A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
While Baghdad Burns, Vajpayee’s Delhi Dances to the American Tune
Even as the Anglo-American imperialists waged their brutal war of aggression and occupation in Iraq and the whole world rose in condemnation, outrage and revulsion, the NDA government was busy celebrating Vajpayee’s five years of power. How often have we been asked to believe that Vajpayee is not only a bleeding-heart liberal but also a passionate poet with a strong humanist commitment to global peace and progress? And let us not forget that Iraq is not just a fellow third world country, there is also a long history of friendship between Iraq and India. Yet while the US rained bombs and missiles on the beleaguered civilian population of Iraq, the land that has been home to the great and ancient civilisation of Mesopotamia and Babylon along the banks of the historic Tigris and Euphrates rivers, here in the land of the great Indus valley civilisation, the poet prime minister was afraid of uttering a word of condemnation against the invaders and was instead busy celebrating his ‘great feat’ of being the first non-Congress Prime Minister to have completed five years!
Could any prime minister ever bring greater shame and disgrace to the glorious history of our beloved motherland?
A recent opinion poll has revealed that 86% of the Indian people are opposed to America’s Iraq war. But the two biggest parties of the Indian ruling classes, the BJP and the Congress, have refused to reflect the anger and opposition of the Indian people. The Delhi meeting of Congress leaders and activists that preceded the Indore conclave of the BJP remained conspicuously silent on the subject. The Congress may be keen to ‘re-explore’ the electoral relevance and potential of the growing army of impoverished Indians, but Comrades Surjeet and Bardhan must be feeling rather disappointed to discover that Sonia is in no mood to revive the Nehru-Indira discourse of ‘nonalignment’.
Those who expected the BJP and RSS to take a different stand from the position adopted by the Government of India must have also noticed that the BJP is not prepared to strike a different posture. At Indore, the BJP National Executive Committee went only to the extent of ‘deploring’ the war. In fact, what the BJP really deplores is not the war that is raging now in Iraq but the fact that the US is still not ready to extend its war to Pakistan. External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha has gone on record with the assertion that Pakistan is an ideal case for inviting a war without UN support. It is however well known that after Afghanistan and Iraq, the other countries and regions that are attracting America’s immediate attention include Iran, Syria, Libya, North Korea, and make no mistake, Kashmir.
Will the BJP now tell us whether an invasion of Kashmir would constitute more an invasion of Pakistan or of India?
Meanwhile, at the Indore meeting Advani waxed eloquent about combining idealism and power politics. Clearly, all this talk of ‘idealism’ and ‘discipline’ was prompted by the BJP’s humiliating defeat in Himachal Pradesh. But in the backdrop of the Indore conclave there was also this unmistakable shadow of the assassination of Hareen Pandya in Ahmedabad. Pandya, former senior Minister in Modi’s cabinet had fallen out with Modi and was denied a ticket in the December Assembly elections. But just two days after he had been officially intimated about his induction into the BJP National Executive, he was brutally assassinated. Even as his supporters raised slogans against Modi, Advani was quick to discover a terrorist-underworld nexus behind his murder. Now Pandya’s father himself has termed his son’s assassination as a political killing and he has accused none other than Advani of remaining a mute spectator as his son was first politically sidelined and then physically annihilated.
Is this what Advani calls injecting idealism into power politics?
CPI(ML) Calls for Boycott of American Goods, Mass Covention Held in Kolkata
In continuation of the anti-war protest campaign that had begun even before the American attack on Iraq since mid March, the West Bengal unit of CPI(ML) organised programmes to implement the call to boycott American goods. On 2 April, activists of CPI(ML) and its mass organisations held a demonstration before the US multinational Nike’s showroom in Kolkata. On 4 April, party activists held a demonstration before one more American giant, City Bank, in Kolkata. The demonstrators were led by Party leaders Partha Ghosh and Basudev Bose. Activists were holding posters “Boycott American goods” and “Oppose American multinationals”. In the evening the police came to the office of the West Bengal State Committee of CPI(ML) and arrested comrades Partha Ghosh and Basudev Bose. However, they were later released. Similar demonstration was also held at Bangaon.
A “Mass Convention for Boycotting American Goods” was organised jointly by AISA, RYA and Paschimbanga Ganasanskritik Parishad at Students Hall, College Square in Calcutta on 5 April. Apart from intellectuals, artists, literary personalities and political leaders, a large number of students also participated in the mass convention. The hall was over-flooded with participants, which represented the militant mood of the young generation against the US aggression of Iraq. Addressing the convention veteran writer Mahashweta Devi said that we have to begin from somewhere to boycott American goods and let us start from Coke and Pepsi. It should go on till the war does not stop. Let us have continuous picketing before all the outlets of these goods. Speakers defended action against US multinational stores by CPI(ML). RSP leader Kshiti Goswami said that his party fully supports the move and assured that he will put pressure on Left Front to support boycott of US goods. SUCI has already started mass propaganda in the city for boycotting American-British goods. Debesh Roy said that state government should be pressurised not to hand over any developmental project to the US companies. In a lively convention several noted personalities including Ashok Dasgupta, editor of Bengali daily Aajkaal, eminent literary personalities Tapan Mitra, Nabarun Bhattacharya, Dipankar Chakraborty, Prasun Acharya, Jyotiprakash Chattopadhyay, Mohammad Hussain of ‘Matir Kella’, famous footballer Surajit Sengupta, Naxalite veteran Azizul Haq, leader of Refugee Movement Anil Singh, SUCI leader Manik Mukherjee and Qamaruzzaman of West Bengal Madarsa Students Union expressed their support to the call of boycott, apart from comrades Kartik Pal, Party’s West Bengal State Secretary, CC member Partha Ghosh, Trade Union leader Basudev Bose and RYA leader Jayatu Deshmukh. An anti-war programme was also held at Bangaon in North 24 Paraganas on 5 April.
The CPI(ML)’s Giridih district unit organised Jan Adalats (People’s Courts) to protest America’s imperialist war in all the blocks and important places of the district on April 5. These Jan Adalats issued death sentence for Bush for his war crimes and organised hanging of his effigies throughout district next day.
On April 2, hundreds of high school students marched on the streets in Patna in an anti-war protest. The protesting students called upon the people to boycott American companies and their brands. They also observed one-minute silence in the honour of the valiant people of Iraq who have sacrificed their lives fighting against imperialist aggressors. The AISA had called for this anti-war protest.
On April 2, anti-war march was taken out in Muzaffarpur. The march went through several places in the town. An anti-war meeting was held later. Apart from sutdents and youth, a number of teachers and citizens also joined the march. The effigies of Bush and Blair were also burnt. This protest had also been called by AISA and RYA. An anti-war march was held in Arrah and a mass meeting was organised in front of Railway station on April 2. Large number of people attended this anti-war meeting.
On March 27 under the banner of the Party a dharna was organised against the US war on Iraq in Bangalore city. Apart from Party banner, red flags and colourful placards attracted the attention of the public. In Mysore, a joint rally of Left and democratic organisations, including CPI(ML), was held against the war on March 29. On behalf of the Party Ranjani addressed the rally. On March 31, a joint rally was organised by JD(S), CPI, CPI(M) and CPI(ML).
An anti-war mass meeting was organised in Bhilai on March 28 which demanded the Chhattisgarh govt. to pass a resolution against war. Jan Sanskriti Manch organised a discussion on “US imperialism and War on Iraq” on March 29. Five hundred people participated in a protest demonstration at Padmapur in Raigada district of Orissa and burnt effigy of Bush on March 15.
Massive Rallies in Districts of Bihar
Intensifying the struggle against the corrupt and criminal Rabri regime the CPI(ML) called upon the people in Bihar to come to the streets. In the first week of April, the Party held several rallies in Gopalganj and Champaran disticts of Bihar. A massive ‘Mazdoor-Kisan Adhikar Rally’ was held at Gopalganj on April 1. Next day a huge ‘Mazdoor-Kisan Ekta Rally’ was held at Bettiah followed by another ‘Mazdoor-Kisan Adhikar Rally’ at Motihari on April 3. The Party General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya addressed these rallies and called upon the agrarian labourers, peasants and others to march unitedly in a militant struggle for rights and power to the peole. He also called upon them to protest the imperialist policies of America and the US-led war of aggression on Iraq. Describing the agricultural policy of the central govt. as anti-people, he called upon the toiling masses to participate in large numbers in the CPI(ML) launched ‘Badlo Bihar Andolan’. He said, “feudal-criminal-police-politician nexus is the biggest obstacle in the path of development and chang in Bihar. The toiling people should come forward to smash this nexus.” Several leaders addressed these rallies including Rameshwar Prasad, Rajaram Singh, Amar Nath Yadav and Satya Dev Ram.
Five Years of Mortgazing the Country and Promoting the Communal Divide
Five years back the ascendence of BJP-led govt to power was celebrated by Saffron brigade with attacks on Gulam Ali’s performance, followed by rampaging of painter MF Hussain’s house. And its first budget declared policies of steamrolling privatisation and reverse subsidisation. While opening insurance sector for private (including foreign) players, it made cellphones cheaper and post-cards costlier.
Then came Pokhran II on Buddha Purnima. With Pak blasts, the two neighbours achieved nuclear parity but it could not deter Kargil, costing us more than 500 precious lives and more than Rs. 5000 crores of scarce funds. The only benefit reaped by Sangh Parivar was to whip up war hysteria and jingoism against Pakistan in its wake.
Soon Tehelka Exposures rocked the country. The whole nation stunningly watched BJP President receiving graft and many NDA and RSS bigwigs came within the firing range. This also brought to the fore the fact how money was being minted behind holy curtain of defence purchase and put Bofors scam to shame. George Fernandes had to resign from the post of defence minister. However, without getting a clean chit by the enquiry commission, he ate his own morality and got reinducted to the same post. Later, Kargil Coffin Scam reinforced the allegation that ministers in BJP-led government were filling its coffers under the cover of patriotism.
The budget stipulated the theme of strategic privatisation and wholesale restructuring of labour laws. Later Second Labour Commission formalised curtailment of trade union rights and made closure and lockouts easier for capitalists. However, a series of scams came to the fore and even the Prime Minister had to admit that the maladies had taken place in the wake of liberalisation. Mother of all scams was Collapse of US-64, in which 2 crore small investors lost their lifelong savings. This was a direct outcome of second generation reforms. Among other big scams were Share Market Scam of Rs. 3000 crore, Petrol Pump Scam and Land Scam, which revealed allocation of petrol pumps and prime lands to BJP and Sangh members also sullied the aura of BJP as a “party with a difference”. It came out that even the PMO was involved in these scams.
The year 2000 saw visit of the US president Clinton, who was greeted with protests wherever he went. However, new deals were signed to enter into a new phase of strategic Indo-US cooperation in vulnerable defence sector, and most shamefully, the FBI of America was allowed to open an office in New Delhi.
Pursuing its agenda of cultural nationalism, the BJP-led government packed all the research institutions including Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) with Sangh cadres to tamper with the History and convert myths into history. HRD minister Murli Manohar Joshi made the CBSE issued a circular to strike down ten ‘objectionable’ paragraphs, which actually presented unchallengeable historical facts, so as to ensure that facts unpalatable to Sangh Parivar are not taught or discussed in the classrooms.
While hiking petroleum products prices, the NDA government introduced a disastrous new textile policy to close down hundred-odd mills of the National Textile Corporation and hand over the Indian garments industry to foreign multinationals.
In order to appease Western imperialist masters, Vajpayee govt. lifted Quantitative Restrictions much ahead of schedule, while the developed countries never complied with lifting of subsidies to their farm sector. The govt. further succumbed at Doha summit of WTO to covertly agree for a new round. It even decided to amend the Patents Act in order to allow exclusive marketing rights to foreign pharmaceutical and agro-chemical MNCs.
After selling Modern Food, the government sold majority shares of Bharat Alluminium Company (BALCO) to Sterlite overlooking nationwide opposition. And despite internal opposition, the govt. has ultimately disinvested HPCL and BPCL shares too.
Most notoriously, the government appealed to Supreme Court to allow it hand over the “undisputed” land at Ayodhya to VHP for performing Bhoomi pooja. When Supreme Court refused to comply, the Prime Minister sent an emissary for Shiladaan. In the wake of Shiladaan happened Godhra, which was cashed in by killer Modi regime to perpetrate unprecedentedly State-sponsored Massacre of Muslims in Gujarat. The government not only brazenly defended Modi, at the same time it rushed through POTA by convening an extra-ordinary joint session of Parliament. Recently the govt. again appealed to SC to lift prohibition on the handing over of the “undisputed” land to VHP.
The fact that the BJP-led govt. was bent on throwing overboard anti-imperialist legacy was further substantiated when it brazenly refused to condemn the naked US aggression of Iraq and hung Savarkar’s portrait in the Central Hall of Parliament whereas it did not find Bhagat Singh to be worthy of that honour.
B R I E F S
đ A road blockade was held by CPI(ML) involving hundreds of people at Kujendri in Orissa against the eviction of tribal people from forest land in the wake of construction of a bridge and police repression in the name of naxalites on March 23.
đ More than two thousand people demonstrated at Gudari block of Raigada district to press upon various demands including eviction of tribals from forest land and distribution of rice to people in drought affected areas on March 28.
đ Party’s Narela area committee in Delhi held its second conference on April 6 and resolved to develop struggle for residential plot for the landless and other demands. This was inaugurated by Swapan Mukherjee.
đ On 2 April, a district level cadre convention of the Khet Mazdoor Sabha (Agrarian Labourers’ Organisation) was held at Arrah in Bihar to give impetus to ongoing movement of the agrarian labourers. The convention chalked out a comprehensive plan of action including membership drive and organisation-building. The convention was addressed by the CPI(ML) district Secretary Amar.
đ In North Dinajpur, Pragatisheel Mahila Samiti protested against an incident of mass rape. A memorandum was also given to the administration demanding immediate steps to curve the incidents of women’s repression and increasing obscenity in local cinema halls.
đ In Uttarakhand, Party supported candidates have won one Jilla Panchayat, one BDC and three Gram Sabhapati seats.
April 12 - International Day of Next Anti-War Action
On April 12 in addition to the National March on Washington DC and joint actions in San Francisco and Los Angeles, massive and coordinated demonstrations will take place around the world, in the Middle East, Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe. In England, the Stop the War Coalition UK — the group that organised over 1.5 million people to demonstrate in London on February 15 — will hold their next national demonstration on April 12.
The whole world is now taking to the streets in almost daily protests. April 12 will be another opportunity for a coming together in vast numbers to show the continuing and growing power of the anti-war movement.
Stop the War Coalition UK, A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition and German anti-war organisers have put out a joint call to rally international participation on April 12. It reads in part: “It is becoming clear to millions that this is not a war for Iraqi liberation but a bloody military invasion. ... further coordinated international action can make it difficult for Bush and Blair pair to continue the carnage. ... We call on the anti-war movements to organise the next day of global capital city protests on April 12.” Protests are already scheduled for Brazil, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, South Korea, the Philippines, Italy and Sweden, in addition to England, Germany and the U.S.
Developing Resistance against US Barbarian War
After premature US adventure, 200-300 US soldiers killed by Iraq troops in the battle to restore Saddam International Airport, reports Middle-East media. It took place amidst Carpet bombing of the city including use of cluster bombs. It signals the battle of Baghdad against the American invaders when their War edging into fourth week. Worldwide anti- war movements of the people too, are taking more and more active, concrete and result oriented forms.
Oakland police fired rubber bullets and wooden pellets on Monday to disperse hundreds of anti-war protesters in what was believed to be the first such use against U.S. protesters since the American-led war on Iraq. The San Francisco police detained about 18 protesters at the Federal Building in a separate demonstration. Several people were also reported to be blocking one of the city’s main highways. Also on Monday, New York police arrested several dozen people who blocked the entrance to the Manhattan building of the Carlyle Group, a firm which has a stake in the defense industry. there had been extraordinary police violence at Monday morning’s dock action, including tear gas, concussion grenades, police running over people with motorcycles and rubber bullets.Over 1,000 people turned out to shut down the port and have been extremely successful. Side by side, The national student anti-war group Campus Anti-war Network galvanized student-led protests in Chicago,Austin, Texas, Washington and Oakland. Earlier, in the weekend 10,000 anti-war demonstrators flooded Oakland on Saturday in a festive protest.
Anti-War protests are also continuing in Greece, Spain, Palestine, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Jordon, Egypt, Iran, etc. Thousands of Turks also gathered in a square in Istanbul to protest against the war, many setting fire to the flags of multinational American companies, police and anti-war demonstrators clashed on Sunday outside a key NATO naval base.
Use of Depleted Uranium Condemned
Mayor of Hiroshima, Tadatoshi Akiba, in a letter to George Bush, condemned using Uranium by US in the current War against Iraq. He writes: “...having experienced the atomic bomb, Hiroshima believes that, from a humanitarian perspective, depleted uranium should not be used until it has been proven safe and the fears allayed. ...Your war in Iraq has already taken the lives of many unfortunate Iraqi citizens. I urge you to seriously contemplate this reality, then refrain not only from using depleted uranium weapons but also from pursuing your attack.”
Amnesty Demands US for Inquiry into Iraqi Civilian Killing
The London-based Amnesty International has urged the United States to start an independent and thorough inquiry into the killing of seven women and children at a US military checkpoint at Najaf, 150 kilometers south of Iraq. Anyone suspected of unlawfully killing civilians must be brought to justice,” it read. On April 1, afternoon, in the desert near the town of Najaf, seven Iraqi women and children huddled in a car died in a hail of US bullets certain to fuel anti-American sentiment through the Arab world. According to the figure from the Iraqi government, at least 653 Iraqi civilians have been killed since the US and British troops launched the war against Iraq on March 20.
Edited, published and printed by S. Bhattacharya for
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