A. B. Bardhan: Unforgettable Relevance

By Saswat Pattanayak

Comrade A B Bardhan (1924-2016) was not just the foremost communist mass leader of India who raised working class consciousness among millions through his oratory and organizational persistence, he was also the Marxist historian who accounted peoples’ struggles like no one else had quite done.

Well before publishing “People’s History” had become a worldwide trend, Comrade Bardhan had reflected upon the critical role of working class in India’s freedom struggle with these words –

“Official histories are apt to pass over in silence the role of the working class in India’s freedom struggle. They depict the freedom struggle as a series of events determined and influenced by individuals from the upper strata of society, who reacted against the humiliation and oppression of foreign rule, and moved the masses in their wake.

As to the workers and working people, they were considered either too weak or ignorant to play any role in this struggle, or concerned themselves with the more immediate problems of mitigating exploitation and improving their lot.

Nothing could be more one sided and false than this picture. In fact, with the growth of the working class in India and the rise of the labor movement commences the impact on India’s struggle against foreign domination.”

Well before social justice movements demanded reservations as part of parliamentary political norm, Comrade Bardhan had gone beyond the traditional proposals and recognizing the imminent pervasiveness of private capital, he had called for reservations in private sector as well –

“As Communists, we take note of the problems of the deprived communities in our society and pay special attention to them. These are for instance the dalits, the adivasis and the minorities, especially the Muslims. We shall actively support the demand that reservation should be extended to the private sector, especially when moves for privatization are afoot.”

Well before the caste discourse in public policies had gained momentum and denouncing Hindutva politics had become mainstream, and intolerance debate had gained a foothold in India to prompt celebrities in joining the chorus, Comrade Bardhan had urged the people to reject communal casteist elements from the political sphere, in these words –

“Neither Gandhi or Nehru nor the hundreds of martyrs who climbed the gallows for independence – none of them gave their lives for a Hindu nation.

Never forget that!

We who uphold the red flag – we respect all religions. For the identity and ego of one religion, you cannot attack and break the identity and faith of another religion.

Always remember this.

In Hinduism, there is both tolerance as well as intolerance. There is humanity, but there is also a caste system. That is why for years saints and enlightened ones have tried to bring in reforms. They raised their voices against casteism, but even today caste remains. Today a new effort is being made to share power with those who were always kept out of Government, those who were considered only fit to be servants. Today an effort is being made that they too get a chance to help run the country. But the very forces who wish to preserve Hindu fundamentalism and unfurl their flags over destroyed mosques, these very forces swear by the caste system.

Recognize them and understand their mentality.”

ABBardhan_Saswat Photo

Comrade Bardhan had confidence in fellow Indians that they shall reject communal, Hindutva politics and usher in a new age that will put the working class in charge of its own priorities. And armed with his inspiring words and following the exemplary life he led, his dreams shall certainly be realized.

Mandate 2014: One may pride in supporting the CPI

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Marx and his messageThe Election Commission of India has initiated a campaign urging people to vote for candidates who are pro-development. In showing the way for development, Karl Marx had emphasized on people’s control over capital. “Capital is reckless of the health and length of life of the laborer, unless under compulsion from society”, he had said. Development would truly come on removal of economic inequality, had said the father of Indian Republic, Dr. Ambedkar. In his reply to the final debate on the draft Constitution of India, he had admitted that allowing capital the scope to enjoy dominant freedom in free India, the Constituent Assembly, comprising rich and propertied members in majority, had to create a condition that makes the country a country of contradiction, which, unless removed, the Republic would eventually collapse. He had said, “On 26th January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradiction. In politics, we will have equality and in social and economic rights we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognizing the principle of one man one vote, one value. In our social and economic rights we shall by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny one man one value” And he had warned, “We must remove the contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which this Assembly has so laboriously built up” (CAD, Vol.XI,p.979).

India is now collapsing, as predicted by Dr. Ambedkar, because of the fellows elected to Parliament – in Government since independence – have blatantly and willfully failed to remove the contradiction Ambedkar had pointed out, and the situation has become such bleak that Government is waging wars against the people of India that are demanding development, working for protection of environment, asking for preservation of mineral wealths for future generations of Indians, raising voice against exploitation, and working for a better India through insistence on State’s control over the capital. When a rabid anti-people and pro-capital Manmohan Singh drafts more funds for development of areas under Naxal activism, how hundred percent true are the words of Marx become unambiguous.

Marxists are, therefore, required to fight on every point against politicians that stand for dominant freedom of capital. This election is helping this phenomenon evolve. It is a heartening reality now, that, the Communist Party of India, the party of matchless sacrifice for the country, has fielded its candidates without allying with any other party, specifically, agents of plutocracy.

I have shown earlier in my discussion on Baji Raut, how the CPI was a great factor of extinguishment of kingship in India that helped it having its present geographical shape. Had it not been banned by the post-independence caretaker government headed by Jawaharlal Nehru in order basically to keep its leadership away from making of the constitution, the country could never have been a country of contradiction.

In freedom struggle the militants that hastened our freedom were Marxists whom people knew as the communists. They are the patriots who have immensely enriched the martyrdom of India. They were personifications of romance of revolution. They were sent to and tortured at cellular jail in the Andamans and exterminated in gallows in the majority. When the said cellular jail was made a national monument in 1969, the ones of them who had survived the brutal tortures there and were still living in India, were invited and taken by the Government of India to witness the event and to receive the grateful nation’s felicitations. 102 of those heroes of our freedom struggle had gone there and graced the transformation of the cellular jail to national monument. Out of those 102, as many as 99 were the members of CPI. This reality is known to history.

History has known and recognized that the ramparts of capital – the private banks – were nationalized because of CPI’s strategic support to Mrs. Indira Gandhi in the phase of her fight against rabid agents of capital called the Congress Syndicate. Abolition of Zamidari (dominions of landlords) and land reforms were possible because of CPI’s role in that phase.

Yet when Indira was swayed away by power that corrupts, and a new syndicate of thugs, described by the press as her kitchen cabinet, controlled the country, anarchy sic passim administration, it is the CPI alone that had stood against the odds and had given the strongest opposition to that anarchy, even at the cost of the lives of its cadres. Had it not been so, the monstrosity of terrorism Bhindranwale had unleashed, could have completely destroyed the synthesis of Indian Union.

It is an imperishable admission of history that when all other political parties of India were not daring to protect the motherland from the reign of Bhundranwale’s Khalistani terror, it was only one party – the Communist Party of India – that was waking the people up against the huge horrifying danger. And in this mission, many members of CPI, even with their families, had succumbed to bullets of Bhindranwale and his gang.

IE EditorialIn an editorial, even the known right-wing paper – the Indian Express – had written, “the CPI has taken a commendable initiative in launching a mass contact programme in Punjab as a means of isolating the terrorists. It sent jathas through each of the State’s 12 districts for this purpose. In sharp contrast, the other parties which have often proclaimed the importance of such work among the people have done next to nothing to match their profession with practice”. In this editorial, the Indian Express had further notes, “this vital task has not so far been taken up by any party other than the CPI. X X X X The worst part of the situation is that the Congress (I) has remained supremely passive in this regard”.

In an editorial on April 10, 1984, the Tribune had written, “We have been repeatedly writing that the responsibility for not solving the Punjab tangle lies as squarely on the Akalis and Indira Government as on all the opposition parties, except that of the Communist Party of India”.

As all other political parties were mere passive onlookers of the dance of terror Kalistani bullets under Bhindranwale were perpetrating to the total debacle of India, the Communist Party of India was the only exception. Its cadres were sacrificing their lives to protect the structure of India. The Indian Express had noted on 26 July 1987, “The main factor for their becoming targets of terrorists is because the Communists have taken the major initiative to mobilise people against terrorism”.

A report in Times of India on 13 January 1987 has kept on records how the Punjab Police Chief Mr. J. F. Rebeiro had to recognize the unique contribution of CPI to the cause of the country in that phase of its life under the shrouds of terror. In describing the horrifying situation, Mr Rebeiro had said in a public function that the security forces in Punjab were fighting an “enemy” who is almost a lunatic and has subverted the entire judicial system “by creating terror in the mind of witnesses, judges, lawyers, prison staff and also to some extent the police force”. In such a severe situation, when all other political parties were too afraid of Bhindranwale to work for safety of India, it was only the CPI that was intensely trying to ignite the sense of responsibility of the people for the motherland. The said report carried a PTI input that said, The DGP had a word of praise for the Communist Party of India in Punjab whose workers and leaders were coming out openly against terrorists and even facing bullets. If this spirit was adopted by other political parties including the ruling Akali Dal, the task for the law enforcing agencies to put an end to terrorism would become much easier”.

This is the tradition of sacrifice and suffering for the country, only one political party – the Communist Party of India – is credited with by history.

Living history of India has marked, whatever be its strength in Parliament, the CPI has done its best to foil anti-people designs of plutocracy pursued menacingly by Prime Ministers like A. B. Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh by combining the apt combats of its stalwarts in Parliament with extra-parliamentary struggles of the working class led by its organizational wings.

As the shrewd method of handing over India to private sector through Public-Private partnership is “legalizing the private appropriation and institutionalize the losses, the CPI now seeks mandate to oppose this design.

It wants Mandate 2014 to give it necessary support to carry out such programs that would form the basis of alternative socio-economic policies for betterment of India.

While saying ‘no’ to FDI in retail trade, it insists upon “defence of public assets, strengthening of the Public Sector and reiteration of the State’s role that would stop privatization of profit making PSUs and handing over of natural resources like gas, petrol, coal and minerals etc, to private sector.

In its agenda, the State is to be the sole owner of all natural resources like minerals, oil and gas.

It wants housing, food security, education, employment and healthcare for all with special emphasis on ending malnutrition among women and children.

It wants to redefine the path of development in a way that leads to economic development with equitable distribution and social justice.

And, it wants in every sector the State to become the people’s than staying a stooge of anti-people economic players. Its election manifesto defines its determination to “reverse the neo liberal and anti-people economic policies, to bring down the present corrupt government, to prevent communal forces from capturing power and to pave way for a pro-people alternative”

The CPI with its proud record of combining the people’s struggle for a better life inside and outside Parliament appeals to the electorate to vote for its candidates in different part of the country.

One may pride in supporting the CPI.

PEOPLE ARE TO PAY FINE FOR BEING MISRULED IN ORISSA! WHAT NEXT!

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Several of the kings in pre-independence India specifically in Orissa were so tyrant that they had imposed on the people they were torturing a tax called PITUNI KARA which was a fine in cash for being beaten. The masses ultimately woke up against such tyranny and the kings were so thrashed that they had to abdicate their thrones and merge their States in independent India.

When Congress misrule surpassed the limits, in several States in India, people refused to grant a fresh mandate to this party of the factotums of Nehru family in 1967 and thus in Orissa, one of the former kings, R.N.Singhdeo managed to form a ministry in coalition with Jan Congress, comprising Congress members opposed to Nehru family hegemony. Corruption in the state acquired elite status and defamation of political opponents and victimization of bureaucrats who did not dance to the tune of the CM’s proteges became the norms of the day. Hypocrisy stood for administration. And, as people got disillusioned, protests galore, Singhdeo with many ex-kings in his segment of the coalition, wanted PITUNI TAX to be imposed on areas where organized resistance to what he called governance, was discernible. It was strongly resented to in Orissa. Fissure in the coalition grew and the Jan Congress withdrew from the coalition. Government collapsed. People refused to give mandate to Singhdeo. Like a house of cards, his party – the Swatantra Party – also collapsed and got obliterated from political sky of India.

Emboldened by repeated return to power, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, who by sheer misuse of power has reduced Orissa to a Bijudom by naming and renaming utmost majority of public institutes and welfare projects after his father Biju Patnaik with himself as its preening prince, has revived the PITUNI TAX of the kings’ concept, as informed, exploited and tortured people in rising numbers in every segment of society are demonstrating their protests against ongoing misrule.

This time, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation is being used as the medium of this punishment to still even the still small voices.

It would be wrong not to say that, in Orissa, the Governments in succession have gone against the people to please private industries and traders who prosper at the cost of the masses, as thereby, they, who run the Government, fetch fabulous financial gain.

In the process, people have been left at the mercy of exploiters and a climate of oppression and opportunism has engulfed administration pushing the entire working class – both in public and private sector – and self-employed ones – mostly in agriculture sector – into colonized condition. Naturally, people must protest.

One of the governments, run by J.B.Patnaik, sensing that protests in front of the citadel of power would obviously be by the well-informed ones and hence of immense impact, had contrived a method of obstructing all such protests against misrule and all possible campaigns for any alternative, by converting the vast open space kept by the original planners in front of the State Secretariat for such democratic activities, to a park named after Indira Gandhi after her demise. People of Orissa, after that, like they had thrown down Singhdeo to dustbin of time, thrashed the Congress out of office.

But, since the conversion of the democracy point to Indira Gandhi Park, despite the Governments’ insistence that people should express their concerns and/or protests in the Janata Maidan, away from the Secretariat, victims of government apathy and injustice were using the boulevards adjacent to the said park, spanning in front of the Sate Assembly up to the Master canteen square, to demonstrate their protests. Rallies and Dharana demonstrations were also being staged by the general public in expression of solidarity with the victims such as the ones conducted when the Naveen Patnaik Government became a butcher in Kalinga Nagar or its police became protector of the rapists in Pipili.

Naveen has now enhanced JB’s restrictive tactics against voices of mass conscience by imposing a PITUNI TAX in a different form.

Be it noted that the Government of Orissa rules from the City of Bhubaneswar. And, the City is run by Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation that lives under the pleasure of the Urban Development Department of the Government. Though managed on records by an elected body of ward representatives headed by a Mayor, the BMC is controlled by the Government through Laws enacted and enforced by it, through Government instructions and notifications leashing or unleashing its activities and through Government officers that administer it.

Now, this BMC has been used to tax the demonstrators to the tune of Rs.1000/- for staging their demonstration with the rider that the amount shall be recovered with penalty from leader(s)/organizer(s) of demonstration(s) if the tax amount is not paid in advance.

We mark that the Communist Party of India has staged a protest demonstration in front of the BMC office while demanding instant withdrawal of the new version of PITUNI TAX.

We deem it proper to warn the Government that if ventilation of people’s resentment against misrule is thus obstructed, the inevitable outburst of the tortured people’s wrath would be too sharp for the administration to overcome. From the former kings of Orissa who had imposed PITUNI KARA on their subjects to the former ruler of Balangir who in the attire of Orissa’s Chief Minister had taken steps to enforce PITUNI TAX, to a former journalist who had become the first CM to rule the State for a decade – all were thrashed to the dustbin by people of Orissa for having used devices to obstruct their voice against misrule. If Naveen fails to learn, it would be his mistake. This tax cannot be but anything other than a fine for being misruled in Orissa! It is better for Naveen to take note of it.

PIPILI CRIME HAS MADE ONE THING CLEAR: BJD IN INTERNECINE WAR FOR CHANGE IN POWER

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

Internecine war for change in power in the ruling BJD is slowly but steadily taking a bizarre turn, with a party functionary razing down a cover that the Chief Minister was to use to escape the Pipili gang rape repercussions.

In a Kamyab TV panel discussion on Saturday, ruling party mouthpiece Narendra Swain stoutly rejected the report of the Chairperson of Orissa State Commission for Women (OSCW) that the victim of Pipili gang rape was not at all raped.

“I reject this report as sheets of rubbish”, Swain said.

Swain is a former district secretary of the Communist Party of India who has joined BJD at the instance of its de facto leader Pyari Mohan Mohapatra, a man, who, despite being an IAS officer from recruitment to retirement, is known to have never snapped off his link with the CPI ever since it was generated in his student days.

Therefore, Swain’s total rejection of the OSCW chairperson’s report has its own significance.

But before looking at that, let us first take a cursory view of why the OSCW chief must have coined this report, though any idiot should have the intelligence to understand that such a report could be nothing but an affront to reality and hence unacceptable.

Ms. Jyoti Panigrahi, authoress of this report, heads the OSCW, despite having no legitimate qualification for the post. She is there, because Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik wanted her there. Therefore, she had to oblige him by producing this report, designed to provide him with a cover to escape the Pipili gang rape repercussions. .

Jyoti doesn’t legitimately fit into OSCW

The Orissa State Commission for Women Act, 1993 provides for nomination of its chairperson under Section 3 (2)(a) that stipulates that the person to head the OSCW must be “an eminent social worker or a professional committed to the cause of women”. Jyoti was neither an “eminent social worker” nor “a professional committed to the cause of women” before her nomination to hold the office. She was one of the followers whom the autocrat of BJD, Naveen Paatnaik, had favored with a party post like many other sycophants he has appended to the party’s long list of office bearers. So, she had no legitimate qualification that justified her appointment as chairperson of OSCW. Naveen is in the habit of appointing his followers to different important offices either to derive sadistic pleasure out of the debacle caused thereby to that office or to satisfy his personal ego that notwithstanding how the Rules require, he rules over the State according to his whims and caprices.

Report created to give Naveen a cover

The Pipili gang rape has fidgeted Naveen into a state of total demoralization. Though yet he appears as the preening prince of Bijudom, he now desperately needs a cover.

Personally involved with Panchayat electioneering, he, therefore, is in dire necessity of such a report that can cover his skin from the Pipili gang rape wrath that has already taken the toll of ministership of Pradip Maharathi representing Pipili in Orissa Assembly and the employment of Amulya Champatiray, the then Inspector of Police in that Police Station.

To the CM’s chagrin, the Pipili gang rape has shake-woken the conscience of the entire State, as reflected in all of the non-BJD political parties getting united in a flag-less platform to demand exemplary action against the culprits and their accomplices in the government, despite a Judicial Commission of Inquiry appointed to probe into the felony. To save Naveen from this despair, Jyoti has tried to create a counter shock wave by her uncalled for report dated February 1 that, “to her personal information”, the gang rape had never occurred, as alleged, in Pipili.

But, she has not succeeded in this adventure. Even she is not being relied upon by BJD workers that are eager to protect Naveen from Opposition attack. On the other hand, party mouthpiece Narendra Swain has openly rejected her report as sheets of rubbish.

The significance

It is increasingly being clear to whoever amongst the members of BJD are, more than being mere sycophants, a bit politically alert with sense of self-respect, that, if they continue to exhibit blind faith in Naveen, their own credibility as persons in politics will be completely wiped out.

Therefore, in BJD, howsoever nascent, resentment against Naveen has started taking a definite shape and the party of Biju’s blind followers has become a two-polar party with Pyari Mohan Mohapatra reigning over the mightier side. In fact, he has been enthroned in the minds of BJD rank and file as the only alternative that can save their politics if helped to replace Naveen.

Naveen also knows this.

And, hence, he has no qualms in contravening election codes in the Panchayat polls in order to keep the rank and file under his grip for howsoever long a period possible.

After the Panchayat polls, the nascent squabbles would be more specific.

But Narendra Swain’s conniption before the Kamyab TV camera branding Jyoti Panigrahi’s Pipili gang rape report as blatant rubbish can be viewed as a preview of what is coming to happen.

The Kauravas

It is curious to note that, despite having rejected the Panigrahi report as rubbish, Swain was adamant in rejecting the demand for an inquiry into Pipili felony by the CBI. He went on boasting of the BJD strength in the Assembly to shout down rising voices for investigation by the central agency.

Kauravas had the majority; but they perished when the victims of their treachery raised their weapons, said eminent journalist Prasanta Patnaik, participating in the same panel discussion. He is one of the two conveners of Orissa Gana Samaj that is spearheading mass solidarity with the victim.

But it had no effect on Swain. He went on boasting of his party majority though the occasion and the issue had nothing to do with his party majority.

Then, why, he, a seasoned political person with many years experience in the Communist Party of India, preferred such braggadocio in such a platform?

Does he suffers from lack of sense of proportion?

No.

Intently read, his uncalled for braggadocio was meant for reminding Naveen of his limitations vis-a-vis the massive majority the party commands in the Assembly and significance thereof in a bipolar condition that BJD has entered into with Pyari’s powerful emergence as the ultimate alternative.

So, Pipili felony is precipitating a political situation that may bring in a change in chief-ministership.

BJD members will never like to be finished like the Kauravas. But as portended by Prasanta, they will be, if the present pattern of nonchalant autocracy continues under the guise of democracy.

Therefore, significant is Swain’s rejection, on the one hand, of the Panigrahi report contrived to help Naveen with a cover, and, on the other hand, his conscious effort to make BJD MLAs conscious of their strength in the Assembly, so that, if need be, they may change the chief minister to continue in power.

Pipili crime has made one thing clear. The ruling BJD will not be the same as heretofore. Internecine quarrels will rise to its brim and in order not to end like the Kauravas, it will hereafter try to test if change in chief-ministership changes the scenario of demoralization it has been pushed into. Let us wait and watch.