The Corrupt Business-Politics Nexus Has All Ruling Class Parties in Its Web
Nitin Gadkari, President of the BJP, has been exposed as the kingpin of a murky web of dubious business interests. Some 18 companies purported to be investors in Gadkari’s sugar and power company, have false and non-existent addresses; and several of these companies name members of Gadkari’s personal staff (such as his driver and astrologer). The findings indicate that the president of the main national Opposition party, also presides over an empire of shell companies that are whitewashing black money.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (who oversaw the appointment of Gadkari as BJP President in the first place) and the BJP have defended Gadkari, though his second term as party president is in doubt. In the same vein as the Congress defence of Vadra, L K Advani has suggested that the allegations against Gadkari do not amount to corruption, but are merely a case of debatable “standards of business.” And the saffron ‘Baba’ Ramdev, now campaigning for the BJP in Gujarat, has also exposed the hollowness of his so-called crusade against black money by saying that the Gadkari scam is of a merely ‘technical’ nature and not a genuine case of corruption!
The image of the BJP as a ‘party with a difference,’ free from corruption, of course had been exposed long ago, when another party President, Bangaru Laxman was caught on camera accepting ‘donations’ in exchange for arms deals during the NDA government. The journey from Bangaru to Nitin is the story of how corruption – and the BJP as a party – has evolved from the act of accepting dubious donations to running an intricate business-politics nexus.
Indeed, the nexus between business, big corporations, and politics, is at the heart of corruption in neoliberal India. The latest cabinet reshuffle by the UPA Government has provided yet another glaring instance of just how deep this nexus runs. The shunting of Jaipal Reddy from the Petroleum Ministry to a ‘punishment posting’ in a relatively obscure Ministry, has clearly been done at the behest of Reliance Industries.
RIL’s CEO Mukesh Ambani has just emerged as the world’s richest Indian for the fifth year in a row – an achievement that has much to do with the largesse of natural resources he has been able to command through patronage from the ruling political establishment. Reliance’s influence on the Government was such that he has repeatedly been able to get relatively independent Petroleum Ministers be replaced by appointees of Ambani’s choice. In 2006, Mani Shankar Aiyer was replaced as Petroleum Minister by Murli Deora, and now in 2012, Mukesh Ambani has repeated the feat by getting Jaipal Reddy replaced. Reddy had refused to clear the deal between RIL and British oil company BP; had held RIL accountable for violations of commitments relating to the KG basin gas as revealed by CAG, and had pushed for another CAG audit of RIL; blocked RIL's demand for a revision in gas price before the due date of 2014; and had reportedly got rid of bureaucrats appointed by Deora, known to be close to Reliance. The PMO had blatantly come out in defence of Reliance – and Manmohan Singh has now removed Reddy from his post to protect Reliance’s business interests.
A genuine political alternative can only emerge from a firm resistance to the neoliberal policy regime that promotes the corrupt business-politics nexus and cronyism. That nexus has the ruling Congress and the main Opposition BJP firmly in its web. Most regional parties too are themselves deeply mired in the murky business-politics quagmire, and are doing business with the Congress and BJP to boot. No alternative politics can emerge from such forces. The communist movement, firmly resisting corporate plunder, cronyism, and corruption, must emerge as the core of a radical national political vision and alternative direction.
Koodankulam Struggle : CPIML Activists Arrested During Assembly Siege
Thousands of anti-Koodankulam were arrested on October 29 during the siege of the Tamilnadu Assembly in Chennai. Among them were more than 250 CPI(ML), AISA, RYA, and AIPWA cadres. On the 446th day of the non-violent struggle against the KKNPP siege, the Assembly protest was organized by political parties and social organizations. The demands were to press the AIADMK government to pass a resolution closing down the KKNPP, withdrawal thousands of false cases, lifting Section 144 of the Police Act and withdrawal of police forces from Idinthakarai, Koodankulam, and Vairavikinaru areas.
The frantic AIADMK government deployed thousands of police in the city. More than 8000 police barricaded the Assembly building and secretariat. Police batons and battalions were deployed at every railway terminal and bus stand. The police virtually took control over the city. Vehicles were detained at the outskirts of the city. Pre-dawn swoop were made. Scores of cadres and activists of different political parties were arrested and detained in different police stations. The CPI(ML)’s Tiruvallore district secretary and General Secretary of All India Agricultural Labor Association, Com. Janakiraman was arrested from his home in the early hours. Several people were detained as they proceeded to march to the Assembly.
Despite this heavy crackdown our leaders, cadres and activists turned out without any pre-arranged vehicles or other modes of transport. Migrant workers of Bihar and other places also participated.
The CPIML contingent was led by Party State Secretary Balasundaram, All-India Vice-President of AISA, Bharati, AIPWA State President Thenmozhi, and AISA and RYA state leaders Malarvishi, Ramesh Prasad, Dhanavel, Rajasankar. Party District secretaries of Chennai, Kanchipuram, Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari: Comrades Sekar, Iraniappan, T.Sankarpandian, (State Gen Sec of AICCTU) Anthonimuthu respectively and Party State Committee members A S. Kumar, Mary Stella, and State Head Quarter member Kumaresh were also in the forefront.
Speaking at the protest meeting Comrade Balasundaram came down heavily on the authoritarian AIADMK government and the Chief Minister for the crackdown on the forces of struggle. The Chief Minister betrayed the anti-Koodankulam protesters on every count, suppressing the just mass movement in collusion with the anti-people Manmohan Singh Government, and called for a befitting reply on part of the people. He demanded that the Assembly, if it believed in democracy, should condemn the brutal repression on the thousands of protesters on September 10 and 11. He also demanded lifting of Section 144, withdrawal of false cases foisted on the leaders of PMANE and CPIML including its Gen Secretary Comrade Dipankar who tried to visit the struggling people on October 1st.
More than 4000 protesters who tried to move towards Assembly were arrested and detained in 6 different locations. Later in the evening, all were released. VCK, MDMK, PMK, TVK, TMMK, SDPI, NAPM and scores of social organizations participated in large numbers.
On the same day thousands of PMANE activists and fisher-people of Tirunelveli, Tuticorin and Kanyakumari led by S P Udayakumar protested in the sea.
Condemning the police brutality in stalling the Assembly Siege protest, CPI(ML) called a protest day on 30th October all over the State.
Resurgent Tea Workers' Movement in Assam
The tea workers' movement has got a fresh boost in Assam with the initiative of the AICCTU affiliated Asom Songrami Chah Shramik Sangha. A series of struggles have been being launched since the last two months. On the 18th day of September, 2012 a district-wise demonstration protest programme demanded adding the cost of ration to daily wage and calculation of bonus on the total sum of money thus accrued. If this is done every tea worker will be benefited by an enhanced amount of annual bonus by Rs. 600/- . But since the bonus is calculated till date without adding cost of ration with the daily wages, tea workers are liable to lose a sum of Rs. 600/- every year. And thus the ten lakh or more tea workers throughout the state are placed to lose a huge amount of Rs. 48 crore this year and proportionately some lower amount every year for the last 45 years. Thus the total amount lost as bonus for these 45 years become around Rs. 2,160 crore which can be easily termed as a bonus scam.
That the tea workers are entitled to get bonus as per norms of bonus act, 1965 and as per clause 2 (21) of the said Act, the State Labour Commissioner of Assam in a circular states that the concessional food grains supplied to the Plantation workers is also a part of the wage/salary. Therefore, while calculating bonus you have to consider the money value of the concessional food grains along with the other remuneration as per the same definition - 2(21).
He further said - "Now as per decision taken in the last discussion you are hereby requested to calculate afresh the bonus which you have paid for the accounting year 2010-2011 considering the above component (i.e. the money value of concessional food grains) and pay the arrear due bonus to all eligible staff / workers immediately and henceforth above instruction shall be followed in the coming years while calculation the bonus." This instruction was given by the circular No. LD 10/2010/7869-74 dated 16-07-2012.
The labour commissioner of Assam thus introduced the norms of payment of bonus of tea workers which had long been being deliberately ignored by the INTUC affiliated management's stooge union the ACMS (Assam Chah Mazdur Sangha). There are sufficient reasons to believe that the tea companies had dared to take such a step of pick-pocketing crores of rupees from the bonus only with a green signal from this dominant tea workers' union. Among the tea workers' leaders is a union ministers, Mr. Pawan Singh Ghatoar.
Another curious fact is that the same labour commissioner who issued a circular in favour of the workers only on 16-07-2012 had later on issued another circular on 09-09-2012, instructing the tea management to keep in abeyance the circular issued by him on 16-07-2012 on the plea that the tea managements had disputed the earlier circular of 16-07-2012.
AICCTU felt that the anti-workers Assam State Government had warned the Labour Commissioner not to go too far in favour of the tea workers at the cost of interest and profit of the tea companies.
Against this injustice and vacillating stand of the state Labour Commissioner, district level demonstrations were organised before the Assistant Labour Commissioners on 18-09-2012 and on 26th September, AICCTU and Asom Sangrami Chah Shramik Sangha jointly organised a militant dharna before the office of the State Labour Commissioner at Guwahati. Faced with no response, AICCTU went ahead with an intensified and broad-based programme of struggle to involve other trade unions, calling a state level trade union convention to be held on 04-11-2012 at Guwahati to launch joint movement on the issue of tea workers' bonus. On 04-12-2012, a sit-in demonstration at Guwahati is also planned to press for the same demand of compelling the state labour commissioner to stick to the circular issued on 16-07-2012 and withdraw that issued on 09-09-2012.
The Asom Sangrami Chah Sramik Sangha in the meantime has filed a writ petition in the Guwahati High Court seeking a stay on the circular issued on 09-09-2012 as on 04-12-2012 hearing on the fate of the writ petition will be taken. The struggle continues.
AICCTU demonstrations against FDI in insurance and pension reforms
On October 5 AICCTU held a demonstration in Coimbatore against FDI in insurance and pension reforms. hundreds of Pricol workers attended the demonstration and Com.S.Kumarasami, PBM, spoke among the workers and called upon to give the anti- workers' UPA II a blow by making the February 20-21 All India General Strike a success.
On October 12 a demonstration was held in Chennai in which more than 100 workers participated. MIgrant workers gathered in a large number
Massive Public Meeting at Sahar on the Occasion of Unveiling of Comrade Ram Naresh Ram's Statue
On 2nd death anniversary (26-10-2012) of Comrade Ram Naresh Ram, his Statue was unveiled at Sahar on the banks of river Sone, by CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya amidst the presence of thousands of people. Prior to the unveiling Comrade Siddhanath Ram hoisted the red flag.
Veteran leaders of the CPI(ML), PB and CC members and Party leaders including Comrades Swadesh Bhattacharya, Kartik Pal, N Murthy, Ramjatan Sharma, Ramji Rai, Amar, Nand Kishor Prasad, KD Yadav, BB Panday, Saroj Choubey, Kunal, Sudama Prasad, Anwar Hussain, Mahanand, Sanjay, Jawaharlal Singh (Bhojpur Secretary) and the people gathered there paid floral tributes at the Statue. A minute's silence was observed in memory of the martyrs before the meeting began.
Comrade Dipankar, addressing the massive gathering, said Comrade Ram Naresh Ram's name will be inscribed in golden letters when true history of the social revolution in India will be written. The Statue installed on the banks of Sone will not only inspire the people of Bhojpur and Bihar in their struggles for emancipation, but to the oppressed people all over India. He said that when Bhojpur was known as a feudal fort, when the poor had no recognition, in such a period Comrade Ram Naresh Ram fought a very firm battle to smash the feudal dominance, establish the right to dignity and identity of the poor and in doing so changed not only Bhojpur but whole Bihar.
The meeting was addressed by other leaders too including Comrade Rameshwar Prasad, President of All India Agricultural Labourers’ Association (AIALA). The massive gathering at the Statue unveiling ceremony shows that Comrade Ram Naresh Ram is the real hero for the millions of poor and fighting people of Bihar. People’s poet Krishna Kumar Nirmohi sang inspiring songs. The Statue has been sculpted by sculptor Manoj Pankaj. A demand was made to name the bridge between Arwal and Sahar over the river Sone after Comrade Ram Naresh Ram, the construction for which he had raised demands constantly inside the State Assembly and out on the streets.