(On August 31, a Supreme Court Bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra approved the decision by electricity regulators to grant Adani Power “compensatory tariffs” amounting to Rs 8,000 crore for electricity generated at its power plant in Rajasthan. The verdict, just before Justice Mishra’s retirement on September 2, is the seventh judgment since the beginning of 2019 in which benches headed by him have ruled in favour of Adani group of companies.)
Bengaluru/Gurugram: On August 31, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Arun Kumar Mishra, that included Justices Vineet Saran and M R Shah, ruled in favour of a company in the Adani group in a dispute with public sector power distribution companies in Rajasthan. The verdict, issued three days before Justice Mishra retired from the court on September 2, has granted Adani Power Rajasthan Limited (APRL) – which owns a 1,320 megawatt capacity thermal power station in Kawai, Baran district – “compensatory tariffs” worth over Rs 5,000 crore and penalties and interest payments of nearly Rs 3,000 crore.
This “price” of Rs 8,000 crore will be borne by electricity consumers in the cities of Jaipur, Jodhpur and Ajmer. This is the seventh verdict in favour of Adani group companies issued by benches headed by Justice Mishra since the beginning of 2019.
The verdict was on petitions by power distribution companies (discoms) of the three cities, and a separate petition by the All India Power Engineers Federation (AIPEF), a representative body of employees of public sector power companies, against a September 2019 verdict of the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL). Agreeing with the APTEL’s contention that APRL had suffered on account of a “change in law” for which it was owed compensation, the Supreme Court bench rejected the arguments made in appeal by the discoms and AIPEF.
The court held that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the government of Rajasthan providing an “assurance” that it would “facilitate” allocation of coal mined domestically as fuel supply for Adani’s power plant in Kawai, constituted the basis for power purchase agreements (PPAs) signed by the Adani group company with the Rajasthan discoms in 2010. This was despite those PPAs having been signed on the basis of APRL bidding successfully in a competitive auction, which it qualified to participate in on the basis of a coal supply agreement (CSA) it signed with its sister company, Adani Enterprises Limited (AEL), for coal imported from Indonesia.
Subsequently, the failure of the power plant to secure a coal allocation from the government constituted a “change in law,” the court held. This, coupled with the fact that in 2011 the price of coal imported from Indonesia had risen significantly above the levels agreed upon in the CSA that qualified APRL to participate in the auction, entitled the company to “compensatory tariffs,” the Supreme Court ruled.
Domestic or Imported Coal?
The case before the apex court depended on answers to two important questions.
In 2009, the Rajasthan discoms conducted an auction in which private power producers were invited to participate and present bids to win the right to sell electricity to the state. In order to qualify to participate in the auction, the private power generation companies needed to have in place CSAs – either a domestic coal linkage that would supply enough coal for the entire lifetime of the PPAs or a CSA for imported coal that would supply at least half of the fuel requirement for the first five years of the PPAs.
At the time the auction was announced, with requests for proposals being circulated, in February 2009, the Adani group company was in the process of setting up its power plant at Kawai, but did not have any CSA. While in a MoU signed by the government of Rajasthan with AEL in March 2008, the government had assured its support to the project in facilitating it to obtain a domestic coal linkage, this did not constitute a concrete agreement that would qualify it to participate in the auction.
While preparing its bid, in June 2009, APRL wrote to the Rajasthan government seeking its support under the terms of the MoU for securing a coal linkage, requesting either the allocation of excess coal from existing coal mines owned by the state government, including the Parsa East Kente Basan mine in Chhattisgarh, which another Adani group company was contracted to mine, or to support its application for allotment of a captive coal block to the Union government.
However, without a CSA guaranteeing its coal supply, APRL would not qualify to bid in the auction. Hence, in June 2009, it executed a CSA with group company, AEL, for supply of coal imported from Indonesia for the Kawai project. In addition, APRL also applied for a long-term coal linkage contract to the Union Ministry of Coal in July 2009. With this CSA for imported coal in place, APRL submitted its bid in the auction, attaching the agreement to its bid.
It was because of this agreement that APRL’s bid was considered in the first place during the auction. Having qualified, the Rajasthan government sought a clarification from APRL regarding the evaluation of its bid. APRL clarified that it intended to “use domestic coal as well as imported coal.” Pointing to the CSA, it said: “A duly executed Fuel Supply Agreement for more than 50% of the coal requirement for a period of 5 years has been submitted along with this bid.”
The company added: “…we have also submitted with the bid a MoU executed between the GoR (government of Rajasthan) and AEL wherein...the state has assured in making its efforts to facilitate in getting coal linkage/block or coal from any other source for the power project.”
Hence, APRL stated that “we (will) meet the fuel requirement on the basis of imported coal tie-up,” adding: “… we are sure to get domestic fuel tie-up with the support of the GoR. In view of this we submit that our bid should be evaluated on the basis of Domestic Coal tie-up. We undertake that payment considering domestic coal escalations will be acceptable to us during the term of the PPA (power purchase agreement).”
However, once its bid qualified and was evaluated by the discoms, APRL cancelled its CSA with AEL on June 10, 2009. The agreement had been used only to qualify for the auction.
APRL’s bid was the lowest and it won a contract to supply electricity to the state discoms from its 1,320 megawatt (MW) capacity Kawai power project. A letter of intent (LoI) was issued to APRL by the discoms on December 17, 2009, which stated the following: “Your offer to provide 1,200 MW power at the rates mentioned at Annexure-1 and escalations thereof on domestic coal is based on your commitment that the above rates would be applicable even in case of coal requirement being met by you by way of back up arrangement with imported coal.”
This meant that even if APRL were to use imported coal under its CSA with AEL, the tariff would be calculated based on the prices of domestic coal. This LoI was “unconditionally accepted” by APRL.
Terms of Power Purchase Agreement
However, the PPA that was signed the following month, on January 28, 2010, did not reflect the same terms. While it noted that the fuel supply arrangement for the PPA was based on the supply of domestic coal with a fallback support arrangement of imported coal for five years, it dropped the language clarifying that the tariff would be calculated against domestic coal prices, irrespective of the source of the coal – imported or domestic.
Given this sequence of facts, the first question before the Supreme Court was whether the bid was based on domestic coal or imported coal. The APTEL and the Rajasthan Electricity Regulatory Commission (RERC) that had ruled on the dispute before it, had both held that the bid was indeed based on domestic coal.
While the discoms, represented by senior advocate C Aryama Sundaram argued that though the bid was evaluated based on a domestic coal linkage, no such linkage was actually in place, and it was the CSA for imported coal that was a fallback option for supplying 50% of the coal required by the power plant for the first five years that qualified APRL’s bid. In fact, the CSA had been for 61% of the coal requirement. Accordingly, the discoms argued that if any compensation has to be claimed, it could only arise on the remaining 39% of the domestic coal that APRL had said it would use for the project during the first five years, if this was the subject of a change in law.
Senior advocate and Congress party leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the Adani group company, meanwhile, argued that the CSA was only a qualifying document, and had no bearing on the tariff which was determined entirely against domestic coal. The entire bid was premised and accepted on domestic coal, and hence was affected by a “change in law” when the government failed to provide the promised coal linkage, and therefore APRL was entitled to compensation, he argued.
The Arun Mishra-led bench came down on the side of the Adani group company, ruling that the bid was based entirely on domestic coal.
Padamjit Singh, the convenor of the AIPEF, in an interview to Newsclick said this was the result of a “self-goal” by the Rajasthan discoms: “The Rajasthan discoms took the precaution to put a condition in the LoI that regardless of whether Adani Power were to use foreign or domestic coal it will be paid power tariffs determined according to domestic coal prices. This is recorded in the Supreme Court order as well. But the problem arose because this condition was not put in the PPA.”
Singh asked that “if Adani Power was awarded the contract under a certain understanding, why was that condition not put in the PPA, when it was such a critically important condition?” He said this condition was the basis on which the PPA was awarded.
“Adani had accepted the LoI unconditionally, so there would have been no way to challenge it if the discoms had put it in the PPA and the matter would have rested right there,” the AIPEF convenor pointed out, adding: “This was where the Rajasthan discoms lost the game. It was a self-goal. It was a huge blunder, or perhaps the discom officials were arm-twisted. There is no reasonable explanation.”
Libbying by Rajasthan Governement
The second significant issue before the Supreme Court was whether, having assured APRL in its MoU with the Rajasthan government that it would facilitate it to acquire a coal linkage, did APRL face a “change in law” when it failed to do so until 2018? Under the terms of the PPA, “change in law” is one of the conditions that enables either party to seek a tariff revision.
This question too, ultimately was decided by a “self-goal” by the Rajasthan discoms.
In August 2007, a LoI was issued by the Rajasthan Rajya Vidyut Udpadan Nigam Limited (RRVUNL) in favour of AEL to develop the Parsa East and Kente Basan (PEKB) coal block located in northern Chhattisgarh. The LoI stipulated that the coal could be utilised at the discretion of the Rajasthan government for new upcoming thermal power projects.
In March 2008, a MoU was signed between the Rajasthan government and AEL for the latter to set up a coal-based thermal power generation project in Kawai that also stipulated that the state government assured its support to the project in ensuring allotment of a coal linkage. Between May and June 2008, AEL wrote to the Rajasthan government six times, requesting that it consider allotment of coal from the PEKB coal mine, which was already being developed. With no such allotment forthcoming, at the end of August 2008, AEL requested the state government to apply to the Ministry of Coal for a coal block to be allocated to the Kawai project for the development of a captive coal mine.
In July 2009, when it was preparing to file its bid in the auction for the right to sell power to the discoms, AEL applied for a coal linkage to the government. It did so under the terms of the National Coal Distribution Policy of 2007, under which projects approved by a Standing Linkage Committee of the government would receive 100% of its coal from the public sector Coal India Limited (CIL).
By the beginning of 2010, APRL had PPAs in place with the Rajasthan discoms, but no coal linkage yet. At this stage, APRL once again wrote to the Rajasthan government seeking allocation of a captive coal block for its Kawai project. It further requested the state government to execute a fuel supply agreement between RRVUNL (which had discretionary authority over the use of coal from the PEKB coal mine) and itself. Starting in January 2011, the Rajasthan government lobbied the Union government to seek the allocation of a coal block for the Kawai power project.
In a previous article for NewsClick, the authors of this article have described this process in detail:
The Rajasthan government wrote to the Ministry of Coal in January 2011 requesting it to allocate coal blocks identified by the government in Chhattisgarh to meet the coal requirements for various power projects in the state, including the one at Kawai. Receiving no response for over a year, in February 2012, the state government wrote to the Central government again, this time to both the Ministry of Coal and Ministry of Power, requesting that the Kawai project be considered at par with other power projects in the Central government’s 11th Five Year Plan (2007-12), despite the project being part of the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-17).
In response, the Ministry of Power responded that the project was part of the Twelfth Plan and would be considered for implementation in due course. Meanwhile, the ministry suggested that the government of Rajasthan examine the possibility of increasing the mining capacity in coal blocks already allocated to it in Chhattisgarh and allocate coal for the Kawai project from these blocks.
At the same time, in February 2012, the Standing Linkage Committee decided that no new fuel supply agreements (FSAs) would be signed by CIL owing to a shortage of coal.
The Rajasthan government wrote back in November 2012 that there was not enough surplus coal in its allocated coal blocks allegedly without attempting to revise the quantity of coal it was recovering from those mines. In effect, the Rajasthan government, after having committed itself to securing domestic coal for the Kawai project, and after being asked by both APRL and the Central government to supply coal from its own coal mines in Chhattisgarh, was refusing to do so.
Thereafter, the Rajasthan government escalated its lobbying in New Delhi. On November 26, 2012, a letter was sent by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to the Ministries of Coal and Power requesting ad hoc allocations of coal, as the Kawai power plant was due to commence operations. The Rajasthan government wrote another letter to the Planning Commission in January 2013. In December 2012, the Kawai power plant started operating on imported Indonesian coal on a “test” basis, and was synchronised with the state’s power grid in August 2013.
In February 2013, APRL wrote to the discoms stating that the Rajasthan government’s persistent attempts to secure a domestic coal linkage had failed and that since the plant was running on Indonesian coal, the prices of which had surged following the implementation of a new law by the Indonesian government, it would require a revision of tariff to compensate the private company for its higher costs due to use of imported coal.
With no domestic coal linkage in place, in April 2013, with the scheduled supply of power due to begin, APRL approached RERC with a petition seeking a hike in electricity tariff over what had been fixed, based on its bid in the competitive auction in 2010.
After this, in May 2013 the government decided to change the National Coal Distribution Policy (NCDP), that was notified in July 2013. In this amended policy, CIL would supply a portion of the fuel requirements of power plants which were yet to secure coal linkages, and supply the remainder by importing coal, which the power generators could also import for themselves.
Change in Lasw?
The question before the court was, whether this inability of APRL to secure a domestic coal linkage constituted a change in law. But reviewing the arguments and counter arguments would be futile because, in an affidavit submitted to the RERC by the discoms, months before the Ashok Gehlot led Congress government in Rajasthan demitted office in December 2013, the discoms admitted that it did agree that a change in law had indeed taken place!
“This was a suicidal admission,” said Singh. “This was quoted everywhere – from the RERC to the APTEL to the Supreme Court as well – and it has been exploited to the hilt.”
He added: “There was a swing of opinion or attitude somewhere mid-way in the case. It was like a friendly match and the government in Rajasthan appeared to be inclined to favour Adani Power and did not take a hard line against giving them any kind of concession. But somehow later on, they seem to have woken up and decided to contest it tooth and nail. But that changeover came too late. And by then they had already scored a number of self-goals.”
(Mis-)Using Energy Watchdog Judgment
With the admission by the discoms, the judgment draws on the so-called “Energy Watchdog” judgment of the Supreme Court of April 2017. In that case, also a demand for compensatory tariffs by an Adani-owned power plant – its Mundra power plant which supplies power to Gujarat, and several other states – the Supreme Court had ruled that it was entitled to limited compensation on account of change in law, because it already had a CSA in place with CIL, which was modified by the amended NCDP of 2013.
However, in the same judgment issued by a bench comprising Justices Rohinton Nariman and Pinaki Chandra Ghosh, the Supreme Court had also elucidated a fundamental principle: “The price payable for the supply of coal is entirely for the person who sets up the power plant to bear...it is clear that an unexpected rise in the price of coal will not absolve the generating companies from performing their part of the contract for the very good reason that when they submitted their bids, this was a risk they knowingly took...the risk of supplying electricity at the tariff indicated was upon the generating company.”
The present judgment draws from the Energy Watchdog judgment in its understanding of change in law, while appearing to ignore the above principle. Despite not having been a CSA in place, the verdict by the Justice Arun Mishra-led bench held that the MoU between the Government of Rajasthan and APRL was sufficient to fulfil the basis for holding that APRL had suffered a change in law.
Over Invoicing of Coal?
A Third Issue, that had been raised by the AIPEF, was that of allegations of over-invoicing of coal imported from Indonesia, that have been raised against 40 Indian companies including companies in the Adani group by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the investigation arm of India’s customs authorities under the Ministry of Finance.
The DRI has alleged that companies in the Adani group, among other private and public sector companies, had artificially inflated the prices of imported coal by manipulating invoices and valuations. Additionally, it had alleged, the illicit gains thus made were being parked in offshore tax haven jurisdictions.
Specifically with regard to its investigations into the Adani group, the DRI is in a legal battle at the Supreme Court over Adani’s attempts to block its investigation. In 2018, the DRI had sent Letters Rogatory to Singapore, Hong Kong, Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates seeking the support of the courts in those countries to obtain banking and other documents it required for its investigation into the Adani group’s import of coal from Indonesia. The Adani group sought to quash these letters rogatory, first in the courts in Singapore, and having failed there, at the Bombay High Court. The Bombay High Court had in 2019 ruled in Adani’s favour and quashed the letters rogatory, which the DRI is currently appealing before the Supreme Court. In January of this year, the Supreme Court stayed the High Court’s order as it heard the case.
The Justice Arun Mishra-led bench refused to entertain the issue. Noting that the AIPEF’s counsel, Prashant Bhushan, had sought to bring the matter to the court’s attention, the verdict reads “we are of the opinion that until and unless there is a finding recorded by the competent court as to invoicing, the submission cannot be accepted.”
Impact of Judgement
The one count on which the Supreme Court’s verdict has given a minor relief to the discoms is on the interest rate payable on the compensatory tariffs due, calculated back to the beginning of the supply of electricity from the plant in 2013. While the Adani group company had sought an interest rate of 2% more than the SABR interest rate (Stochastic Alpha Beta Rho, a measure used in banking and finance), the Supreme Court’s verdict has capped it at 9%.
AIPEF’s Singh explained what this meant in quantitative terms: “As a result of this judgment, the discoms will face an immediate financial burden. The original claim which was allowed by the APTEL – 50% of which was paid after an interim order – was around Rs 5,130 crore. On that, Adani Power Rajasthan has claimed interest of around Rs 3,000 crore. The Supreme Court's judgment has not modified the original claim at all, but has said that the interest rate can be slightly reduced. So the interest would be marginally reduced. In the judgment, it has been said it should not exceed 9% while Adani had sought an interest rate 2% higher than the SABR rate. In total, the amount would still approach Rs 8,000 crore.”
Even a cursory glance through what is happening in the country will convince anyone what a challenging, dangerous, and in many ways, a desperate situation our country and people are facing. To understand this one need not be a Marxist intellectual. From their day to day sufferings, vast majority of the people, the working class and all other oppressed classes and sections are recognizing this, in spite of massive Sanghi media trying to conceal and distort facts. After last six years of Modi rule, especially its last one year’s actions leave no doubt before anyone that it is fascism in action with majoritarian Hindutva as its theoretical base. Its foreign policy has integrated India within the strategic partnership with US led Asia-Pacific axis more than ever, with US administration using the India-China border standoff also to advance its inter-imperialist contradictions with China for world hegemony.
As expected, the parliamentary opposition, in the main, is in total disarray. On 5th August they were found competing with each other to support Ram mandir construction. They were not daring to question the way it was done as a state function, in effect throwing away the basic tenets of the Constitution, as they are also upholding the soft Hindutva line and do not want to openly oppose the Manuvadi Hindutva of RSS pursued by Modi rule. Except some token opposition within the parliamentary forums, they do not oppose the neoliberal/corporatization offensive taking place in practice. In spite of planned moves of Modi govt. to weaken and subvert its ministries as in MP, or Rajasthan or elsewhere, Congress is only competing with Modi to show themselves as more chauvinist, and more pro-Hindutva! Still the social democratic Left Front parties are following their class collaborationist subservience to Congress and other ruling class parties. There is nothing new in their approach, than waiting for BJP to fall due to its own weaknesses, almost waiting for a repetition of what happened in 2004! They do not want to think whether such a repetition is possible even after the RSS neo-fascism has so much entrenched in the country penetrating the state machinery and even Constitutional institutions! In spite of it, the CPI(M) led Left Front parties are tailing behind Congress and other ruling class parties. In the concrete conditions of today, though all these parliamentary opposition parties shall continue to have their dominance over the numerous people’s struggles coming up against Modi rule, they have no alternative to RSS neo-fascism.
The only force who can challenge the corporate fascist Modi rule with an alternative perspective and program, and inspire the masses are the communist revolutionary forces. They have a history of waging uncompromising struggle against neo-revisionist CPI(M) leadership, organizing the Naxalbari Uprising, bringing revolution back to the agenda, and challenging the neoliberal corporate rule and state terror during the last 4-5 decades. Only they, along with the revolutionary intellectuals have the vision of extending the struggle against counter-revolutionary policies of Modi rule, extending it to fighting the reactionary, obscurantist theoretical base of RSS.
But even after the fascists are riding rough shod over the people, abusing, lynching, torturing, suppressing all opposition voices, taking the plunder of labour and nature to unprecedented levels, opening the country to foreign and native corporates, imposing Brahmanical Manuvadi terror, some of the CR forces have betrayed the Naxalbari movement and have become apologists of neoliberal agenda of the ruling classes. The many decades of the CPI(M) led governments in W. Bengal, Tripura and Kerala, have only defamed the communist movement. On the other extreme, the left sectarian, anarchist forces have reduced themselves to nothing more than a cover for the state to suppress the masses. It was expected that upholding the glorious history of the Naxalbari Uprising, and struggling against these right and left deviations, the remaining forces shall unite to create a revolutionary left core to build a broad based anti-fascist front similar to the one which came up against the CAA/NPR/NRC. But, while we could initiate building this RLC with few like - minded forces, others are still hesitant, so that we have to continue this effort.
When the neo-fascist Modi government is consolidating its hold everywhere very fast, launching various attacks on the working class and oppressed people as a whole, especially the Muslim minority, dalits, Adivasis, women and other oppressed classes and sections, we have to carry forward the task of uniting major section of the CRs in the RLC with a common program to challenge the fascist forces and develop te anti-fascist front, while upholding the approach of “independent communist assertion” inside the movement,
Analysing present situation, the Central Committee has called for giving priority to party building. It calls for intensifying the ideological, political struggle for building a Bolshevik style powerful party winning over all revolutionary communists and new comrades to its fold, and for developing various struggles, campaigns and movements against the central and state governments, giving top priority to fight against the RSS/BJP rule.
Secondly, we have to strengthen the class/mass organizations and various people’s movements at all India level in which our party comrades are playing leading role. Present situation demands continuous efforts to develop them, give political orientation to them to play more active role in the anti-fascist movement. It also calls for developing struggles in all fields and winning new forces to build united fronts at all levels.
It is a Marxist-Leninist teaching, a repeatedly proved historical fact that without a strong Communist Party built on Bolshevik lines, surrounded by class/mass organizations and people’s movements, and according to the conditions of our country, all round offensive of the party cannot be developed. These initiatives cannot be developed fast. The party building by winning over the communist forces and to attract the new generation to the movement, calls for an intensive ideological political struggle as explained in the Resolution for Theoretical Offensive adopted by the 10th Party Congress. How the new forces can be attracted to the communist politics if those who claim themselves communists uphold China, which is only socialist in name, but an imperialist power contending for world hegemony with US imperialism, resorting to fascist oppression of the Uighur like nationalities and not prepared to resolve the national question within it, and not prepared to settle border problems with the neighbouring countries through bi-lateral discussions?
The new generation are not familiar with much of Marxist literature and are mostly ignorant of what happened in Soviet Union and China during their socialist days. They are witnessing the ‘mainstream communist parties’ wherever still in power, even after the severe setbacks in W. Bengal and Tripura for many decades, are still pursuing the neoliberal/corporate policies. They have nothing to offer except playing parliamentary politics as allies of one ruling class party or other, in state after states. They cannot be attracted to communist path, when they see and read how even those who claim to uphold Naxalbari Uprising and CPI(ML) heritage rush to join the band wagon of the very same forces by fighting against whom this great movement had emerged.
In spite of the severe setbacks suffered by the communist movement all over the world with all former socialist countries abandoning the socialist path, in the atmosphere of powerful anti-communist propaganda onslaughts by the imperialists and their lackeys, the new generation shall give credibility to the communist vision, and be attracted to it, only if, along with ideological political offensive, we take up the struggle against gender inequality, caste oppression, division based on caste system, the soft Hindutva vote bank politics, the ecological destruction leading to severe catastrophe, the development path based on capitalist lust and consumerist greed etc as integral part of the class struggle. Uncompromising struggle is called for against those parroting the mechanical materialist rhyme that all these problems need not be taken up from now, but shall disappear automatically once the communists capture power. After all that has happened in the world during last few decades including the disappearance of socialist countries, when the capitalist-imperialist system through neoliberal/corporate loot of labour and nature has transformed the whole world in its own image, if accordingly the Marxist theory and practice are not developed, and a new vision of development paradigm and democracy with all power to the people is presented before the people, the new generation is not going to come forward, daring to think, daring to struggle and daring to win a socialist future. So, the party building calls for such a vigorous struggle against the right deviation which is presently the main danger in the communist movement, while guarding against the anarchist trend. So, the CC has asserted that the party building should be taken up vigorously, linking with ideological offensive.
Another aspect of party building which calls for attention is the taking up of a powerful campaign against the Manuvadi Hindutva, the ideological base of RSS. Based on Manusmriti, writings of Savarkar, Golwalkar and other leaders, also drawing lessons from Mussolini and Hitler, the RSS could grow in to the biggest and most powerful neo-fascist organization in the world, as not only Congress and other ruling class parties, but the socialist stream as well as the Communist stream refused to learn the importance of Renaissance movement and take up the caste struggle along with class struggle, while the caste-class relation is a unique feature of India. So, only by waging a powerful ideological struggle against the theoretical base of RSS, the new generation who are influenced or at least confused by the RSS dominance can be won over or at least neutralized. The decision of the CC in its August meeting to take up these two campaigns immediately shall help the building and expansion of the party with more ideological clarity, winning over new forces to our side.
Why CPI(ML) Red Star has called for a countrywide people’s offensive against Fascist Hindutva onslaughts led by RSS, attacking its Manuvadi theoretical base now? The historic significance of it can be understood when an evaluation of the present critical national and international situation is made. Though, the neo-fascists Trump, Modi, Boslonaro and others like them pooh-poohed Covid19 pandemic till February, what is the situation after 7 months? The number of Covid patients in US is racing to 1o million and dead to 3 lakhs, percentage to population wise, Brazil is just behind it. Soon India is going to surpass US in the number of Covid 19 patients, reaching the first place! In the early days, US, China and all imperialists along with their junior partners first talked about containing Covid fast, now talking about co-existing with it, and return to “Business as usual”. But the economy is contracting everywhere and collapsing in many countries, posing the greatest ever challenge faced by the capitalist imperialist economic system.
All of them are planning how to overcome it. Firstly, take away all the benefits so far won by the working class, and subject them to worst ever loot, throwing out many more to the streets swelling the number of jobless and impoverished toiling and oppressed masses. Along with it intensify the plunder of nature more ruthlessly, which is already destroying the eco-system and bio-diversity. Even when the ‘hitherto greatest power in the world’, US imperialism is standing helpless before Covid19 and the raging wild fires in California and Oregon, when whole humanity is paralyzed by the pandemic, they refuse to accept all these have anything to do with ecology, and drag us to ecological catastrophe. While doing so, the imperialists are destroying what is left of the capitalist democracy ushered in by the French revolution and other revolutions. Trump is arrogantly declaring that if he is defeated in the November elections he may not transfer power! Xi Jinping and Putin have extended their terms in power indefinitely. And disciples of Mussolini and Hitler are growing in strength in Europe. So, the capitalist imperialist system is on the mad path of frenziedly speeding up neoliberal, corporate rule leading the humanity to the path of destruction, the extinction of human species, with or without another world war. The only alternative before the working class and oppressed people of the world is to get mobilized, fight against the reactionary ideologies serving as the base of the neo-fascist forces emerging in different countries, and overthrowing the imperialist system and their junior partners from power, moving forward to realize the blossoming of democracy and socialism.
Our national situation is not basically different. As the Covid19 pandemic is spreading fast, the private hospital mafia is on a looting spree, the poor are dying in ever larger numbers, economy is contracting fast, with the threat of a collapse looming large, more production units are closed down, many more are jobless, vast majority of people are in a desperate situation. The repeated intrusion of Modi government taking away all federal rights of the states on the one hand and brutal suppression of al dissent on the other threatens the very unity of the country. But Modi government is unconcerned. It is in a hurriedly imposing the RSS agenda of Hindurashtra. There are rumours of bringing the presidential system and the first presidential election in 2022. To facilitate it, the neoliberal/corporate reforms are taken to their peak, Krishna Janmabhumi campaign in Mathura and other divisive, hate politics projects are going to be speeded up, along with open flouting of Constitution as happened on 5th August at Ayodhya when PM Modi did Bhoomi Puja for Ram temple along with RSS chief, and the manner in which the bills for corporatization of agriculture, for taking away all workers’ rights etc were passed violating all parliamentary rules! It is Manusmriti, which RSS wants should be India’s constitution, in action.
Still, the parliamentary opposition is taking “business as usual! They are still thinking 2004 can be repeated, when BJP led Vajpayee government was defeated and Congress led UPA could take over. They have no alternative to put forward, they are still following their policies and practice which facilitated BJP’s ascendance to power. Still they do not recognize RSS neo-fascism is in power through Modi, or even if anyone accept it , not taking any moves to combat it. They are satisfied with contending with BJP in the parliamentary sphere taking soft Hindutva as well as national chauvinist line. Same is the case with CPI(M) led Left Front parties. Not only they helped the saffron forces to grow up many times by allying with them, still they do not recognize RSS/BJP is the main danger all over the country, besides following soft Hindutva line. So, they also do not recognize the need for all out attack on the theoretical base of neo-fascist RSS. It is in this fertile soil RSS has grown very fast using the hegemony Brahmanical forces in all fields, and the political Hindutva has become the ruling ideology, in theory and practice in the society.
Recognizing the gravity of the situation, some of the revolutionary intellectuals have taken up the study of Manusmriti, the main theoretical source of RSS as well as the writings of Dr. Munje who acted as an adviser to Hegdewar, the founder of RSS in 1925, and the writings of Savarkar, Golwalkar and others. These writings, the reports in RSS organ, Organizer, and present developments show how it has become the strongest fascist organization in the world. Along with this, under Modi, India is made a strong ally of US led Asia-Pacific Axis which is playing a major role as the US weapon against China, in its contention with it for world hegemony. Even the India-China standoff on the border issue also is internationalized as a result.
It is in this context, CPI(ML) Red Star has called for Launching Countrywide Campaign Against Manuvadi Hindutva, the Theoretical Base of RSS Neo-Fascism! As the first phase of this, a Campaign is organized from 28th September, Shahid Bhagat Singh birthday, to 25th December, when Manusmriti was burnt in 1927 as part of the Mahad struggle by women, dalits, and other oppressed sections under the leadership of Dr. Ambedkar, challenging the danger posed by the formation of RSS in 1925 with Manusmriti as its main theoretical guideline. Since, this struggle was not carried forward, learning from the experience of the anti-fascist struggles of last century and according to the present situation, RSS could develop in to such a powerful position. We appeal to all revolutionary forces, all organizations of dalits, Adivasis, oppressed classes and sections, progressive democratic forces and revolutionary intellectuals, the youth and students to join this campaign to expose, weaken and throw out RSS from hegemonic positions at the realm of thought and political power
What happened to the 19-year old girl in UP, including the upper caste sections organizing demonstrations in support of the perpetrators of this horrific crime and the police burning the body at night 3 am without permission of the family to destroy possibility for exhuming the body for another post mortem shows how the police is acting accordance to manusmriti, denying all the democratic rights to the dalits, Adivasis and oppressed. Everyone knows RSS/BJP leaders campaigned for the destruction of Babri Masjid and construction of Ram temple at that place for years, and what happened on that black day, 6th December, 1992, when the central and state governments which had mobilized a huge police and military force to protect the Masjid, refused to act when the top leaders of BJP, Advani, Joshi and Uma Bharati along with other top leaders extorted the huge mob of hoodlums to demolish the Masjid to do so and they did it in front of all the security forces, who instead of giving security to Babri Masjid gave security to the RSS hoodlums and facilitated their return journey.
But Modi’s CBI could not find any probe and the CBI judge acquitted all of them. This is another barbarous act under Manusmriti. As gang rape of dalit and Adivasi women, along with lynching of Muslims continues and increased day by day, as the RSS is planning to take up Krishna Janmabhumi case soon, the Hindutva plan is keep the communal flames raging to go ahead with their advance to Hindurashtra.
This pernicious plan has to be combated by strengthening the resistance of the people coming out to the streets through farmers’ struggle and many spontaneous movements of youth and students and other sections on the one hand. But this is not sufficient. Manuvadi Hindutva, the theoretical base of RSS itself should be attacked. How it is fascistic, how it is anti-people and anti national, how it is inhuman should be exposed. Along with the two tasks the revolutionary forces should come out with an alternative people oriented and sustainable development program and the new concept of democracy based on all right to the people should be presented before the people. Let us strive for the broadest mobilization of all forces in the anti-fascist movement to overthrow the Manuvadi fascist rule of Modi, and along with it strengthening communist assertion for speeding up the struggle against the Manuvadi corporate rule of Modi
An Appeal to intellectuals, writers, artists, youth, and students to Launch Countrywide Campaign Against Manuvadi Hindutva, Theoretical Base of RSS Neo- Fascism!
Dear Comrades and friends,
Presently the RSS parivar led Modi government is intensifying its fascist offensive day by day, attacking the working class, farmers, and all toiling, oppressed masses in general, targeting Muslim minorities, dalits, Adivasis, women and other oppressed masses. It is using the Covid19 pandemic which is spreading fast to alarming levels in an atmosphere of total government apathy, and the India-China border standoff as cover for suppressing all forms of dissent and for opening the country for further corporate loot. As a result, vast numbers of youth and others have jobless, further pauperized. The growing people’s anger against Modi rule is reflected in the farmers’ movement against total corporatization of agriculture, the spontaneous demonstrations of youth and students against increasing joblessness and many other protest actions in different parts of the country. In the coming days these movements are going to increase. But developments in different part of the country, for example what is happening in Bihar as the state assembly elections dates are coming nearer, show that, while BJP-JD(U) alliance has launched an aggressive campaign based on Hindutva and zingoism sidelining all people’s issues, the Grand Alliance of RJD- Congress, Left Front parties led by CPI(M) and others has not put forward an alternative before the people so far attacking the Hindutva politics of BJP, is but themselves pursuing soft Hindutva vote bank politics.
Though overthrowing of RSS fascism calls for intensifying campaign to bring the people out of its majoritarian Hindutva influence, nothing is done on that line. For example,.on 5th August when Modi was doing Bhoomipuja for Ram temple with the RSS chief Bhagvat, blatantly violating the Constitutional principles, instead of opposing it, the Congress and most of the opposition parties were compromising with the Hidutva politics. Even when there are reports of RSS going to launch a Babri-Ram mandir like dangerous campaigns, at Kashi and Mathura to keep the Hindutva frenzy at high levels, the opposition is not prepared to challenge the Hindutva – Manuvadi line of RSS. Except revolutionary intellectuals and a section of Communist Revolutionary forces, others are not attacking the Hindutva Manuvaddi fascist line of RSS/BJP. As they are also upholding the corporate/neoliberal policies, their attacks on Modi rule is limited to omissions and commissions of it Their approach is a repetition of what they did in 2004. They are not ready to take lessons from what happened in the following years, paving the way for RSS coming to dominant positions in every field, penetrating the state machinery and even Constitutional institutions in a big way.
It is in this context, CPI(ML) Red Star, and mass movements active in the cultural field, the Caste Annihilation Movement, Adivasi movement and mass organizations of women, youth and students, are going to launch an ideological offensive targeting Manusmrithi, Bunch of Thoughts, Savarker's writings etc which constitute the theoretical base of RSS. To begin with and All India campaign starting from 28th September, the birthday of Shahid Bhagat Singh and culminating with mass programs at Nagpur and in all states on 25th December, on the occasion of the 93rd anniversary of the burning of Manusmrithi symbolically by a big mobilization of women and dalits under the leadership of Dr. Ambedkar in 1927 at Nagpur. This day is still observed as Women’s Liberation Day at Nagpur. At the sme time this was an attack on the RSS which started in 1925 with Manusmrithi as its main theoretical base. This decision is taken in continuation to discussions taking place at various levels including with a large number of revolutionary intellectuals.
Very few intellectuals are presently launching attacks on the theoretical base of RSS. CPI(M) intellectuals are also writing about ‘positive things in Ramayana, Githa, Manusmrithi etc’. Many so-called independent left intellectuals have also compromised. The liberal-progressive intellectuals with few exceptions helped this fascist onslaught presenting these as part of ‘our positive heritage’ Some of them are even re-wroting the ANANDMATH to present it as anti-colonial theme! The rise of the Hindutva fascism happened as the working-class intellectuals did not confront the reactionary philosophical heritage of the fascists. Many of the original documents of the Hindutva archives which were lying untouched are brought out and criticized only now by the revolutionary intellectuals. The campaign against the theoretical foundations of RSS and public debates on them, in continuation to the renaissance struggle shall help us to attack the fascist roots of RSS neo-fascism.
Our appeal to all the revolutionary intellectuals and all progressive forces who stand against the caste system and against all obscurantic ideas, systems, habits and superstitions based on which the majoritarian Hindutva concept is built up by RSS, is to come forward to carry the message of renaissance movement and develop them according to the conditions of today to beat back and defeat the RSS neo-fascism. Let us strive to throw out the counter revolutionary Hindutvs ideology based on Manusmrithi, to end all inequalities based on gender, race, caste etc. and march forward with socialist orientation.
CPI(ML) Red Star.
The Resolution adopted by the Central Committee of the CPI(ML) Red Star on launching this campaign is given in this Link : http://www.cpiml.in/cms/documents-2/resolutions/item/2524-launch-countrywide-campaign-against-manuvadi-hindutva-theoretical-base-of-rss-neo-fascism
Even as the divisive, communal and sinister CAA was passed amidst surging protests throughout the country, led in great part by women and youths, atrocities against women and the relentless pauperization of the masses have continued to rise steadily.
We are approaching the International Working Women’s Day at a time when Indian women are not only facing unprecedented violence but also being deprived of decent jobs and wages and being pushed into an existence of dependence and penury. Data released by the National Crime Records Bureau have revealed that a total of 2,249 unemployed women committed suicide in 2018. The total number of suicides by unemployed women and men surpassed that of farmers and serve as a harsh comment on the state of joblessness and poverty in the country.
The new Codes on Labour, which will condense over 40 labour laws into four codes, is being sought to be passed in Parliament and will further affect labour rights in the country, especially those of the most vulnerable section, women. As it is the female labour participation rate in India — the share of working-age women who report either being employed, or being available for work —has fallen to a historic low of 23.3% in 2017-18, meaning that over three out of four women over the age of 15 in India are neither working nor seeking work.
According to a recent Oxfam report ‘Time to Care’, released in January this year, such is the income inequality in India, it would take a female domestic worker 22,277 years to earn what a top CEO of a technology company makes in one year. The report further said that women and girls put in 3.26 billion hours of unpaid care work each and every day — a contribution to the Indian economy of at least Rs 19 lakh crore a year, which is 20 times the entire education budget of India in 2019 (Rs 93,000 crore). If care work had been socialized and industrialized – if communal kitchens, public laundry, crèches for children and the like had to replace today’s system of individual women and girls spending billions of hours cooking, cleaning and caring for children and the elderly – then not only would employment rise but also women’s unpaid work would be replaced by work for wages.
Unpaid care work is the ‘hidden engine’ that keeps the wheels of our economies, businesses and societies moving, and little wonder that this ‘hidden engine’ is driven by women who have little time to get an education, earn a decent living or have a say in how the society and country is run, and who are therefore trapped at the bottom of the economy. Yet, no government till date has come up with a policy to replace this unpaid care work with socialized and paid care work as a means of empowering women.
Unable to give all able-bodied women work for wages, unable to provide equal wages for equal work, unable to create an enabling atmosphere for women to get educated and employed, unable to ensure a modicum of safety for women, the government is now bent on destroying whatever remains of the democratic and secular fabric of the country in the name of CAA-NPR-NRC. If not resisted, these communal tools will make women further vulnerable to devastation, displacement and even disenfranchisement. The evil design of transforming India into a Hindu Rashtra, based on the precepts of Manu Smriti, where women are but objects of male desire and slaves of patriarchal families, cannot be allowed to succeed.
Thus it is indeed heartening to note that across the country women are taking to the streets in thousands. Shaheen Bagh has already created history in women’s non-violent resistance to divisive state policies. Further, Shaheen Bagh is not alone. In various cities of the country similar prolonged demonstrations by women continue to thrive. The women’s mandate on CAA-NPR-NRC is clear: it cannot be allowed to stand. Kashmiri women, in the face of the most brutal kind of state terror, continue to fight for democracy.
All India Revolutionary Women's Organisation (AIRWO) too resolutely opposes CAA-NPR-NRC and, besides frequently hitting the streets demanding its repeal, extends its solidarity to Shaheen Bagh and its sisters. On March 8 this year, AIRWO calls upon all democratic women to rise and organize to the following slogans:
No to CAA-NPR-NRC!Stop violence against women! Equal pay for equal work! Dignified and secure employment for all able-bodied women of working age!
Sharmistha Choudhury, GS, AIRWO