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Archive for November 5th, 2007

JNU shame for SFI, blame on Nandigram

Posted by Indian Vanguard on November 5, 2007

JNU shame for SFI, blame on Nandigram
CPM leader Prakash Karat addresses a seminar on the Indo-US nuclear deal at JNU. (PTI)

New Delhi, Nov. 4: Nandigram has handed the CPM-backed Students Federation of India its worst rout in campus polls at Jawahalal Nehru University in at least a decade.

The All India Students Association (AISA), student wing of the ultra-Left CPI-ML, has for the first time won all four central panel posts after a campaign targeting the SFI’s “hypocrisy”.

“They tried to justify Nandigram in a politically aware campus like JNU’s. They suffered the consequences,” said Sandeep Singh, the new students’ union president.

The SFI, traditionally the strongest political group on the campus, failed to win even second place in two of the four central panel posts, getting pipped by the anti-quota Youth for Equality.

“This is embarrassing for us… coming behind even YFE, but we will fight back,” a senior SFI leader said.

Politics is serious business at JNU and, unlike most other campuses, student elections here are fought primarily on issues in the national limelight.

For nearly a month, student groups — most backed by some political party or the other — paint posters, prepare bills listing candidates and hold marches just as the parties themselves do in the run-up to Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

Yet, academic standards and “social consciousness” are not the only reasons that draw students to the campus. Accommodation is highly subsidised by the Centre, and civil-service aspirants joining a course just for a hostel room are not uncommon.

And although some students go on to join politics professionally — like the CPM’s Sitaram Yechury did — most go job-hunting after collecting their degrees.

A senior SFI leader admitted that Nandigram was a major reason for the defeat. “Our position is that Nandigram happened because of the Trinamul Congress and the Naxalites. But yes, we obviously failed to convince people.”

When CPM cadres were killed in police firing in Congress-ruled Andhra Pradesh a few months ago, the SFI did not hold a protest march at JNU because of its embarrassment over Nandigram, an AISA leader said.

“We were the ones who held a march condemning the firing in Andhra.”

Voting was held for 31 councillors’ posts in the various university departments apart from those in the students’ union central panel. In addition, two students were elected to the university’s “gender sensitisation committee against sexual harassment”.

The AISA won six councillors’ posts. One, at the School of International Studies, went to Sudanese student Khalid Abdallah. Last year, American Tyler Walker Williams had won the post of vice-president, also on an AISA ticket. Abdallah is the first African to win any election at JNU.

The SFI won seven councillors’ seats and the YFE nine, all in the science departments. Four seats went to the BJP-backed Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, three to Congress affiliate National Students Union of India and two to Independents.

AISA and SFI candidates won one seat each on the sexual harassment committee.


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Nandigram:Maoists take charge and block access to outsiders

Posted by Indian Vanguard on November 5, 2007

Maoists take charge and block access to outsiders

NANDIGRAM: Nandigram in West Bengal’s East Midnapore district is an island of terror. Access is tough and stories abound of looting and killing.

The clandestine alliance between the right and extreme left in the form of the Trinamool Congress and Maoists has seen a huge deployment of sophisticated arms and explosives in the area.

The area is out of bounds for the CPI(M) and security forces while visiting mediapersons are frisked thoroughly and their baggage carefully searched.

With the imminent deployment of the Central Reserve Police Force at Nandigram, the area has become a virtual fortress.

A group of Maoists from West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulya as well as neighbouring Jharkhand who are adept in explosives and firearms has set up base here.

A committee activist told DNA that a dozen 40-member special action squads have been formed, each of which is under two joint-commanders from the Trinamool and Maoist sides.

There will be a three-layer resistance to the CRPF or police. While children and women take up the first two, the third layer will have special action squad members with sophisticated weapons holding it out.

The committee activists have already destroyed connecting roads to Nandigram and built trenches instead. At six major entry points — Ranichak, Tekhali bridge, Taptatti Canal, Giribazar Pool, Talibhata and Bhangabera — they have installed high intensity explosives.

Special action squad teams are also in place at Garchakraberia, Sonachura and Satengabazar equipped with mortars, self loading rifles, double barrel guns, country-made pistols and muskets.

Two AK47s and a stengun complete the picture. A temporary workshop has been set up at #Sonachura to make country-made single-shooter pistols.

Students of Jadavpur University and members of a Naxalite student’s union have been entrusted with the responsibility of spreading the propaganda.

Fluent in English, Hindi and Bengali, they lead the teams that check press vehicles coming to Nandigram.

Local Trinamool MLA, Subhendu Adhikari and Maoist leader, Ranjit Pal oversee the entire process. Pal is wanted by the Kharkhand police for his involvement in the murder of Jharkhand Lok Sabha member, Sunil Mahato.

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Maoists eye SEZs in Delhi, Mumbai

Posted by Indian Vanguard on November 5, 2007

Projects planned by big business are on their radar

NEW DELHI: Maoists are increasingly forming bases in the special economic zones (SEZs) of Mumbai and the National Capital Region comprising Delhi, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Ghaziabad and Noida.

In addition, Rajasthan is also seeing a lot of activity.

The SEZ in Mumbai is actually planned in Navi Mumbai encompassing Dronagiri, Kalamboli, Ulwe and the JNPT area.

A senior security official said a document recovered from Maoists also showed that they plan to enter areas where some big business houses are investing.

Some of the big names include the Ambanis, Tatas, Jindals, Tatas, Essar and the Mittal group.

“There are some non-government organisations that have come under the scanner of intelligence agencies and we are keeping a watch on them,” he said.

A report prepared during the recent director-general conference in Delhi says that in all, three SEZ areas have been seeing large-scale Maoist penetration.

This has become an issue of concern to security agencies, more so when Maoist sympathisers do not just offer a cover but also help them increase their contact with people living in the area.

“By penetrating in Delhi and Mumbai, Maoists do not just want to increase their influence but also send a message that they want to emerge from their jungle strongholds and operate in cities,” said a senior security official.

“What worries us more is that people and organisations are helping them form bases,” he added. There are now indications that Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai are also on the radar.

Posted in SEZ | 1 Comment »

Will AISA’s politics retain the appeal?

Posted by Indian Vanguard on November 5, 2007

New Delhi, November 4 “The August air is full of the fanfare of official celebrations of ’60 years of Indian Independence’. But somewhere behind the national anthem and patriotic film songs, we can hear the cries of the people of Kalinganagar, Khammam, Dadri, Nandigram, Singur. They are telling us: look, our lands are being turned into SEZs… If you want to fight to create a world free of exploitation, AISA is your voice, your choice…”

This is the plank on which the ultra-Left All India Students’ Association swept this year’s JNUSU polls.

With a political rhetoric that strongly resisted the Indo-US nuke deal and mobilised the campus on Singur and Nandigram issues, the new student union has son of a retired havildar, Sandeep Singh, as its president and a farmer’s daughter, Shefalika Shekhar, as the vice-president, all activists of CPI-ML backed AISA.

Singh, who intends to become a full-time CPI-ML activist, says their “struggle” for an egalitarian society will continue. “Our victory is a strong mandate against UPA government’s policies vis-à-vis the nuke deal, corporate land grab at Singur and Nandigram. Our fight is for the most marginalised sections of the society,” says Kavita Krishnan, national president of AISA. In retrospect, she has a point.

In 1993-94, its student leader Chandrashekhar led the successful struggle against a move to hike fees and privatise JNU. That was also the only time when the student group won three central panel positions in JNUSU polls. “That’s when we did our best. We made a debut in 1990 and in the next four years the union led by Chandrashekhar won central panel seats,” says Krishnan. In the next decade, AISA suffered a setback with Chandrashekhar getting killed in Bihar’s Siwan district while addressing a street-corner meeting. But the party also grew in the intervening period — from one central panel seat to four.

Sunday’s unprecedented victory, however, brings along questions. With many comrades joining MNCs and switching parties after campus, will AISA’s radical politics last?

“We have never said students should not work in MNCs. Our point is why is the government not creating jobs for us? Statistics show that MNCs are cutting more jobs. But whatever work one does in order to survive, one must be part of a larger struggle to create an egalitarian society,” Krishnan defends the trend.

Pallavi Deka, the new general secretary, agrees. Daughter of a lecturer couple from Assam, Deka wants to continue in politics as long as she is on campus. “But the ideology would stay with me”, as in the case of Inteshar Ahmad, AISA’s presidential candidate in 2003 who works with an MNC in Bangalore now. His fellow comrade and now wife Mona Das, JNUSU president from AISA in 2005 and ’06, explains: “We have also had examples where people from AISA have gone all over the country and took up radical politics. The question here is why does the government not create enough jobs for us?”

Posted in AISA, JNU | Leave a Comment »

3500 political prisoners in West Bengal: NGO

Posted by Indian Vanguard on November 5, 2007

KOLKATA: Nearly 3,500 people are languishing behind bars in the state for political reasons, Bandi Mukti Committee (BMC) general secretary Chhoton Das said in Kolkata on Friday.

The number has increased recently, following the arrest of hundreds of people taking part in agitations against irregular ration supplies, he added.

A large number of Maoists, KLO and SUCI supporters have also been jailed for political reasons. Former BMC chairman and Naxalite leader Ashim Chatterjee said such a large number of arrests for political reasons betrayed the autocratic streak of the Left Front government.

Both BMC and APDR have denied that they were acting in collusion with the Maoists in Nandigram as stated by the chief minister. They feared that now they would be targeted by CPM cadres and police.

BMC and APDR were two separate organisations working to uphold democratic rights, said Das. He claimed that the government was unhappy with APDR because of its role in the Rizwanur Rahman case and for exposing the government’s role in Nandigram.


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Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP) Will Resist Martial Law OR Emergency in Pakistan

Posted by Indian Vanguard on November 5, 2007

(ISLAMABAD – 3RD NOVEMBER 2007) Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP) will resist Martial Law or emergency if imposed in Pakistan. The armed struggle would be launched against the Government if Martial Law is now imposed fifth time by the Army and General Musharraf and in case of emergency, the CPP will challenge the imposition of emergency in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

This was stated in a policy statement by the Central Chairman of the Communist Party of Pakistan, Engineer Jameel Ahmad Malik here today. He said Quaid-e-Azam has not created Pakistan for the rule of military.

He said that if the Army and General Pervaz Musharraf would follow unconstitutional steps by imposing Martial Law in the country in the coming days, the Communist Party would then leave the path of democratic norms and would resist the Martial Law tooth and nail by launching arms struggle against the Martial Law in whole of Pakistan.

The CPP Chairman vehemently stressed and said that the Army and General Musharraf, who are ruling this country on one pretext or the others for almost 35 years out of 60 years since independence of Pakistan from British Empire in 1947, has now in fact lost the credibility in the eyes of the down trodden and poor masses of Pakistan.

They are now ruling the country with the help of elites and those politicians, who are in fact traders and ‘turn coats’ politicians, for whom people have no respect for them at all.

The turn coats politicians like the President Pakistan Muslim League Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Federal Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad and others, who are supporting Military regimes and General Musharraf are warning the public that if the Supreme Court gives an anti judgment concerning the controversial Presidential election of General Musharraf, martial law or emergency would be imposed in Pakistan.

In fact by such like statements, they want to pressurize the Supreme Court of Pakistan for deciding the Musharraf’s case in his favour keeping the law of necessity. It is a message to Supreme Court by them not to decide the Justice (Retd) Wajid-ud-din Ahmad petition’s against General Musharraf on merits.

CPP fully supports the armed struggle launched by the communists in various countries of the world. Engineer Jameel said that the arms struggle by the communists in Nepal against the monarchy is near to end now and the communists will soon over throw the monarchy for ever in Nepal.

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Left With an Alternative

Posted by Indian Vanguard on November 5, 2007

M.J. Akbar,

The Indian left is much larger than its most visible face, the Communist Party of India (Marxist). It is split three ways, each currently pointing in three directions. The CPM, CPI and their smaller partners represent the institutional-democratic element. The Naxalites, or Maoists, are the unstructured, undemocratic but increasingly potent dimension.

The recognized parties are restricted to one large, one medium and one small state. There is reasonable dispute over the true strength of the Naxalites. Some argue that many state governments are too eager to declare some of their districts Naxalite-infested because this translates into nonbudgetary assistance from the center to curb the “Naxalite menace” in the name of that variable virtue called “law and order”. But even if the Naxalites are not as powerful in the claimed 170 districts, there is no doubt about their influence in over 80 districts — sufficient to direct the course of the vote if they choose to do so. The Naxalites do not have a coordinated view on important issues, but it may be relevant to note that they were the first political force in the broad opposition spectrum to take an unambiguous view of the Indo-US nuclear deal. They rejected it comprehensively. We do not know if this will be reflected in the elections within those 80-odd constituencies, but it might if, as seems likely, the nuclear deal becomes a central focus of the next general elections.

A third aspect of the left base goes largely unrecognized because it is not obvious. This is the vote that would have gone to the left, if the left had existed on the electoral map of that region. This is the “poor” or ” garibi” vote that once automatically went to the Nehru-Indira Gandhi Congress, but which no longer recognizes the party. Congress sensitivity is so heavily magnetized by the Sensex that it has no space for any parallel reality. This vote has switched twice, in the north, to regional parties. The first time it did so was in 1967; the second time was after 1989. The patterns in the south followed a different course, but there too the vote has shifted or swung between the Congress and regional parties.

The latest beneficiary of this phenomenon has been Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party. There are two reasons why the BSP could break out from the limits of provincial success. Its core base, the Dalit, is spread across the country. The Dalits and Muslims constitute the only powerful nationwide vote blocs. Other vote blocs may be national in their sentiment, but they are not nationwide in their presence. There is also great overlap between the Dalit, Muslim and “poverty” identities. If Mayawati can harmonize and then mobilize these identities, she can extend her UP numbers into a much larger calculus.

Mayawati is essentially occupying the space left vacant by an absent left. This is why she cannot make much headway in the states where the left is entrenched. Alternatively, she succeeds handsomely where the Congress has ebbed.

What are the chances of a left crumble, if not collapse, in the next general elections?

Kerala is a seesaw, so the Marxists cannot hope to repeat their success of 2004. They will succeed, however, in tiny Tripura, because they have delivered on the two basics of good governance: Distributive economic growth and social harmony.

Uncharacteristically, the CPM has fumbled on both counts in the critical state of Bengal. While Nandigram may continue to dominate the headlines, Bengal’s Marxists should be equally worried by the riots against ration shops in their heartland constituencies, like Birbhum. Food riots destroyed the Congress before 1967, and they will eat into Marxist margins in 2008.

One of the curious myths, sponsored by the current mania within the upwardly mobile middle class, is that the underprivileged are either unreasonable in their demand for exclusive attention, or, worse, simply unworthy of too much attention since they are a drag factor on economic growth. It is obvious that such self-comforting panaceas have infected Bengal’s Marxists. The truth is that the poor are far more realistic than they are given credit for. They do not believe that there is some magic wand. They have more patience than the better off; not because they are more saintly, but because they have fewer options. What the poor do possess, however, and have every right to retain, is a powerful sense of justice. They can read a signal, or detect a nuance quickly, for they do not have the luxury of complacence. The Bengal government has increasingly indicated that it prefers middle-class coziness to street sensitivity. The manner in which, for instance, it has repeatedly snubbed Muslim sentiment is spectacular in its amateurishness.

How big a price will the party pay? The Marxists may still be rescued by the stand that the national leadership has taken against the proposed strategic alliance with the United States that constitutes the core of the so-called nuclear deal. In real terms, this strategic alliance means involvement in American conflicts in the Middle East. The Muslims have a rather unique distinction: They are possibly the one Indian community with a foreign policy. They have no sympathy for George Bush, and there could be electoral rewards for the Marxists in Bengal and Kerala, if they retain the clarity to find it. This will compensate for some of the malfunctioning in governance.

But the true opportunity for the Indian left lies in the phase or politics after the next general elections, between 2008 and 2012. And this opportunity will open up in the Hindi heartland. One can see the impetus that created the groundswell for regional parties (most of them splinters of the old Socialist movement) beginning to fade. We might not see the explosive self-destruction of 1971, but it will be difficult for the regional parties to hold their own against the resurgent claimants of this space. The Hindi heartland will probably return to one of the two mainline parties by 2012, either the Congress or the BJP, depending on which of them has managed to preserve its credibility. The outside option in this game is the BSP, but its rise will only be a consequence of Congress implosion, since their vote base is similar if not the same.

The only alternative to either the BJP or the Congress will be a Left Front on the lines of the Bengal or Kerala model. The Kerala model, in fact, may be more relevant, but with a northern manifestation of the Muslim League thrown in.

The ground for such a collision will have many seeds, from the old Socialist movement of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia to the spadework being done by the Naxalites in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. The Naxalite tactic of violence cannot be an end in itself; it must be the means toward a more sustainable political objective.

The future of the left does not lie in the continuation of poverty. That is negative bias disguised with clever semantics. No one has a vested interest in poverty, least of all the left. The future of the left lies in justice, not poverty; in an economic program that can create wealth without handing it over to a narrow apex.

That apex, however, is crowded by an orchestra of sirens. Can the left leadership, as it negotiates its way through troubled waters in the next five years, resist the lure of those sirens?

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