(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
September 13, 2009
HARYANA ASSEMBLY POLLS
Congress Arrogant, Bourgeois Opposition Bankrupt
ON August 27, a Hindi daily featured an item on its front page; it was titled: �Shocks Claim 57 Lives in a Year.� The news was about the way young employees of the electricity department of Haryana are dying due to power shocks every year. The reason is that the department has, under its policy of outsourcing, rushed temporary employees into the job of looking after decades old power transmission network in the state. The news item also carried the names of all the 57 employees who had to leave this world because of this anti-people policy of the state Congress government. As they were temporary employees, their wives, children and aged dependants were not given any assistance. Just below this news item, there was a government advertisement with the photographs of Mrs Sonia Gandhi and chief minister Bhupendra Singh Hooda; its caption in Hindi read: �Forward Strides, Changing Face.�
The total number of such temporary employees in various departments of the state government exceeds two lakhs.
BARRAGE OF PROPAGANDA
On August 30, the same paper front-paged another and startling story: �Small Girl Stripped.� The event took place on August 27 when a dalit girl studying in Class III in the Model School of Faridabad was made to take away her clothes and stand naked in the class, while other children were made to shout �Shame! Shame!� And her fault was simply that her parents were unable to deposit the fee in time. In fact this shameful event was an act of revenge, because the girl�s mother has been active in the agitation against the fee hikes effected by private schools. A mother of three daughters, Mrs Sarita Pawar had also contacted the concerned officers of the district administration, to get some concession in their fees. If the said girl was punished, it was just a move to teach a lesson to the agitating peasants.
Ironically, along with the chief minister�s photograph, page 7 of the same issue of the paper carried a big news item titled: �Gift to Girl Students from BPL Families.�
Page 3 of the same issue carried a big ad sponsored by the government. It displayed the pictures of some leaders, and the matter said: �No Election Promise; No Election Propaganda; A Favour to Dalit Community; Great is the Hooda Government That It Made the Dreams of Dalit People Come True.� Page 7 on the same day carried a news item from Bhiwani: �300 Dalit Families Migrate out of Bapaura.� One may note that village Bapaura is a big, Rajput preponderant village. It is being said that the said migration took place in the background of elopement of an upper caste girl and a dalit boy.
The state government has been
making similarly false
claims of development on radio and TV channels, throwing down the drain
of rupees from the public exchequer. The barrage of propaganda is so
that, leave alone Haryana, people of other states too have got fed up.
for the First Time; Number One is Haryana; Best among the States is
Here Food Consists of Milk and Curd,� etc, etc. This is a sample of the
baseless claims being made in areas like agriculture, education,
nutrition, social justice, and what not. A newspaper report on August
�Over 80 Percent of Children Anaemic in
The above account may give an impression as if the media have begun to publicise more of the true news, with the people�s interests in view. It is, however, not so. The media are still hankering for the big money the hectic propaganda campaign of the government carries, and they are still distorting the information day in and day out. Yet, they are forced to maintain a semblance of balanced reporting in order to prevent a loss of credibility which an excessive disinformation campaign may cause.
There is nothing extraordinary in the episodes described above; they are quite common in the local and mainstream media. Any perceptive observer can easily discern a clear antinomy between the bombastic claims of its achievements the government is making through a hectic publicity campaign in the media in Haryana and outside, and the real, sad plight of the people in various zones of the state. And all this publicity is now directed to winning the state assembly polls that are slated to take place on October 13 coming.
On the other hand, all sections of the people are now out in the streets because of the drought, price rises, unemployment and social insecurity.
Though the state assembly was to complete its term in the beginning of 2010, the state Congress government recommended premature dissolution of the house. Evidently, after having won 9 out of the 10 parliamentary seats in the state and formed yet another UPA government at the centre, the Congress government thought that the mass mood is very much in its favour. Nay, this is the thinking that has led several leaders of non-Congress parties to join the Congress. But this does not mean that the people have developed any great fondness for the Congress party because of its allegedly good record of governance. The fact is that the party got only 41 per cent of the votes polled in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, which were one per cent less than in 2004. Secondly, despite its severe inner-party feuds, the Congress did not suffer any loss of seats only because there was no credible alternative in opposition to it.
However, the crisis facing the people has only deepened since the Lok Sabha polls, despite the spate of populist promises the Congress had made. Extraordinary increases in the prices of food grains and other necessities of life, the serious drought situation in the state which is already deficient in irrigation resources and the insensitivity of the government have only added to the mass anger against the state government. The increasingly deteriorating situation of law and order in the state and the upward graph of crime episodes are further adding to this mass anger. Casteist khap panchayats are meting out punishments to innocent people with impunity; they are pronouncing death for young couple and implementing the sentence in broad daylight. On the other hand, the chief minister has dubbed such cases as a social issue, which is a euphemism for non-action against these illegal and illegitimate panchayats. It is certain that all these factors will have their impact sooner or later. That is why the Congress party opted to go in for an early election to the state assembly, before the mass anger against its government takes its toll.
OPPOSITION IN DISARRAY
However, opposition parties are in a state of disarray in the state.
For the Lok Sabha polls, the tactic decided by the CPI(M) state committee was that a division of secular opposition votes must be prevented so as to defeat the Congress on the one hand and INLD-BJP alliance on the other. But parties like the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) did not heed to the CPI(M)�s appeal. The results showed that the CPI(M)�s suggestion was a correct one, with the division of votes enabling the Congress to bag 9 out of 10 Lok Sabha seats in the state.
Subsequently, the poll results review by the CPI(M) state committee noted that keeping the votes they received in Lok Sabha polls intact till the next assembly polls, would not be easy for the opposition parties. The subsequent developments confirmed this apprehension. Under its �social engineering� policy, the BSP had chosen its candidates on caste considerations and they fetched a good number of votes even though none of them won. The BSP was, however, overexcited over the 15.7 per cent votes that it had received in Lok Sabha polls. But at least three of its candidates have now deserted the party along with their committed voters. The same has happened with the HJC, BJP and Indian National Lok Dal (INLD).
In such a situation, the CPI(M) and the CPI reiterated their joint appeal that the secular opposition parties must come together on the basis of a certain minimum of issues; the appeal also underlined the need of pro-people changes in policies. However, it seems that these parties are still driven by the motive of somehow grabbing the power and are still thinking in terms of caste equations. Engendered by their defeat in the Lok Sabha polls, these parties are in the grip of internal crises which is getting intensified by the day. While this crisis has led to a break-up between the INLD and BJP, the BSP and HJC have struck an understanding without any mutual agreement on issues, only on the basis of their votes, and ignored the political factors.
This political scenario is posing a big problem for the common people who are not very happy with the anti-people policies of the Congress rule. During the last few months, angry sections have been agitating on the issues of livelihood and social security. These include tens of thousands of temporary workers who recently staged angry demonstrations in the streets of Rohtak. Road blockades on the demands of power and water are now common occurrences. The All India Kisan Sabha has, for the past several weeks, put up a Kisan Morcha against the state�s government�s attitude of not declaring the state as drought affected, despite the fact of the drought raging here. Government employees and teachers are agitating against the pay scale anomalies which the state government has deliberately left while implementing the sixth pay commission�s recommendations. Rural workers are agitating for proper implementation as well as expansion of the NREGA and for homestead plots. All these struggles point out that serious distortions in the developmental process have kept large sections of the population bereft of its benefits and made their life miserable. It is this majority of the masses that are badly crying for pro-people changes in policies.
In view of such an economic and political situation, the CPI(M) and CPI issued a joint charter based on a set of alternative policies and ran a campaign to collect five lakh signatures in its favour. This continued from August 16 to 31, when a large number of independent and joint mass actions were organised all over the state. The two parties have decided to contest the assembly polls together, and their charter will form the basis of a renewed appeal to the secular opposition parties during the run-up to the October 13 assembly polls. The CPI(M) is expected to soon release its list of candidates and constituencies.