CPI(ML) Election Campaign
West Bengal: For a Resurrection of the Fighting Left
The CPI(ML) is contesting in 37 Assembly constituencies spread over 13 Districts in West Bengal, elections for which are going to be held in six phases starting from 18th April and ending on 10th May. Nine of these 37 seats are in the North Bengal districts where election will be held on 18 April. Most of the remaining seats are in five districts: Nadia (6), Bardhaman (5), Hooghly (4), North 24 Parganas (4), Bankura (3). Beyond these 37 seats, the party is supporting a communist group which has broken away from the CPI(M) in West Medinipur district and put up seven candidates. In the remaining seats the party is willing to support any independent Left and democratic candidate opposed to the Left Front, the Congress-TMC-SUCI combine and the BJP.
The party’s election campaign calls upon the electorate to reject both the coalitions ruling in Kolkata and Delhi and strengthen the third camp comprising genuine Left and democratic forces. The State Committee has brought out an Election Appeal highlighting 15 demands, including repeal of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894; SEZ Act; UAPA (Amendment) Act; immediate withdrawal of ‘Operation Green Hunt’ and atrocities on people’s struggles; return of land to the peasants at Singur; 50 Kg of rice to each poor family at Rs.2 a Kg and 5 litres of kerosene to each poor rural family at Rs.2 per litre; 200 days’ work at Rs.200 per day under MGNREGA; improvement in irrigation in the state etc.
Emphasis has been given this time on intensive campaign through door to door contact. Reports from almost all constituencies indicate a positive response from disillusioned Left ranks. There are also reports of attacks on our activists by TMC goons. At Mainaguri of Jalpaiguri district, while returning from campaign, the vehicle carrying party activists faced attack from local TMC goons who manhandled the party workers and damaged the vehicle. In Satgachia Constituency of 24 Parganas (South), a comrade’s house was attacked by some TMC miscreants when he was returning from the campaign. Braving intense heat and all threats and attacks by the ruling parties, the party workers are putting up a dogged fight in all the constituencies.
Tamilnadu Assembly Elections: Voice of the Fighting Left
The CPI(ML) fielded 11 candidates in the Tamilnadu Assembly elections held on 13 April. In six out of these 11 constituencies – Ambattur, Sriperumbudur, Mettupalayam, Kumarapalayam, Tirunelveli and Colachal – the party’s strength lay primarily in the trade union movement among both organized and unorganized sector workers, while in the remaining five – Madavaram, Tiruvidaimarudur, Gandarvakotai, Ultundurpettai and Sholavandan – rural labourers remained at the heart of the party’s election campaign.
The party’s election campaign and the election manifesto revolved around the basic issues and rights of the people which are being systematically ignored by successive governments as they pull out every stop to implement the policies of liberalization, privatization and globalization. While the two predominant bourgeois coalitions led by the DMK and AIADMK promised mixers, grinders, marriage assistance and loans for self help groups, they have failed miserably to guarantee the people’s basic rights to land, housing, jobs, education and healthcare. The freebies announced amidst fanfare marked only a desperate and cynical attempt to cover up the ruling parties’ failure to ensure dignity, democracy and public welfare for the masses.
In contrast, the CPI(ML) election campaign highlighted issues like land reforms, at least 2oo days’ guaranteed employment at a minimum daily wage of Rs. 200 for the unemployed, free houses and basic amenities, including adequate supply of food and other essential items of mass consumption, and free access to education and health care, regularization of apprentices and temporary/casual/contract workers and mandatory right of trade unions to recognition and collective bargaining.
Among the working class constituencies, the party conducted a spirited campaign in Sriperumbudur against the exploitative conditions in the Nokia SEZ and other big corporate units. In Kumarapalayam, the party called upon powerloom workers to give their vote to the workers’ representative – the party and AICCTU had recently waged a 19-day-long successful wage struggle in this powerloom belt while the DMK and AIADMK fielded candidates from among powerloom owners. In Mettupalayam, Com. Janakiraman, General Secretary of the Pricol Workers’ and Employees’ Union contested as the party’s candidate and the fighting workers of Pricol including women workers campaigned day and night to carry the party’s message far and wide in this working class constituency. In Tirunelveli, the party fielded AIPWA leader Com. Tenmozhi as the candidate and conducted an intensive campaign among beedi workers and other unorganized workers in the area. In Colachal in neighbouring Kannyakumari district construction workers, fisherpeople and various sections of unorganized workers constituted the main contingent of the party’s election campaign.
In the rural constituencies the party’s central call was to save agriculture and the rural poor from the ravages of corporate plunder and agrarian crisis.
All through the election campaign the entire state leadership of the party and mass organizations worked hard to run an intensive election campaign, emphasizing a thorough mobilization of the party’s support base at the grassroots. While the CPI(M) and CPI reduced themselves to junior partners in an AIADMK-DMDK dominated alliance, the CPI(ML) represented the independent voice of the Left against the DMK-AIADMK led politics that promotes unbridled loot and undermines the democratic rights of the working people.
CPI(ML)’s Campaign in Assembly Election in Assam 2011
Elections have taken place in two phases in Assam, on April 4 and 11. The Congress has been in power in the state continuously for the last ten years and the election environment was quite understandably marked by a high degree of popular resentment against the Congress. Corruption, price rise, extremely tardy implementation of welfare schemes (MNREGA implementation rate is lowest in Assam, 27th among all states), unresolved border problems with neighbouring states, acute unemployment and abysmally low wages, loot in tribal welfare schemes and rejection of the demand of tribal autonomy, construction of a highly dangerous mega dam etc. were the main issues that figured particularly prominently in the election campaign.
In spite of a popular anti-Congress mood, Assam did not see any major pre-poll alliance of opposition parties. AGP, the main opposition party in the state, forged a pre-poll alliance with two smaller regional outfits – Ganashakti (having support only among the Mishing tribe) and BPPF (supported by a section of Bodo community). The AGP however did not put up candidates in some select constituencies as a gesture of support for the BJP, AIUDF, CPI and CPI(M), thereby hinting at the possibility of a post-poll alliance. The AIUDF (which had 10 MLAs in the outgoing Assembly and continues to enjoy considerable support among Muslims all over the state) has however indicated its preference for extending post-poll support to the Congress.
The CPI(ML) fielded a total of 8 candidates in these elections. Attempts were made for seat adjustment within the Left camp, but with the CPI insisting on putting up candidates in a couple of constituencies where we have regularly been contesting it was not possible to arrive at any common understanding. Beyond the 8 constituencies directly contested by the CPI(ML), the party extended support to the CPI(M) in 17 constituencies and the Forward Bloc in 5 constituencies. In Karbi Anglong, the party did not field any candidate of its own, extending active support to united independent nominees backed by all pro-autonomy forces. Comrades of KSA, AISA and RYA carried on a vigorous anti-Congress campaign highlighting the Congress acts of corruption and betrayal in the region.
Of the eight constituencies contested by the party, five are in tea-garden areas (Chabua in Tinsukia, Lahowal and Tingkhong in Dibrugarh, Teok in Jorhat and Behali in Sonitpur district). The remaining three are rural constituencies (Roha and Kaliabar in Nagaon district and Udarbond in Kachhar). In 2006, our candidates had polled more than 7,000 votes in Chabua and nearly 19,000 votes in Behali. Thanks to gradual expansion and sustained agitational initiatives, comrades are hoping to do better in these elections. In Behali, the CPI(ML)has played a key role in all local issues – intervening in the Assam-Arunachal border dispute in the region, successfully preventing the government’s plan to extend wildlife sanctuary in the district which would have resulted in the eviction of some 50,000 families, mostly peasants and fisherpeople. The local BJP MLA for the last two terms has now become the president of the party’s state unit, but he has been busy promoting his own tea garden and brick kilns and there is tremendous resentment against him.
The CPI(ML)’s election campaign in all these constituencies, especially in Behali and Chabua, evoked encouraging public response. Jharkhand leaders Comrades Bahadur Oraon and Vinod Singh and AICCTU leader Com. Subhas Sen addressed an election meeting at Chabua on 27 March in support of party candidate Comrade Gangaram Kol, who is also president of Asom Sangrami Chah Sramik Sangha. The election campaign in Behali culminated in a massive rally on 1 April which was addressed among others by candidate Com. Bibek Das, State Secretary Com. Rubul Sarma, CCM and former Jharkhand MLA Com. Bahadur Oraon and General Secretary Com. Dipankar.
CPI(ML) Candidates in West Bengal Assembly Elections
1. Alipurduar (Jalpaiguri district) – Chanchal Das
Assembly Elections in Kerala
CPI(ML) contested the Nenmara Constituency in Palakkad District of Kerala in the assembly elections held on 13 April 2011. Comrade Joy Peter T, member of the party’s state leading team and National Council of AICCTU was the candidate. Significant among other candidates were Senthamarakshan, sitting MLA of LDF and MV Raghavan, who deserted CPIM and joined the Congress bandwagon in the past.
We focused mainly on reaching out to the mass of downtrodden people and democratic sections in simple forms of propaganda in contrast to the prevailing pomp-and-show campaign culture.
Our focus was mainly on initiating a debate on major political issues confronting the state including the latest trend of competitive populism in Kerala, development at what cost and to whom, subtle and soft variety of Hindutva consolidation, LDF’s over-emphasis on Malayalee nationalism in contrast to any communist moorings, alienation of dalits, tribals, women, a vast section of Muslims and other minorities from the so-called developmental process adopted by both LDF and UDF, and reversal of policies of liberalisation.
Our appeal to Kerala electorate questioned the success of land reforms that never touched lakhs of acres of lands and plantations owned by private corporate houses and other dominant caste and religious groups, in spite of Achuthanandan playing some political gimmicks like that of Munnar demolitions. We demanded takeover of lands from corporate houses, including nationalisation and redistribution of the same to the landless.
Edathupaksha Ekopana Samiti (Left Coordination Committee), a part of All India Left Coordination (AILC) contested four constituencies mainly in Kozhikode and Thrissur districts. Comrade Hariharan, convenor of LCC contested from Beypore; one of the senior leaders of LCC AN Venu contested from Vadakara constituency covering Onchiyam; Comrade KK Kunjikanaran from Kunnamangalam; and KP Preman from Kunnamkulam. Their main slogan was ‘Vote for a communist’ and the slogan itself was polemical in nature that raised debates about the Left and the alternative Left in Kerala politics. Two main contenders - CPIM and Congress candidates - were not in the fray in two constituencies as they were allotted to their non-communist allies like JD(S), INL and IUML. The LCC has undertaken a more vibrant and lively political campaign that has generated interest and debate in Left circles in the state.
Puducherry Assembly Polls
CPI(ML) contested in three Constituencies namely Muthialpet, Embalam (SC) and Karaikal North in Puducherry UT.
Muthialpet (where our candidate was Com. Motilal) is an urban constituency, where we have a base among the poor and unorganized workers. In this constituency we had powerful mass movement of urban houseless people. We had very impressive campaign during the elections, where our main contenders were the DMK and AIADMK. Women activists played a big part in our campaign.
Embalam (SC) (where our candidate was J Sakthivel is a rural constituency, where we led protracted and often successful struggles for house pattas for the rural poor and agricultural workers. Many construction workers and party members took part in the Campaign.
Karaikal North (where our candidate was E Jayabal), is a semi-urban Constituency in Karaikal region in which we had some sustained work and some successful struggles among the poor and the unorganized workers for their immediate demands. On March 8 we had an impressive programme marking 100 years of International Women's Day. AIPWA TN Secretary Comrade Usha, CCM Comrade Balasundaram and other leaders participated in the programme. It evoked keen interest among women workers and activists under the leadership of Comrade Sivaradha, and these women participated enthusiastically in the whole election campaign.
In our election manifesto, we presented a 30-point charter for democratic action and also called for the defeat of corrupt and anti-people Congress-DMK combine and rejection of the opportunist AIADMK-AINRC combine with CPI and DMDK. In all three Constituencies we appealed people to vote for CPI (ML) for a revolutionary opposition.