The electoral alliances in Bihar and Jharkhand among major ruling class parties show that they are troubled partnerships. The Congress simply ignored Lalu and entered into an alliance with the JMM in Jharkhand without even consulting the RJD and other UPA partners. The piqued Lalu angrily announced that he would have nothing to do with the Congress in Bihar. He bravely declared that he did not need Congress in Bihar. But he could put up a defiant face only for 24 hours. The face-saving opportunity came as a meeting with Arjun Singh. After his meeting with Arjun Singh, Lalu mellowed. But what he achieved in concrete terms has not been reported. Whether he got even 2 or 3 seats more in Jharkhand from the Congress is not known. But this episode amply proves that Lalu is in no position to dictate terms to the Congress in the assembly elections 2005.
Interestingly, the Congress is playing a junior partner to the JMM in Jharkhand with only 33 out of 81 seats and the JMM share is 35 seats. The JMM has not even entertained any talks with Lalu and Lalu is throwing all his tantrums only before the Congress to increase his tally by 2 or 3 seats.
The Congress has been playing big brother vis-ŕ-vis its partners but whether it would be able to gain a few more seats in Bihar is doubtful. One vocal section in the Congress has been demanding more than 100 seats in Bihar. Ultimately the Congress has to remain content with the seats where it has sitting MLAs with some grace additions. Despite coming to power at the Centre, there has been absolutely no sign of revival of the Congress in the crucial Hindi belt and the party will once again be forced to hang on to the coat tails of Lalu Yadav.
The eclipsed BJP is also playing a junior partner to the JD(U) in Bihar. The JD(U) will contest 138 seats and the BJP will field candidates in 105 seats. But the BJP-JD(U) combine has failed to rope in Ram Vilas Paswan’s LJP despite their best efforts. Both the parties have also decided to have separate manifestoes. There is serious lack of unanimity in perceptions on Bihar among these parties. The question of chief ministership if the combine wins the majority also remains an open question. There are reports that the BJP would rely on the rabble-rouser, Uma Bharati as the star campaigner in both Bihar and Jharkhand.
In Jharkhand, the nervous BJP government has framed charges against Shibu Soren just on the eve of the elections. The BJP will contest 63 seats in Jharkhand and the JD(U) has been confined to 17 seats only. There is rebellion in the BJP as many prominent sitting candidates have not been given tickets and even Babulal Marandi who has strong aspirations for the chief minister post and desperately wants to contest the assembly polls despite being a sitting MP, doesn’t find his name in the BJP’s first list.
It is yet open how Paswan will play in the coming days. Nitish Kumar revealed to the press that Paswan was even offered the chief minister’s post. Even then Paswan seems to have spurned an alliance, probably hoping that his post-elections bargaining position would be better. The CPI(M) and CPI have chosen to decline the CPI(ML) offer of a broader left alliance in Bihar and Jharkhand and have been totally left in the lurch by the Congress and the JMM in Jharkhand. In Bihar also Lalu is in no mood to listen to their unrealistically high demands. In Bihar the CPI(M) is demanding 10 seats though Yechuri has claimed that the RJD has offered 3 seats to the party. The CPI was not given any seats by the RJD last time and it remains to be seen whether they will be accommodated though they have pitched their demand at an impossible high of 20 seats. On the whole, the CPI(M) and the CPI are being humiliated in both Bihar and Jharkhand as they were badly treated in the Lok Sabha polls, despite the CPI leadership directly interceding with the Congress high command and requesting the Congress to obtain a better bargain for the Left.
The CPI(ML) has announced that it would be contesting more than 100 seats in Bihar and about 25 seats in Jharkhand. It has also released its first list of candidates for Bihar and Jharkhand. The Party has already stepped up its campaign in both the states with the clarion call to defeat the forces of feudal-kulak and communal-criminal violence, for a bold assertion of the poor’s agenda, send maximum number of CPI(ML) representatives to the Assembly and move forward for a democratic Bihar and Jharkhand.
The CPI(ML) shares the concern and agony with the nation on the Tidal tragedy and expresses heartfelt condolences to the families of thousands of people in India and neighbouring South and South-East Asian countries who lost their lives on Dec 26 in a sudden eruption of the violent tsunami waves triggered by an earthquake and asks the government of India to declare this devastation as national calamity. The party called upon the government to take appropriate measures for rescue, rehabilitation and relief on a war footing to the millions of people fallen victim to the tragedy. The Party also advised the govt. to extend every possible help to the affected people in neighbouring countries in this hour of need.
This immense devastation has not only claimed lives of thousands and caused innumerable casualties but also rendered millions of people homeless with every belonging of them swept away by the flooding waters. CPI(ML) calls upon all its units, members, supporters, sympathisers and all citizens to share the griefs of those who have to bear the direct impact of this calamity with every possible help. CPI(ML) units in the affected states, including Andamans, Kerala, AP, Tamil Nadu and Orissa, have rushed to the most affected areas for conducting relief operations, shoulder-to-shoulder with various benevolent organisations, groups and individuals.
We appeal to you all to come forward with every possible help and support to our brethren facing this calamity. We also appeal to you to send monetary help, in cash or in kind, to conduct the relief operations. You can send your local cheques/ Bank Drafts/ Money Orders in favour of 'CPI(ML)'. Please mention in your covering letter "Contribution for Relief Fund" and send your valuable contribution to our Central Office at U-90, Shakarpur, Delhi - 110092.
Communist Party of India (ML)
If CPI(ML) has attained recognition of the people as a party of difference - as a party committed for the people's movement, a party firmly upholding revolutionary democracy facing all odds and making sacrifices for the cause - it has been able to earn recognition as a party of difference in parliamentary struggles also.
In popular perception, Ministers/ MPs/ MLAs are not reachable, accountable or answerable to the people, their electorate; They are surrounded by vested interests, corrupt middlemen, contractors, feudal, mafia and criminal forces; They are busy in sheltering and protecting loot-corruption-bribes-scams-scandals-crimes and criminals, if not directly involved as exceptions. Common people are clear and loud about them: "SUB CHOR HAI". Here again, in recent years, CPI(ML) MLAs in Bihar and Jharkhand Assemblies have asserted as MLAs of difference - distinctly different from all others. They remained and did act as people's true representatives, maintained close ties with the people, especially workers, peasants, rural poor and weaker sections of the society and led their movement, braved threats, lathis, false cases and jails. On the assembly floor, they remained vocal on issues related to development, democracy and social justice and on the specific issues of the poor and down-trodden. They persistently raised and fought for land reforms effecting distribution of surplus land and unused forest lands, etc. to the poor and landless, irrigation and other assistance to the poor and middle peasantry, housing, health care, education and jobs for all and social dignity and security for dalits, adivasis, minorities and women in particular. They fought for agro-based, job-oriented industrial policies aiming at revival of closed or partially closed industries and setting up new industries instead of promoting market for foreign products. CPI(ML) MLAs exposed and opposed with real facts and substantial arguments in the debates on pro-MNCs-pro-rich budget proposals and other anti-people bills and Acts. They firmly denied to support passing of any such bill or Act. They vehemently opposed imposition of TADA and POTA and all Acts of state repression and government's failure to protect the citizens, particularly the women, religious minorities and other weaker sections from the onslaughts of feudal-criminal-communal forces.
While MLA development fund symbolises the vicious cycle of loot-corruption-commissions-contractors-MLAs, CPI(ML) MLAs stood untainted and clean, attempted to develop most backward areas and to the benefit of the poor of the poorest through people's involvement and supervision.
While the Ministers and MLAs hunt for accumulating money and property for themselves, CPI(ML) MLAs relies on the poor working people and are strictly guided by the Party. In short, they have emerged as a different breed of people's representatives.
Election is supposed to be a vital component of democracy. MLAs are elected to comprise an Assembly of the people's elected representatives. Both the treasury bench and the opposition are supposed to reflect and represent the interests and aspirations of the people and remain accountable and answerable to the electorate. But in real life it is being successively established that the assembly, party/parties and their MLAs in power or in opposition are indeed elected by the people (anyway) but not for the people.
Elections, for the ruling parties of all hues, is an open exercise of money and muscle power, of promoting all feudal, backward values to hoodwink and divide the society on caste and communal lines, and what not! In contrast, CPI(ML)'s election campaign is aimed at popular exposure of the ruling class parties and their aspirant candidates, the real character of the present-day Assemblies and other representative bodies and governments and the character of bourgeois opposition as well as to educate, rouse, mobilise the poor and working people and other democratic forces with an alternative vision and for a powerful assertion of the people's democratic agenda aiming at strengthening the democratic voice further within and without the Assembly.
The party, to this end in view, earnestly solicits all cooperation and support from the poor and working and oppressed people as well as from all the democratic-minded people of the society cutting across caste, community, religion, etc.
The CPI(ML) is gearing up its election campaign in Bihar and Jharkhand. It will contest more than a hundred seats in Bihar and around thirty seats in Jharkhand. It is likely to field a few candidates in Haryana too where the Party has developed some pockets of influence. Some of its leaders and cadres are already in jail and many others are under the threats of arrest under false and fabricated cases against them, for nothing else but for their upholding the poor and oppressed people's cause and leading their movement. The state machinery which is supposed to be the election machinary seems to be least bothered to curb the known criminals who are generally backed by the parties of the ruling classes. On the contrary, they are tightening the noose to threat and terrorise the poor and oppressed masses in our strongholds. Look at Bihar, known to have turned to be a "criminal-raj", none of the known criminals is booked. And even if some of them are sent to jails, it is only to facilitate their acts of crime with active help and support of the administration and the govt. Officials in league with such criminals or working for the party in power are mostly left intact.
Jharkhand also is no exception. Even the Superintendent of Police Deepak Verma in Giridih, who worked as a lieutenant of a BJP minister, and it is known to all, is to bear the 'responsibility' of conducting the 'free and fair' elections despite repeated complaints. In Koderma, our proposed candidate Ramdhan Yadav was beaten-up at the instance of the local RJD MLA. Our leaders and cadres including the candidate are still under constant threat. But the administration is silent over that and one should not be astonished if the administration comes up with crackdown on our cadres and support base on any fictitious pretext.
Amidst all these odds, the CPI(ML) is gearing up its election campaign with all its might. The party urges upon all democratic personalities and organisations to impress and convince the Election Commission to take effective steps in these regards, and let the people play their role in providing a befitting response to the anti-people rulers, freely and fearlessly.
-- Rajindar Sachar
The real face of globalization and the danger it poses in poor country like India are now coming home to roost. This has reference to the Patent Amendment ordinance 2004 issued by Central Government by which India is going to switch over to product patent as against the existing process patent. It is a mystery as to why many of the redeeming provisions permissible even under the Trips agreement have not been included. The ordinance in its present form makes the accessibility ; and availability of medicine at low cost very difficult thus affecting the health of people at large.
To give an instance the antiretroviral (ARV) drugs (to combat AIDS) for which multi-national pharmaceutical companies used to charge about US dollars 12,000 annually per person but were compelled to reduce price because India under the existing process patent regime introduced the generic version of the ARV drugs and the price fell down to US dollars 140 annually per person.
Countries like Pakistan under Product patent are already reeling under monopolistic prices charged by Multi-national Corporations (MNC). The network’s Newsletter of Pakistan of September 1996 notes “Pakistani consumers could have saved over rupees one billion on only nine medicines in 1995 if the companies would have offered the same price as they do in India. Pakistani consumers paid Rs.1,7,02,883.000 for buying these 9 medicines (14% of the retail market). These drugs are marketed by the same companies in India as well but at much lower prices.
If patients in Pakistan were offered by these companies the same prices, their medicine bills would have come down to one-third (a 66% saving) or they would have saved a staggering amount of Rs.1,049,493.000”. The present saving could even be still more phenomenal at current prices. It may be noted that Anti-Inflexilant Cipro Flexocine (10 tablets costing Rs.50 in India costs Rs. 400 in Pakistan Anti-Ulcer Medicine Rantidine costing Rs.5 per packet in India costs Rs. 74 in Pakistan.
Our present Patent Act strikes a balance between the property rights of a patentee in medicine and the public interest involved in cheap availability of medicine, by empowering Controller of patent to grant a license to produce commercially any such product to any person on such terms as he thinks fit even if the patentee has refused to do so. This equitable provision has also been accepted by Doha Declaration-2001. Following this, Brazil, Canada, China provide for compulsory license being granted on reasonable terms if the patentee has refused to do so inspite of commercial terms having been offered. The deliberate omission of this public interest provision in the ordinance even though permitted under the Trips agreement is impossible to explain when it is well known that the absence of such provisions for compulsory licensing, will only benefit the MNC who will have a field day to charge any monopolistic prices.
Another serious flaw is that it proposes to do away with the effective pre-grant opposition procedure. Currently there are 6000 applications pending (received during 1995-2004).Though formally permitting a pre-grant opposition to the grant of patent, ordinance-2004 incredibly makes a mockery of this right by stating that a person who is opposing the grant will not be given any hearing by the controller. This reduces the pre-grant opposition virtually to a mockery, and is doubly objectionable when countries like Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan have granted full pre-grant hearing to the objector. This denial will lead automatically to the grant of Patent to the majority of these 6000 mail box applicants. This will have disastrous effect on those of local manufacturers whose products are already in the market. They will be in danger of being charged with infringing the patent. A provision has therefore to be made that any products which are already in the market between 1995 and 2004 would be immune from challenge for infringing any patent which may be granted to any of these 6000 applicants.
The Ordinance has not properly incorporated the August 30th Decision of the TRIPS General Council, which permits the grant of compulsory licences for export purpose to countries with no or insufficient manufacturing capacity in the pharmaceutical sector. The Ordinance proposes to permit compulsory licensing to a country with no or insufficient manufacturing capacity in the pharmaceutical sector, if there is a corresponding patent in the importing country. This ignores the fact that in many instances, there may not be any patent protection in the importing country because the deadline for Least Developing Countries (LDCs) to comply with TRIPS is 2016. In such a situation the Indian Drug companies would not be able to export to LDCs thus leaving the field open to MNC..
With all these dangers concerning public health, Ordinance is not an option. These are matters which need to be debated fully in the parliament. The facile explanation that if ordinance was not issued, it would violate the 1 January 2005 deadline by which India was expected to change the patent law to comply with Trips and incur penalty is an imaginary ghost. UK, France, Argentina delayed making amendments to conform to trips by 3 years, 1 year and 4 years respectively without having been imposed any penalty. Why then such a panicky reaction from our Government remains unexplained.
(Slightly abridged - Ed.)
CPI(ML) strongly condemns the continuing attacks on its leaders by the UP administration and framing them under black laws on false charges. Now the Goonda Act has been imposed on Comrade Kranti Kumar Singh, State Committee member of the party, who led a valiant struggle against land and food-grain mafia in Lakhimpur-Kheri district. Comrade Kranti and Lakhimpur-Kheri District Secretary Comrade Ramdaras are already facing cases under Gangster Act and other black laws.
In Varanasi, Secretary of Bhagat Singh Youth Brigade Virendra Yadav has also been framed under Goonda Act. While in Jamania of Ghazipur district, two Party activists, belonging to most backward Vanvasi (Musahar) community, have been framed on false charges under Gangster Act as well as Goonda Act. Though the charges framed on these two were found to be fake and concocted even by a high level police inquiry, still police is continuing with the case.
These blatantly revengeful acts by the UP administration clearly indicates Mulayam Singh govt.'s intention of siding with the mafia-criminal nexus and continuing attacks on democratic movement to suppress every voice of people's protest. Recently UP police worked in association with a feudal-criminal army Shriram Sena to suppress rural poor supporting the CPI(ML) in districts of eastern UP. CPI(ML) UP unit has declared statewide agitation unless such repression on rural poor and agricultural labourers' movement is not stopped by the UP govt.
Party's All India Railway Party Branch held its 5th Conference on 18-19 December at Dibrugarh. The conference venue was coined as Comrade Anil Barua Nagar and the dias as Comrade S N Lal Manch. The Conference criticized the government's policies of liberalisation impacting railways and its employees in an adverse manner. It was resolved to oppose various ongoing 'restructuring' measures, especially outsourcing in the form of contractualisation and privatisation of many services. Indian Railways' intentions to shirk from the direct responsibility of production, repairs, safety, medical and employees' welfare, which the former now calls as 'non-core activities', was vehemently opposed in the conference and it was decided to strengthen and spread the organisation to build a widespread movement on these issues.