Letter from Kerala:
Fighting Left Forces Regroup and Realign
nchiyam is a historic village in Kozhikode district in north Kerala. Way back in 1948, when the Communist Party had been banned by the post-colonial Indian state, this village, a communist stronghold, had become well known as a site of police repression and people’s resistance. On 30 April, 1948, a police party had come to raid the village to arrest some leading communist activists. The people protested, and the police opened fire on the unarmed protesters, killing eight persons on the spot. Fierce repression followed and two more villagers succumbed to the injuries they had received in the course of police torture.
Ever since then April 30 is observed by communists in Kerala as the Onchiyam martyrs day to pay tribute to the ten martyrs (Comrades Menon Kanaran, Alavakkal Krishnan, Purayil Kanaran, Parollathil Kanaran, V.K. Chathu, K.P. Ravutti, K.M. Sankaran, and V.P. Gopalan all of whom died on the spot and Comrades Mantoti Kannan and Kollanicheri Kumaran who died later in the hospital) who had laid down their lives, standing up for the communist party and challenging the repressive might of the police.
Two years ago, Onchiyam was back in the news when on the 60th anniversary of the Onchiyam martyrs day large number of local CPI(M) cadres and members rebelled against the party and formed a new organization called Revolutionary Marxist Party. Four months later on August 24, 2008 DYFI rebels too formed a parallel organization called DYFI (Revolutionary). Defying physical attacks by the local CPI(M) organization, the rebels have since spread their network and developed their organization, especially in the districts of north Kerala.
Today, this statewide network operates in the name of Left Coordination Committee. In the last Lok Sabha election, the LCC put up half a dozen candidates and in Vadakara (the LS constituency containing Onchiyam) and Palakkad, their nominees polled more than 20,000 votes. This year’s Onchiyam Day witnessed heightened contention between the LCC and the CPI(M). While the CPI(M) and CPI jointly observed Onchiyam Day, the LCC organized weeklong programmes in and around Onchiyam culminating in an impressive mass meeting at Onchiyam village on May 2. Incidentally, Comrade Dipankar was also present at Kozhikode on May 2 as part of his three-day Kerala tour and the LCC invited him as a special guest to the Onchiyam programme.
Comrade Dipankar paid rich tributes to the Onchiyam martyrs and congratulated the LCC and especially Onchiyam comrades for keeping alive the glorious legacy of the martyrs. He expressed the hope that the LCC would learn from the negative examples of erstwhile CPI(M) leaders like Raghavan and Gauri Amma, who ended up joining the UDF in the name of fighting against the CPI(M). He said that since the LCC had its origin in ideological struggle inside the CPI(M) – fighting against the ‘updated’ programme adopted at the 2000 Thiruvananthapuram plenum and the growing corruption and bureaucratic and pro-corporate degeneration of the CPI(M) establishment in Kerala, the CPI(ML) expects the LCC to uphold the banner of independent Left assertion in Kerala. Comrade Dipankar wished them every success in this direction and assured them of every cooperation on behalf of the CPI(ML) towards a countrywide realignment of genuine Left forces and rejuvenation of the Left movement.
On behalf of LCC, Comrade KS Hariharan, editor of Janshakthi weekly, and Comrade Chandrashekhar addressed the memorial meeting and vowed to intensify the battle against the CPI(M)’s opportunism and link it with genuine Left forces in different parts of the country. It should be mentioned that the Janshakthi weekly published an article by Comrade Dipankar in two parts beginning with the Bishu (Malayalam new year) special number. Comarde Hariharan also attended the IIMS discussion meetings addressed by Comrade Dipankar in Kozhikode (2 May evening) and Thiruvananthapuram (4 May evening).
On May 14 the LCC organized a national seminar on “The Crisis of the Left and Prospects of Future” in Kozhikode. Com. Muralidharan, State Secretary of LCC, chaired the inaugural session and Com. Mangatram Pasla, General Secretary of CPM (Punjab), inaugurated the seminar. Com. Chandrashekar, State President of LCC, welcomed the gathering and Advocate Kumaran Kutty introduced the topic. Among the guest speakers was Com. V. Shankar, CCM of CPI(ML), who mooted the formation of an alternative Left forum to bring together forces fighting against the CPI(M)’s opportunism. The seminar was also addressed by comrades MM. Somasekharan, one of the prominent and former leaders of the erstwhile CPI(ML) (Red Flag), Dr. KN. Ajay Kumar, former leader of CPI(ML) (Red Star) led by KN Ramachandran, KC Umesh Babu and KS Hariharan, Editor of Janashakthi. The determination to hold on to the Left ground in Kerala reverberated through the entire programme.
Autonomous State Demand Day in Karbi Anglong
he 24th Anniversary of Autonomous State Demand Day was observed in Karbi Anglong on 17 May – as it has been since the beginning of the Autonomous State movement in hill districts of Assam. This time, CPI(ML) and ASDC(P) jointly observed Autonomous State Day with a colourful procession in Diphu town, starting from the ASDC(P) office premises and marching to the DC office. There a memorandum addressed to the Union Home Minister, P. Chidambaram was submitted to the DC, demanding immediate implementation of Art. 244(A) of the Indian Constitution. After marching through the main roads of the town, the procession culminated in a mass meeting at the ASDC(P) office ground.
This meeting was conducted by the secretary of the Diphu district committee of CPI(ML) Comrade Daniel Teron and was addressed by KSA President Comrade Laisen
Inghi, KNCA General Secretary Comrade Pratima Inghipi, CPI(ML) State Secretary and PB member Comrade Rubul Sarma, and ASDC(P) President Comrade Chandrakanta Terang. Nearly 1000 people participated in the procession and the meeting.
Speakers at the meeting reiterated their resolve never to compromise on this constitutional right of the hill peoples of Assam and warned the Government of intensified struggle if the demand was not met.
Addressing the meeting Com. Rubul Sarma said that it was only the CPI(ML) and ASDC(P) combine that was carrying forward the true spirit of “No Autonomous State No Rest.” In this long journey of two and a half decades many of the leaders neither rested nor compromised with the Government. During this period some armed outfits were formed demanding self-rule, implementation of Article 3 of the Constitution and even an independent Karbi Anglong. These forces have also come to the ceasefire agreement with the government. On the other hand some breakaway leaders of the Autonomous State Movement, including former RS MP Prakanta Warisa joined the ruling Congress.
The Congress stands exposed as a force fundamentally opposed to Autonomous Statehood. In spite of leading governments both at the centre and the state as well as in the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council and having enough scope and power to grant Autonomous Statehood, is indifferent to the issue of implementation of 244(A), even after announcing a new Telengana state. On the other hand rampant corruption in the Congress-led Autonomous Council has rocked the whole of Assam. The CPI(ML) is also fighting against this corruption and against the soaring prices – another gift of the Congress to the people.
Contrary to the consistent and principled movement of the CPI(ML), the renegade ASDC always displays political opportunism and joins forces sometimes with BJP and other times with Congress. Even in the last Rajya Sabha election on 26 March 2010, the lone ASDC MLA Jagat Singh Engti voted for Congress candidate. Thus the ASDC is suffering from an identity crisis.
The militant group UPDS, which is under a cease-fire agreement with the Government, has formed a mass platform, PAPA (Peoples Alliance for Peace Agreement) comprising of ASDC, BJP, NCP etc.
In the wake of the announcement of a new separate Telangana state, the demand for implementation of constitutional rights in the form of Autonomous Statehood has gained a new impetus. The enthusiastic participation of people in the Autonomous State Day programme this year reflects their aspirations and their determination.
Kidnapped CPI(ML) Youth Leader Released after Powerful Mass Protests
omrade Rupesh Kumar Singh, CPI(ML)’s Bhagalpur District Committee member and Revolutionary Youth Association’s (RYA) District Secretary was kidnapped at noon from Naugachhia Bus Stand on 18 May 2010. Soon 200 Party and RYA members reached the Naugachhia Police Station and gheraoed it. The gherao continued throughout the night and next day Naugachhia observed a daylong bandh. The Party also organised a protest march in Bhagalpur town while the RYA organised statewide protests. Thanks to prompt protests and concerted efforts of comrades in Bhagalpur, Katihar and Purnea districts, Comrade Rupesh was eventually recovered near Purnea railway station on the night of 19 May. The Party has filed an FIR and attempts are on to get the administration to act on it.
Child Dies for Lack of NREGA Creche Facilities – Prompt Intervention by AIALA and AIPWA
n Mirzapur, Mansa Devi’s 3-year old son Rohan died due to drowning when she was working at the site digging pond as part of Mahatma Gandhi NREGA work. Had the rules been followed for arrangement of creche/balwadi for workers’ children at the worksite, Rohan would have been alive. Demanding action against those responsible for violating the rules and compensation for Mansa Devi, CPI(ML), All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) and other mass organisations organised an indefinite dharna at Jamalpur block since 27 March 2010. Initially, the Administration tried its best to shrug off its accountability by ignoring the dharna. But it had to relent in the face of continued dharna and compensation was finally awarded and announcement was made for removal of Panchayat Secretary and BDO was publicly reprimanded.