May-June 2010

Table of Contents

  1. All India Central Council of Trade Union’s May Day Call

  2. Jan Adhikar Rally and After

  3. Country-Wide Rallies

  4. Green Hunt’s Grim Toll Rises

  5. Tata sponsored ‘Green Hunt’ in Kalinga Nagar

  6. 8th Party Congress of the Revolutionary Workers’ Party of Bangladesh

  7. Film Review: The Hurt Locker

  8. Obituary: Comrade Kanu Sanyal

Workers’ Struggle

All India Central Council of Trade Union’s May Day Call

– Liberation, May, 2010.

CHECK PRICE RISE! FOOD FOR ALL! JOBS FOR ALL!

Rights and Dignity to Workers and Toiling Peasants!

Monthly wages of Rs. 11,000 and Social Security to all unorganized workers!

The working class, the toiling masses and the poor are reeling under relentless rise in prices of food and other essential items coupled with massive loss of livelihood, steady erosion in wages and social security, ever-growing impoverishment and pauperization and curbing of trade unions rights including creation of No-TU Zones. But powerful protests can be seen all around and on May Day this year the working class of the country will direct its growing anger and resentment towards giving a fitting reply to the ruling elite’s pro-rich, anti poor policies.

Sops for the Rich, Peanuts for the Poor

The Budget 2010 has come out as an arrogant, shameless expression of the pro-rich, pro-corporate policies of the UPA govt. marking the heights of its insensitivity towards “common man” in whose name it ascended to power.

Despite an all round protest particularly by lakhs (1 lakh = 100,000) of poor masses protesting under the left banner through out the country, the Sonia-Manmohan-Pranab trio has snubbed the common man by refusing to roll back the hikes in prices of petrol, diesel etc, which were their contribution to overall offensive of price rise.

Let us further see what the “common man” and handful of rich got from this budget. The Social Security Fund for unorganized workers, launched in this budget after several years of demands by Trade Unions, got an outlay of a mere Rs 1,000 crore, against the demand of 3% of GDP. Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) got an allocation of only Rs. 40,000 crore (in real terms no increase from last year) and Indira Awas Yojana beneficiaries would get only Rs. 45,000. In contrast, the relentlessly rising defence outlay now stands at 1,47,000 crore and for corporate houses the tax exemptions and revenues foregone amounted to 5 lakh crores. Besides, the Government through this budget intends to amass Rs. 40,000 crore from selling off the profit making central public sector units (CPSUs) through disinvestment. Public Sector Banks, the saviours of Indian economy in the times of global financial crisis, and other PSUs like coal, steel, and railways have been opened up for corporate players. The Budget has virtually pronounced the death sentence for nationalization. Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) has been further disinvested to 20%, and the Pitroda Panel has already cleared the way for Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) privatisation.

The pro-rich, pro-corporate central policies have been echoed in the subsequent budgets placed by the various state governments, which amply express the consensus on these anti-people policies between the Centre and governments of various hues.

While 23 Indians (it is these corporate fat cats who got the cream from the budget) with a total net worth of Rs. 8,640 billion made it to the list of the world’s richest people in 2009, the year of financial crisis; the 77% or 80 crore of Indians continue to live on less than Rs. 20 a day; old age pension can be as low as Rs. 30/month, Indian children can been seen eating mud to satisfy their hunger, starvation deaths are widespread and more and more of country’s poor are being pushed out of BPL list.

Workers in the World Standard Capital City

According to official estimates, 43 construction workers have died building the infrastructure for the Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi. Unofficially the death estimates are much higher. Right in the capital city, workers are being compelled to live hellish lives in confinement, denied even the right to form trade unions and exercise other labour laws, paid much below the minimum wages with no essential provisions. Even the findings of the Committee constituted on the orders of Delhi High Court Order on working and living conditions of workers engaged in Games work have confirmed all this. The Congress-led Delhi Government has already displaced 1 lakh poor people for beautification of Delhi and due to the Games 30 lakh more are being rendered homeless, of which 12 to 15 lakh will be migrant workers. All efforts are going on to hide the poverty and pauperization in this ‘global city’, with slums being masked by decorative bamboo groves.

No- Trade Union (TU) Zones

To aggressively pursue their pro-corporate policies, the governments are increasingly resorting to repressive methods to quell the resentment and struggles of workers. A large part of the country is being converted into No-TU Zones. Most industrial areas, even if they are not declared to be SEZs, are like SEZs and No-Protest Zones as far as the right of workers to protest goes. The latest incident in this regard is the denial of permission by Tamil Nadu director general of police (DGP) for a workers’ ‘Long March’ this month under the banner of AICCTU from Coimbatore to Chennai. The pretext for forbidding this March is that it might “disturb industrial peace”. So, from the Congress-led Haryana’s Gurgaon-Manesar belt to Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Uttarakhand’s State Infrastructure and Industrial Development Corporation of Uttaranchal (SIDCUL), from Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)-led Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore-Sriperumbudur-Irungattokottai belt to Mayawati-led U.P.’s Sonebhadra – all have been virtually converted into No-TU Zones.

Violation of labour laws has in fact become the law. To maximize profits and exploitation, outsourcing and contractualization including employing contract workers, trainees etc. in regular jobs has become the order of the day even in PSUs, government departments, not to mention the private organized sector. Be it the 6th pay commission or wage agreements in Steel, BSNL, Coal etc. and organized sector industries like Jute, the wages of workers are being linked with the productivity and a pattern of huge disparities in incomes between lowest and highest categories is emerging. This has resulted in immense increase of workload and erosion in real wages of workers and, on the other hand, in increase of the wealth of upwardly mobile sections. In the era of 21st century technology, the mindset and production relations of the 19th century are dominating.

Protests by workers, adivasis (indigenous), women are met with repression. When agricultural workers and rural poor of Punjab raise the demand of house pattas they along with their leaders are thrown into jails. Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab, has already been shut off for even normal protests, to the extents were not allowed to celebrate even Bhagat Singh’s Martyrdom Day! When state government employees demand implementation of 6th Pay Commission, they are brutally lathi-charged and thrown into jails. The Central Government in collusion with various state governments has unleashed terror among adivasis with Operation Green Hunt in the name of fighting Maoists. The real agenda is to protect memorandum of understanding (MoUs) between governments and Tatas, Mittals, Ambanis, Posco etc and clear the way for corporate loot and plunder of our mineral and natural resources.

Workers Are Fighting Back

But the working class is not lying low in the face of attack of capital. From Gurgaon-Manesar to Sriperumbudur-Coimbatore the workers have shown their resolve to fight back. The agricultural and other sections of unorganized workers, working women and adivasis are putting up valiant resistance throughout the country against the policies of denial of rights, living wages and dignified life, of loot and plunder. Workers of Coal and Telecom are preparing for another big strike. Resentment simmers among steel workers. Against the Punjab Government’s move of privatization of electricity, employees have gone on strike braving all-out state repression, and with more and more common people plunging into the struggle a popular movement has emerged against this move. If the employees of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand etc. have through their long, determined struggles won the battle on implementation of 6th pay commission, the employees of J&K have waged a powerful battle on the same issue in the face of severe repression.

On May Day 2010, the Indian working class prepares for bigger battles for wages, livelihood, social security, rights and dignity. Let May Day, the symbol of the unity of workers of the world and their immense sacrifices and glorious struggles, be an occasion to rally the entire working class around the call for the reversal of policies of LPG (liberalization, privatization and globalization).

We Demand:

Check rising prices of food grains and all essential items.

Declare monthly wages of Rs. 11,000 as national floor level minimum wage and Rs. 2,000 as monthly pension for all unorganized workers.

Include all unorganized workers including agricultural and rural workers, all small and marginal peasants in BPL list. Guarantee provision of at least 50 Kg food grains and 5 litres of Kerosene at subsidized rates for every BPL household.

Increase the budget outlay for Social security fund to Rs. 10,000 crore.

For housing, guarantee at least Rs. 100,000 under Indira Awas Yojana to every beneficiary.

Extend NREGA to urban areas. Bring a separate legislation for agricultural labour.

For security of migrant workers bring a separate Legislation on the lines of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

Guarantee strict implementation of all labour laws.

Ensure Equal wages and Rights for women workers.

Nationalize all mines in the country.

Rivers, Land, Forests,

Natural and Mineral Resources all Belong to us,

Not for Loot and Plunder of Corporates and MNCs!

No to Disinvestment of PSUs!

No to Privatization of Health, Education and other essential Services!

No to Operation Green Hunt! No to Attacks on the Working Class and State repression!

Struggles in India

Jan Adhikar Rally and After:

Carrying forward the Battle for Land Reforms, Development and Democracy

– Liberation, May, 2010.

On March 30, Patna’s historic Gandhi Maidan was witness to one of the biggest people’s assemblies of recent times. The occasion was the “Jan Adhikar (Peoples’ Rights) Rally” called by the Bihar State Committee of the CPI(ML). People from different parts of the state started streaming into Patna from the early hours of March 29 itself. And the flow continued till the early afternoon on March 30 when the meeting was already on. Defying the scorching sun, tens of thousands of people listened in rapt attention to the speeches of the leaders, bursting frequently not just into loud applause but roaring chants: “Check Prices, Guarantee Jobs; Carry out Land Reforms” and “Land, Housing and Guaranteed Jobs – People’s Rights, People’s Rights.”

The rally did much more than showcase the mass strength and disciplined organization the CPI(ML) is known for. It reflected the growing mood of the people on the ground under Nitish Kumar’s much-trumpeted reign of ‘good governance’ and ‘development with justice’. It also set the tone for popular unity and mobilization in the battle against feudal reaction and for ending the current impasse to push Bihar forward towards land reforms and real development.

Bihar is currently seeing an encore of sorts of the NDA’s “India shining” campaign at the Centre. The state government is busy congratulating itself for changing the world’s “perception” about Bihar. Certificates from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB), Department of International Development (DFID) and India’s own Mumbai-based financial press are brandished at regular intervals in support of this grandiose rhetoric. The government is spending enormous money on advertisements and official celebrations and the advertisement lever also comes in handy to effectively censor the media. Yet the rally made it clear that the common people are simply not amused, and the air in Bihar is in fact thick with popular anger against the government’s non-performance and betrayal.

The rally was preceded by six weeks of intensive campaigning beginning with extensive panchayat level mass contact and block level demonstration on February 20. The demonstrations saw a lot of mass participation with several blocks reporting 1,000-plus or even 2,000-plus mobilization. In Patna and most of the surrounding districts, the February 20 action effectively eclipsed the next day’s official show of Mahadalit unity in Patna. The inflationary and pro-rich provisions of the central and state budgets too peeved the masses no end; and on March 3 there were widespread mass protest actions, the most popular form being burning of effigies of Manmohan Singh and Nitish Kumar.

The two issues that really ignited the mass anger were the ongoing loot in public distribution system (PDS), National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and various rural development schemes and the government’s refusal to implement the recommendations of the Land Reforms Commission. Leaders like Nitish Kumar and Rahul Gandhi wax eloquent against the pilferage of development funds and trade charges against each other for non-implementation of development schemes. But the people can very well see and feel the symbiotic relationship between the corrupt nexus on the ground and the so-called ‘clean’ leaders in Patna and Delhi. If more than 80% development expenditure eludes the most deserving beneficiaries, the responsibility for this ‘system failure’ lies squarely on the rulers who command the system from the seats of power.

The growing debate over land reforms has effectively exposed the pro-feudal streak of the Nitish Kumar government. Beginning with the unceremonious termination of the Amir Das commission so as to protect the political patrons of the killer Ranvir Sena to the recent dumping of the report of the Land Reforms Commission, the Nitish Kumar government has been working overtime to appease the feudal interests in Bihar. And cutting across party divides, pro-feudal leaders in Bihar have once again started ganging up to stall any move towards land reforms. Several backward caste leaders of the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)- Janta Dal (JD) (United) combine are also quite vocal against land reforms. Against this backdrop of heightened social polarization, the campaign for the Jan Adhikar Rally successfully reached out to the landless rural poor as well as small peasants and tenants and share-croppers.

The stage is now set for the next phase of the showdown. With elections round the corner, the anti-land reforms lobby is desperate to scuttle the whole issue. This lobby now proposes to hold a pseudo-peasant conference on May 2 with the sole agenda of stalling land reforms. The Jan Adhikar Rally has also sounded the bugle for a National Peasant Conference in Patna on May 10. The conference will uphold the legacy of radical peasant mobilization in Bihar from the days of 1857 through the Kisan Sabha agitation of Sahajanand Saraswati to the present-day battle for land and liberty, dignity and democracy.

The battlelines have been drawn and progressive democratic forces must now close ranks to defeat the feudal forces and their anti-land reforms scare-mongering.

Politics in India

Country-Wide Rallies Demand ‘Check Prices, Give Jobs and Carry Out Land Reforms’

– Liberation, May, 2010.

Between 23 and 31 March this year, the CPI (ML) held mass rallies and other mass protests in the national capital and in several states demanding a check on price rise, and guarantee of jobs, housing and land reform. The following is the report:

Massive Jan-Adhikar (People’s Rights) Rally in Patna

On March 30, Patna became a veritable sea of red flags, with thousands of poor agricultural labourers, sharecroppers, peasants, women and men from all over Bihar assembling at Gandhi Maidan in Communist Party of India (Marxist-Lenininist) [CPI(ML)]’s Jan Adhikar Rally. The record-breaking participation and mobilisation of the rural poor, defying the blazing sun, was a challenge to the Nitish Government’s claims of ‘good governance’. In the face of the ruling class consensus across parties against land reforms, the rally was an assertion of the uncompromising resolve of the rural poor to struggle for implementation of the recommendations of the Land Reforms Commission and secure sharecroppers’ rights.

A day before the rally, the student wing of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)- Akhila Bharatiya Vidya Parishad (ABVP) cadres uprooted flags and banners of the rally – an incident that indicated the discomfort and fear of Bihar’s rulers and its most reactionary forces at the mobilisation of the revolutionary Left.

The Rally and mass meeting was presided over by the party’s Bihar State Secretary Comrade Nand Kishore Prasad. The meeting began with rousing performances of revolutionary folk songs. Among the party leaders present on the dais were politburo members Comrades Swadesh Bhattacharya, D P Bakshi, Ramjatan Sharma, and Ramji Rai, as well as many State Committee members and Central Committee members of the party. Party General Secretary Comrade Dipankar’s speech and his rousing call to uphold Bihar’s legacy of peasant movement and make the forthcoming National Peasant Conference on 10 May a success was met with enthusiastic applause.

The rally ended with adoption of a 12-point resolution to intensify the struggle against price rise, and for employment and land reform.

March to Parliament in Delhi

On 26th March, thousands of workers, peasants, women, students and youth from Delhi, Punjab and Rajasthan marched from Mandi House to Parliament Street in the national capital, demanding increase in minimum wages, creation of jobs, land reforms, housing for the poor and inclusion of all agricultural workers, workers in unorganised sector and other low-paid occupations and poor peasants. Hundreds of agricultural workers and peasants from Punjab, who participated in the march, had been jailed in large numbers last year for agitating for homestead land and NREGA jobs. Hundreds of unorganised sector workers including rickshaw pullers, street vendors, and security workers from Delhi and Noida/Ghaziabad participated in the march.

The March culminated in a mass meeting at Jantar Mantar. The mass meeting was addressed by CPI (ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, Swapan Mukherjee, General Secretary of All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU), Delhi State Secretary Sanjay Sharma, Punjab State Secretary Rajwinder Rana and others.

Jan Adhikar Rally in Other States

CPI (ML) held a large rally which marched from Bhubaneswar Railway Station to the State Assembly on 27 March. People from 22 districts of Orissa were present in the rally. Apart from highlighting mass concerns like price rise, Public Distribution System (PDS) the rally called for an immediate end to Operation Green Hunt, release of all political prisoners, withdrawal of concessions granted to big companies like POSCO, Vedanta, Tata and nationalization of the entire mineral sector. Veteran trade union leader from Rourkela and AICCTU Vice President NK Mohanty presided over the meeting.

Demonstrations in Jharkhand and West Bengal drew thousands of people. CPI (ML) and Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha jointly organised a rally in Raipur on 26 March to protest the exorbitant prices of essential necessities. Hundreds of rural poor from various districts of the State participated and a memorandum was submitted to the Chief Minister.

In Andhra Pradesh, on 23 March the CPI (ML) Liberation organized a big rally and a convention at Khammam demanding separated statehood for Telangana. Nearly 500 people attended the Convention, including party activists, women, students, lawyers and teachers.

The convention inaugurated by CPI (ML) Liberation District Secretary C K Damodhar. The Convention paid homage to the martyrs of the struggle for separate statehood for Telangana as well as Shaheed Bhagat Singh. On 27th March a convention was held at Vijayawada as a part of political campaign from March 23-31 in which 400 people participated. The theme of the convention was ‘Forest Land Grab by Land Lords and Struggle of the Poor for Land’. In Krishna district more than 25,000 acres of forest land is illegally occupied mostly by land lords with the help of forest and revenue officials. Instead of vacating the landlords forest officials are harassing the poor. CPI (ML) started a movement long back demanding “vacate landlords from the land immediately, provide that land to the poor”. Recently under leadership of the Party and All India Agricultural Labourers Association (AIALA) 400 hundred people captured 300 acres of the land from 6 landlords. In this backdrop the convention drew much attention. The convention was addressed by State Secretary N Murthy among others.

A massive peoples’ rights rally was held on 31st March 2010 at Puducherry against anti-people policies of Unite Progressive Alliance (UPA) as well as the Congress Government of Puducherry. Rallyists demanded roll back of price hike of petroleum products in particular and in general price increase of all essential commodities. They also demanded jobs and houses for all and land reforms in the Union Territory of Puducherry. The rally started from the old bus stand of Puducherry town and passed through main streets of Puducherry. The rally culminated in a big demonstration in front of the legislative assembly of Puducherry. A detailed peoples’ rights chamber was submitted to the Chief Minister of Puducherry. Hundreds of women participated in the rally.

Politics in India

Green Hunt’s Grim Toll Rises

– Liberation, May, 2010.

The Maoist ambush of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans (soldiers) on April 6 in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh which claimed the lives of 74 jawans is yet another tragic and terrible toll taken by Chidambaram’s war. The CRPF Battalion was reportedly returning from a 4-day ‘area domination operation’ when they were ambushed with heavily armed sophisticated weapons which were captured by the Maoists.

The jawans deaths are being cynically used by the security establishment, the State, and most sections of the media to justify the Government’s military offensive and indeed, to raise a shrill cry for ‘final solutions’ to the Maoist challenge, including deployment of army and air force.

These dangerous exhortations need to be exposed and challenged powerfully. It must be asserted that the cycle of bloodshed will continue unless the Government puts an immediate stop to Operation Green Hunt (OGH) and initiates dialogue not only with the Maoists but with the range of people’s movements.

Chidambaram made a grand gesture of offering to resign, accepting responsibility for the Dantewada killing, and promptly there was a great show of unity in the ruling class, with the main Opposition, the BJP, expressing confidence in Chidambaram’s leadership. At the same time, there have also been voices within the ruling class that have sought to project some kind of discomfort with the OGH model. Congress leader Digvijay Singh wrote a piece in a leading English daily, expressing differences with Chidambaram’s strategy of containing Maoists. Mani Shankar Aiyar too has expressed similar sentiments. On the face of it, Digvijay Singh’s remarks appear to be a repetition of the familiar argument that the Maoism issue should be addressed as one of ‘development’ rather than of ‘law and order’, the article ends on the note that the Government should be “paying more attention to issues of livelihood and governance rather than converting Bastar into a battlefield”. Is Digvijay Singh, then, evidence of a saner and more democratic voice within the ruling class and the Congress party? Far from it. Digvijay’s article exhorts the Government to “learn from the Andhra Pradesh experience of adopting pro-poor policies and closely targeting the Maoists leadership”. ‘Closely targeting Maoist leaders’ the Andhra Pradesh way, is nothing but a commendation of the spate of fake encounters by Greyhound squads unleashed by the AP Government. These supposed voices of ‘dissent’ within the ruling party are reminiscent of the ‘swadeshi’ protests by RSS outfits when the Vajpayee Government was adopting neoliberal policies: they are a transparent attempt to retain credibility for the Congress even amongst the sections of the people who oppose Green Hunt. There has even been a laughable attempt by one apologist for the Congress to claim that Green Hunt is in fact a conspiracy by corporate lobbies against the “progressive and pro-poor” policies of the Congress President! Such fictions and poses will find few takers: it is clear that the so-called ‘pro-poor’ policies – such as an emaciated National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and a farce of a food bill – are a mere ‘human face’ mask for the basic pro-corporate policy orientation of the Congress which is reflected in its annual Budgets, its SEZ Act and policy of encouraging corporate land grab, all-round privatisation of public sector assets, neoliberal policies responsible for price rise and unemployment, as well a concerted offensive of state repression on people’s movements, now being intensified and dressed up as a war on Maoists.

The Dantewada attack may be seen by the Maoists as a major military blow – but the evidence is that on balance, it is a boost in the arm for the ruling class, and underlines the political bankruptcy of the Maoists. 44 of the jawans killed were from poor peasant families in UP. The arrival of the bodies in UP villages and towns and funerals are being attended by thousands of local people. The grief and anger of the families at the death of their kith and kin is being exploited by the State to organise peasant reaction not just against Maoists but against the entire revolutionary left movement.

The Maoists might claim the support of tribals in Dantewada and Bastar – and indeed, for local adivasis (indigenous peoples) who have witnessed mass eviction by police and Salwa Judum, and rapes, massacres and fake encounters by security forces, the attack on the CRPF may well garner some sympathy. But villages near the site of the attack are desolate and thousands of villagers have fled in a mass exodus to Andhra Pradesh, fearing reprisal from the police who suspect them of having facilitated the Maoist attack. For police to retaliate to a Maoist action by all-out repression against adivasis is common and predictable practice – recall that the entire Lalgarh movement began after atrocities during police combing operations following a Maoist land-mine blast. The mass exodus of Dantewada villagers is proof of the terror inspired by the police among tribals. But it is also evidence that the Maoists leave unarmed adivasis to face the brunt of police terror unleashed after their sensational actions.

The adivasis of the country’s mineral-rich forest areas and activists of people’s movements and democratic organisations all over the country are paying for Operation Green Hunt with their lives and liberty, the country is paying with its peace and democracy, and the hapless jawans killed at Dantewada are also fodder in that same war on the people of India.

Struggles in India

Tata sponsored ‘Green Hunt’ in Kalinga Nagar to destroy democratic tribal movement

– ML Update, 6-12 April, 2010.

[Following statement was jointly issued by Left and democratic parties (mentioned at the end) on 25 March at Bhubaneswar]

Yesterday the Collector of Jajpur district assured Dabar Kalundia, a tribal leader of Bisthapan Birodhi Jan Manch (BBJM) that he would come to Baligotha village on 28 March for a meeting with the dissenting villagers and find a solution to the prevailing conflict. But within a day the Collector has broken his word as of today about 24 platoons of armed policemen have been deployed in Kalinga Nagar to suppress the democratic and non-violent movement of the BBJM. It is feared that there will be bloodshed on a larger scale than on 2 Jan 06 when 14 tribal men, women and children were killed in a police shootout. The villagers fear the police will attack tomorrow morning.

For more than 3 months now the resistance villages of Kalinga Nagar have been besieged by police forces who have randomly arrested dozens of villagers who stepped out of their village. People have been framed under false charges. There has been repeated midnight attacks by policemen and Tata goons to annihilate key activists of the BBJM. Hired assassins have also tried to eliminate the tribal leaders of the movement and one such attempt caused the death of Amin Banara of Baligotha village. Recently large number of police forces had been deployed on the pretext of building a road through the villages. Every attempt of the police and administration to quell the dissent of the people has been countered in democratic and non-violent ways by the BBJM.

The BBJM has clarified several times that it is not a Maoist backed organisation and does not want violence. The BBJM has made it clear that it will not accept displacement and mindless industrialisation that is already causing massive pollution in the area leading to widespread disease, crop failure, air, water & sound pollution. The Collector also agreed to the meeting only after the BBJM wrote several letters to him demanding that their concerns be addressed first as the Collector had been announcing in some meetings in the area that the Common Corridor Road would be built at any cost.

Surprisingly the print and electronic media have so far ignored developments in Kalinganagar which itself is a threat to democracy. Mainstream political parties also have reached a consensus with the ruling party which creates concerns among all citizens who understand the implications of mobilization of armed police in Kalinganagar villages resisting Tata induced displacement.

We demand that the government should stop acting like a hired mercenary of Tata Steel company and withdraw all police forces from the area immediately. If there is any bloodshed the sole responsibility will lie on the government. The government should also give up the Common Corridor Road project as it will be built on fertile farm land and the community land of the tribals. The government should respect the sacrifice of the 14 tribals killed by the police and scrap the Tata project immediately. There should be no further displacement and dispossession of tribal people from their land. The government should immediately start working towards restoring peace in the area by assuring the tribals that there will be no attacks on them by the police or Tata goons. A medical team should be sent to the villages immediately as people have not been able to visit doctors for days in fear of arrest.

We appeal to all concerned citizens, progressive groups and media persons to raise their voice against the Fascist tendencies of the government and express solidarity with the tribals of Kalinga Nagar.

Prafulla Samnatara (Lok Shakti Abhijan), Lingaraj (Samajvadi Jan Parishad), Radhakant Sethi (CPI-ML Liberation), Prashanta Paikrai (PPSS), Bhalachandra Sadangi (CPI-ML New Democracy), Lingaraj Azad (NSS)

South Asia

8th Party Congress of the Revolutionary Workers’ Party of Bangladesh (RWPB)

– Liberation, May, 2010.

A three-member delegation of the CPI(ML)(Liberation) went to Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, to attend the 8th Party Congress of the RWPB from 1st April to 3rd April, followed by a grand meet with the leaders of the left and democratic parties/formations of Bangladesh on 4th April evening, including Comrade Saiful Haque, General Secretary, RWPB. The CPI(ML) delegation was led by Politburo (PB) member Comrade Swadesh Bhattacharya, and included PB Member Comrade Kartick Pal and Tripura State Secretary and central committee member Comrade Mrinmoy Chakravarty. The delegation met with warm welcome, communist fraternity and comradely hospitality. The Party Congress symbolised proletarian simplicity, commitments and bold and tireless struggles towards reorganisation and rebuilding a revolutionary communist party.

RWPB came into existence in 2004 with a split in Workers’ Party of Bangladesh. RWPB leaders it is said, revolted against the class collaborationist opportunist line, parliamentary cretinism and abject surrender to ruling class parties adapted by the WPB leadership. As of now the WBP is a partner of the ruling Awami League led ‘grand alliance’. On the contrary, the RWPB is consistently striving to adapt Marxist-Leninist ideological-political positions, provide revolutionary orientation to workers, peasants’ movements, focusing on agrarian movement as the axis, develop joint forums of trade unions and anti-imperialist political forum with other left parties and democrats.

The 8th Party Congress of RWPB reasserted their opposition to the government’s abject surrender to imperialist forces, especially US and to the domination and dictates of the Indian ruling classes, sway over of free market economy leading to severe agricultural and industrial crisis, price hike and unemployment, and above all, establishing a reign of terror, insecurity – and autocratic rule, and posing of serious threat to country’s sovereignty, national interest, national wealth and security. The Party Congress also noted the danger of growing threat of religio-fascist forces and their militarist terror under direct and indirect patronisation of the ruling elites. The Party Congress outlined policies and programme to combat all such threats, the central slogan being, “Strengthen people’s struggling unity against imperialists, lootera rich-classes” and and religio-fascism”. The Party Congress not only updated and adopted ideological-political resolutions, programme and constitution, but also discussed and adopted two other policy resolutions viz. 1. Policy of financial resources of the Party, focusing on “rely on the members and the masses and ensure transparency”; and 2. Guideline for the Party members, depicting organisational principles and tasks. Finally the councillors (delegates) elected (i) a Central Committee, (ii) Presidium (re-named Politburo) (iii) Central Control Commission, (iv) Alternate members and (v) a batch of central organisers.

The inaugural session deserves special mention as it witnessed on the one hand, popular and powerful peoples’ revolutionary culture, Tagore songs to folk songs to Sukanto- Nazarul recitals and dances by children on the theme of “red sun in the eastern horizon embracing the red flag”. On the other, the session figured the presence of leaders from nearly one and a half dozen parties/formations who greeted the RWPB Congress. Most of them share common political platform with RWPB.

All these parties, added with some other nationalist parties/forums, left and democratic personalities, graced the 4th April Dhaka Press Club lounge talks and exchanges with our neighbouring comrades and friends. Most of them appreciated our views and concerns about the US design in the sub-continent, regional hegemonistic ambitions of the Indian ruling classes as well as the growing prospect of extended resistances, solidarity and united peoples’ movement. All were unanimous for further urgent move in this direction.

Film Review

The Hurt Locker: Cinematic Adventurism Set in American Imperial Adventurism

– Tyler Walker Williams, Liberation, May, 2010.

This year’s Academy Awards in California, true to its Hollywood roots, presented with an ample amount of scripted suspense and feigned emotion a classic underdog story: ‘The Hurt Locker’ a low-budget, ‘independent’ film about the Iraq war, directed by a woman (Katherine Bigelow) and featuring little-known actors, beat out director James Cameron (a man and the ex-husband of Bigelow, no less) and his multi-million dollar epic ‘Avatar’ (the most expensive, and soon to be highest-grossing, film of all time) for the honor of ‘Best Picture’. Bigelow became the first woman to receive an Oscar as a director (a milestone that was way, way overdue), and the film received several other awards and was showered with praise for its ‘realistic’ portrayal of the rigors of war.

Now that the dust of the Oscars has settled, however, it seems that all the sound and fury of The Hurt Locker was nothing more than a Bush-style campaign of ‘shock-and-awe’: despite all the hype, the film offers very little in the way of meaningful content or message, and it is certainly not an ‘anti-war film’. Far from being a critique of the Iraq war, or the rapacious politics behind it, it is a sensationalist imagining of war so removed from reality that even most American soldiers who reviewed the film called it pure ‘fantasy’. So how did a film that promotes itself as an uncompromising look at the experience of war avoid actually dealing with the war at all?

Before the film’s release, Bigelow declared that she had set out to make a ‘non-political’ film about war and those who participate in it. The suggestion that one can make a ‘non-political’ film about an ongoing war in which millions of Iraqis – let alone thousands of American and other soldiers – have died, and which has been exposed time and again to be nothing but a rapacious profit-making exercise for American big business, is either wildly politically irresponsible, or grossly disingenuous. A quick study of both the film and its director reveals that it is both.

Bigelow is a self-proclaimed ‘post-structuralist/post-modernist’ whose main interest lies in making de-constructed, dis-junctured films examining individual psychology; her training took place in the moneyed, ‘high art’ post-modern scene of 1980’s New York, and many of her films – including The Setup, Blue Steel and Strange Days – tend to cater to the aesthetic and political sensibilities of elite consumers of high art. So when Bigelow set out to make a film that uses a horrendously destructive and universally-condemned war as nothing more than a ‘backdrop’ for a cinematic study of one man’s psyche, her intended audience was exactly the kind of ultra-rich elites who, being far-removed from the realities of war (or even its disastrous economic effects in the US) could watch such a ‘psychological thriller’ without letting the unsettling details of the actual war in the background disrupt their experience.

The plot, then, follows the experiences of William James, a bomb-disposal expert in the US Army, and the other two members of his three-man bomb disposal unit, Sanborn and Eldridge, as they diffuse bombs and encounter anonymous ‘insurgents’ in and around Baghdad across a period of several months. When James arrives in Baghdad and joins the unit at the beginning of the film, Sanborn and Eldridge are initially wary of his cavalier tactics and lack of concern for danger – James repeatedly refuses to follow military protocol, instead running into dangerous situations like a cowboy with guns blazing. Through a series of firefights and ‘adventures’, however, they come to develop a certain respect for James and his lack of fear.

The film’s main focus is James and his need for excitement: the film opens with a quote from journalist Chris Hedges: “The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug.” The viewer then watches James as he repeatedly searches for yet another adrenaline-rush, whether it be diffusing a car bomb, firing at ‘bad guys’, or goading his own fellow soldiers to try to kill him. The film ends with James leaving the ‘mundane’ safety of America to begin yet another tour of duty in Iraq, and the last scene shows him in his bomb-disposal gear, walking towards yet another bomb as rock-and-roll music wails in the background. The purpose of the film is clear: it is not a serious attempt to deal with the issues of war, the occupation of Iraq, or their disastrous consequences; instead, it is intended to be a fantasy about an adrenaline junky, with war dressed up as typical Hollywood action and adventure.

One of the most telling things about the film is the cold reception it has received even from US soldiers who have actually served in Iraq. These women and men, who are overwhelmingly from working-class backgrounds and largely entered the military out of financial necessity, found the film to be ridiculously inaccurate, portraying soldiers as ‘cowboys’ who run after adventure. The entire film is overloaded with testosterone: its macho main character, the cowboy antics, the adventurism – none of which is real according to actual American soldiers. Furthermore, there is not a single female character in the film, despite the fact that women are hugely present both in the American military, not to mention the Iraqi populace – it is Iraqi women who bear the brunt of coping with the occupation, and who are the victims of violence whether in the form of bombs or in the form of indiscriminate shootings by contractors like Blackwater.

There is not a single Iraqi character in the film; rather, the Iraqis we see in the movie are nameless, two-dimensional cut-outs that form the ‘backdrop’ of the American soldiers’ actions. They are bystanders, salesmen, drivers, gawkers, and – most importantly – terrorists, insurgents, ‘bad guys’. But not a single one of them can be called a ‘character’, a full-fledged human being with a mind and heart. They are inscrutable, talking in a strange language and usually expressing no emotion. And they are all the same: the main character, James, can not even recognize the Iraqi boy who sells him cigarettes every day on the American military base. Thus the Iraqis in the film can easily be divided into three types: the terrorists (often masked and almost always turbaned), the stern-looking mustached male bystanders, and the anonymous Iraqi women in burqa. There is no attempt in the film to engage with the daily violence, scarcity, and deprivation that have become a fact of life in Iraq since the American invasion and occupation, let alone touch the issues of war-profiteering and economic domination that lie behind them. If anything, The Hurt Locker, with its depiction of nameless, faceless masses of Iraqis in the background as American soldiers fight the ‘bad guys’ only perpetuates the myth that the US presence is Iraq is intended to ‘liberate’ the Iraqi people from the chaos of ‘terrorism’.

It there is one memorable scene in the entire film, it is when James, having completed his tour of duty in Iraq, returns home to the US, only to find himself completely alienated by its overwhelming consumerism: having spent the past year in Baghdad facing danger and discomfort daily, he now walks the aisles of an American supermarket, disoriented by the literally hundreds of choices of breakfast cereal and every other product. But instead of using this contrast as an opportunity to reveal the economic inequalities that the war is intended to perpetuate, the bizarre contradictions of American capitalism and its imperial aspirations, or even the damaging psychological effects of war on the working-class American soldiers who are forced to fight it (and whose demands for help are frequently ignored by the American military and government), the clean orderliness of the American supermarket simply becomes another reason for action-addict James to return to his adventures in Iraq.

In The Hurt Locker, the war and occupation is nothing more than a two-dimensional backdrop for a study of the surfer-dude action-addict mentality. (And even on that count avoids dealing with the dangerous realities of such a mentality: this kind of cavalier adventurism is exactly what we saw in the actions of the two American military pilots who were recently exposed by footage released by Wikileaks as they laughed and joked while firing on unarmed civilians– including Iraqi journalists– from their helicopters earlier this year.)

At the Academy Awards, Bigelow’s received the award for Best Director with the words: “And I’d just like to dedicate this to the women and men in the military who risk their lives on a daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world. And may they come home safe. Thank you.” These words reveal how Bigelow refuses to address the imperialist policies behind the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (let alone call for their end), instead participating in the kind of cheerleader-like support for the war that has become the hallmark of attempts to rehabilitate the Iraq war and occupation by sections of the political and media establishment in post-Bush America.

Obituary

Comrade Kanu Sanyal: Enigmatic End of a Communist Leader

– Liberation, May, 2010.

Since 1931, March 23 is remembered all over India as the martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev – the martyrdom that epitomized and further ignited the revolutionary anti-imperialist spirit of the Indian freedom struggle. This year, March 23 witnessed a tragic footnote when veteran communist leader Kanu Sanyal was discovered hanging dead at his residence at Hatighisa village near Naxalbari in Darjeeling district.

For people who have known Kanu Sanyal since the stormy days of the Naxalbari peasant uprising and after, it was indeed quite difficult to imagine or accept the fact that the debilitating state of his body and mind would drive him to such a tragic end. The corporate media of course did not lose a moment to pounce upon his suicide and project it as the ultimate denouncement of the Naxalbari movement and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) [CPI (ML)]! Some Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI (M)] leaders have begun attributing Sanyal’s enigmatic end to his frustration with the Maoist variety of militarism, conveniently ignoring the fact that if Sanyal had been critical of the Maoists, he had been no less critical of the CPI (M)’s growing degeneration as a ruling party and its corporate land-grab drive in Singur and Nandigram.

In the wake of the Naxalbari peasant uprising of May 1967, Kanu Sanyal’s name had become an integral part of the revolutionary communist lore in the country. Any animated discussion on Naxalbari would throw up the three names of Charu Mazumdar (CM), Kanu Sanyal and Jangal Santhal. On May 1, 1969 it was Kanu Sanyal who made the historic announcement about the foundation of the CPI (ML) at a public rally on Kolkata’s famous Shahid Minar ground.

However, Sanyal’s differences with Charu Mazumdar and many other CPI (ML) leaders began to surface quite early on. After CM’s martyrdom on 28 July 1974, Sanyal went on to denounce the entire legacy of Charu Mazumdar and even rejected the very relevance of the CPI (ML).

Contrary to the expectation of CPI (ML) ranks, after his release from jail in 1977, Sanyal never joined the attempt to revive the CPI (ML). Instead, he tried to launch a new organization of communist revolutionaries. Over the next three decades, he would be involved in a series of such attempts, first in the name of OCCR (Organising Committee of Communist Revolutionaries), then COI(ML) [Communist Organisation of India(Marxist-Leninist)], and finally even in the name of CPI(ML). But every time, the organization would start disintegrating before it could acquire any real momentum.

While Sanyal’s attempts at building or running a communist party did not succeed, he remained an authentic representative voice of the tea garden workers and other oppressed people in his home district Darjeeling till the end of his life. With his spartan lifestyle and rural moorings, Sanyal also continued to offer an inspiring contrast to the dominant present-day political culture of power, wealth and five-star comfort.

Sanyal was not mistaken in pointing out some of the excesses of the early CPI (ML) phase. But he failed to grasp, articulate or develop the very revolutionary spirit that distinguished Naxalbari from the beaten track of peasant struggles. Charu Mazumdar saw Naxalbari as a historic event that would go way beyond the agenda of bourgeois land reforms, for him it was a definitive beginning of a protracted revolutionary war for political power. It is this revolutionary message of Naxalbari that had spread like wildfire and unleashed the revolutionary imagination and initiative of a whole generation, inspiring a countrywide contingent of revolutionary fighters and activists in an unprecedented display of courage, defiance and determination.

CM and CPI (ML) did commit many mistakes while attempting to hasten this spread, but these were an integral part of a glorious revolutionary chapter of the Indian communist movement. Sanyal’s attempts at building an error-free perfect communist party, by contrast, could not create any revolutionary ripple anywhere in the country and failed to produce either a viable organization or a sustained movement. While not agreeing with much of Sanyal’s post-CPI (ML) political role, revolutionary communists will however always cherish Kanu Sanyal’s signal contribution to the rise and spread of the Naxalbari peasant uprising.

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