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Comrade Gomathi is a plantation worker under Tata company who led a historic struggle of women’s workers at Munnar, Kerala, for which she is now isolated and persecuted by the administration and leaders of ruling class political parties. CPI(M) leaders are now in the forefront along with other leading political parties to isolate her so that they can prevent the emergence of an independent class-conscious movement, challenging them and the Tata management whom all of them serve. Now read this interview by Mrudula Bhavani, January 27, 2019.

You are a block panchayat member. Why are you forced to leave Munnar?

The trauma I am going through is so much after organizing the Pombila Orumai movement, which cannot be described in words. There is no single reply from Kerala for my facebook post about leaving Munnar. I have no regret. I’m just one among the thousands of plantation workers. And I’m not claiming that I created the movement. I don’t understand why they’re creating troubles aimed at me. All those from Kerala who said that they’ll stand beside me, or they will demolish the police station etc. now seem to be least moved by my post. Which way the rulers affect the lives of the women here? Can anyone say that? I wrote on that as well saying that the women who support Vanitha Mathil should comment on women issues too.

Today what I feel is that all this seems to be joke for them. There was a huge support for Vanitha mathil. But did that in any my state? I have issues of shelter, police cases on me and my son, only because I questioned power. The police torture is making me even suicidal and the case on my son too. Yes, it is my son’s mistake that he fell in love with a minor. The same girl who walked holding my hands, is now going against me and seeking for my son’s arrest. I don’t have any grudge against MM Mani, only that MM Mani spoke against Pombila samaram. I don’t have any grudge against CPIM. They might have grudge against me because I organized a movement without them. They still have that evil conviction in their minds that we have organized the movement opposing them and that I became a block member opposing them. A lot of efforts are being taken to finish me off.

While AITUC, INTUC and CITU are all separate, they all unite together when it comes to my issue. I’ve been constantly fighting within the block panchayat, they are not giving me funds as well. Recently in a place called Connimala top I’ve started a work for 5 lakhs, it’s been one and half years and the Panchayat president from Congress Karupasaamy is creating blockades over my work. I’m not able to do work despite getting votes. I’m still doing within my capacity. If I’m entering any quarters, anticipating that I might organize Pombila Orumai movement again, they’re troubling the workers there. But the people are saying that they’ll stand beside me no matter what. And I believe by heart that the people of Munnar are with me. Not just in Kerala, I’m travelling across India and participating in various movements. Why do they fear me? Now negotiation over salary is going on. Now it’s been 11 months since the salary hike for plantation workers given. Company is saying that they won’t give. Politicians are getting involved in this. They’re citing various problems like GST, flood and snow, to show that the company is affected. Why won’t they increase the salary of plantation workers who are generating crores of rupees’ profit? That’s why they fear for me thinking that Gomathi will arrive again.

There are issues with Patta (land right) as well. They have allotted patta in some places which people don’t know. People again approach me to solve the issue. I say that I’ll obviously join if you start, despite the consequences. People are being oppressed that they are confined within company quarters and work. They say that votes will prove whether Pombila orumai movement exists or not. As Parliament elections are nearing, I’m facing a lot of issues as well. Pa.Ranjith visited Thrissur recently. Vigilance and special branch officers ask me “Did you meet him, how wouldn’t you not meet him despite you both belong to the same caste?” till then I didn’t know Pa.Ranjith belongs to my caste. Even if I deny all that, they say “If people who are close to you like Santhosh, Sunny Kappikad have met him, how come Pa.Ranjith come here without your knowledge. That too him being a Tamilian”. They keep asking whether actors Rajinikanth, Kamalhassan, Parvathy invited me and promised any favours, What is my next plan of action? If I’m going to organize any other movement. Special branch officers from Thodupuzha visited my home. Who am I? I’m just reduced to a Block member who couldn’t even do anything for people.

Most of the people working in Block are from CPIM, who wouldn’t help me at all. I have struggled so much to do something, but nothing happens. No member has even invited me to any of the Grama Sabha. That is my pathetic state. Whom did I betray? Whose living did I spoil? Is it my fault that I protested for the people? I posted a video to collect rice from Tamilnadu since the plantation workers of Munnar didn’t receive any help after flood. And a lot of politicians became “Gomathi”, falsely claimed my identity, collected and hoarded the rice. I still have the regret of not being to help people.

The government and the politicians have pushed me into a state of being suicidal. I never gave up, except for my son’s issue. I didn’t leave my home for a month. I don’t know what made her complaint; she was very close to me, who even said that she’ll marry my son. CPIM people are even spreading false news that she was pregnant and have gone through abortion. I visited her in person and she denied that. My son got bail, only because she herself told the judge that it is mere political vengeance. In between she joined CPIM. I don’t have any issues with her joining CPIM. Now she’s saying that she doesn’t want my son and humiliating me. Even I possess the video she sent me, the letters she wrote to the SP and DSP. It doesn’t take much time for me to reveal all that. But I don’t wish to humiliate another woman. I still believe my son should face punishment if he deserves it. But they don’t show any courtesy on me despite me being a woman.

Are all women coming to the streets to struggle? How many politicians bring their wives to the protest sites? How many wives of politicians participated in the Vanitha Mathil. Did the families of Kodiyeri and Pinarayi participate? All those who participated were plantation workers, adivasis and other oppressed. They lied to the plantation workers here that you women should come and oppose women’s entry into Sabarimala and took them to Vanitha Mathil. People here are regretting after returning. Why should they lie? They could have spoken the truth. We showed what the power of Dalit organizations means and what “Renaissance” is, on April 9th. But everyone just joined Vanitha Mahil. Despite studying only till 10th class, I’m able to comprehend what politics means. Why couldn’t you? Now have all the problems of women resolved? Even now I have written a post. But there’s no response.

I used to receive thousands of phone calls sending their regards. But I received none now. It is only the plantations workers are expressing their concerns. Because I posted in Tamil. They say “Why should you leave? You stand firmly. Your name is present in Munnar. People of Munnar will even build your statue after you pass away”. People of Kerala don’t have to build a statue after I pass away. It is enough if people who fight for Munnar to stand by me. If you don’t want to support, I don’t need your concerns. I know what to do as an individual in Munnar. Did we start the movement anticipating support from various corners? We fought for our rights, to show the world how our lives are even after freedom.Yes, you gave support. But the movement was victorious not because of your support but because the plantation workers came together. Gomathi as an individual is capable to fight all her lifetime. I would have  done anything for the people of Munnar, if I had owned a house to live. Staying in a rented house is big problem. My father’s house has shares. My brother has died leaving 3 daughters, how can I stay there. There are lot of family issues too. They all think that Gomathi has the support of Kerala.

No, Gomathi has courage, power and the support of God. I might leave Munnar, but I do have my own plans. Kerala will witness what I’m going to do. I don’t need anyone’s support. But I’ll accept anyone who is concerned about the well being of the plantation workers, colony people and the adivasis. I know how to guide these people, and I’ll leave Munnar only after showing them a path. Yes, it is true that I was broken in my son’s issue, and it is true that I have a case on me; I’m not going to deny all that. Only that I’m broken that a girl who was beside me have rejected me and my son. I give my best wishes to her. I don’t have any grudge against you. I know that it is all because of CPIM. Let them arrest my son if he had committed any mistake, but that won’t stop me from fighting for people. I’m not concerned about whether I’ll receive any support or not.

After accepting the Supreme Court’s verdict to allow women entering Sabarimala, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has lifted up to the position of renaissance (Navodhanam) leader. He addressed the question of gender, the question of caste etc. but at the same time you, a Dalit plantation workers’ leader who is in the fore front of anti-caste, labor rights movement are forced to leave Munnar after continuing torture from the same government. Isn’t that the irony?

People here don’t even understand the meaning of ‘Navodhanam’. They are denying the presence of caste and religion. Ask him to come to the ground. To make him a ‘Navodhana’ hero, they created a Vanitha mathil. Now he has become a Navadhana hero. I don’t have any issues with it. Caste and religion have entrenched here. No one can deny that. Women’s problems have never been resolved. No one can endure the trauma I am going through. But I don’t fear for anyone. Be it Pinarayi Vijayan or anyone, I’m going to speak truth. I don’t understand on what basis they’re supporting this navodhanam.

 Again, I’m saying, even I can understand this is not navodhanam but it is a political drama. The whole Kerala have now gone to sabarimala. If women had to visit there, take them with enough protection. As simple as that. But why all this drama? All have now realized what Pinarayi Vijayan government is. There will be a change. This only makes me laugh even amidst all my pain seeing all this drama they are doing with the people and women. It is painful to see even all the writers and intellectuals go behind all this ‘Navodhanam’, Sabarimala issue and Vanitha Mathil. n

An Open Letter to Pinaray Vijayam, Chief Minister of Kerala Demanding Immediate Action on the Appeal of the Nuns

Dear Chief Minister

The rape survivor and the other five nuns who supported her in the case against Franco are facing an imminent threat of being separated and sent away from Kerala by their congregation, the Missionaries of Jesus. Ever since they have participated in the agitation held at Vanchi square in Ernakulam that led to the arrest of Franco, they were individually targeted and harassed within the convent by the church authorities. Now that the case is pursued strongly by the state, the Congregation has strengthened its pressure tactics against the nuns in an obvious attempt to weaken the case by influencing and interfering in their evidence. The four nuns who are supporting the rape survivor, who are also key witnesses   in the  case against Bishop Franco have been asked to join different convents in Punjab, Jharkand Bihar and Kannur. Another nun/witness who had stood with them is asked by the church to appear before the authorities in Jalandhar where at present Franco is housed by 26th of this month and explain her actions. All five of them are key witnesses to the case.

This act of commanding the nun for personal appearance amounts to direct intervention of church authorities in weakening their case, and throttling their voice from the public sphere. It is to be remembered that Franco has been given bail on condition that he can’t enter Kerala except to report to an investigating officer. It is apparent that the Congregation is ensuring that the key witnesses are moved out of the jurisdiction of Kerala police, but at the same time accessible to Franco and company. It needs to be emphasized here that Sr. Regina, the Mother Superior, who has directed the sister for personal appearance at Jalandhar is a strong supporter of Bishop Franco, and had voluntarily deposed before the police in defence of Franco, and she did the same, even more explicitly, in print and visual media.  Also it is evident that Sr. Regina denied opportunity to Sr. Neena Rose to appear for her Post Graduate studies’ final examination. Apart from this, Sr. Anupama was compelled by Franco to write an apology in November 2017, and Sr. Regina was instrumental in making this happen.

It needs to be noted with high amount of suspicion that since Sr. Regina is directly involved in commanding a witness to go to Jalandhar, where Franco reportedly resides, the highest offices of power in the church are being misused for the illegal protection of Franco. In this context, it is to be noted that a main witness in this case Fr. Kuriakose Kattuthara died under suspicious circumstances in Jalandhar after Franco was released on bail. Fr. Kattuthara’s relatives have raised this issue and they reasonably suspect this as a well-planned murder. We strongly believe that by enforcing the transfer order issued to the nuns supporting the survivor/witnesses the congregation of Missionaries of Jesus is in fact purporting   to help the accused Franco to come in contact with the nuns / witnesses in a bid to influence their evidence. In effect, the congregation authorities is liable for criminal obstruction of justice. Also, the effort to scatter the nuns should also  be read as an attempt to destabilise the solidarity that they have built around the church and in the public. 

Further, in the Witness Protection Scheme 2018  approved by the Supreme Court of India , the section ‘Types of Protection Measures’ envisages that the authorities should ensure that “witness and accused do not come face to face during investigation or trial”. The principle underlying the Witness Protection Scheme is to see that the accused and his supporters never threaten or intimidate the witness or endanger their lives or use any kind of force or influence over them. Hence it is binding on the congregation of Missionaries of Jesus to extend protection and support to the rape survivor and nuns (witnesses) who rallied around her. Moreover, the state is also bound to ensure their safety and ensure safeguards guaranteed under law.

It is now a well known fact that the accused Franco enjoys immense clout among his congregation members, priests, nuns and laity alike, inside and outside Kerala. We strongly fear that any move to get the nuns who are key witnesses in the case out of their convent where police protection is already ensured will be disastrous and is likely to annul their evidence.  Under these circumstances, we urge the government to ensure that their lives and safety are not endangered by enforcing the transfer order. We, the undersigned strongly condemn the patent misuse of the highest offices of the Catholic Church to defend the powerful accused and attack and punish the sisters who are on a mission to bring justice to the rape survivor. We also call upon the Government to listen to the concerns of the sisters, and initiate immediate action to forestall the move to remove them, in any way, from their present convent where the Government is already giving protection, till the trial is completed.

We the undersigned request immediate and effective interventions of your office to ensure constitutional and legal protection to all the sister involved in the struggle for justice.

Women Against State Repression and Sexual Violence (WSS), Priya Pillai , Social Environmental Activist, New Delhi, Kavitha Krishnan, All India Progressive Womens Association (AIPWA), Dr. PJ James, PB Member, CPI(ML) Red Star, MK Dasan, Kerala State Secretary, CPI (ML) Red Star, Sharmisths Choudhury, General Secretary, All India Revolutionary Women’s Organization – AIRWO, Pramila, President, AIRWO and hundreds of women activists, political activists and intellectuals. n

175 YEARS OF THE HOLY FAMILY - SANKAR

When Engels left Paris after a short staying of only ten days with Marx at the end of August, 1844, he finished his portion of the book they planned. It was The Holy Family, first joint work of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, where the duo first time jointly declared their final departure from the circle of the Young Hegelians. Thus a new ideology was announced for the emancipation of humanity.

Soon after the death of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel on 1831, his followers were divided in two opposite sects, namely The Orthodox Hegelians and The Young Hegelians. They were also called as Right Hegelians and the Left Hegelians, respectively. The Orthodox Hegelians used to interpret Hegel’s philosophy in the conservative direction according to which the Supreme Absolute in Hegel’s philosophy had been embodied in the Prussian state of that time. Therefore, there was no further scope of any extension of political freedom.

On the contrary, the Young Hegelians did not accept this. They used to advocate that the scope of freedom is actually unlimited which could not be restricted either by the state or by religion. Thus the state and the religion were their chief enemies which had to be uprooted in the course of achieving human emancipation. Therefore, the premise of Young Hegelian thought was that the religion and the state were the base, on which rest of the categories of the society were built.

In order to understand The Holy Family which played a pivotal role in the course of genesis of Marxism it is of course imperative to have a clearer vision on the dynamics of thought inside the circle of Hegel’s followers. Hegel always considered himself as a staunch Lutheran Christian. His philosophy was completely mingled with his theological outlook. As Bruno Bauer remembered:

“Only Hegel, whose lectures I had heard from the first hours, held me immediately captive. For me it was as if, in these penetrating and simple truths, that nothing new came to be known but only the revelation of inborn knowledge, and from them my weak spirit was given back its calm and certainty. How great was that man’s simplicity and openness in the search for truth, and how holy his anger, when he spoke of how the very pillars of the church itself were apparently being destroyed by the ones who had been set up as its teachers and shepherds, and how great was the sorrow of his spirit, when he revealed how dogma and the display of eternal truth were cast aside and disdained by the moderns.” (Quoted in a thesis on New Hegelian movement by Nathan W Bjorge: The Inverted Essence: The Young Hegelian Critique of Religion 1835-45, 2009)

 Therefore, the first split among the disciples of Hegel took place with the publication of The Life of Jesus Critically Examined by David Strauss, one of the prominent Hegelians in 1935. Strauss argued in the book that the stories on Jesus described in Christian canon were mostly mythical and fictional. The Hegelian Orthodoxy could not accept this turn of Hegelian philosophical discourse. However, very soon a group of young disciples of Hegel had been gathered around the opinion advocated in The Life of Jesus in the University of Berlin. Eventually this group of young graduates in philosophy in the University started to be known as Young Hegelians. The differences of opinion gradually broadened, although within the general framework of Hegelian discourse, and started to embrace nearly all the fields of philosophical thoughts.

Since late twenties of the nineteenth century Bruno Bauer became a disciple of Hegel. At that time he was a student of philosophy in the University of Berlin. After completion of student life he received his teaching license in 1834. He started his teaching career on the next year in the same University. When the controversial book of Strauss was published Bauer launched his counter attack on Strauss and the famous ‘Life of Jesus’ debate began. However, within three years he was defeated completely. Although Strauss’ book was apparently theological, but actually it was a radical political text closely related to the issues of revolutions of 1830 and 1848. Therefore, throughout German political circle at that time The Life of Jesus appeared as a radical political symbol.

By 1840 Bruno Bauer made a U-tern in his career in philosophy and became a Young Hegelian. His three volume Critique of the Synoptic Gospels was published in 1940-42 where he made a further advancement from Strauss and reached in the conclusion that there was never the historical Jesus at all. Bauer wrote: “To the question of whether Jesus was an authentic historical figure, we replied that everything relating to the historical Jesus, all that we know of him, relates to the world of fancy, to be more exact - to Christian fancies. This has no connection with any man who lived in the real world. The question is answered by its elimination for the future.” (thesis, ibid). 

As the Young Hegelians started to come in dominance in the University of Berlin since mid-1830s, Bruno Bauer, the then Old Hegelian ideologue, left it and joined in the faculty of philosophy in the University of Bonn in 1839. However, his u-tern in philosophical understanding led his dismissal from the University in October, 1841 and he made a dramatic return in the University of Berlin as the supreme leader of the Young Hegelians. 

Marx arrived at the University of Berlin in 1836 at the age of 18, where he met Bauer as a teacher and was influenced by him in order to adopt Hegelianism. After Bauer’s come back at the University in 1941 Marx allied with him to carry forward the Young Hegelian campaign. However, interesting developments started to take place in the political scenario of Europe at that time which eventually created a split between them within two years.

The political lefts in Europe in the early decades of nineteenth century generally used to relate themselves with the French Revolution of 1789. However, they were mainly radical republicans. As the capitalist development started to move in a faster pace since 1820s, the organized working class began to appear in England and France. As a result the concept of socialism or communism started to make inroad in left radicalism and prepared a potential ground for future break up within the Young Hegelian movement. The Chartist movement in England was a magnificent development in this direction. It was the first mass movement of the working class in Europe. Since the early years of 1830s the demand to remove property restriction in the right to vote started to come to the fore. In 1838 a People’s Charter was drawn up for the London Working Men’s Association (LWMA) by William Lovett and Francis Place, two self-educated radicals, in consultation with other members of LWMA. The Charter had six demands:

  • All men to have the vote (universal manhood suffrage)
  • Voting should take place by secret ballot
  • Parliamentary elections every year, not once every five years
  • Constituencies should be of equal size
  • Members of Parliament should be paid
  • The property qualification for becoming a Member of Parliament should be abolished.

Huge participation of the working masses took place in favour of these demands. In June 1839, the Chartists’ petition was presented to the House of Commons with over 1.25 million signatures. It was rejected by Parliament. This provoked unrest which was crushed by the authorities. A second petition was presented in May 1842, signed by over three million people, but again it was rejected and further unrest and arrests followed.

When the Young Hegelians made their first split from Hegelian Orthodoxy the camp as a whole used to put emphasis to practice over theory, materialism over idealism, secular humanism over Christian Orthodoxy, continued dialectical process over complete totality, and negation over positive. However now, when the second split took place among the Young Hegelians themselves it took a different shape. The adherents of socialism/communism (Engels, Marx, Hess etc.) started to put emphasis to community over individual, “the people” over “the unique one”, the commune over republic, and proletariat over the bourgeoisie. “The Holy Family” of Marx and Engels was the first theoretical-philosophical assertion of this new position.

The first clash took place when as the editor of Young Hegelian journal Rheinische Zeitung (Rhineland Times) Marx denied to publish the superficial and pretentious articles of the ultra-radical Berlin Circle of “The Free” in the autumn of 1842. At that time political parties were not very common formation in Germany, whereas in England or France it was common. German radicals generally use to organize themselves around particular beer-pubs or coffeehouses like Café Pilfax in Pest or Romberg’s Coffeehouse in Cologne. Young Hegelian “The Free” was such type of club which saw itself as a political party with a revolutionary character. Marx gradually entered in deep rooted differences with “The Free” where Bruno Bauer and his brother Edger Bauer, Max Stirner, Eduard Meyen and others formed a group which was sarcastically called by Marx as “The Holy Family”. 

“The Free” saw itself as a party but not an actual party, a party of the masses or of a particular class. According to Bruno Bauer and his comrades it was not the mass but some advanced individuals could change the world through ruthless criticism to everything. So they declared, “Criticism does not form any party and will have no party of its own; it is solitary because it is engrossed in its object and oppose itself to it. It isolates itself from everything.” Marx criticized heavily the position of the Young Hegelians. He ridiculed Bruno: “That is why he creates for himself a Holy Family, just as the solitary God endeavours in the Holy Family to end his tedious isolation from society.”

Marx fantastically show that those advocators of materialism actually landed in idealism. It was a crucial realization of Marx which led him to formulating a new philosophy which he more clearly elaborated in German Ideology. He proved that according to Critical Criticism the world was nothing but “a mere fancy of his brain” which led it to discard the role of the masses in creating the world history. Marx said, “Returning to its starting point, Absolute Criticism has ended the speculative cycle and thereby its own life’s career. Its further movement is pure, lofty circling within itself, above all interest of a mass nature and therefore devoid of any further interest for the Mass.”

Engels elaborated the significance and role of the proletariat magnificently in the book. The famous concept of Marx-Engels regarding the alienation or “human self-estrangement” was first described in The Holy Family. Therefore, the role of the proletariat was charted by them with such clarity. Let us have a look how they put down the departure from romantic point of view which Bruno Bauer and his comrades tried to ascribe to them. Engels wrote in The Holy Family: “When socialist writers ascribe this world historic role to the proletariat, it is not at all, as Critical Criticism pretends to believe, because they regard the proletariat as gods. Rather the contrary. Since in the full-formed proletariat the abstraction of all humanity, even of the semblance of humanity, is particularly complete; since the conditions of the life of the proletariat sum up all the conditions of life of society today in their most inhuman form; since man has lost himself in the proletariat, yet at the same time has not only gained theoretical consciousness of that loss, but through urgent, no longer removable, no longer disguisable, absolutely  imperative need—— the practical expression of necessity—— is driven directly to revolt against this inhumanity, it follows that the proletariat can and must emancipate himself.”

One hundred and seventy five years have passed since The Holy Family was written. However, the relevance of the book is still being felt. The reason, however, lies in an unfortunate fact. That is even after one hundred seventy five years of Marx’s battle the Marxists still are not Marxist, rather Young Hegelian as far as the philosophy is concerned. The ‘holy family’ is not destroyed, but still survives in the minds of the disciples of Marx. In different practical political movements when we receive a number of brain-made suggestions even from our serious minded Marxist friends, when we see the outright romantic politics in the revolutionary camp we cannot but reread The Holy Family where Marx-Engels ridiculed the Young Hegelians in the following fashion:

“Criticism, which is self-sufficient, and complete and perfect in itself, naturally cannot recognize history as it really took place, for that would mean recognizing the base Mass in all its mass-like mass nature, whereas the problem is precisely to redeem the mass from its mass nature. History is therefore freed from its Mass nature, and Criticism, which has a free attitude to its object, call to history: “You ought to have happened in such and such a way!” n

DO NOT FORGET THE PAST - ALIK CHAKRABORTY

People struggles to transform the present into a beautiful future, so it becomes very important to know how the past was. It is famously said that – those who forget their past, forget their heritage and can never create a beautiful future.

On the 3rd February 2019, Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary, CPI (M-L) Liberation, presented his speech as an invited speaker at the Brigade Parade Ground in Kolkata organised by Left Front.  In West Bengal, although Liberation is not a part of the Left Front, it is a part of the 17-Party alliance. In this meeting he delivered a dynamic speech. He spoke of Karanda or Naxalbari in the meeting and some of the people felt proud about it. With this he added another point which was not questioned by anyone. He said, “There’s no need to remember the past.” According to him, in the present situation there is no governance, but destruction which is taking place at the centre; and in the state “Deedi” has become “Foofi” (Paternal Sister), so the need of the time is to make a broad alliance against both these forces. At the time when he was speaking and commenting that leftists had also committed mistakes and they will have to forget the past and look forward to the future, there were people sitting behind him on the stage who had ruled the state for 34 long years.

The tragedy is that, from their dais on which he was invited to speak, Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya asked them to forget their past, when it is a fact that these ‘leftists’ had committed many mistakes and had done lots of injustice. They, whose dais was, were neither forgetting the past, nor talking about forgetting it. Instead of that, they were talking in full praise of the successes achieved during the 34 year long rule of the Left Front, and claimed that the development of the state would have reached higher levels if Tata had been allowed to put up its industry at Singur. They were also declaring that they would take up such issues if voted back to power, and with this claim they are contesting the forthcoming general elections. Thus, Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya’s talk about forgetting the past remained a mere rhetoric. One would like to forget the past only if it is a bad dream; but why should one forget the past, when according to him it is a beautiful dream? However, if one has to anyhow forget the past, then he will have to decide whether his role in the past was beautiful or repulsive.

If people have to form an opinion about the Left Front or Leftists, they will consider the activities of it in the past in respect to the differences at the present. This is not just about the Leftists, it is a general truth too. There’re no two opinions about the fact that, today the force in power at centre is destroying everything and it is necessary to uproot it. But, did this destruction start occurring only today? Will this destruction stop, if the present government is replaced by a new one from among the ruling class parties? Has it happened for the first time that only in this government’s rule the monopoly capitalists are enjoying tax benefits, and the public is bearing the tax burden? It can be said that under the present government’s rule all such things have increased. But is it our duty to replace this government with another one, which would reduce all such problems to a little extent? For this all past and future will have to be forgotten?

 Today if the slogans is raised only to remove BJP or to remove Trinamool Congress (TMC) in West Bengal, will mean that the last many decades of Congress rule was good for India. Then why was it required to fight against it? And if they were so, why were they replaced? And did the Left Front play an ideal role during its 34 year rule in West Bengal? If they did, then why did the people struggle against them? Standing on the dais Comrade Dipankar raised the issue of Karanda. This is an example. How can he forget that the same CPI(M) and the Left Front’s hands are soaked in the blood of innumerable communist revolutionaries (Naxalites)? How can they hide the fact that in interest of the Tata, they forcefully acquired lands of the peasants using brute police force in Singur? How can they forget the condition of Tapasi Malik or Rajkumar Bhul? How can anyone forget the forceful displacement of the Talinalla slum dwellers, the operation sunshine, the severe oppression of the jute mill labourers by the mill owners and their agents? People remember hundreds of examples like these. He spoke about Amlasol. Did the Left Front accept and take responsibility of the deaths caused by hunger? Has the Left Front ever accepted the suicides of the potato growing farmers? They have never made a self-criticism, they have never accepted their mistake, as a result, the Trinamool Congress is in power.

 Today the Left Front is in power in only one state. Is its condition very different from the other states? Has the Left Front kept its promise of not implementing any black laws and not using police force to crush people’s movements? Has there not been murders of students, or mass murders? Have they never used the UAPA act? Still people like Chhatradhar Mahato are imprisoned under the laws implemented by them. Will all such things have to be forgotten? Can all such things be forgotten? The example set by the CPI (M), by indulging in activities like taking the hands of Advani and BJP in the name of opposing corruption of the Congress in 1989 and providing the BJP a place in the national politics, cannot be forgotten.

Why the memories of Left have faded, that remind of a special culture of people’s struggle, self-sacrifice and martyrdom? Without finding an answer to this question; without winning back the lost respect of people for the left; how can be the destruction stopped? Today people find it difficult to see any basic difference between the BJP, the Congress, the Trinamool and the Left Front. Is it the people’s fault, or the difference has become so faded, that it can’t be understood clearly?

So, it is a request to comrades that they should not try to forget the past. If they have courage to rectify their mistakes, they should declare it with boldness. By resolving the mistakes and injustice, they should join hands to revitalize the Left.

We, CPI (M-L) Red Star have also appealed to defeat the BJP, but this is not all. We have also called to form a people’s alternative. The BJP can really lose if a militant people’s alternative fights against it. Without it, the desire of defeating BJP through the Congress will actually ensure BJP’s win. To keep BJP away from power, under Prakash Karat’s leadership CPI (M) had supported the Congress led first UPA government, and by imposing the policies of UPA, had forced Singur and Nandigram on Bengal. Consequently they lost Bengal in 2011, and Narendra Modi whose hands are soaked in the blood of mass-massacres of 2002 in Gujarat, came to power with clear majority at the center. Similarly, the anti-people policies and ill-governance of the Congress or the so called leftists nourished and is still nourishing the BJP and the Trinamool. Without examining it, fascism cannot be stopped.

Not only this, to run into the other camp of the ruling class parties to stop the first camp of BJP, will only destroy one’s own character of struggle. Therefore, by keeping the duty of stopping the BJP in the forefront, people’s struggle will have to be organised against it. Thinking of any shortcut method other than involving people’s power will only intensify the attacks on the people. Comrades, please think and contemplate. You are requested not to forget the past. Do not forget the class struggle. n

ON 15th January, 1919, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, both leaders of the Communist Party of Germany, were hunted down by the ‘Freikorps’ (“Free Corps”), a private militia, and assassinated at the behest of the Government headed by the Social Democratic SPD. The enemies of revolution could not tolerate the words of Rosa: I want to affect people like a clap of thunder… to inflame their minds with the breadth of my vision, the strength of my conviction, and the power of my expression.

In Lenin’s words: “Today the bourgeoisie and the social-traitors are jubilating in Berlin, they have succeeded in murdering Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. Elbert and Scheidemann who for four years led the workers to the slaughter for the sake of depredation, have now assumed the role of butchers of the proletarian leaders. The example of the German revolution proves that democracy is only a camouflage for bourgeois robbery and the most savage violence. Death to the butchers.”

In her last article, ‘Order Prevails in Berlin’, written on 14 January 1919 a day before her assassination, Rosa Luxemburg said:

"The contradiction between the powerful, decisive, aggressive offensive of the Berlin masses on the one hand and the indecisive, half-hearted vacillation of the Berlin leadership on the other is the mark of this latest episode. The leadership failed. But a new leadership can and must be created by the masses and from the masses. The masses are the crucial factor. They are the rock on which the ultimate victory of the revolution will be built. The masses were up to the challenge, and out of this “defeat” they have forged a link in the chain of historic defeats, which is the pride and strength of international socialism. That is why future victories will spring from this “defeat.”

“Order prevails in Berlin!” You foolish lackeys! Your “order” is built on sand. Tomorrow the revolution will “rise up again, clashing its weapons,” and to your horror it will proclaim with trumpets blazing: I was, I am, I shall be! n

Prime Minister Modi says “Pulwama shows that the time for talks has passed”. Then it is the responsibility of all citizens to ask what he is going to do? Since he has asked the armed forces to retaliate, to what extent they are asked to go? In the present situation, maximum the armed forces can do is another surgical strike, like the one performed after Uri. Anything more, including asking the air forces to bomb strategic spots in Pakistan can lead to dangerous consequences. If any of the aircrafts is shot down and the crew is arrested by Pak forces, the conflict can widen. If the Line of Control is crossed by the armed forces on a major scale, it may escalate in to another war with the possibility for escalating as a nuclear conflict. Should we allow such a situation to develop?

When the all party meeting was held in which all participants gave full freedom to do whatever the Modi government wants to avenge Pulwama, Congress and all other parties acted most irresponsibly. Can a saffron fascist Modi be allowed to stop the path of dialogues and go for retaliations which may even escalate to a nuclear war?

As far as Modi is concerned, he is trying to utilize Pulwama for his election gains to overcome his alienation from the masses. It is clear that it was his sabre rattling against the people of Kashmir and wanton militarization of the problem that has led to extreme alienation of the Kashmiri masses. Pakistan is utilizing this alienation of the Kashmiri people for launching terrorist attacks to keep the question alive.

In this situation we should ask Modi to stop issuing irresponsible statements, and start dialogue with all sections of Kashmiri people. The dialogue should be extended to bilateral discussions with Pakistan also. The opposition has acted irresponsibly by not doing so. In this situation it is the task of all genuine left and democratic forces to campaign among the people for opposing Modi’s militarist statements and ask for starting dialogue with the people of Kashmir and Pakistan

The great Naxalbari uprising, putting forward agrarian revolution with the slogan land to the tiller, and upholding national liberation and democratic revolution took place in 1967 in the course of fierce ideological struggle against the reformist and opportunist positions of CPI and later the CPI(M). It was followed by the formation of CPI(ML) in 1969. However, due to the left adventurist line it took due to wrong analysis of the Indian situation and fierce state repression, the movement had to face severe reverses in the beginning. It was through uncompromising struggle exposing the degeneration of CPI and CPI(M) to ruling class positions, and consistently taking positions against left adventurism that CPI(ML) Red Star could evolve as a struggling revolutionary organization over decades.

Meanwhile, Party’s efforts to apply Marxist-Leninist theory and practice according to concrete conditions have enabled it to have more clarity and understanding on the post-war neo-colonial international and Indian situation in the proper perspective. In continuation to numerous struggles and movements led by the Party in different parts of the country including great sacrifices inspiring the toiling and oppressed, the Bhangar people’s movement has become a breakthrough. It has opened immense possibilities for developing people’s movements at different levels according to the concrete situation.

CPI (ML) Red Star has been consistently fighting against neo-liberal policies since their very inception, even while the CPI (M) led Left Front has become adherents of neo-liberalism along with other ruling class parties. While resolutely fighting against the anti-people, pro-corporate, reactionary policies of successive Congress-led and BJP-led governments, the party took specific initiative for launching agrarian struggles with the land to the tiller slogan, while forming the Caste Annihilation Movement envisaging basic democratization of the Indian society. It has been in the forefront resisting Modi’s ultra-rightist economic polices like demonetization and GST. Together with all progressive-democratic forces and the oppressed, it is now campaigning against the Economic Reservation of Modi that has undermined the caste-based reservation in India.

The CPI (ML) is contesting the Lok Sabha elections fielding candidates in most of the states based on the Election Manifesto, which shall be published in the first week of March. It calls for building a People’s Alternative against all ruling class alternatives.

At a time when the corporate-saffron stranglehold in its diverse reactionary manifestations is intensifying day by day, building-up the people’s alternative based on this Manifesto uniting all genuine left, patriotic, democratic, secular, oppressed sections and forces assumes great significance. 

The CPI (ML) appeals to the working class, the landless-poor peasants and agricultural workers, to all other toiling masses and the patriotic democratic secular forces to rally for building this People’s Alternative.

Defeat Corporate Saffron Fascist Forces!

Build up People’ Alternative based on Independent Left Assertion!

Amidst allegations of tampering and budget leakage, the interim budget presented to Lok Sabha by Piyush Goyal, acting finance minister, who is BJP’s treasurer and hence more close to corporate businesses, has unfolded it as an election speech. For the first time in India’s budget history, the BJP has earned another notoriety of presenting a budget not preceded by the usual Economic Survey for fear of people’s wrath as report on India’s unemployment rate hitting a 45-year high has already come out. After drowning and hiding data from government’s own official statistical sources, Goyal was entrusted with the task of indulging in doctored data to draw out a rosy macro-economic picture based on which he went on a wanton announcement on a series of big-bang sops whose validity is only for a few months as the new govt that comes to power after the election is constitutionally bound to go through a full-fledged budget-making process.

Absence of an Economic Survey, that would have depicted the sorry state of the economy resulting from the biggest-ever scam called demonetization, super-imposition of anti-federal GST and so on, was used by Goyal to announce a number of populist schemes addressed to peasants, urban middle class taxpayers and unorganised sectors without any requisite financial backing, even as the outlay for defence is being crossed the Rs. 3 lakh crore for the first time. While the income tax exemptions granted to middle classes have been positively responded by market forces as is evidenced from the shooting up of the Sensex, vested interests are deliberately ignoring the decline in total direct collection as a proportion of total tax. This is shows that tax burden is increasingly borne by the vast majority of toiling people through GST and other neoliberal steps while wealth and income are concentrating with the super-rich.

Modi regime has effectively made use of the advantage of an interim budget by freely announcing several mega welfare schemes without resorting to making any new ultra-rightist policy initiatives. While the foundations of the economy are shaken due to the unhindered corporate plunder and concomitant corruption of the last five years, and workers and peasants are rising up and such program as “Make in India” are in shambles, and when the entire North-East and people of Kashmir are simmering with discontent, the interim budget has tried to camouflage all such grave issues with bogus claims and several big giveaways.

We appeal to the workers, peasants, youth, students and all oppressed including women, dalits, adivasis and minorities to rise up and expose this farce that is enacted on the backs of people in the guise of the interim budget and unite to defeat the corporate saffron forces in the forthcoming election. n

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The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.