Unite against state terrorism and the anti-worker and anti-people program of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation!
Statement of the Central Committee of Communist Ghadar Party of India, 22nd November, 2014
The 2014 Assembly Elections in Jharkhand will be held in five phases between 25th November and 20th December; and the votes will be counted on 23rd December. Out of 81 elected members of the state assembly, 18 each currently belong to the BJP and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, 14 to Congress Party, 11 to Jharkhand Vikas Morcha, 2 belong to communist parties and 18 to other parties and organisations.
Jharkhand is home to some of the largest deposits of iron ore, coal, copper, uranium and other mineral deposits of our country. It is home to mega steel plants, large mechanized mines and power stations, and to several industrial cities such as Jamshedpur, Bokaro and Dhanbad. It is home to a growing working class, drawn from various parts of the country. The Employees State Insurance (ESI) organisation reports a coverage of 2,20,000 workers in Jharkhand. An even larger number work in small-scale, unregistered or illegal units that are not covered by ESI.
Forests and trees cover over 33% of territory, much higher than the all-India average of 23%. Several ancient communities of people have traditionally maintained and benefited from these forests including the Santhals, Mundas, Oraons, Hos, Paharias, Cheros, Birjeas and Asuras.
Although Jharkhand is extremely rich in natural resources, the toiling majority of people live in extreme poverty and want. Workers, peasants, tribal and forest communities live in abysmal conditions. According to the Planning Commission, half of all households live below the poverty line.
Since the days of British colonial rule, more has been taken out of the toiling people and natural resources of this region than has been put back to improve the living conditions of the people.
The tribal peoples of Jharkhand have a long and proud history of mass resistance to the plunder of forest wealth by merchant companies and capitalist profiteers. They fought with great valour against the East India Company starting in the 18th century. They fought in defence of their right to benefit from the natural wealth of the territory that they have lived on and looked after for centuries.
What is now Jharkhand emerged as an important centre of organised working class resistance in the early 20th century. Mining and industrial workers in this region were part of the most advanced section of the Indian working class, which established the All-India Trade Union Centre in 1920. Since then, communists have led many heroic struggles of mining, steel and railway workers, and of peasants and tribal peoples in this region.
This territory was part of Bihar until November 2000, when the central Parliament approved statehood status for Jharkhand within the Republic of India. However, statehood within the existing Indian Union has not ended or even reduced the loot of the natural wealth and super-exploitation of workers, nor the extreme poverty of the vast majority of peasants and forest communities. Their conditions of life have grown from bad to worse.
Liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation
The period since 1991 has witnessed an escalated offensive by the capitalist class, headed by the big monopoly houses, under the banner of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation.
Hiring of regular workers has completely stopped in the mining and steel industries, both in private and central government-owned companies. It has been replaced with casual and contract workers, for wages as low as 10% of the regular pay scale. Steps are being taken for the privatisation of Coal India Limited, further threatening the security of livelihood of workers in the coal mining sector.
The biggest monopoly groups have entered Jharkhand with many mega-projects, provoking massive protests against the acquisition of large tracts of land (see Box).
Plans for escalated plunder of Jharkhand’s mineral wealth
The world’s largest steel monopoly, Arcelor Mittal, has applied for constructing a 12 million tonne steel plant at a cost of Rs 50,000 crore. It is waiting for environmental and land acquisition clearance. Faced with opposition from villagers from the Khunti and Gumla areas, the company is making efforts to acquire land at Petarwar in Bokaro district. It has demanded that the state government should take action to curb “naxalite” activities in this district.
Tata Steel has signed an MoU for setting up a 12 MTPA greenfield steel plant in Seraikella-Kharsawan, with an estimated investment of Rs 42,000 crore. Essar Steel has signed an MoU for a 6 MT steel plant at Chaibasa with an estimated investment of Rs 12,000 crore. It also plans to set up a coal-based power plant of 1,200 MW at Chandwa (Latehar) with an estimated investment of Rs 4,800 cr. Jindal Steel and Power (JSPL) has announced plans to invest Rs. 1 lakh crore in Jharkhand to set up two steel plants of 11 million tonnes annual capacity by 2016, along with 6,600 MW power plants. The progress of these investments has been affected by opposition from the people to land acquisition.
As exploitation and plunder have intensified, so has the struggle of the working class and other exploited masses of people. The response of the ruling class has been to escalate state terrorism.
Liberalisation and privatisation has been accompanied by increasing militarization of social life in Jharkhand. Over 100,000 paramilitary forces are permanently deployed in mining and forest areas in the name of a counter-insurgency operation called “Operation Green Hunt”.
State terrorism – Turning truth on its head
Elections are like a cruel joke because Jharkhand has been converted into a police state in the name of maintaining “law and order”. Political activists of workers and tribal peoples, and all those who stand up for human rights are arbitrarily arrested under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. As many as 19 out of 24 districts have been declared to be “terrorist” affected. Thousands of people have been killed by the official security forces and by unofficial armies and underground groups.
The ruling bourgeois class constantly and repeatedly claims that the fascist repression in Jharkhand is a necessary evil. It is allegedly in response to the threat posed by “extremists”. This is nothing but lying propaganda that turns the truth on its head.
The truth is that the working class, peasants and forest peoples of Jharkhand have been raising legitimate demands but their struggle is being treated as a threat to law and order. Individual acts of terror by some underground groups, many of them secretly sponsored by those in power, are being used to justify widespread state terror against anyone and everyone who is fighting for their rights.
The official propaganda mixes up cause and effect. The colonial-style exploitation and plunder of the land and labour of Jharkhand is presented as being legitimate activity, while the opposition to this exploitation and plunder is portrayed as being the cause of all problems!
The struggles of the people are being presented by the authorities as the cause of the problems, and state terrorism is portrayed as a legitimate response. In truth, the people’s struggles are a response to the exploitation, plunder and repression they face. State terrorism is part of the problem as it blocks any possibility of solving the economic and political problems.
The corporate media is promoting the notion that the best alternative for the people of Jharkhand is a stable government led by BJP. This reflects the desire of the big capitalists to align the plunder of Jharkhand with their overall plan to intensify the exploitation and plunder of the land and labour of India as a whole, through their liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation program.
Elections in the existing political system are designed to enable the bourgeois class, headed by the big monopolies of the Tatas, Ambanis, Birlas and others, to place in power that party or coalition which can best implement their program and justify it in the eyes of the people.
Parties committed to one and the same program are trying their best to divide the people along the lines of their dogfight. The situation calls for political unity of the workers, peasants, tribal and forest communities, against state terrorism and against the capitalist program of maximising exploitation and plunder. We need to rally around the alternative program to solve the problems of the economy and the political system.
We cannot afford to have any illusions that our problems can be addressed through elections in the existing system. We have to organise to change the political system itself; as well as the entire orientation of the economy. We have to become a powerful political force with our own program for the navnirman of India.
The ruling class claims that there is no alternative to the capitalist-imperialist course being pursued. This is a blatant lie. There is an alternative, which is to replace the rule of the bourgeoisie by the rule of workers and peasants.
The alternative to liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation is the program of reorienting the economy to ensure prosperity and protection for all, by halting the loot of public money and natural wealth of the peoples; nationalising and establishing people’s control over trade, finance and natural resources; enforcing the rights of workers in all sectors without exception, protecting the rights of tillers of the land and withdrawing all forms of government hand-outs and guarantees to capitalist monopolies.
The existing system of bourgeois democracy is based on the principle of parliamentary sovereignty. The alternative is proletarian democracy, based on the principle that sovereignty must vest in the people and not in parliament or the cabinet or the President of India. The political process in such a system would ensure that people can select and elect candidates from among their peers, hold those elected to account and recall elected representatives at any time. It would also ensure that people are able to initiate legislation and approve major decisions through referendums.
We, the workers, peasants, women and youth of all nationalities and communities, must unite around this alternative and fight uncompromisingly against the liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation drive of the big bourgeoisie. Through this struggle we must prepare to collectively become the master of India.
We communists must arm the working class, peasants and all the oppressed with this alternative program, so that we can together halt the present dangerous course along which the big bourgeoisie is dragging India; and open the path of revolution, of proletarian democracy and socialism.