Reversal of Land Reforms:
CPI(M)’s Achilles’ Heel in West Bengal
The countrywide official campaign for reversal of land reforms has assumed a particularly farcical dimension in West Bengal . On August 4, the State Assembly witnessed a rare unity of the treasury and opposition benches when the House resolved to pass the West Bengal Land Reforms (Amendment) Bill after ridding it of the most controversial clause 14q which had proposed to do away with rural land ceiling on a whole set of pretexts. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and industries minister Nirupam Sen were however absent during the vote. While Bhattacharjee walked out minutes before the Bill was put to vote, Sen did not attend the House at all. The unity in this case however meant not the opposition supporting the treasury bench, but vice versa, as Left Front MLAs backed an amendment moved by the opposition Trinamool Congress! This manoeuvre was necessary because apparently a government cannot retract or amend a bill placed by itself!
West Bengal has of late been witnessing an alarming conversion of agricultural land into plantations and construction. The state government wanted to legalise and encourage the process and accordingly section 14q of the Amendment Bill had proposed to lift the ceiling to attract investment in the name of promoting cash crops, plantations, contract farming, tourism, infrastructure, urban construction and renewal and what not. But alongside investment, such a measure would have surely also invited enormous peasant resentment, and that is a risk sections of CPI(M) leadership are not prepared to take at a time when Assembly elections are less than a year away. The workers and employees of the state public sector and government departments are already up against the government’s campaign to downsize the workforce, and any convergence of worker-peasant anger could prove too much for the Left Front government to handle.
While land ceiling limits thus remain in force for the time being, the Amendment Bill has nevertheless managed to create enough ‘legal’ room for a shift in land use pattern away from agriculture or for transgressing the ceiling limits. The bill provides for outright sale of land belonging to closed factories and empowers district collectors to sanction changes in land use pattern. Ganashakti, the CPI(M)’s Bengali daily, ironically portrayed the amendment bill as an exercise in ‘plugging the loopholes’ of the existing Act. State CPI(M) Secretary Anil Biswas claimed that the ‘backtracking’ actually illustrated the CPI(M)’s commitment to evolving consensus views on contentious issues.
The Chief Minister however had another story to tell. After the Land Reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Molla informed the Assembly of his reservations regarding the attempt to do away with land ceilings, the Chief Minister tried to put up a brave front by telling the press that he too shared these reservations! In fact, he said he was surprised to discover such a clause in the bill and said someone must have overlooked it! The CPI(M) never tires of brandishing its record of land reforms in West Bengal . Is the CM then confessing that the Left Front government now treats the land reform agenda so casually that a clause seeking to do away with rural land ceiling could surreptitiously find its way into the bill presented by the government on the floor of the Assembly!
With their conflicting claims and clever pretensions, the CPI(M) leaders are however only managing to deepen the controversy. The day after the controversial clause was dropped, Abdur Rezzak Molla reiterated his reservations on the floor of the Assembly and called for a wider debate on land-use pattern so that the people of West Bengal get “a chance to express their opinion on the alarming shrinkage of agricultural land in the name of development.” He put the estimated magnitude of conversion of agricultural land at an alarming rate of 50,000 acres a year. Incidentally, right at the moment one Salem group of Indonesia , which has been invited by the Chief Minister to set up a new township, has asked for more than 5,000 acres of land in Molla’s home district South 24 Parganas!
While the minister stressed the need to save agricultural land in the course of his speech in the Assembly, on the same day Anil Biswas held forth in a Party meeting in Kolkata on the need to find more land for industrialization. As a report puts it, “Biswas made it clear that the party apparatus was solidly behind the chief minister, almost daring leaders who had opposed the amendment to stand up and resist.” ‘Make no mistake, there are 277,000 members in the CPM and another two crore with frontal and mass organisations, who will be directed to rally behind the government to enable it to carry out industrialisation,’ said the State Secretary.
As the Salem group and its corporate cousins from across the world hunt for thousands of acres of arable land to set up Bengal’s own Gurgaons and the party-turned-government apparatus called the CPI(M) rewrites land reform laws to bulldoze Bengal’s poor peasantry and bargadars into a renewed state of landlessness, the land question is bound to spring more surprises in West Bengal’s deceptively ‘stagnant and predictable’ politics.
CPI(ML) strongly condemns ATR on Nanavati Report and demands apology from PM Manmohan Singh
New Delhi, 9 August.
CPI(ML) strongly condemns the central government’s ATR on Nanavati Panel Report which is just an eye wash to save the culprits of 1984 massacre. Even after 21 years of the massacre of more than 3000 innocent Sikhs in the capital, the delaying tactics adopted by the various governments including the previous NDA government to save the notorious Congress leaders, the Manmohan Singh’s government has given the clean chit to the culprits.
CPI(ML) calls upon the central government to show its seriousness in upholding the rule of law and immediately remove Jagadish Tytler from the Cabinet and to initiate much belated legal actions against the named leaders, police officials and bureaucrats.
The whole nation and Sikh community in particular deserves an unqualified apology from PM Manmohan Singh and his Congress Party for the ’84 massacre of innocent citizens and action must be taken against the culprits.
CPI(ML) organised nationwide protests against military offensive of US imperialism and UPA government's policy of strategic surrender to American design
CPI(ML) commemorated the sixtieth anniversary of Hiroshima Day on 6 August, to pay tributes to lakhs of people killed in Japan by the atom bombs exploded by American imperialists over Hiroshima on Aug 6 and Nagasaki on Aug 9 in 1945, by organising nationwide protests against the worldwide military offensive of US imperialism and the UPA govt.'s policy of strategic surrender to this American design.
Party demanded scrapping of the dangerous strategic partnership agreement between the US and India and said, "Prime Minister of India should not tell jokes and lies. What he and his Defence Minister did in America was not a 'calculated risk', it was a planned strategic surrender to the US interests." Party charged that Manmohan Singh govt. is going ahead with previous NDA Govt.'s policies of close economic, strategic and military partnership with the US . Party warned the Govt. against playing into the US hands.
Protests were held in Delhi and many other centres of the country including Patna , Lucknow , Ranchi , Kolkata, Bhubaneshwar, Chennai and Jaipur and Bhilai.
In Delhi , CPI(ML) activists and supporters held a demonstration at Parliament Street , burnt the effigy of Manmohan Singh and American President Bush. Polit Bureau member Swadesh Bhattacharya and Central Committee members Prabhat Kumar, Swapan Mukherjee and Rajendra Pratholi led the demonstrators.
Protesters were holding flags, banners and placards which read, Shame on You! Unequal Partners of America (UPA) !!, US is Eying Indian Military Bases!, US is Attacking on India 's Sovereignty! Resist US Imperialism, Resist Pro-Imperialist UPA govt . Main banner of this protest demonstration read "Stop Playing into US Hands!"
In Uttar Pradesh, the day was observed by holding processions and burning of effigies of American President Bush in many cities including Lucknow , Raibarely, and Gazipur. A dharna before UP Assembly was also held by UP unit of the Party observing anti-imperialist day. In Rajasthan, a torch-light procession was organised in capital Jaipur. In Uttaranchal, protests were held in capital Dehradoon, Shrinagar, Haldwani and Rudrapur where effigies of Bush were also burnt.
CPI(ML) Assam State Committee observed the anniversary of infamous Hiroshima bombing and opposed the US-India military pact. A protest procession was brought out at Guwahati on 6 August. The processionists shouted slogans against US imperialism and its Indian agent and demanded to scrap the US-India military pact. Protesters burnt the effigy of the US-India military agreement, which will inevitably lead India to the US-Israel war axis. Similar protests were held at Diphu, Karbi Anglong, where CPI(ML) and ASDC(P) activists burnt the copy of US-India military agreement.
Protests were held in almost all district headquarters in West Bengal , while in Punjab , demonstrations were held at five places in district Mansa besides many other places. In Andhra Pradesh, similar protest were organised in Kakinada , Krishna and West Godavari districts where hundreds of poor people and peasants participated.
In Bihar , massive protests were organised in all districts of the state by the respective committees where burning of effigies and mass meetings were held. In Tamil Nadu, protests were held at many places on the day and a rally was also organised on August 9 at Chennai.
In Jharkhand, protests and effigy burnings took place in several district headquarters and the capital Ranchi . Hundreds of activists held an ani-imperialist march in Dhanbad on August 6 and held a mass meeting where pledge was taken to further intensify and widen the struggle against the surrender of UPA Govt. to the US military strategic interests. In Giridih district, peasants and rural poor took out procession against US imperialism in all the blocks and towns. Protests were also held in Deoghar, Palamau and Hazaribagh districts.
Second Jharkhand State Conference:
CPI(ML) Pledges to Develop Peasants and Working Class Movement to Newer Heights
CPI(ML)'s second Jharkhand State Conference was held on 28-30 July at Comrade Mahendra Singh Sabhagar in Ranchi. The three-day Conference began on 28 July, the martyrdom day of Comrade Charu Mazumdar. The Conference also paid tributes to great martyrs of 'Santhal Hul', Siddhu and Kanu. The memories of the struggles which Comrade Mahendra Singh shaped, developed and led, reverberated throughout the Conference. The Conference pledged to fulfil the unfinished dream of Com. Mahendra Singh who sacrificed his life fighting against the enemies of the poor, downtrodden and adivasis. Conference pledged to develop peasants' and working class movements to a newer heights. The Conference adopted several resolutions and chalked out a comprehensive plan of action for strengthening of the Party organisation and movemental resurgence. The Conference called upon the entire membership of the Party in Jharkhand to redouble their energies and initiatives and meet the expectations of the people of Jharkhand who want to see the CPI(ML) victorious in the struggle of liberation from the clutches of feudal-mafia-criminal nexus, communal forces and multinational companies. The Conference also vowed to nail down the killers of Com. Mahendra Singh by intensifying the people's struggles on land, wage, dignity and democracy. Delegates pledged to develop a mass upsurge that will punish Dipak Verma and his political mentors.
The Conference began with flag hoisting by a veteran working class leader Bhaiyalal Besra and floral tributes by Party leaders and delegates at the martyrs' column. A two minute silence was observed in the memory of the martyrs. Activists of Jharkhand Sanskriti Manch presented revolutionary songs. Party General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya lit the lamp and inaugurated the Conference.
After the inaugural address by Comrade Dipankar, CPI(M) State Secretary Com. Gyan Shankar Mazumdar, CPI State Council member, noted intellectual and Secretary of Jharkhand Sanskriti Manch Dr. V.P.Kesari, Vice-President of Jan Sanskriti Manch Ravi Bhushan and Journalist Faisal Anurag addressed the session. Party Central Committee members Ramji Rai, who was also the Central Observer for the Conference, and Swapan Mukherjee (General Secretary of AICCTU) also addressed the session.
265 delegates and 15 observers and guests attended the delegate session which began with the presentation of the work report by Subhendu Sen. More than 90 delegates participated in discussions and put forth their opinions and suggestions. The work report was passed after incorporating some suggestions came from the delegates.
The Conference elected a 31-member new State Committee which in turn reelected Subhendu Sen as its Secretary. A 8-point task of organisational consolidation with increased Party membership, effective intervention in Panchayat elections, and developing mass organisations, etc. was adopted by the Conference which concluded with the Internationale.
CPI(ML) Seventh Delhi State Conference Concludes With a Clarion Call to Become the Main Voice of the Delhi’s Working People
The Seventh Delhi State Conference of the CPI(ML) was held on 6-7 August in M.P. Club at South Avenue. Veteran Party comrade Mulkaraj inaugurated the Conference by hoisting the Red Flag. The Conference began with organisational session after paying rich tributes to the martyrs of the communist movement and the people’s struggles.
Polit Bureau members Com.Swadesh Bhattacharya and Com.Nand Kishore Prasad were present as Chief Guest and Central Observer respectively. Other important leaders present were Central Committee members Prabhat Kumar and Swapan Mukherjee.
In the beginning, CPI(ML)’s State Secretary Rajendra Pratholi presented political-organisational report. The report elaborates on the growing anger of the people of Delhi against troubles arising as a consequence to privatization of electricity and water. The report states that “every attempt is being made to snuff the basic issues of people amidst noises created by so much talk on metros and flyovers”. Further, “in the era of globalization, while a pretty good section has prospered, at the same time exploitation of poor has intensified along with widening rifts in income levels.” The report again says that “the poor are exposed to multi pronged assaults due to unavailability of jobs, growing consumerist culture and ever widening gap between the rich and poor. In all the life of the poor has become hell.”
The Conference has presented some important tasks to the new Committee that include to give a concrete shape to the struggles for social security, dignity and minimum wages; Providing sharp edge to the struggles of urban poor for BPL cards and ration supply as per their need and for round the year employment; and, Bringing and making the issue of privatization of public goods and services and proper rehabilitation of the displaced poor, in the centre of Delhi politics.
The Confernce passed resolutions condemning barbarity on Honda workers in Gurgaon, on peasants at Tonk in Rajasthan, and Delhi police for increased incidents of rapes and atrocities on women. Conference also appealed to make the rasta roko-jail bharoon August 24 called by CPI(ML) and all-India general strike on September 29 called by trade unions a grand success.
The conference concluded with the call to make the CPI(ML) as the main voice of the millions of toiling and working people of Delhi . The Conference elected a fifteen member State Committee which re-elected Rajendra Pratholi as the State Secretary.
Pass the Women’s Bill in its Original Form
The All India Progressive Women’s Association felt that the Government was again trying to scuttle the Bill by proposing to increase the number of seats in the Parliament and also trying to achieve a consensus. The appeasement of patriarchal leaders cannot be tolerated. Women are demanding their just right. The AIPWA said that the Women’s Bill should be passed in its original form through discussion and voting in Parliament.
CPI(ML) Criticizes Hike in Allowances of UP MLAs
CPI(ML) UP State Committee has criticised Mulayam Govt’s decision to increase salary-allowance of MLAs and said that when a large population of the State is not even getting bare minimum in contrast to adequately privileged MLAs, such a move is utterly callous and totally immoral.
Dharna against attacks on Dalit Bastis in Gazipur
The upper caste feudals attacked a dalit basti in village Gahmar of Gazipur district in which two houses belonging to dalits were raged to ground. Two years back CPI(ML) had led an agitation to free 150 bighas of patta lands belonging to poor-dalit people from the clutches of powerful feudals belonging to Rajput caste, and the dalits had got back their lands. This incident was perpetrated by same frustrated feudals to terrorise the dalits.
A party team led by State Committee member Com.Ishwari Prasad immediately rushed to the site of incident. Party has demanded arrests of the attackers, rehabilitation of the affected people and guarantee of the safety of dalits in the state besides a high level inquiry of the incident. Party also staged dharnas at Gazipur and Zamania with these demands.
Right to Contest Elections Restored for 16 STs in UP
The UP State Election Commission ultimately agreed to the demand of withdrawing its order that barred 16 tribal castes from contesting elections for Panchayats in UP. CPI(ML) conducted an agitation for many days and held a protest dharna at Sonbhadra that ultimately forced the UP administration to accept the demand. Now, party has demanded from the UP CM Mulayam Singh to extend an apology for causing mental suffering to the lakhs of tribal people in many districts of Eastern UP. Sixteen scheduled tribes including Gond, Dhuria, Nayak and Bhuiyan, etc. were included into the list of STs a year ago. Earlier they were listed as SCs. Now in the Panchayat elections they were barred from contesting elections in their own panchayats as they are still reserved for SCs, although they are the only people who inhabit many villages. So in many panchayats not a single candidate was there to contest elections. This is a reflection of how the bureaucracy works in UP under the political leadership of Mulayam Singh.
Women's Assembly in Lucknow
UP unit of All India Progressive Women's Association and Tehriq-e-Niswan organised a women's assembly in Lucknow on July 30 which was attended by hundreds of women from all over the state. Many of the participants described their sordid tales of injustice and atrocities and demanded justice from the government.
The Assembly demanded punishment to the culprits of many incidents of rapes and other atrocities against women including the one where rapist policemen are being protected by the administration in Naugarh of Chandauli district.
Assembly passed a ten-point resolution which included condemnation of Imrana incident, Lucknow's Ashiana rape case, caste panchayats' barbaric decisions in West UP districts and anti-women attitude of Mulayam Singh govt. and demanded to table the Women's Reservation Bill in this session of Parliament besides demands for employment and social safety for women.
Assembly was addressed by AIPWA President Srilata Swaminathan, eminent jurist Nandita, Mahila Federation's Hamida Habibullah, Tehriq-e-Niswan's Tahira Hasan, Ex-Vice Chancellor of Lucknow University Dr. Rooprekha Verma, and AIPWA leaders Kripa Verma and Ajanta Lohit.
Dharna Before Assam Assembly
CPI(ML), ASDC(P), KSA, DSU and KNCA staged a dharna before Assam Assembly on 8 August, the first day of the Assembly Session to demand the implementation of Article 144(A) of the Indian Constitution. The organizations condemned the anti-autonomy policies of the Congress Government both at the center and State. It vehemently criticised the corruption, police repression and anti-people steps of the Congress-led Autonomous Councils of Karbi Anglong and N C Hills. Ex-MP Jayanta Rongpi, Party State Secretary Rubul Sarma along with Chandra Kanta Terang, President of ASDC(P), Denial Teron, GS of ASDC (P), Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council members and leaders of DSU, KSA, KNCA were present in the Dharna along with hundreds of activists.
AICCTU Opposes Illegal Lockout
UP unit of AICCTU has protested illegal lockout on a leather tanning factory in Unnao where 532 workers have been rendered jobless in violation of all labour and industrial Laws. AICCTU is holding a mass hunger strike in protest at the DM office in Unnao from August 3. While planning to further intensify the agitation, AICCTU has also asked UP Labour and Home Secretaries for immediate intervention.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.cpiml.org