Thursday, May 27, 2010


THE unprecedented response that the April 20 dharna received gives an inkling of the shape that the movement of disabled persons for justice and right to a dignified life is going to take in the near future. The turnout in the national capital’s Parliament Street in response to the call given by the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled, was massive. Proving all projected estimates wrong over 4000 disabled persons turned up for the dharna. They were undaunted by Delhi’s scorching heat and the multitude of obstacles that they had to encounter and cross to make it to Delhi. Surged by enthusiasm the hundreds that had gathered at Atul Grove Road marched to Parliament street raising slogans and giving vent to their anger against an insensitive and callous administration that refuses to recognise their problems let alone addressing them.
Earlier, a nine-member delegation led by Brinda Karat, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and Rajya Sabha MP, met the prime minister and submitted a memorandum enlisting the demands. It was for the first time that the prime minister was meeting a delegation of disabled persons at Parliament House. It is pertinent here to note that only one gate of the Parliament House complex, Gate No 9, is disabled friendly. A disabled person can access parliament only through this gate. Later, in the evening a delegation also met the minister for social justice and empowerment, Mukul Wasnik. Both of them said the government is sympathetic towards the issues raised in the Memorandum and was also considering change in laws and also bringing in a new law to replace the outdated Persons With Disabilities Act, 1995. The issue was also raised in parliament by CPI (M) MPs.
There were people on wheel chairs, there were persons who crawled on their four limbs, there were others who walked the distance with the aid of their crutches, there were persons who needed assistance and had to be guided all along and there were a few who had to be transported in a vehicle. Persons with hearing and speech disabilities, persons with visual disabilities, persons with motion related disabilities, people with stunted physical growth, representatives of persons with intellectual disabilities and their caregivers, all were there determined and unflinching in their resolve. They were agitating on the demands for a universal identity card, employment opportunities, amendment to the RTE Act to include the disabled, replacement of the PWD Act of 1995 with a new law and harmonising all other laws in tune with the United Nations Convention on Persons with Disabilities, 2008.

Leading the march were Brinda Karat and leading members of the National Platform Kanti Ganguly, Sailen Chaudhury, P Mohanan and O Vijayan, Namburajan, G Ramulu, and Subash Gupta. Participating organisations included the Paschim Banga Pratibandhi Sammelini, the Differently Abled Welfare Federation, the Karnataka Rajya Angavikalara Mattu Palakara Okkota, Tamilnadu Association for the Rights of all Types of Disabled and Caregivers, Jharkhand Viklang Manch, and the Vibhinna Prathiba Vanthula Hakkula Vedika, Andhra Pradesh. There were contingents also from Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan etc. Then there were participants from organisations which were not associated with the platform like the Human Rights Law Network, the Aarth-Aasta, the National Association of the Deaf, the Deafway Foundation etc.

What was most shocking was the insensitivity of the railways. This is amply reflected in various obstacles put before the West Bengal contingent before they could finally make it to Delhi. Initially, the railways refused to give a special train at concessional rates, despite the disabled being entitled to concessions. Later on after the matter was pursued vigorously, the railways decided to run a special train between Howrah and Delhi. The train which was scheduled to reach Delhi at around 1.30 am on April 20 finally reached at around 10.30 am. This was not all. The railways left no stone unturned to ensure that the disabled passengers faced a very difficult time. Despite the train making long unscheduled stops all along the route, water in the washrooms were not replenished, putting the passengers to discomfort. It is only after reaching Lucknow that too after being forced by the passengers that the railway authorities filled water. On their return journey too, even though the train was parked at Anand Vihar station for more than eight hours water was not filled. After the agitated disabled passengers raised a hue and cry, the authorities promised to fill water at Ghaziabad. But it was done only a few stations later long after Ghaziabad had passed. When the matter was raised in the Rajya Sabha by Brinda Karat an infuriated minister for railways, Mamata Banerjee instead of assuaging the feelings of the disabled passengers turned intemperate and accused them of misutilising the water provided in the washrooms.

Kanti Ganguly, leader of the Sammelini and minister in the West Bengal government, addressing the dharna accused the union railway minister for attempting to settle political scores. He detailed the hurdles and troubles that the disabled persons encountered even while traveling by a so-called special train. The “special” treatment meted out to these passengers by the railways came in for universal condemnation by the participants. He vowed alongwith the participants from the Paschim Banga Rajya Prathibandi Sammelni to not take it lying down and fight back.

Speaking at the dharna, Brinda Karat drew attention to the lack of sensitivity to the issues concerning the disabled. She cautioned that no society can consider itself democratic unless it is able to provide equal opportunities to all its citizens, including persons with disabilities. Congratulating the participants she maintained that it is only because the disabled have organised and have started asserting themselves that the movement for their rights has gained momentum. She called upon the democratic forces to include disability issues as part of their agenda.

Others who spoke were P Mohanan from Kerala, Pankaj Das from West Bengal, Sumati from Andhra Pradesh, Aparna from Tamilnadu, Menna Kumari from Jharkhand and Rajiv Raturi from the Human Resources Law Network. Sign language interpreter from the Deafway Foundation, Gaganpreet Kaur translated the proceedings into sign language for the benefit of those with hearing disability.
Source: People’s Democracy dated 23-05-2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010


ONE of the crucial decisions of the 13th CITU conference held at Chandigarh was about organising a one week solidarity campaign all over India from April 18 to 24. During the week, all unions affiliated to the CITU will organise various forms of actions, culminating in rallies all over India on April 24 to condemn the Trinamul-Maoist combine’s heinous attacks on the cadres of the Left and democratic movement in West Bengal.

Speaking fervently at the conference, delegates from West Bengal vividly described the murderous attacks on innocent activists of the Left parties and mass organisations in the state. Delegates from all over the country applauded when West Bengal delegates pointed out how heroically the working class and the people there are resisting the offensive.

Most of those brutally murdered came from the downtrodden sections of society, and were involved in struggles to protect the common people’s interests from the UPA government’s anti-people policies. Assassinating the cadre fighting for the toiling people’s legitimate rights has only emboldened the capitalist sharks in the country to intensify their wicked attacks on the masses. Though the Trinamul and so-called Maoists talk in the name of the people, in practice they have been hitting the basic interests of the people. People in West Bengal are realising the game behind these atrocities but the people of other states must know about the true character of the game Ms Mamata Banerjee and these pseudo-revolutionaries playing. The purpose of the CITU’s campaign is to make the working class and other people of India understand the nature of the cruel alliance built against the Left Front in West Bengal. Its sole purpose is to overthrow the Left Front government and establish an anarchic rule on behalf of the ruling classes.


West Bengal is the frontline outpost of democratic movement in India. Here the Left Front is running the administration for 33 years, which has become eyesore to our capitalists. Foreign powers too are keen about destabilising the Left Front government since it is implementing alternative policies not suitable to their depredations in India. Imperialist agencies in India are clandestinely helping the anti-Left forces to strengthen their machinations against the Left Front government. Moral and material help from imperialist agencies to our electronic and print media as well as the anti-Left political forces has been a big factor in their campaign against the Left Front government in West Bengal.

If the attacks on the Left Front government here by the reactionary forces inside and outside succeed, it will only embolden them to engineer an all round attack against the Left and democratic movement all over India. Thus the proposed solidarity campaign is a campaign to protect the future of our movement not only in West Bengal but in the whole country. The working people need to continually keep in mind this important aspect of the struggle.

In its last general council meeting, the CITU had decided to observe a day in October 2009 to express solidarity with the toiling millions of West Bengal and expose before the people of India the vile nature of their war on the Left Front government. CITU state committees successfully carried out the action, with the workers and other people responding well to it.

The CITU conference urgently felt the need to continue the campaign because the conspiracy against the Left Front government has intensified and murderous attacks against the Left cadre increased as Ms Banerjee has become desperate to occupy the CM’s chair in Writers Building. With her one point programme against the Left Front, she is making all out attempts to align with any one who is prepared to support her unprincipled design and personal ambition. Her concept of mahajot is nothing but an opportunist alliance for her aggrandisement.

The CITU conference clearly noted that the Trinamul supremo had no coherent policy or principle, and has aligned with all types of parties. She had no compunction to allow BJP to grow in West Bengal and carry forward its communal agenda. She was/is happy as a minister in the NDA as well as UPA government. She once characterised the Congress as the CPI(M)’s B Team but subsequently forged an alliance with the same party. In Nandigram agitation she joined hands with all forces opposing the Left. She continued her agitation even after the Left Front government announced that the Nandigram chemical hub would not be developed if the people did not want it.

Her alliance with the so called Maoists is another example of her opportunist politics. She kept mum as the railway minister when they blew up rail tracks. She took no time to condemn the CPI(M) for the sabotage though it later transpired that it was the handiwork of her Maoist cohorts. She prefers to keep mum when arrested Maoist leaders admit that Trinamul supplied them arms and logistic support. From extreme left to extreme right, Trinamul supremo can make any force her ally provided it opposes the Left Front government. She shamelessly supported the divisive Darjeeling agitation for a separate Gorkhaland and had no qualm to encourage Kamatapuri agitation simply because it was against the Left Front government. She had never condemned the killing of the Left cadre whose number is swelling everyday. She, however, demanded withdrawal of the central security forces sent to West Bengal to deal with the Maoist depredations in parts of the state.

People saw her quixotic style of functioning when she expressed her desire to remove red colour from the Indian Railways network. Even her supporters ridiculed the idea.

As railway minister, Ms Banerjee’s performance is much below the mark. The largest number of rail accidents has occurred since she took charge of the ministry. Her attendance in the ministry is minimal; most of the time she is found in West Bengal, leading agitations against the Left Front government.

While Ms Banerjee approved the women’s reservation bill in the cabinet meeting, she opposed it in parliament, which has exposed her duplicity in the country. As a cabinet minister, she should have honoured the government’s decision to oppose the murderous Maoist politics, but she is openly supporting their depredations. That the UPA government tolerates her utter duplicity in policy matters, exposes its hollowness. Several railway officials privately talk against her handling of the ministry, but the Manmohan Singh government is allowing her maverick behaviour due to its own opportunism.


The CITU’s solidarity campaign will explain to the people the dangerous game the Congress-Trinamul-SUCI-Maoist gang-up is playing against the Left Front government. The killing of the Left cadre only exposes their desperation to somehow or other topple the state government.

The Left Front campaign is continuing cautiously but effectively. With the alternative policy framework of the Left, it is in effect a struggle against an unprincipled opportunist alliance, the policies of globalisation and the imperialist penetration in India.

With the solidarity actions by the toiling masses all over India, the Left Front and all those supporting it will successfully foil the reactionary attempts to unseat the Left Front from the Writers Building at Kolkata. The CITU’s April 18-24 campaign will be a humble contribution to the heroic struggle of the West Bengal people to defend the glorious traditions of their state. The West Bengal state committee of the CITU is to publish a documented booklet to help all CITU unions in this nationwide campaign.

With no concrete policy to serve the people of West Bengal, the Trinamul and its allies cannot have a grip on the people’s psyche. Dissention within the party has cropped up due to Ms Banerjee’s authoritarian style of running the party apparatus. Many sections who supported Trinamul have now started speaking against her reckless moves. Despite the offer of two cabinet posts, she chose to take only one as no partyman can be equal to her. Demagogic speeches cannot heal the wounds this has created in the minds of the affected persons.

Several Congressmen have in private expressed opposition to the alliance with Trinamul due to the humiliation the Trinamul supremo imposed on the Congress. Many of them have not taken the murder of a Congress leader by Trinamul goons kindly. Nor are they appreciative of the Trinamul’s opposition to every development project in West Bengal. The opportunist alliance is on a shaky ground and the Left would expose its real character.

The Maoist collaborators of Trinamul Congress are misusing the name of great Mao Ze Dong who led the historic Chinese revolution. Mao never advocated individual killing of poor and innocent persons. He led millions of peasants in a revolutionary struggle against the domination of imperialists and their Chinese collaborators. He never asked his cadre to extort money from the people. But the forces working here in Mao’s sacred name are resorting to extortion and individual annihilation, helping the ruling classes against the Left forces in India who are fighting the UPA government’s anti-people, pro-US policies. The Maoists’ opportunist support to Trinamul Congress against the Left in West Bengal proves their ideological bankruptcy; it was also seen in their open support to Shibu Soren in the last elections. This “infantile disorder” only helps the ruling classes and hits at Lhe left and democratic movement which is fighting for the establishment of a socialist society in India.


The CITU has decided to explain in its campaign the ideological bankruptcy of the Maoists and their unprincipled alliance with Trinamul Congress, thus helping the Indian and foreign reactionaries’ attacks on the Left and democratic movement here. It is necessary to expose how right reactionaries and left extremists are making a common cause against the genuine Left in the country.

One must note that some left extremists have already expressed their opposition to the policy of individual annihilation and the killing of persons from the poorest strata of society. One has to grasp the importance of a struggle against the erroneous and infantile ideology of the so called Maoists who are helping the Trinamul, though in the long run they are bound to fail.

The Maoist attacks on CITU activists are not confined to West Bengal. In the Kalta iron ore mine in Orissa, they kidnapped a CITU leader, Thomas Munda, on January 25, brutally murdered him, and threw his body five km away. To the contractors’ glee, Maoists are threatening the CITU members to leave the union in the Orissa iron ore mining belt.

In Chhattisgarh too, the Maoists murdered Shakti Dey in Bastar area on October 9, 2009. He was mercilessly killed in presence of his family members.

Killing of persons having no arms to defend themselves is a sign of cowardice. The self-proclaimed human rights activists do not say a word about the human rights of such unarmed persons who these armed thugs are brutally murdering!

The Left Front and its supporters in West Bengal are fighting a grim battle against heavy odds. The task of winning over the people who did not vote the Left Front in the last parliamentary polls, is no doubt a difficult task. But the cadre are determined to launch a powerful campaign to explain the pro-people policies of the Left Front and convince the people about their crucial role in keeping the Left Front government in saddle in West Bengal.

The CPI (M) has heroically faced semi-fascist terror in West Bengal during 1972-77 and lost over a thousand of its activists; several thousands of its cadre were evicted from their places of residence. But the people of West Bengal rallied behind the Left Front, brought it to the government and maintained that government for about 33 years. Since independence, no other party or combination has run a state’s administration for so long a time.

The CPI (M) has self-critically examined the reasons for the setback in the last parliamentary polls and decided to take corrective measures to improve the administrative apparatus to serve the people more effectively despite the limitations imposed by the present bourgeois system.

Undaunted by the heinous attacks by the Trinamul-Maoist combine, the West Bengal Left Front has carried out a powerful campaign to explain its pro-people policies and expose the nefarious reactionary machinations backed by imperialism. To these forces, the Left Front governments in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura are an impediment to the policies of globalisation dictated by the World Bank and IMF.

During the CITU conference, delegates wholeheartedly cheered when they heard about the SFI’s successes in Jadavpur University (West Bengal) and the CITU’s success in Farrakka NTPC elections. The Left Front is rightly confident that it would win over the people who went away from it during the last parliamentary elections and nip in the bud the Trinamul’s fond hopes of entering the Writers Building by hook or by crook. The glorious historical traditions of West Bengal are bound to inspire the people to rise to the occasion and defeat the conspiracies to unseat the Left Front in the coming period.

Source: People’s Democracy dated 11-04-2010