The CPI(ML) organised nationwide “Powell-Go-Back” protests on January 18 coinciding with the visit of the US Secretary of State and held that the US is scripting a plan to destabilise the whole of South Asia for its own strategic interests. Party activists and supporters in Delhi and elsewhere in various states held protest demonstrations and meetings and burnt effigies of Colin Powell. CPI(ML) leaders asserted that India and Pakistan must resolve all outstanding issues through resumption of a comprehensive dialogue without any American intervention.

Speaking at a protest-meeting at Parliament Street in New Delhi, CPI(ML) Central Committee member Swapan Mukherjee called for immediate demobilisation of troops on both sides of the border and said that no dialogue could take place in the shadow of yet another war between the two neighbours.

CPI(ML) leaders Rajendra Pratholi, Ranjit Abhigyan, Kavita Krishnan also addressed the protest-meeting.

The “Powell-Go-Back” protests were part of the countrywide campaign which the CPI(ML) has launched against the growing imperialist and communal fascist threat to the Indian Republic. The first phase of this campaign will culminate on January 25, the eve of the Republic Day.

– Ranjit Abhigyan


“A Pond in each village, a well in each house”

In the newly created state of Jharkhand, our Party network is expanding fast to areas where we did not have much influence in the past couple of decades. Erstwhile Santhal Pargana is one such region. Although the sparks of Naxalbari had reached here and, being adjacent to Birbhum in West Bengal, it was very much influenced by the uprising in 1971, the movement could not be revived after the setback. A serious attempt is being made in this direction now and encouraging prospects are already in sight.

On 4 January, a large meeting took place in Kundahit block of Jamtara district in which around 2,500 people participated. This militant and colourful rally was held at the BDO office to demand irrigation facilities, with the slogan “A pond in each village, a well in each house”. The main speaker at the rally was Com. Mahendra Singh, MLA and Party Central Committee member. The meeting was also addressed by district Party secretary Com. Dilip Mandal and popular local leaders Babudhan Kisku and Shivdas Soren.

Jan Adhikar Rally

On 5 January, a huge “Jan Adhikar Rally” was held at Ramgarh in Hazaribagh district. Around 15,000 people participated in it. The main speaker was Party General Secretary Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya. Other main speakers included Com. Subhendu Sen, Secretary of Jharkhand State Committee and CC member Com. Mahendra Singh, Giridih Party Secretary Com. Rajkumar Yadav and AIPWA state President Guni Oraon. The meeting was presided over by Com. Javed Islam. The rally was held on three main issues: (1) employment guarantee and dignity; (2) end to corruption, price rise and massacres; and (3) development in the state. A 14-point resolution was also passed. Speakers pointed out that Jharkhand, a state rich in mineral resources, produces much revenue, but all that is being wasted and embezzled by the corrupt Marandi government. Our Party has not only put forward a programme for development of the state, it has also taken initiative to appoint a review committee, to suggest reforms in Chhota Nagpur Tenancy Act and Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act in order to plug the loopholes which enable the land grabbers to snatch land from the adivasis. Speakers also raised their voice against POTO, pointing out that it was only a weapon to murder democracy.

On 6 January, a mass meeting attended by around 3,000 people was held at Jaina More in Bokaro district. It was addressed by Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya who said that India and Pakistan, the two SAARC giants, must hold talks among themselves to resolve bilateral issues bilaterally instead of taking them to other countries like US, Britain, Japan and China. Com. Mahendra Singh pointed out that public sector industries like Central Coalfields Ltd. and Bokaro Steel Ltd. have snatched land from adivasis under the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 which says that the land must be utilised for the purpose originally conceived at the time of acquisition, otherwise the land has to be returned to their erstwhile owners at purchase rates. But the CCL and BSL are now coming out with tenders to auction these lands to non-adivasis who will utilise it for other purposes. This clearly shows that the BJP govt. at the Centre and in Jharkhand are working against the interests of adivasis. He also attacked Shibu Soren and JMM for siding with the enemies of Jharkhand, the mafia and big traders against whom he had started a movement in 1974. The meeting was also addressed by Com. Upendra Singh, Party secretary of Dhanbad district, AICCTU leader Bikash Singh and AIPWA state secretary Meena. It was presided over by Com. Devdeep Singh Diwakar, a Party leader from Bokaro district.


Jute workers in West Bengal betrayed again

The 18 central trade unions active in the 59 jute mills of West Bengal have given an indefinite strike call from 7 January. The major demands of the jute workers were: immediate tripartite settlement pending from 1996, abolition of the system of vagawala-vouture workers and their absorption as regular workers of the mills, variable DA for all workers, and a ban on recruitment of low paid workers in the mills. The situation was very favourable for the workers to continue the strike and the workers’ mood was also in favour of strike. But the Left Front govt. succumbed to the mill owners and a black agreement was singed by CITU and INTUC where wage was linked with productivity so that the wage of the workers would be curtailed, recruiting low-paid workers in the mills would be a ‘lawful’ activity of the mill owners. Our jute federation (BCMF) declined to sign the agreement. There is tremendous resentment against the settlement. 14 jute mills are on strike, workers attacked the trade union leaders who betrayed the interests of the workers. Our federation along with UTUC (LS) are unitedly planning to carry on the struggle of the jute workers so that a fresh agreement is arrived at.