General Secretary Ravi Rai was greeted by enthusiastic slogans and thousands of people clapping when he declared, ‘No war on Pakistan; united struggle of India and Pakistan against US Imperialism and the forces of terrorism!’ The meeting was addressed by AISA Vice President Abhyuday and RYA National President Mohd.Salim who recounted experiences of AISA’s and RYA’s leading role in the struggle against the MNS-Shiv Sena violence, which exposed the opportunism of UPA and NDA alike. AICCTU General Secretary Swapan Mukherjee said that the US economic crisis was being imported into India by the Manmohan Government – and workers were being laid off as a result. He demanded that instead of layoffs for workers and bailouts for corporates, the Government should resolve the crisis by reversing pro-US economic policies, and enhancing public expenditure in pro-poor schemes.
Addressing the gathering, Shri Kundan Singh said that the Maharashtra police, which had treated the marauding Shiv Sena and MNS cadre with kid gloves, had cold-bloodedly killed his son, Rahul. The fact that those in power were avoiding to order a probe into the ‘encounter’ proved that they had something to hide. In the quest for justice for Rahul, he expressed his sense of betrayal by the parties that swore by the cause of Bihar, and said that it was the students, youth and workers of Bihar who were his partners in the struggle.
Prof. Naval Kishore Chaudhury said that Governments were showing double standards by soft-pedalling communal and chauvinistic forces. He demanded a ban on the MNS, Shiv Sena, as well as Bajrang Dal. Opposing war-mongering and jingoism, he said that democracy, peace and justice were the best guarantee against terrorism.
Addressing the mass meeting, CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar said that “some sections of the media and politicians are trying to peddle dictatorship, army rule, war with Pakistan and partnership with the US as solutions for India’s security. Pakistan’s own experience is proof that this is a recipe for disaster. India’s ruling class – both Congress and BJP – are hell-bent on shackling India to the globally hated US imperialist policies, and thus importing the US’ economic crisis as well as terrorism onto Indian soil. To fight terror India must first of all de-link her foreign policy from the American strategic stranglehold, and must engage Pakistan in a shared struggle against terror.”
Condemning the UPA and NDA parties and Governments for failing to protect the migrant workers, students and job-seekers of North India from the regional chauvinistic violence of the MNS-Shiv Sena, Comrade Dipankar said that “the Congress, RJD and LJP, as well as Nitish’s JD(U) have all proved equally hollow on the issue of confronting the MNS-Shiv Sena. It is the students and youth of Bihar and UP who challenged the MNS-Sena and yet they were punished with lathi-charges and jail.”
AIALA General Secretary Dhirendra Jha read out several resolutions – including a demand for a judicial enquiry into the ‘encounter’ of Rahul Raj as well as the Batla House ‘encounter;’ condemning police firing on adivasis protesting against land grab at Dumka; release of Dr. Binayak Sen and disbanding of the Salwa Judum; and a probe into the role of the Sangh Parivar in terrorism, which were passed unanimously.
A memorandum was submitted to the Home Minister as well as President of India. Apart from the above-mentioned concerns and demands, the memorandum also demanded legislation to ensure the security and dignity of migrant workers, and raised the concerns of the victims of the Kosi floods. The memorandum demanded year-long work under NREGA in these areas, as well as free and regular monthly rations, immediate temporary shelter and a time-bound provision of housing to all affected families.
Demo in Support of Adivasis’ Struggle at Lalgarh
In solidarity with the adivasis of Lalgarh (West Bengal) against state repression, AIALA, AIPWA, AISA, PBKS held a sit-in demonstration and mass meeting on 12 December 2008 at Churchura, Hooghly district. CPI(ML) State Secretary Comrade Partha, as well as well as State committee members Comrades Prabir Haldar and Chaitali Sen also addressed the demonstration. A deputation met the DM and held a mass meeting and sit-in demonstration.
Fact Finding Team’s report on Kathikund Police Firing
Kathikund is located 40 km from Dumka Dist. headquarters. On December 6, 2008, the Jharkhand Police opened fire on peaceful protestors and killed one tribal Lakhiram Hansda while many have been seriously injured and are battling for life. The injured are forced to undergo treatment in hiding as they fear further police terror. Some of them eventually risk losing their life if they do not get proper medical attention. A fact finding team comprising of leaders from CPI(ML) affiliated mass organizations – Jharkhand Grameen Mazdoor Sabha (JGMS), All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA), Revolutionary Youth Association and All India Students’ Association – visited the villages surrounding the firing site for knowing the truth, a summary of which we are reproducing below.
For setting up a power-plant in areas in the vicinity of Kathikund, the Jharkhand Government is blatantly acquiring land. The required land falls under more than fifty villages. The poor tribals and villagers of these 50 villages terrified of losing their land – which is their only livelihood, had got united to save their land and their existence. Their leader Munni Hansda, a woman, was arrested by the police under framed-up charge of stealing a motorcycle, so as to stop the opposition to land acquisition. Peeved at this arrest, these villagers had decided to court mass arrests and go to jail until their leader was released. On 6 December thousands of these people were marching to Kathikund Police Station to court arrest when they were forcefully stopped 3km from the PS and were being pushed and shoved by the policemen. When the villagers tried to proceed towards the PS the police opened firing without giving any warning in which one person was instantly killed.
It is to be noted that this area falls under Jharkhand CM Shibu Soren’s parliamentary constituency. The villagers of around hundred villages have blockaded the entry of any vehicle in these villages and have declared that they will not allow Shibu Soren as well as the local MLA Nalini Soren to enter the villages. The youth, armed with their traditional bow and arrow are guarding the entrances to the villages. The CPI(ML) and its mass organizations have hailed these fighters and declared their full support in anti-displacement struggle. The Party has demanded immediate release of the arrested people and compensation to all those killed and injured as well as punishment for the offending poliemen. To carry forward the struggle for democracy and justice the AIPWA will hold a dharna in front of Dumka DC office and a massive march to Jharkhand Assembly will be organized on 17th December.
CPI(ML) Condemns Arbitrary and illegal arrest of 'Nishan' Editor Lenin Roy & Demands his Immediate Release
Lenin Kumar Roy, the editor of Nishan, a Left oriented quarterly magazine published from Bhuvaneshwar (Orissa state in India) was arrested on 7 December 2008 and sent to jail on charges of writing provocative literature which as per the police version and the official report would disturb communal peace and harmony. The police did not stop here. It also arrested two employees of Sovan Press, Bhubaneswar, after conducting a raid on it for printing the book 'Dharma naanre Kandhamalre Raktara Nadi' published by Lenin Kumar. This was done at the Sahid Nagar Police Station.
The said book was alleged to be 'Maoist literature'. Next day, he was produced in the court and the police alleged crime under Section 153-A and 295-A of Indian Penal Code (IPC) which relate to 'publishing provocative literature which can disturb communal peace and harmony'. The police cited page 38 to 41 of the above book. And what do those pages have in them? They produce a letter allegedly written by the RSS (Hindu right-wing fundamentalist group) to its members for anti dalit, anti minority activities and also have some of Lenin's comments on this.
So, in India (and particularly in Orissa) it is a crime to write anything against the RSS or to produce an RSS letter or to comment upon it- more so if the government is supported by the BJP! In August 2008, Nishan was labeled as a Maoist organ by SP Jagatsinghpur though the editor had protested this allegation. This is not the lone instance of the Orissa government coming up heavily against the dissenting members of the intelligentsia and the media who are critical about the government's activities. A few months ago, Rabindra Prasad Panda, a prominent Oriya writer, was sent to jail by the Orissa government for writing a book, using similar Sections of the IPC.
Agricultural Labourers Gherao DM
On the issue of job cards and work under NREGA, agricultural labourers led by CPI(ML) and AIALA gheraoed the DM residence in Gazipur on 8 December. Prior to this, AIALA had held a 5-day dharna at Gazipur Sadar block. In the same district, in Jamania block, an AIALA dharna had been continuing since 25 November. AIALA has been demanding that the administration must set up a counter to issue job cards to all job-seekers, take photographs, open bank accounts for the workers with zero balance, guarantee 100 days work or else pay unemployment allowance, and also hold camps to disburse pension to widows and the handicapped, as well as old-age pension.