“Power for Rural Poor” Yatra in East Godavari

In the backdrop of preparations for panchayat elections, our Party in East Godavari district had taken an initiative to commemorate the historic Naxalbari Day – May25 – by spreading the message of assertion of rural poor for power. On 25th May four padayatra teams started from four corners of the East Godavari district under the leadership of CPI[ML] Liberation and Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Cooli Sangham.

On 25th May, the first team consisting of 40 comrades started from Ramchandrapuram, a mandal HQ in the delta area of the district which was led by Comrades B.Viplava Kumar, Party State Committee Member, and K.Ratna Kumari, State Joint Secretary of AIPWA. It passed through 8 mandals covering 181 Kms, touching more than 90 villages.

The second team comprising 20 members led by tribal leaders Comrades R.Simhachalam, Party State Committee Member, K.Raghava, Dist. Committee Member and AIPWA District Committee Members M.Suryakantham, and I Mariamma started from Adda Teegala, a tribal mandal HQ. It passed through Rajavommangi, Sankhavaram, Prathipadu, Routhulapudi mandals covering a distance of 185 Kms and 115 villages to reach Kathipudi.

The third team consisting of 35 members started from Routhulapudi and it was led by Party and mass organization leaders Y.Manga Devi, I.Chanti , S.Raju and S.Ganga Baby. It passed through Kotananduru, Tuni, Thondangi and U.Kothapalli mandals, covering a distance of 170kms and over 70 villages.

The fourth team consisting of 40 members started from Gokavaram, a mandal headquarters and it was led by Party State Committee Member Y.Arjuna Rao, District Committee Member K.Ganesh , AIPWA district leader G.Nagamani, RYA leader M.Raja Babu and it passed through Jaggampeta and Kirlampudi mandals covering 80 villages and a distance of 140 kms.

The response of the people was very good when the ‘adhikara yatras' were passing through the villages. The people offered food and shelter for the participants in the padhayatras. People put forward their problems before the leaders and requested for their solution. More than 600 meetings were addressed during these adhikara yatras.

On June 2, the adhikara yatras culminated into a big mass meeting at Kathipudi, which was addressed by Party General Secretary Com. Dipankar Battacharya. Other participants in the meeting were Com. D.P.Buxi, Com. M.Malleswara Rao, N. Murthy, D.Harinath, R.Nagamani, Siva Reddy and Gayathri Devi, Com. B.Bangara Rao, CCM, presided over the meeting.

Our Party is contesting 18 Zilla Parishad Territorial Constituency (ZPTC) seats and 72 Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituency (MPTC) seats – 13 ZPTC and 56 MPTC seats in East Godavari, 3 ZPTC and 13 MPTC seats in Krishna district, 1 ZPTC and 1 MPTC seats each in Visakhapatnam and West Godavari districts and 1 ZPTC seat in Srikakulam district.

Janmorcha Rally at Lucknow

On May 30, a massive Rally called by the Janmorcha (a formation led by former PM VP Singh) was held at Lucknow . The CPI(ML) participated in the Rally in a significant way. Participants in the Rally included V.P. Singh, CPI(ML) State Secretary Akhilendra Pratap Singh, the Bhartiya Samaj Party led by Omprakash Rajbhar, the Bhartiya Kisan Union led by Mahendra Singh Tikait, the Pragatisheel Manav Samaj Party led by Premchand Bind, Samanta Dal led by Motilal Shastri and Janwadi Party led by Sanjay Chauhan, Justice Party of Mr. Udit Raj, and Muslim formations led by Dr.Masood and Mr.Nihaluddin. CPI General Secretary Comrade A. B. Bardhan, Laloo Yadav and Ramvilas Paswan also addressed the rally, but their parties were not present in significant strength. Rashtrawadi Communist Party leader Kaushal Kishore, still a minister in Mulayam Govt., also participated in the rally.

The agenda articulated in the rally included redistribution of cultivable land, fair wages to agricultural labour, demand to write-off loans to marginal, small and medium farmers, the right to impose quantitative restrictions on imports in agriculture negotiations in WTO, reversal of policies responsible for the crisis of unemployment, under-employment and agrarian crisis, strict enforcement of the provisions of National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, stopping displacement, demolition and dispossession, ensuring safe drinking water, health, education and housing to all, reviving an Independent Foreign Policy, eliminating criminalisation and defending democratisation, reservations for dalit Muslims and a separate quota for most backward classes.

Challenging Jharkhand Govt.'s Model of Development

C PI(ML) is leading a campaign of exposure and protest against the model of development schemes in the Constituency of Jharkhand Assembly Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari. Chainpur falls in this Constituency, and various schemes here are being publicised as the dream project of the development by Namdhari's team.

People have been demanding a dam at the Tahle river for decades, to ease the perennial crisis engulfing this drought prone area due to scarcity of water for irrigation. A survey was conducted in this regard that suggested building of a dam at a point near Kokila hill. This was considered the best option to solve the water crisis as it involved minimum costs and minimum displacement of the people. But suddenly a decision was taken by the Govt. to inaugurate dam construction on June 4 by the Chief Minister Arjun Munda at Itko. This new site for the dam will submerge 14 villages involving displacing thousands to supply water to just one block. Besides, this new project in much costlier than the earlier one. Why the Jharkhand Govt. in favour of a more cost intensive scheme which displaces people from a large area is a mystery. Actually, the basic premise is not development. It is the lure of appropriation of more funds that has prompted the Government to shift the site of dam construction, because construction costs are much higher at the new location. This decision enraged the villagers of Chainpur who decided to expose and oppose this whole conspiracy.

Villagers launched a campaign to expose the real motive behind this ‘model' of development and formed a “Kokila Bandh Nirman Sangharsh Samiti” involving representatives from all nearby villages. An all-party meeting was convened, at the initiative of CPI(ML), at Saltua village on 3 June. A torch light procession was also organised on the same day at Daltonganj. Villagers conducted an intense campaign that mobilised a large number of people. On 4 June, the day when the Chief Minister was supposed to inaugurate the project, a large number of people assembled at the site and held a mass meeting in protest. Thousands of people came in processions from their villages to the rally. This forced Inder Singh Namdhari to beat a retreat as the administration postponed the inauguration ceremony, at least for the time being. Now the ruling party and administration are trying to mislead the villagers through a vicious propaganda campaign which CPI(ML) has decided to counter through more intensified campaign.

Nationwide Protest Against Price-hike

C PI(ML) observed country-wide protest week from 7-13 June against the central government's decision to hike prices of petrol and diesel, for the fifth time in two years, and a proposal to raise prices and cut quota of foodgrains under PDS. Protests were held in almost all important centres as well as in the interior countryside throughout the week. CPI(ML) has demanded immediate roll-back of petro-price-hike and withdrawal of the proposal to hike foodgrain prices and a cut in quota in PDS.

In Delhi , a protest was held at Jantar-Mantar on June 9 where protesters appealed to intensify struggle against the anti-people policies of the UPA Govt. They also condemned attempts to demolish public distribution system which will mean that the Country's food security and agriculture will go into the hands of big corporates and multinationals. In Uttar Pradesh, this week witnessed a number of protests. The Party's Sonbhadra unit held protest on June 13 with hundreds of people, while rail track was jammed for two hours in Pilibhit on the same day. Protests were held and effigies of Prime Minister were burnt in Faizabad, Varanasi , Gazipur, Lakhimpur, Deoria, Lucknow , Puranpur, Allahabad , Kanpur , Gorakhpur , Mirzapur, Chandauli, Balia, Ambedkarnagar, Sitapur, Unnao, Moradabad and many other places. Roads were also blocked at many places. A joint dharna was organised in Guwahati in Assam on 13 June in protest against the hike where leaders and activists of CPI(ML), CPI, CPI(M), RSP, and SP held a meeting and condemned the anti-people policies of the UPA Govt. They also decided to intensify movement jointly if the Govt. does not withdraw price hike. Later the protesters took out a procession to DC office, Kamrup and sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister demanding withdrawal of price hike. The memorandum also demanded to minimize Central taxes and duties on petrol and diesel. Assam Gana Parishad also extended its support to the movement and its General Secretary also took part in the programme. A joint demonstration of several Trade Unions, including AICCTU, was also held at Guwahati on 13 June. Similar programmes were held at Bargang, Tinsukia and Dibrugarh on 13 June. On 7 June, demonstrations were held at Jorhat and Diphu as a part of the AIALA's nationwide protest day on the same issue.

Tribute to Jayanta Kumar

( Liberation mourns the untimely demise of Jayanta Kumar, a media-person with Star TV in Guwahati and a sympathiser of our movement, on June 19 of a brain haemorrhage. Pranay Krishna, a close friend from JNU days, pays tribute to his memory.)

Jayanta's shocking demise is almost a reminder to all of us how difficult it is to survive with deep humane sensitivities, passions and values stubbornly preserved in our flesh and blood during most difficult and insensitive times. Jayanta was from Hajipur in Bihar . At a time when he came to JNU in late 80s, he had already developed sympathies with revolutionary peasant movement in central Bihar . Trained in social sciences and literature, he remained one of most trusted friends of all the people's movement in the country till the last. Jayanta was an intimate friend of the late Comrade Chandrashekhar, ex-President, JNUSU, martyred in Siwan in 1997. Jayanta kept in constant touch with many leaders and cadres of people's movements – and was a person who could be blindly trusted for any kind of help in hours of difficulty. His robust presence behind the scene was quite a source of comfort for many of us.

He had a role to play in formation of AISA unit in JNU in 1990. Few could match his erudition on scores of issues; however, it was the North-East about which he had encyclopaedic knowledge, acquired organically out of sheer love for the people putting a brave fight against multiple oppressions and state terror.

Many of us have indelible memories of his fearless and robust personality, his ironic sense of humour, his combative intellectualism, his physical participation in movements. I remember how he charged at a policeman when a brutal lathicharge targeted the women in the front row of our procession at Parliament Street police station in Delhi , in protest against Comrade Vinod Mishra's arrest in 1992. From Delhi to Siwan, he was active on the streets and at the barricades in the movement that followed Chandrashekhar's martyrdom.

In March 2006, some teachers of Central universities, including Gopal Pradhan from Silchar University and I, had addressed a press conference at Guwahati against police firing on youth, draconian laws and state repression in North East. After the press conference, we spent quite some time together with Jayanta. This was our last meeting. He took us for a ride around Guwahati. I asked him to publish a book on North East. He had a lot to tell us about the movement for democracy in Nepal , extremely perceptive and insightful observations about the course of movement. In his demise, Indian media has also lost a rare talent. We can't fathom the sufferings of Radha and kids for whom his demise.

In Bihar , party units at all the places held protests during the week at various places throughout the state. AIALA's call to protest was also observed on June 7. AIPWA also held protests on June 10 at many district headquarters while RYA and AISA organised a protest march in Patna on June 11. Many street corner meetings were organised in Patna on June 12. The Party also took part in the joint protest held by left parties on June 13 in Bihar . Block level protests were also held at many places. In West Bengal , protests were held by CPI(ML) and AIALA in many districts including Jalpaigudi, Darjeeling , Bardhman, Nadia and Kolkata. The protest week was also observed at various places in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttaranchal, Chhattisgarh, Tripura, etc. CPI(ML) also participated in protests organised by Left parties in various cities on this issue.

Hunger Strike at Pipri

Dinkar Kapoor, Member of the CPI(ML) State Standing Committee and AICCTU National Secretary, sat on a 48-hour hunger strike beginning May 18, in protest against the proposed eviction of hundreds of poor people, and foisting of cases under the Public Premises (PP) Act in an attempt to extort lakhs of rupees from them. In the last 50 years, land has changed hands between various Departments of he UP Government – and this has caused the dispute over land. During this period, hundreds of people were allowed permission by authorities to settle on the land; they set up small shops and made a living with their families; until the Electricity and Water Department filed cases against them under the PP Act, declaring them illegal encroachers.

A tripartite dialogue had taken place in 2003 to sort out disputes over rent, and CPI(ML) has demanded that the decisions arrived at through that process be implemented. CPI(ML) also demanded that the Government set up a high-level Committee consisting of prominent citizens and intelligentsia, in order to seek a transparent and democratic solution to the land issues.