People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 29

July 22, 2012




Call to Keep Vigil, Forge Broadbased Movement


Below we reproduce the communication which the Central Executive Committee (CEC) of the Students Federation of India (SFI) addressed to all state units of the organisation on June 13, 2012.


FOR the last few days some unwanted developments have been going on in Delhi centring the JNU campus. The incidents have created some confusion as there have been attempts to disrupt the political organisational unity of SFI. Keeping this in mind the all-India centre has prepared a note for our state units. We believe that this note will help our comrades in combating attempts of disintegration that unfortunately is being masterminded by a very small section of individuals.


A meeting of the Delhi state committee was held on July 10 at the SFI central office. In that meeting the Delhi state committee decided to dissolve the JNU unit and expel four state committee members for indulging in anti-organisational activities and violating the rules under the constitution of SFI. All three comrades working from the all-India centre were present in the meeting.


We want to inform you about some serious incidents which took place concerning the JNU unit. Prasenjit Bose, a former secretary of Delhi SFI, had resigned from the CPI(M) on June 22 and made his resignation letter public. The letter of Bose which criticised various decisions of the CPI(M) started getting posted immediately in the cyber domain by a few state committee members of SFI Delhi and some members of SFI unit of JNU. The all-India leadership asked four state committee members (Roshan Kishore, P K Anand, Zico Dasgupta and V Lenin Kumar) personally not to post the letter publicly, as there was a chance of creating confusion within the student community. They were categorically told that the presidential election of the country is not a matter directly related to SFI.


The SFI's political tradition has always been to engage on political issues arising out of confronting questions facing the student community. The SFI has never indulged in going into specific decisions taken by this or that political party. We made it amply clear that it is absolutely imperative to maintain the independent character of SFI and not be overly bothered by decisions of political parties. It is clear that left sectarian tendencies which target the united and democratic character of the student movement by giving precedence in criticising the organised left have obviously created conditions for spreading confusion. And we are disarming ourselves from our political legacy by capitulating before such diversionary tactics.


The independent character of SFI has been one of its unique features. Since inception the SFI have successfully championed the slogan of “study and struggle” in an effective manner in campuses throughout the country and have been vocal in issues of education and employment. Our slogan “Education for all, Jobs for all” has registered a strong appeal within the student masses of the country, thereby rallying them to the fold of our movement and our organisation. Our programme clearly states “The Students’ Federation of India declares itself as an united and broadbased mass organisation of students and not a political party but is primarily interested in the upliftment and betterment of the student community and pledges to zealously protect the independent, scientific, progressive, democratic and secular character of its organisation.” The history of SFI, its growth to become the largest organisation of the democratic minded students in the country, inheriting the traditions of the pre-independence student movement vindicates the correctness of the essence of our programme and constitution. Since then we drew up a progressive agenda for the Indian student community and we have been advancing. Apart from championing the basic issues of better education facilities and the democratic rights of the student community the SFI played an important role in articulating an alternative scientific mass education system. There have been positive efforts at forging united struggles on concrete issues in the concrete conditions of the period concerned.


There have been attempts to disrupt the organised student movement. Since the mid-sixties various shades of ultra-left tendencies arose among the students seeking to divorce the student movement from the general democratic movement. The SFI effectively countered the disruptive theory of “Student Power” that ascribed to the student community the leadership of social revolution. These forces have strengthened anarchic trends with the single aim of disrupting and weakening the broadbased united student movement. These people have always tried their best to put the cart before the horse and create utter chaos and confusion. They have been diligent in opposing the mass based activities putting the reasons forward that there are no meaning in fighting for specific agendas related to the student community. They have always taken a position that only fighting for a greater political cause will lead to social transformation which will solve all problems of the people in general and students in particular. Some of them may have joined the parliamentary politics in the later years but their disruptive character, nature and trend continues to be the same. Till date rather than opposing the ruling classes their interest is encircled in attacking and opposing the organised Left movement. These wrong tendencies have increasingly isolated them from the general student masses and they are happy to place themselves conveniently comfortable in small pockets.


Independent activities within the student community are a primary requisite to mobilise the general students on their concerned problems and demands. Through this struggles only the student community can be sensitised which ultimately leads to political radicalisation thus increasing the democratic consciousness of the students. Along with these, the student movement has to keep in mind that its failure to establish bonds of solidarity and links through struggles with the basic class movements of the workers and the peasantry would derail it, however powerful it may be, ultimately leading to its eventual dissipation.


Nowadays in the Left stronghold of Bengal there has been increasing attack on the democratic rights of the people. The TMC led government is spearheading the attack and all sections of people are facing the burns. Elected student unions are forcibly captured. Students, non teaching staff and even teachers are attacked throughout the state. Anarchism, with all elements of the black days of the seventies, is prevailing in the education sector.  The democratic set-up established in the education sector during the Left rule has been dismantled. Autocratic ordinance is being applied to dismiss elected bodies in the colleges and universities replacing election by selection process. Students and non-teaching staffs have lost their rights to be part of the decision making bodies at the college and university level. Trade unions are being attacked, and farmers are evicted from their land. There have specific attempts from the governments to centralise all powers in the hands of bureaucracy. Laws are being enacted to put an end to land reforms. In Kerala along with the attack on democratic rights the ruling classes have been diligent in hatching conspiracies against the Left. Malicious campaign against the Left is fuelled by the right wing and corporate media along with the ruling classes regarding the murder of T P Chandrasekharan. Amidst this all round attacks, the SFI registered a landslide victory in the Calicut University Students Union polls winning all the five central posts. This victory undoubtedly is a fitting rebuff and protest against the viscous campaign and conspiracies unleashed against our organisation.


Instead of expressing solidarity against such moves, the interest and agenda of the ultra-left still encircles round Singur-Nandigram. They are going on speaking in the same lines of the TMC and automatically strengthening the hands of the ruling classes. While doing so they have been conveniently glossing over the hard reality that till the last day of the Left rule in Bengal land distribution has been one of the main agendas of the Left Front government.


These entire attitudes from the ultra-left are sometimes unfortunately finding resonance within a small portion of our activists. This sectarian brand of politics definitely is a challenge before us to which we must respond in a befitting manner.


The task ahead for us is to strengthen the broadbased mass movement among the students community and fight the onslaughts of neo-liberal policies in the education sector. For this a commonality of approach is very necessary. Our programme and constitution in a befitting manner have championed this commonality and specified areas for respective strata of the organisation. Our constitution for this very reason has created provisions for all levels of the organisation and categorically states in Rule 4(a) of the Constitution: “The unit committee will have the absolute right to take decisions concerning issues at the institution level or its defined area of work, provided such decisions do not have implications which go beyond the confines of the institution or the unit’s area of work.” Similarly the Rule 4 (f) states that “The CEC will have the absolute right to take decisions on all issues of national and international concern.” Overlapping and intruding in other areas will not at all help to strengthen commonality and only create utter confusion, chaos and anarchy thereby strengthening the ruling classes and their agents. A steeling resolve to uphold our programme and constitution is the necessity of time.


The all-India leadership was in Delhi up to June 29 and then left for attending programmes in other states. Meanwhile on July 5 the JNU unit organised a general body meeting in which they passed a resolution criticising the stand of CPI(M) to support the candidature of Mr Pranab Mukherjee. The leadership of the Delhi state committee was completely unaware of the happenings. In the GBM, Roshan Kishore and P K Anand, both state office bearers of Delhi SFI, spoke on behalf of the Delhi committee. The Delhi committee was not aware of it. Roshan even criticised the CEC in the meeting and Anand, along with speaking about the presidential candidature, pointed out that there are increasing evidences of CPI(M)’s involvement in the murder of T P Chadrasekharan in Kerala. The sparsely attended GBM (46 present during the time of voting) passed the resolution through majority votes. The unit published a pamphlet after the GBM and it was circulated in JNU in the name of SFI-JNU, a clear indication of demarcating them from the organisation and posing a separate identity. In the meantime the AISA had congratulated the JNU unit and our comrades seemed to be excited about it. (Anand mentioned about it in the state committee meeting.) It is to be noted that except Lenin all other three state committee members were not members of the unit committee.


In between, all-India general secretary of SFI got a call from Sucheta De, president of JNUSU and AISA leader. She informed that the JNUSU is going to organise an all-India convention on campus democracy involving different university unions throughout the country and wants the SFI unions to participate. Then we received information from different states that the AISA leadership met different SFI led unions almost one month earlier to the call made to the general secretary and asked them to participate in the convention. Interestingly, the SFI leaders of JNU were in favour of participating in the convention. The all-India centre felt that the incidents must not be seen in isolation and it was decided that none of our unions will participate in the convention. It is clear that AISA was moving unilaterally to address an All India audience at the cost of SFI.


Of late the SFI activities in JNU have come to suffer a decline. Unit conference was not organised for a period of two and a half years till the last one (March 30 and 31). The organisational decisions of the SFI were not arrived at collectively. Committee meetings were few and far between. Within the unit conference attended by the all-India leadership discussion of a section of delegates also highlighted that day to day activities has been very weak and agendas concerning the students were not being taken up with a priority it deserved. Contrary to this, AISA had been taking up such issues. The leadership which included the expelled also admitted these shortcomings at the conference.


The election results of the 2007 and 2012 also clearly indicate that SFI is losing its support base in the campus. In 2007, SFI candidates got 869 votes out of 3774 polled and in 2012 it was 751 out of 4637 polled. The membership graph has also been on a decline.


The committee of JNU seemed to be in a mood to act in a manner which divorced the unit from the all-India organisation and its programmatic understanding. In one of the all-India programmes against the neo-liberal onslaughts on education comrades in JNU even denied putting up the SFI’s central poster in the campus. After intervention from the centre the posters were pasted though beneath it was written: “participation in the programme subject to JNU conditions.”


The functioning of the Delhi state committee was also in sorry state of affairs. Prior to July 10 there were no state committee meetings in the last 15 months. Despite repeated requests from the all-India centre no state committee meetings were convened. CEC members from Delhi regularly absented themselves in the CEC meetings. They even participated in other programmes while CEC meetings were on and did not bother to attend the CEC meetings. Even in all-India programmes in Delhi, there are instances where there has been no participation from the state. The secretary of the committee left the country without informing the CEC and the president also took a leave without informing the all-India committee though he went on to attend different programmes and meetings according to his convenience. State leaders from Delhi even went to other states and attended programmes of SFI without informing the all-India centre. Democratic practices have been a casualty and day to day activities of SFI suffered a major setback.


Amidst this situation, four state committee members suddenly became hyperactive and, violating all forms of the organisation, became diligent in championing ideas which are in no way directly related to the student movement and the interests of SFI. Different individuals and centres were called up and asked to stand by them. They took a role in mobilising students and guiding the EC of SFI in JNU to function unilaterally. The activity of these comrades helped to strengthen the hands of AISA, which to its political and organisational convenience extended public support to the SFI stand in JNU.


Violating Rule 4(a) and Rule 4(f) of the constitution the four expelled members guided the SFI unit to adopt political lines within the university. In the state committee meeting they were asked to cite reasons for their wrong doings. They were adamant and constantly argued that their actions had been in favour of SFI. The state committee was not convinced and proposed to expel these four people and dissolve the JNU unit. By a majority of 8-4 votes, the proposal was adopted. The Delhi committee had written a letter to CEC asking to ratify its decisions.


Those expelled led others in JNU and declared they would go on functioning as SFI-JNU within the campus. A call was given asking other state units across the country and comrades to stand by them. Pamphlets brought out by the disruptors are getting translated into Bengali and are being circulated in parts of Bengal. Systematic attempts are going on to disrupt the political-organisational unity of the SFI and strengthen our adversaries.


The issue of Pranab Mukherjee’s presidential candidature seems to be an excuse. Broader designs to disrupt the SFI have been chalked out earlier. 


We call upon our state units across the country to be vigilant in this regard and keep a close watch so that these disruptive elements are unable to create any confusion and disunity in our organisation.               


With Revolutionary Greetings!