Vol.4, No.7, Feb' 14, 2001

 


In this Issue:

Editorial...
Of Electoral Realignment and Political Credibility

As the countdown begins for the coming round of Assembly elections, the process of political realignments has begun to gather momentum. The PMK of Tamil Nadu has fired the first salvo by quitting the NDA and jumping on to the Jayalalitha bandwagon. The amicable separation of the five PMK MPs from the NDA does not however pose any immediate threat to the survival chances of the reigning coalition at the Centre. Moreover, the PMK has promised to jump to the NDA government's rescue should any threat really arise. If the BSP had earlier set up new standards of political opportunism by entering into an alternating arrangement of power-sharing with the BJP in UP, the PMK has now surpassed the BSP with this unique combination of secularism below and communalism above!

The PMK-AIADMK bonhomie may however end up putting off the Congress, TMC and the emerging dalit outfits in Tamil Nadu from a possible grand alliance against the DMK. The PMK has got a strong pro-LTTE image and it will therefore be rather difficult for the Congress or TMC to accept it as a poll partner. The dalit organisations too are known to be ill at ease with the kind of aggressive backwardism symbolised by the PMK. The only affordable alternative for the Congress and TMC may therefore be to forge a third front. It will be interesting to watch the response of the CPI(M) and CPI to such an eventuality. The two old communist parties are keen advocates of a Congress-TMC-AIADMK tie-up, but now with the PMK virtually precluding such a line-up, the CPI and CPI(M) will have to choose between the Congress and AIADMK or opt for going it alone.

Another state where the two old communist parties have a difficult choice ahead is Assam. Here the CPI and CPI(M) are still formally partners of the ruling AGP-led alliance. Meanwhile, the AGP is getting increasingly closer to the BJP. On the Ayodhya motion, the party sided with the BJP in the Rajya Sabha. Not only BJP leaders but also Hindutva hawks like Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Nirupam have addressed a couple of recent AGP rallies in the state. Interestingly, it is the CPI, which has taken strong exception to the AGP's growing pro-BJP stance, primarily because in the concrete electoral conditions of Assam, the party can benefit more from an understanding or adjustment with the Congress. In fact, the Congress has invited the Left to join hands in a secular alliance; an offer, which has already found declared favour with the CPI. The CPI(M) however can gain more from a continuing tie-up with the AGP and the party therefore has not been able to summon any greater courage than asking the AGP to 'clarify' its position vis--vis the BJP. The request for clarification has however been turned own with obvious contempt by even junior AGP spokespersons.

Both in Tamil Nadu and Assam, the only honourable course left for the Left is to fight the polls as an independent, united Left bloc. Any electoral alliance or adjustment with either AIADMK or the Congress in Tamil Nadu, and with the AGP or the Congress in Assam, will only erode the already declining credibility of the two old communist parties.

News form the fields of struggle...
Sankalp Sabha Held at Mairwa in Bihar

A Sankalp Sabha (Pledge-taking meeting) was held on 7 February at Mairwa block of Siwan district in Bihar in memory of eight comrades who laid down their lives fighting against Satish Pandey-Suresh Yadav gang (patronised by BJP-Samata) on 1 February. Thousands of people came to attend it from distant villages. Before addressing the meeting Party Gen. Secy. Com. Dipankar Bhattacharya and Convenor of Bihar Pradesh Khet Mazdoor Sabha Com. Rameshwar Prasad met the families and neighbours of the martyrs at Jagdishpur village where the incident had taken place. Recalling their revolutionary optimism Com. Dipankar observed that despite the massacre, cinders of life still carry fire under the ash and asserted that the sacrifices will never go in vain and ultimately victory belongs to us. Exhorting the people to plunge in thousands into the struggle along the path shown by these heroes, he said that the struggle belongs to all those who are aggrieved by the incident, and they all should come forward.

CPI(ML) Condemns Rajauri Massacre

While strongly condemning the incident of massacre of 15 villagers in Rajouri district of Jammu and Kashmir, Party said that the NDA govt. led by BJP has completely failed in restoring normalcy in J&K and breaking the political impasse in the state. And so it has failed to protect the lives of the common people. The Party blamed the NDA govt. for playing a dirty political game on Kashmir that has resulted in these massacres.

CPI(ML)-AISA Team Returns from Bhuj

The CPI(ML)-AISA team led by Com. Ranjan Ganguli and comprising AISA members from Delhi University (DU) and JNU returned from Bhuj district of Gujarat on 12 February where they had spent 11 days taking part in rescue and relief work. The experiences of the team were an eye-opener, revealing the extremely shocking attitude of the government machinery. From the very beginning the team had to argue its way against a reluctant administration asking them to go back because they didn't need hands. For its failure in rescuing tens of thousands of victims as well as in keeping a check on mafia responsible for non-distribution of relief materials, Gujarat government must have been summarily dismissed, they opined. At Lalam College complex in Bhuj, where AISA activists helped International Red Cross set up a 1000-bed hospital, some 50,000 blankets were lying at one side in packets and barely 50 meters away hundreds of relatives of the poor patients were shivering in cold under the open sky, until AISA activists discovered them and after a heated exchange with the authorities, managed to provide blankets.

In Lakher, a village 60 km from Bhuj, the team gave Rs.5000 from its relief fund for rebuilding of Madarsa in the village. Moreover, AISA activists competently served every job, from manning the OPD registration to handling pharmacy and X-Ray, erection of tents or other infrastructural job. They also went to remote areas with ambulance to identify and bring victims to the hospital.

Assam Hill Solidarity Day Observed All Over India
Massive Procession and Dharna in Assam

The CPI (ML) observed 'Assam Hill Solidarity Day' and held protests in Delhi, Guwahati, Calcutta, Patna and several other centres of the country against, what the Party calls, "the nexus between the Congress and the extremist groups like UPDS in Assam and the ongoing conspiracy of this nexus to destabilise the democratically elected Karbi-Anglong Autonomous Council in the state". The CPI (ML) also urged the President of India to recommend for the immediate implementation of Article 244-A of the Indian Constitution in relation to the demand for an autonomous state comprising the hill districts of Karbi-Anglong and N.C. Hills.

Observing the day in Assam, when the Assembly opened its budget session, a massive procession participated in by around 10,000 people started from Rajgarh Bihutoli to reach the Assembly at Dispur covering 6 k.m of busy RG Baruah Road in Guwahati. The procession converted into dharna in front of Assam Assembly. It was addressed by Com. Swadesh Bhattacharya, Party Polit Bureau member, ASDC General Secy. and MLA Com. Hemsing Tisso, Selawar Bey, Secy. of Karbi Anglong Party Committee, Com. Ranoj Pegu, Gen. Secy. of Mising Memag Kebang, Bhuban Pegu, President of TMKP, Prakanta Warisa, Vice President of ASDC and MP(R.S.), Rajatmoni Thousen, Gen. Secy. of DSU, Pratima Ingtipi, Gen. Secy. of KNCA, Com. Subhas Sen, Secy. of AICCTU, Loknath Goswami, Gen. Secy. of Sadou Asom Janasanskritik Parishad, Kanaklata Dutta, Secy. of Sadou Asom Pragatisheel Nari Santha, Depulal Hojai, EM of NC Hills Autonomous Council, Maikan Rongpharpi and Rongmili Hojai of DWS and Baliandra Saikia, Secy. of AISA. A delegation led by CPI(ML) Assam State Secy. Com. Rubul Sarma, Hemsing Tisso and Depolal Hojai submitted a memorandum to the Governor of Assam and the Speaker of Assam Assembly. The memorandum demanded immediate arrest of the culprits involved in mass killings in Karbi Anglong and NC Hills and immediate high level enquiry into the killing of JM Basumatary, EM of KAAC and the relation of Cong(I)-BJP leaders and Holiram Terang's group with UPDS-DHD armed outfits and immediate effective steps by the Government of Assam to stop mass killings in the Hill Districts, seizure of illegal arms from the extremist outfits and provide license and guns free of cost to the common people for their self-defence, apart from recommending immediate implementation of Art. 244-A of Indian Constitution and creation of Autonomous State comprising Karbi Anglong and NC Hills.

Demonstration in Delhi

CPI (ML) activists and supporters led by Party leaders Kumudini Pati, Rajendra Pratholi, Ranjit Abhigyan, Rajiv Dimri, Jeeta Kaur and Santosh Roy held a demonstration near the Assam Niwas. Later, a delegation of the Party handed over a memorandum addressed to the Assam Governor to the Resident Commissioner of Assam Niwas. CPI (ML) sent another memorandum to the President of India.

Demonstration in Calcutta

A demonstration was staged before Assam Bhaban at Calcutta, led by Com. Joyatu Deshmukh, Dhiresh Goswami, Amit Dasgupta and others. Speakers strongly condemned the ongoing conspiracy by Congress(I)-UPDS to destabilise the elected council and disrupt people's harmony and the Autonomus State movement and expressed their solidarity with the movement. A memorandum addressed to the Governor of Assam was handed over to the chief of Assam Bhaban which carries a number of signatures of eminent personalities including Jyotiprakash Chatterjee, Maitreyi Devi, Jiad Ali, Imanul Haq, Swaswati Ghosh etc.

Statewide Black Day Observed in Bihar

Party activists and leaders throughout the state wore black badges observing Black Day in Bihar protesting against the killings of Bihari workers in Assam and attempts to destabilise the Autonomous Council in Karbi Anglong. A memorandum signed by Party senior leaders as well as leaders of CPI, CPI(M), Forward Bloc, RSP, MCPI, SUCI etc. addressed to Assam Governor was handed over to Governor of Bihar by a delegation comprising Com. Ram Naresh Ram, Ramjatan Sharma, KD Yadav and RN Thakur.

Party Condemns Killing of Left Leader in U.P.

Gulab, leader of Rashtriya Janwadi Morcha, a left organisation, was killed by police in a fake encounter in Sonebhadra district of U.P. on 7 February. Condemning this as a political murder, UP State Committee demanded that the police campaign of killing left leaders in adivasi areas of Sonebhadra, Mirzapur and Chandauli must be stopped. Party appealed to other left and democratic forces as well as human rights organisations to put their weight on the state government for the same. It is to be noted that Gulab did not belong to MCC as claimed by police but he had a number of false cases against him as he was fighting for adivasi and dalit peasants and workers. He had contested from Naugarh for the post of member of district Panchayat. U.P. Khet Mazdoor Sabha and peasant associations will observe statewide protest day against this killing on 14 February. A People's Union for Human Rights (PUHR) team has also visited Robertsganj.

The Builder-Politician Nexus

Admits one official: "The minister's links with the builder are well-known. We are under pressure to spare him..."

Investigations by Outlook reveal that literally a quarter of Gujarat cabinet are backers of land sharks. Apart from Vajubhai Wala, the other political heavyweight-turned-builder is water resources minister Narottam Patel. According to preliminary inquiries, he has been linked to Girish Patel, another big builder charged for negligence and culpable homicide in two cses filed last fortnight. In Girish's case too, the structure that he built were found unstable, ther was no preliminary checking of the soil to examine whether it was stable or not, building bye-laws were flauted with impunity. Sources say the corruption begins at the very top. Chief minister Keshubhai Patel's son Bharat Patel is regarded as one of the biggest property developers in the state and runs a flourishing multi-crore business, with able assistance, no doubt, from papa and his close men. And the irony is that Keshubhai himself rode to power on a strong anti-corruption plank. (Outlook, February 19, 2001)

Seminar in Muzaffarpur

A seminar on "Agrarian crisis and Means of resolution" was organised by Muzaffarpur unit of Bihar Pradesh Kisan Sabha at Panchayat Bhawan, Itahan Manihari Chowk on 4 February. Com. Suresh Das Kanaujia, member of Party district committee and Jitendra Yadav, district convenor of BPKS and other peasant, youth and student leaders addressed the seminar. The resolution read out in the seminar demanded withdrawal from WTO and taking back anti-peasant and anti-national agrarian policy.

Party District Conferences in Tinsukia and Sonitpur in Assam

Party's Tinsukia district organisation held its conference on 3-4 February at Asom Sahitya Sabha Bhawan (named Martyr Anil Kumar Barua Bhawan for the occasion) in Tinsukia. The report was presented by Com. Subhas Sen, Secy. of the Adhoc DC. The conference elected a DC, which in turn elected Subahs Sen as its secretary.

The 7th conference of Sonitpur DC was held at Borgang on 4, 5 and 6 Feb. On 4 Feb., an impressive rally was brought out and open session was held, which was participated in by around 3,000 people who came from far-flung tea-gardens and villages despite total transport collapse due to the bandh called by ULFA on that day protesting Advani's visit to Assam.

Com. Lila Sarma presented the report on behalf of the outgoing District Committee to a house of 50 delegates including 12 women, 11 observers and 3 guests. After a lively debate a 9-member DC was elected which in its turn re-elected Com Lila Sarma as its secretary.

The two conference were also attended by Com. Rubul Sarma and Com. Swadesh Bhattacharya.

Central Quake Relief Fund

Apart from contributions directly made to Red Cross Society by Party organisations in Bihar and other states, Delhi State Committee and W.B. State Committee have deposited Rs.23,570 and Rs.32,000 respectively to the Central Quake Relief Fund. In Delhi the campaign is still on.

'Do Seer Dhan' Staged in Patna

Hirawal, performing unit of Jan Sanskriti Manch staged Do Seer Dhan (Two seers of paddy) on 9, 10 and 11 February at Kalidas Rangalaya in Patna. The play is based on renowned Malayalam literateur Takshi Shivshankar Pillai's novel from which the stage-script was written by Suman Kumar. Directed by Kunal, the play has 19 characters including three female artists. While music was directed by Santosh Jha, Pramod Yadav, councillor of Jan Sanskriti Manch, shouldered the responsibility of production controller. Altogether 25 artists carried on rehersal for two months before it was finally staged. The play has been dedicated to the quake victims of Gujarat. At this occasion a souvenir was brought out under the editorship of poet Madan Kashyap, vice president of Jan Sanskriti Manch.

Accidents? or Fall-out of Govt. Policy?

Earthquake in Gujarat was a natural calamity, no doubt, but the extent of loss suffered clearly indicated to the man-made aspect of disasters. Now shocking stories are being revealed regarding the builder-politician-administration nexus that has played its dirty role in erecting so many disaster-prone structures in cities and towns, not only in Gujarat but even in Orissa.

In Bagdigi coalmine in Dhanbad, at least 14 miners who went alive down the Bagdigi mine for operations could not come back. The rescue team recovered their corpses only. There may be some others whose corpses also might remain unrecovered. Even primary investigation reveals that mining safety rules were openly flouted there. Out of the 15 major disasters caused by flooding of the coal mine, 7 are from Jharia coalfields. The worst one occurred at Chasnala, adjacent to Damodar river, where as many as 375 miners were killed. "Gross negligence and disregard of safety regulations on the part of the management of mining companies remains the reason for most of the disasters." "For coal companies, profit is the prime concern, not safety of the miners", writes Pankaj Kumar, a Dhanbad-based correspondent.

After suicides by cotton and tobacco farmers, it is now the turn of intermediate students. As many as five students, majority of them girls, have committed suicide in the recent week in Andhra Pradesh -- Chandrababu's cyber state! These students have undergo tremendous stress as they prepare to appear for entrance examinations for admission into engineering, medical and other professional courses where there are very few seats available. The unprecedented pressure is the result of new education policy, which is forcing the students to resort to such extreme steps like suicide.

A Delhi student, after being mercilessly beaten by the musclemen of a blue line bus owner, is braving death in a ICU of a hospital. Abusing, beating, manhandling, eve-teasing and molestation of women in Delhi buses is an everyday affair. Incidents of school children getting dashed or crushed, apart from dying due to overturning of the school buses, have become a regular affair. The entire system of public transport is in chaos and anarchy under the spree of privatisation.

Repeated incidents of MIG-21 crashes, rail mishaps, even events like the Surajkund joyride meeting its tragic end -- the list is endless. And all of them point to the policy of privatisation that criminally favours profit at the cost of safety. Down with this death trap.

In the Memory of Gorakh Pandey
Culture of Resistance and Poetry Today

Jan Sanskriti Manch, Delhi organised a cultural programme in the memory of noted revolutionary poet and founder General Secretary of JSM, Gorakh Pandey on 10 February at Rajendra Bhawan in Delhi. After the recital of a number of poems from Gorakh by Pankaj Singh, renowned critic Dr. Manager Pandey delivered the keynote address. Later Mangalesh Dabral, Sanjay Chaturvedi, Kallol Chakravarty, Rajendra Dhorpkar, Savita Singh, Sunder Chand Thakur, Sanjay Kundan and Indira Rathore recited their poems. At the end, Shubhendu Ghosh sang Gorakh Pandey's celebrated Bhojpuri song "Sutal rahalin sapan ek dekhlin". Bhasha Singh, convenor of Delhi unit of Jan Sanskriti Manch conducted the programme and Radhika, co-convenor, thanked the participants.

In his address Dr. Manager Pandey said that the culture of resistance must be developed in a multi-faceted way. Observing that the terror of assassination and death has been on increase among the people, and poets do share the pain, he expressed the apprehension that the pain and resistance of writers does not reach the common people. Moreover, in order to develop the culture of resistance, identification of the aggressor was the most necessary thing. This was relatively straight in the times of Gorakh, but today it is not only fascism that can be identified as the sole aggressor. Market is equally building up the prowess to affect each and every aspect of life. In this scenario it is imperative to understand the nexus of capitalism and feudalism. A specific kind of integrated vision towards life, society and history has become necessary to fulfill the task.

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