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June 2004

Campaign Trail 2004


The Mandate and the Market

if the election results announced on May 11 and May 13 were dramatic, the developments unfolding in Delhi and Mumbai over the next one week were even more so. It took more than two days for the shell-shocked BJP leaders to describe the mandate as fractured and to claim that the mandate belonged to neither the NDA nor the Congress and its allies. Considering that the NDA got less than 200 seats and the pre-poll alliance of the Congress a little above 200, the description was a bit of a truism. Yet with the sixty-strong Left bloc committing its unconditional support for a Congress-led coalition, there was none of that uncertainty that is normally associated with post-poll alliance-building. All those forces who had hoped to play kingmaker, or queenmaker, as Laloo Prasad put it, found themselves quite redundant.

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  Mandate 2004

Andhra Pradesh Assembly Polls:

Cyber Regime Erased

CHandrababu Naidu was an expert in downloading the lingo from the IT world and using it fashionably in statecraft to earn the image of an IT-savvy Chief Minister, even as the numbers of starvation deaths and farmers’ suicides were mounting in his state under his regime. No wonder, his cyber regime just got deleted at the press of a button! Naidu escaped from the PWG’s claymore mines but the bombshell dropped by the electorate finished him off politically.

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Karnataka Assembly Election Results:

Krishna Pays Dearly for Aping Naidu

IF the people’s mandate in Karnataka state assembly polls indicates anything, it is not an endorsement of BJP and its communal agenda, rather it is a decisive vote against the pro-rich, pro-urban economic policies pursued by S.M.Krishna led Congress government. This argument is also further reinforced by the significant, unexpected increase in the number of seats won by the JD(S) led by‘farmer’ Deve Gowda, making it the third major component in the state politics. Once again the results have  proved that the heart of the state  lies in the rural areas and any effort to pursue urban elitist development is bound to boomerang.

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Orissa: BJP-NDA Survives

ORissa emerged as an exception to the general trend against the BJP-led NDA in the recent elections. On face value, the so-called anti-incumbency factor did not work here against the Navin Patnaik led BJD-BJP combine, unlike the case of the Naidu regime in neighbouring Andhra. The decision to prepone the assembly elections gave dividends to Navin Patnaik. Election results paved the way for the installation of the BJD-BJP Government for the second time in Orissa.

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The Clean Reverse Sweep in Tamil Nadu

NOt in cricket, but in elections, Tamil Nadu is known for its reverse sweep, or for that matter even clean reverse sweep. The 1991 and 1996 elections are a proof of this. In 1991, the Congress-AIADMK combine had bagged all the 39 seats in the state, Congress winning 28 and AIADMK 11, and in 1996 it was the DMK-TMC(M)-Left combine that bagged all the 39 seats (DMK 17, TMC-M 20 and CPI-2). However, in 1998 and 1999 election this tendency remained not so clean, but it was a reverse sweep all the same. For instance in 1998, the AIADMK-BJP combine bagged 25 seats (AIADMK-18, BJP-7) and TMC-DMK-PMK-MDMK-Left got 14 seats (DMK-5, TMC-3, PMK-3, MDMK-3). But in 1999, the result was just the opposite, with the DMK-BJP-MDMK-PMK combine getting 28 seats and the Congress-ADMK-Left combine limited to 11 seats only. Psephologists were of the opinion that the clean reverse sweep trend had bidden farewell to Tamil Nadu and therefore some of them were even allocating an increase in seats to the BJP-ADMK combine. All these predictions fell flat and Tamil Nadu plus Pondicherry played the biggest role in effecting the crucial 80 seat difference between the NDA and the Congress-led alliance. And it also helped Left parties to win four seats.

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Formula Flops in Saffron Lab

In April 2004 , the Supreme Court had delivered a severe indictment of the Narendra Modi Government in the landmark Best Bakery case, ordering a retrial outside Gujarat, observing that the State Govt. behaved like “modern day Neros looking elsewhere when Best Bakery and innocent children and helpless women were burning". By the next month, the people of Gujarat had delivered an equally scathing indictment of the Modi Government. What must be most galling for the BJP State Govt. must be that it was precisely those areas of the state where the genocide had been worst, and where people had ensured Modi’s Assembly victory in the post-riot polls , which decisively gave the BJP a drubbing this time around.

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Election Campaign 2004:

A Quick Balance Sheet

In the 14 th Lok Sabha elections, we contested a total of 65 seats spread over 16 states (Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Uttarnachal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Assam and Tripura) and two Union Territories (Andaman and Nicobar islands and Pondicherry). The constituencies covered all our major areas of work. Some constituencies were also chosen with a view to expanding the Party’s operational base and intervening in some major points of industrial and agrarian crisis. Every fifth constituency contested by the Party was a reserved seat (8 SC and 6 ST reserved seats in a total of 65 seats).

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The CPI(M)’s Continuing Dilemma: To Join or Not to Join

Statistically speaking, the 2004 elections have seen the Left parties put up their best ever electoral performance. For the first time the combined strength of the Left bloc in the Lok Sabha has crossed the 60 mark. As many as 55 of the Left’s seats have come from West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. In West Bengal, the Left Front wrested 9 of the 10 seats held earlier by the TMC-BJP combine while the Congress was successful in wresting three additional seats from the Left, raising the Congress tally in the state to six. The TMC’s stock was clearly falling in the state since the 2001 Assembly elections, but the Congress has not yet succeeded in reclaiming the opposition space in and around Kolkata that once belonged to it and later came to be occupied by the TMC. This resulted in a huge electoral benefit for the Left Front with the CPI(M) managing to win even the most difficult seats of greater Kolkata. Mamata Banerjee managing to hold on to her seat with a considerably reduced margin was the only ‘consolation prize’ the TMC could win.

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Senseless Sensex

what a difference a decade of neo-liberal regimes can make ! At the beginning of the nineties if anybody related to the stock market – foreign or domestic – had made even a minor comment on the pros and cons of a newly elected Indian government he or she would have been completely ignored or laughed out of existence.

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Mandate 2004:

Signals and Opportunities

In March 1977 when Indira Gandhi finally ‘ordered’ elections little did she know that she would be in for a massive shock. When the results were out, the Congress stood liquidated almost everywhere except the southern states. Likewise in December 2003, the Sangh Parivar too could not possibly anticipate that by gambling for early elections it would only be hastening the downfall of the Vajpayee regime. But the ‘upset’ is now a recorded fact. The BJP and its allies have been virtually decimated in all but a few states. At the end of the day, two of independent India’s most arrogant and anti-people rogue regimes have met with the same fate. Good riddance!

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The “Poll Boycott” by MCC and PWG

gone are the days when formations like MCC and PWG issued poll boycott calls with a proclaimed purpose of weaning people away from parliamentary politics. Or for that matter, to prepare for launching armed struggle to seize power, rejecting the ‘parliamentary path’. Of course, this time too there were incidents of attack on policemen during the election period, as for example in Aurangabad of Bihar, Giridih and West Singhbhum of Jharkhand, Bastar and Surguja of Chhattisgarh and Guntur in Andhra by MCC and PWG squads. But no one can deny the fact that there is a palpable change in the attitude towards elections on the part of both PWG and MCC, notwithstanding regional variations in implementation of their tactic.

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  Campaign Trail 2004

Cultural activism during the election campaign in Bihar

Singing About The Red Wave

Student activists and cultural teams participated enthusiastically in our election campaign. We bring you some notes about their experiences on the campaign trail. Radhika Menon from JNU offers a glimpse of a cultural activists' team, and also reports from Jehanabad and Bhojpur.
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The “Disturbed” Areas

When the rich brutally attack the poor on a daily basis it is “peace” and when the poor stand up to resist the attacks, then it is said to be “disturbed”, explained a comrade, in a village where we had stopped for the night after campaigning. And by that explanation, Jehanbad and Arwal are “disturbed” areas.
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The Road From Ekwari

Seventy or more children of varying sizes from Siri tola rushed down the lane towards the ML party office, a few days before the April 20 election in Arrah constituency, jumping up and down with excitement. They were vigorously raising slogans in favour of the CPI-ML candidate and their sudden arrival took everyone by surprise. Between 6 and 16 years of age, they were many years away from being granted voting rights. Yet, they insisted about campaigning for Comrade Ram Naresh Ram and had come prepared with red flags with three stars, without any prompting from any adult.
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West Champaran

Cruel Contrasts

Ravi Rai, a student of DU, reports from Bagha in W. Champaran.

As our campaign jeep criss-crossed several streams and rivers daily, we were struck by the starkness of the contrasts. The contrast between the rare richness of natural assets (lush greenery, ample water thanks to the river Gandak and its tributaries, fertile land which bears paddy crops twice a year) and the abject poverty and destitution of the mass of people. The contrast between the beauty and brightness of the region and the darkness in which its people are forced to live their lives. For the last 10 years, the darkness of the night, whether in the towns or villages, remains unbroken by electricity. Electricity is available, for those who can afford it; private contractors will sell it to you at arbitrary rates. Privatisation of electricity seems to have reached Champaran ahead of the rest of the country, however ‘backward’ it may be in other ways!
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Breaking the Enemy's Arrogance -- Step-by-Step

Robertsganj is the headquarter of Sonebhadra, the district carved out of Mirzapur, is yet to develop any self-reliance. We found during the election campaign that the district Hospital had only one medicine for every disease, be it malaria (very common in the area), diarrhoea or toothache – Paracetamol!
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  Book Review

Capitalism’s Journey Through History

THIS book is born of the conviction that “one cannot understand contemporary period without analysing the profound upheavals which the development of capitalism has brought in societies throughout the world” and a desire to understand “the various aspects of this development: simultaneously economic and political and ideological; simultaneously national and multinational; simultaneously liberating and oppressive, destructive and creative.”

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  Human Rights

Free the Jehanabad Fourteen!
Release Activists Convicted Under Draconian TADA!

Last year, a TADA Special Court sentenced 14 people to life imprisonment in the case of an incident dating back to 1988, where a policeman and three people were killed in an exchange of fire at Bhadasi, Jehanabad. Although there was no evidence linking them to this incident, the 14 convicted include several CPI(ML) leaders as well as those who were mere children in 1988. Although TADA stands discontinued, and the Bihar Government publicly opposes laws like TADA and POTA, it has had no qualms about using the long-standing TADA case to settle political scores with CPI(ML). It is notable that TADA cases in Bihar against a range of criminals and feudal goons have been withdrawn by the RJD Government, even as it continues to pursue this case against ML activists and leaders.

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West Champaran:

State Machinery Colludes With Feudal Forces

AN independent team consisting of Dr.K. Gopal Iyer (Retired Prof. of Sociology, Punjab University) and R. Vidyasagar (Research consultant on social issues, New Delhi) undertook a quick study about the conducive atmosphere for a free and fair polling in Bagaha and Bettiah constituencies in West Champaran. The study was conducted between 16 th and 18 th April 2004. The team spoke to a number of people in the Bagha and Bettiah parliamentary constituencies falling within West Champaran district. The team also visited eight villages in Bagha constituency where excesses have been reported.

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Not Surprised Or Shocked By US Sadism;
Awed By Iraqi Resistance!

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Brussels Communist Seminar -2004

Daya Verma

The Workers Party of Belgium (WPB) hosted the Communist Seminar – 2004 in Brussels from May 2 to May 4, 2004. This was the thirteenth of the series hosted by the WPB, and a grand success. CPI(ML) Liberation was one of the 60 communist and workers’ parties and organizations from 45 countries, which participated in the seminar. An additional 67 parties and organizations had expressed their intention to participate but according to the organizers were unable to because of various reasons, most importantly visa problems.

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The Present Turmoil in Nepal

a three day strike began in Nepal on 18 May 2004, called by the CPN(M), popularly known as Maoists. Security forces received “Shoot to kill” orders from the King at the sight of anything suspicious. On 20 May, the last day of the strike, according to unverifiable Government sources, some 29 Maoists were killed when the army attacked by a helicopter, and some 5 Army-men were also killed in separate incidents. With this, the uprising has reportedly claimed 9,500 lives till date.

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