India: The POSCO Issue where do we stand ? by Asit Das
THE POSCO ISSUE WHERE DO WE STAND?
(An appeal to the left and democratic organizations and anti-POSCO struggle solidarity groups)
Dear Friends and Comrades,
All of you might be aware of the tragic turn of events in the anti-POSCO struggle area. Last week armed police conducted flag march, raided homes, and were forcibly trying to erecta boundary wall to democrat the area for POSCO. The events which have unfolded for the past two months especially after the arrest of Mr. Abhay Sahu the president of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samity raises many pertinent questions about the nature of the leadership and their relationship with Odisha Govt. and POSCO. Needless to say is that Mr. Abhay Sahu president of PPSS is a National Council member of CPI and Mr. Shishir Mohapatra secretary of PPSS is a card holding member of CPI. Their role in the past two months has raised many eyebrows not only in the anti-POSCO struggle villages, but in the media and the entire thinking population of Odisha.
The latest attitude of PPSS is quite disturbing for 4 days last week armed police have been conducting flag marches, raiding homes in Gobindpur, and also they have been trying to constructing a boundary wall to demarcate the land for POSCO, this was successfully resisted by the people of Gobindpur. Strangely PPSS didn’t come out with and update when I heard about it I immediately circulated on update. My update was widely circulated in different activist website and list serves. Then a day after my update was circulated Willy PPSS update came out duly signed by Prashant Paikray the official spokes person of PPSS. This makes the position of PPSS and CPI highly suspect. Over the years whenever any such incidents were to happen in the anti-POSCO struggle villages then within hours PPSS update was circulated and Prashant Paikray used to make numerous phone calls to different metropolitan centre. Strangely this time the update came a day after my update was circulated where I had pointed out why the PPSS update has not been circulated.
Senior activists of Odisha like Shri Prafulla Samantra and Sudhir Patnaik who are intimately involved in the Anti-POSCO struggle from the day one and know the movement and its internal dynamics thoroughly have suggested that the left and democratic organizations and anti-POSCO struggle solidarity groups should write an open letter to CPI and PPSS questioning their role in the murky deal between Odisha Government and PPSS and between CPI and BJD.
There is a propaganda in the mainstream media that the POSCO struggle is over and the Odisha Govt. has successfully acquired 2700 acres of land in Gobindpur, Nuagaon on and Gadkujang. The statements’ quoted from Govt. of Odisha official and POSCO management that Govt. of Odisha will soon handover the 2700 Acres to POSCO for the first phase. Those of us were involved in the anti-POSCO struggle should make an objective assessment of the situation and take a firm stand.
I have been having long conversations with Tuna and Prakash from Gobindpur. Prafulla Samantra had also given a detailed assessment and have urged the solidarity groups to take a stand. Before arriving at any conclusion I will try to reconstruct the happenings at Gobindpur since 4th week of June. As all of you might be knowing since the Arrest of Abhay Sahu around 29 platoons of Armed police at Gobindpur and there is a police camp right in the heart of the village and since May first week they have been terror rising the villagers. They conducted Flag marches in the main road of Gobindpur and have carried out mid night raids to arrest activists. As the events in the anti-POSCO struggle villages and the role of different political parties in Odisha unfolded for past few months it is quite clear, that CPI in a cynical electoral calculation has handed over Gobindpur in a very diabolical clandestine, despicable deal with the BJD.
On 26th June around 6 AM early morning 12 platoons of Armed Police led by the SP and collector arrived in Gobindpur to demolish Betel Mines. By 6.30 AM around 200 families of Gobindpur arrived there to present them from destroying the betel mines. When the police and revenue official tried to physically destroy the mines, a scuffle took place. Then there was heavy lathi charge but the people kept on fronting the police. The activists of Gobindpur made frantic phone calls to Dhinkia to come and join them. Prakash called up Deba and Manorama and Tuna called up Akshay. Around 1000 Dhinkia men and women had arrived at Patnahat for their ongoing Dharna around 9 AM. There Akshay told them to join the people of Gobindpur who were hardly 50 meters away. When the people of Dhinkia joined the Gobindpur people, lathi charge was on. Then Shisir Mahapatra started calling up Dhinkia people to come back and told them not to join Gobindpur people around 11.30 AM. Dhinkia people came back. So when around 12 AM when the administration saw the Dhinkia people going back they got the message and resumed lathi charge on Gobindpur people, this time more brutal, and by 3 PM had forcibly destroyed 40 betel mines. The lathi charge was on from 6.30 AM to 2.30 PM and the Dhinkia people were just onlookers.
In the lathi charge around 50 people were injured, the people who are severly injured and need medical assistance are 1. Bharti Mohanty 2. Shakti Bardhan 3. Satyabati Swain (Ranjan’s Mother) 4.Chhabi Swain (Her conditions is still serious) 5. Kapatari Mohanty and off course the main activist were severly beaten up. On 26th early morning around 6 AM again 12 platoons of armed police led by the SP and Collector arrived again. That day the target was Tuna’s Vine since early morning Tuna his old Father and Mother were sitting inside the Vine, by 6 AM the police, forcibly entered the Vine and ruthlessly beat up Tuna and his old parents. By that time people of Gobindpur arrived and when they contacted Dhinkia, no body from Dhinkia came then one more round of lathi charge was ordered by the district administration. Bu the time Tunas Vine was completed destroyed.
On 29th Narayan Reddy was around in Gobindpur when the police arrived around 7 AM that day since Narayan Reddy was around 30 people from Dhinkia joined them another 250 of Dhinkia people were 50 meters away at the Patnahat Dharna spot. Within 30 minutes Shishir Mahapatra called the Dhinkia people back to the Dharna spot at Patnahat. But Gobindpur people confronted the police until 2.30 PM. Since Narayan Reddy was around that day police went back and by evening the district collector give a press statement that 2700 acres of land needed are acquired. It is clear from this that CPI used Shishir Mahapatra to handover Gobindpur and we should take a firm stand on this. The most outrageous and cheapest aspect of the incidents from 26th to 29th is the role of CPI leadership operating through Shishir Mahapatra as the secretary of PPSS and Prashant Paikray the spokes person of PPSS. To fool all of us and to take the solidarity groups for a ride after 3 or 4 days PPSS circulates an update signed by Prashant Paikray asking people to write to PM. CM, DM etc, after everything was over and the deal was sealed with the declaration that the first phase of land acquisition is over. One can easily see through this cheap game plan by CPI. For the past many years I remember whenever there was going to an event PPSS update signed by Prashant Paikray used to be solidarity groups a week earlier. On incidents like imminent police attacks Prashant Paikray used to call up half an hour earlier, and he used to call at least 20 people in Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai etc. With three hours of police atrocities PPSS updates were circulated to the solidarity groups. So the latest PPSS update is a face saving exercise by CPI to hood mint all of us. I was at Gobindpur for around 10 days in the first and second week of June. Before I had arrived after the arrest of Abhay Sahoo (and this co-incidence between the arrest of Abhay Sahoo and the police attacks and forcible destruction of Betel Vines in Gobindpur is extremely important to understand recent events in anti-POSCO struggle and to pin point CPI’s treachery in handing over Gobindpur to POSCO)
By the day I arrived after the arrest of Abhay Sahoo, a massive contingent of Armed police led by district officials ruthlessly beat up Gobindpur and forcibly destroyed hundreds of betel vines stretching over a fort night. There was brutal naked terror in Gobindpur, there were flag marches, mid night raids on Gobindpur anti-POSCO activists, and strong misinformation campaign by Pro-POSCO agents and hired criminals. Many people from Gobindpur like the winter of 2007 were forced to leave the village and live in Dhinkia.
In the first week of June the Administration justified the violence and destruction of Betel Vines by saying that the people are willingly giving and have been given compensation cheque. This happened in the fort night after Abhay Sahoo arrest, there was reign of terror in Gobindpur, every five minutes a new rumor was floating, nobody was trusting each other, the agents, crook, contractors of all sorts were let loose at Gobindpur. In the absence of leadership, naked terror and fear and strong inducements like the agents of POSCO a few families distressed and few took compensation, each agent was getting twenty thousand rupees commission for each betel vines. They doubled the compensation amount for some families. POSCO has released huge amount of fund to the district administration, so road contractors are given to pro-POSCO agents. In spite of all these the anti-POSCO people comprising of more than 250 families heroically fought the police and continued to fight, foiling the game plan of CPI and BJD. Tuna and Prakash played the central role in reorganizing Gobindpur people. Around 75 odd families can be counted as neutral. The pro-POSCO element in Gobindpur are small minority. After last week of May the anti-POSCO people didn’t allow any vine yards to be destroyed and the police camp was right inside the village.
The day I arrived in Gobindpur that is 7th June, a large contingent of armed police along with the district officials tried to destroy the betel vines the anti-POSCO people and there was light scuffle, they forcibly broke the betel vine of Satyanand Rout who is anti-POSCO people of Gobindpur chased the police away. All these were happening, when the around 350 men and women were sitting in a Dharna at Patnahat hardly 80 meters away, none of them joined the Gobindpur people, Babaji Samantray was presiding and Shishir Mohapatra was giving the official PPSS line to people that nobody should join Gobindpur people. Satyanand Rout arrived at the Dharna spot and showed the broken saplings. Then everyone expressed sympathy with him.
A few day earlier around the fag end of May. Around 300 armed police men, few officials along with a JCB machine came to dig the trench at the border of Gobindpur, only a handful of Gobindpur people around 12 to 13 Tuna and Prakash in the front stood in front of the JCB machine and shouted slogans and prevented them from digging the trench finally the district official and police retreated. All these were happening when around 250 Dhinkia people were at Patnahat hardly 40 meters away. As I have written earlier on 9tharound 9 to 10 AM a contingent of heavily armed police along with true tehsildars came to destroy the betel vines of Gobindpur, they started measuring the vine, there were only handful of us around 15 we confronted the police and snatched. I away the tape, a scuffle followed and the armed policemen beat up Ramesh Bhai of Gobindpur, then a few women from Gobindpur joined us and we chased away the police and the officials. All this was happening when there were around 400 men and women from Dhinkia were sitting at Patnahat hardly 50 meters away and were silently watching. After we chased away the police all of us went to the Dhinkia meeting, there I asked the permission of Babaji Samantray who was presiding to speak I told the meeting that whenever Gobindpur is attacked Dhinkia people should join them. After me Manorama, Akshaya and few others spoke strong supporting me, while this was going on Abhay Sahoo’s phone from Jail came to Manorama and then Manorama gave the mobile to Shishir Mahapatra, he had a long chat with Abhay Sahoo. After the phone call he over ruled everybody and said that no one from Dhinkia should go and join Gobindpur people in their resistance.
On 11th June the Gobindpur people had a March to the police camp and the procession passed by the Patnahat Dharna of Dhinkia people, we were hardly 3 meters away from them. But they refused to join the March so we went ahead with the March so the police camp shouting slogans.
Every night in Gobindpur we were having meetings how to combat the onslaught of police, in the meeting it was always the unanimous opinion that given the police terror the 22ndJune black day programme should be held at the Gobindpur police camp. Mean while on 13th June PPSS circulated the 22nd June invite stating the Black day public meeting will be held at Patnahat. Amongst Sanhati members we had discussed the 22nd programme as ‘Gobindpur Chalo, police Hatao”. On 14th I went to meet Abhay Sahoo at Jail and told him that since PPSS has already decided about the public meeting at Patnahat on 22ndJune after the meeting there should be a March to police camp and protest to be held, we agreed with that and told me that he will talk to the CPI state leadership about it. I also told him about the plan of Sanhati and other solidarity groups about protesting at the Gobindpur police camp he agreed with the idea. After I came back to Dhinkia I spoke to Manorama that after the public meeting there has to be a protest at the police camp she agreed and told me that she will mobilize the Dhinkia people for that. Next day I met Babaji Samantray the Dhinkia village committee president of PPSS and told him the same thing he agreed and promised me that he will raise it in the village committee. I also had a detailed discussion about with Akshay at Dhinkia.
After I came to Delhi I got a mail from Prafulla Samantra asking me to call him and discuss the POSCO issue. When I called him he told me that he was present at the Patnahat Black day public meeting on 22nd June. Ashish Kanungo the second in command of state CPI and other state level leaders were there. After the public meeting was over Prafulla Samantra asked Prakash, Manorama, Akshay, and others to March to the police camp. There Shishir Mahapatra put his foot down and told that the Dhinkia village committee has decided not to join the March. So the plan was eventually dropped. This village committee thing is all nonsense this is a big joke there was no functional village committee or committee system nearly in the anti-POSCO struggle for years, Abhay Sahoo had centralized everything in his hand. (in fact this is the main weakness and the structural reason of the root cause of the anti-POSCO struggle, there was no collective leadership and all genuine sincere activists like, Tuna, Prakash, Akshay, Ramesh Bhai were deliberately side lined by Abhay Sahoo, later I will write in detailed about the organizational degeneration of PPSS). Shishir Mohapatra acts as the henchman of CPI for the nefarious deal with BJD to handover Gobindpur. We should openly ask CPI and PPSS about the role of Shishir Mohapatra.
Prafulla Samantra asked me to tell Sanhati and other solidarity groups to write a formal letter to Prashant Paikray and demand explanations officially from PPSS about the 22ndJune incidents. Just few days ago when I came back from Dehradun after the Summer Marxist School I had called Prafulla Samantra, we had a long chat, he told me that this 2700 acres were handed over to POSCO as per the game plan by CPI and BJD and he asked me to write to Sanhati and other solidarity groups to ask a detailed explanation from PPSS about this and specifically about the role of Shishir Mohapatra, because Abhay Sahoo in Jail CPI operates in PPSS through Shishir Mohapatra. This Saturday on 6th June evening I met Sudhir Pattnaik at the Ishrat Jaha protest meeting at the constitution club. I had a long discussion with Sudhir Pattnaik he is the most committed and reliable person in Odisha, he gave me the graphic details how the CPI had struck a deal with Navin Patnaik to handover Gobindpur. He also told me that Abhay Sahoo’s arrest is a drama, engineered by the CPI. Sudhir Patnaik suggested instead of PPSS. Sanhati and other solidarity groups should write to CPI National leadership demanding an explanation. I totally agree with him, the CPI doesn’t have the copy right over PPSS all sections of the people including the supporters of ML, CONGRESS, and BJP are part of PPSS. It is a joint front of all struggling people in the anti-POSCO struggle, therefore I suggest we should write an open letter to CPI. All India general secretary and Odisha CPI state secretary with copies marked to the CPI state committee members and the Odisha state ML leadership.
The arrest of Abhay Sahoo in the first week of May was a big drama orchestrated by CPI to facilitate forcible land acquisition in Gobindpur, such that people will say all this happened because Abhay Sahoo is in Jail and nobody will blame him or CPI for the unfortunate incidents in Gobindpur. There are hundreds of Questions the manner and occasion in which Abhay Sahoo was arrested. He was arrested twice earlier and there are innumerable criminal cases against him including murder cases, the commonsensical reaction by everyone is that, when the movement was in a very crucial delicate phase, and given earlier arrests and the pending criminal cases, why and how was he arrested? Why was he not extra careful given the immense responsibility of the movement? What was the necessity for him to go out of the area in this sensitive phase of the movement and the prevailing security situation? The CPI and Abhay Sahoo have taken all of us for a ride. After I reached Odisha, and talking to people in Bhubaneswar and the Anti-POSCO struggle village the game plan was crystal clear to me. Everyone had serious doubts on the way he was arrested. A mass movement leader which is leading an important anti State govt. struggle will naturally will have a hostile relation with the state police force and the administration. Likewise the Administration will be hostile and will be on a look out to capture a person with so many warrants against him, observed by applies from the local intelligence, police station to the state police headquarters. And a person having so many criminal cases including murder cases will be extra careful especially when he is leading an extremely important and sensitive struggle will avoid police like anything. And Stalwarts and Cadres of mass movements have done this Telengana onward. Only police informers or sold out mass movement leaders who want to strike a deal with the state apparatus, political executive and the corporate sector will develop contacts in the police department.
At least 50 people in Bhubaneswar and Anti-POSCO struggle villages told me that Abhay Sahoo called up the Jagatsingpur SP and told him that he is going to Coimbatore via Bhubaneswar airport and should be given safe passage. (One should seriously think about this aspect.) Another worrisome aspect of this arrest melodrama is that Abhay Sahoo the Kujang police station staff not the Bhubaneswar police. In the normal cases if a mass movement leader who has an arrest warrant travels the state intelligence, when it comes to Bastar, Chhatisgarh etc the central intelligence Bureau inform the police, that the local police of that particular area arrests. In Abhay Sahoo’s case the Kujang police was following him right from the Anti-POSCO struggle area. How did this Happen?
I had one and half hour meeting with Abhay Sahoo at the Kujang Jail, according to me he is having a nice retreat. If one visits a jail right from the mofussil jail to Metropolitan Jail, there is a common scene in the visitor’s space, one sees a narrow window with dozens of visitors (mostly family members) and other side of the window dozens of inmates talk maximum for half an hour, and in the din one has to struggle to communicate with each other.
When any visitor goes to meet Abhay Sahoo in Kujang Jails (mostly CPI people) the visitor is given a chair along with Abhay Sahoo, in a large, neat private space which is quite relaxing. He gets as much of Paan and other things from outside, the prison staff obeys him. Everyday home cooked food goes from Manorama’s house to Jail. Every alternate day Manorama washes his clothes and sends it’s to Jail. Manorama’s brother carries food and clothes to Jail. Abhay Sahoo can make any number of phone calls. He is in constant touch with CPI state leadership, everyday he calls Manorama. I think he is really having a picnic, while manipulating thing from jail through mobile calls. In this whole process Manorama has become the private domestic help of Abhay Sahoo. This is another sad aspect of the story.
Manorama is an extremely committed activist with immense potentials. I have seen her in action many times over the years. I want to stress that women have played an extremely important role in the Anti-POSCO struggle they were in the forefront in the barricades and with the police. And Manorama has a signal contribution in the women’s resistance in the Anti-POSCO movement. But unfortunately she was turned into a personal secretary cum domestic help cum informer to Abhay Sahoo. Manorama has suffered much in her personal life she has numerous police cases, she can’t go out even for medical treatment. She suffers from chronic arthritis and needs immediate medical attention. I appreciate her sacrifice but sadly a potential subaltern heroine was turned into a faceless servant of Abhay Sahoo. The bomb blast which killed 3 people in Patnahat village is another mystery where every investigation thread leads to nowhere, and mutually contradicting multiply narratives makes the bomb discourse difficult to decipher. I spoke to around 30 to 40 people in the Anti-POSCO struggle area about the bomb blast, everyone had a different story to tell. It is like Akira Kurusowa’s “Rashoman” where every witness has a different narrative. I inspected the bomb blast site with a senior PPSS activist Suronna, in whose garden the bomb blast took place it is around 15 meters from his house. An elementary knowledge of explosives shows that the official PPSS narrative and the police narrative are completely wrong. Personally when I mentally reconstruct the bomb blast episode I have a totally different version.
The police version is that three people died and the fourth one seriously injured while making country bombs, which is utterly nonsense. In the accidents which happen while making those types of crude country bombs the causalities are low, only in rare cases anyone dies. It causes injury light to heavy in normal cases. If an accident happens during the making of country bombs, usually the hands, face and chest gets injured and people are thrown horizontally. In this case the most severe injuries happened to all of them including dismembering of body parts was below the waist. They were thrown vertically up by at least 10 meters. The blast was very powerful, which is not possible while make much low powered country bombs. My conclusion is it was a powerful remote controlled land mine blast, many local witness’s agree with me. The finger of suspicion can be pointed to many people including Suronna himself, and many people in Abhay Sahoo’s informal inner circle. In the bomb blast case both the police version and PPSS versions are in correct.
The needle of suspicion points towards Pravash Gochhait, alias Paba. Paba is a filthy symbol of the degeneration, and corruption in PPSS. He is not even a resident of that area, he is only married in Gobindpur. He was the personal sycophant of Abhay Sahoo’s sidelined many experienced activists, while promoting Paba. He publicly called Paba is right hand man. Within days of Abhay Sahoo’s Arrest Paba defected to the Pro-POSCO camp, now he is the paid hand maiden of POSCO and the district administration, within a week of Abhay Sahoo’s arrest he bought a new motor cyclists, he gets a cut in every betel vines destroyed, he comes with the police and points to the betel vines to be destroyed and the house to be raided. He gets lot of construction contracts from POSCO and district administration and sublets it’s to the lumpen youth. He gives insiders information about PPSS to the administration. Personally I think Abhay Sahoo is solely responsible for this.
Another big reason for the moral, political, financial denegation of PPSS is its interaction with NGO. The man who was handling the NGO was Prashant Paikray. In the official PPSS office bearers it is Prashant Paikray who got corrupted and degenerated the most. Many of the large urban solidarity groups including Delhi has a large component of NGO’s Prashant Paikray as spokes person of PPSS started interacting only with the NGO’s, travelling to different cities taking money, attending their programmes. Soon he became governing body member, office bearer in Metropolitan NGO’s. He is now a formal invitee through focus on Global South in the National Steering Committee of WSF another NGO dominated International Racket. Prashant Paikray was overwhelmed and impressed by the Lavish treatment the NGO gave to him. They also needed him to justify their politics of supporting mass movements, while corroding and corrupting them. There are hundreds of examples of this. Early this year when the bomb blast happened Prakash Paikray was in Delhi attending a conference on displacement organized by the NGO’s. He was put up at the Marriott hotel along with the foreign guests. The conference was held at the banquet hall at the same hotel. It is to be noted that Marriott is a luxury five star hotel in South Delhi which was privatized by ITDC when it was under Govt. of India. It was known as the Qutub Hotel. In the last day of the conference there was an expensive and lavish cocktail party, where who’s who and the rank and file of the Delhi NGO’s were present. Nobody knows how much money Abhay Sahoo and Prashant Paikray have collected from different NGO’s spread across the country. (In fact if I write about the financial irregularity, bungling, misappropriation of large scale funds by Abhay Sahoo and Prashant Paikray it will burst like a powerful bomb in the cyberspace. In the interest of the movement the time hasn’t come to write about it at the appropriate time I will write a detailed not on the moral degeneration, financial embezzelment and corruption by Abhay Sahoo and his inner circle). We should publicly question PPSS about it links with NGO’s.
The POSCO issue what should be our stand?
It someone asks me is the biggest structural reason for the deal between PPSS and Odisha Govt. and the conquest, moral, political organizational and financial corruption in PPSS. I would answer that it the Parliamentary cretinism and shameless descent into social democracy by CPI. This is the root cause of the problem. Abhay Sahoo and PPSS are not only responsible for this. The National and state leadership of CPI are the main players, they sealed the deal with BJD for a few Lok Sabha and assembly seats. The story of CPI’s degeneration started in Odisha in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. CPI and CPM fought the elections in alliance with BJD, where in the seat sharing arrangements BJD allotted the Sundargarh Lok Sabha seat to CPM and the Jagatsingpur Lok Sabha seat to CPI. The Anti-POSCO struggle area comes under the Jagatsinghpur Lok Sabha constituency.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections CPM lost the Sundergarh seat and CPI won the Jagatsinghpur seat. The sitting CPI MP from Jagatsinghpur Mr. Bibhu Tarai is a political joker and a crook of the worst order. He also played a major role in the deal between POSCO and PPSS official leadership, in the village he calls up Shishir Mahapatra regularly.
The firm contours of the “Deal” between CPI and BJD took shape in the year 2011. In that year Prof. Abani Baral head of the CPI’s teacher’s front was the central figure in the meeting between Abhay Sahoo, PPSS delegation with the Chief Minister. The whole scene was organized by Abani Baral. And that was the first Major Blunder and compromise of PPSS. In that meeting Abhay Sahoo conceded to Odisha Govt. allowing it to do survey in the villages. Until then the Administration or the Police never dared to touch Betel Vines. Later under the leadership of Abani Baral CPI formed the PPSSS (Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samanwaya Samiti) which played the Central role in concretising the latest deal between PPSS and POSCO to handover Gobindpur. Gobindpur become the sacrificial lamb in the match fixing between CPI and BJD.
The political degeneration of PPSS started with the electoral alliance in 2009 Lok Sabha elections. The moral degeneration started when they interacted with a large number of NGO’s, Funds flew into Abhay Sahoo’s hand from different NGO’s. Abhay Sahoo; personally had control over funds, except him and to some extent Prashant Paikray know about how much came and who got how much.
This time during my stay at Bhubaneswar I had long discussions with Comrade Sivaram the state secretary of CPIML Red Flag, comrade Shrikant state secretary of CPIML (Kanu Sanyal), Comrade Radhakant Sethi CPIML liberation and Comrade Kshitish Biswal ex state secretary of liberation Comrade Sadashiv state secretariat member of SUCI and me were staying in the same house hold in Gobindpur. (Comrade Sadashiv of SUCI has been staying in Gobindpur since summer 2011, he used to stay in the Dalit Mhalla of Gobindpur, now after the police flag marches and raids has moved to a different location in Gobindpur). Everyone was extremely critical of CPI and said CPI has struck a deal with BJD for few assembly and Lok Sabha seats.
In fact in the second week of June SUCI’s Odiya Weekly “Sarbahara” carried a front page long lead editorial stringently criticizing CPI’s role in anti-POSCO struggle. That issue of “Sarbahara” was widely distributed in Gobindpur and I think same copies must have reached Dhinkia and Patnahat. Whenever National leaders of CPI, A.B. Bardhan and D.Raja visit Odisha. I after 2009 Lok Sabha elections, they make a ritual trip to PPSS area then meet Naveen Pattnaik in Bhubaneswar. They express support for anti-POSCO struggle in the villages and talk about so called firm secular alliance with BJD, CPM also has a similar line. But everyone in Odisha especial the left of CPI, CPM forces and people like Prafulla Samantra and Sudhir Pattnaik have seen through the game. CPIML new democracy understood this even before 2009. In the early months of 2008, I used to go for long discussions on POSCO issue with Comrade Y. K. a senior leader of CPIML(ND) at their central office in Delhi. Many times Comrade Y. K. told me that anti-POSCO struggle has become like an illegitimate child of CPI, which it can’t disown or own up. The entire state leadership of CPIML ND, CPIML, Liberation, CPIML Kena Sanyal, CPIML Red Flag have been regularly visiting anti-POSCO struggle since 2006 and they have live contacts with the area and they understand the entire game plan of CPI.
Since past few years whenever A.B. Bardhan and D. Raja visited Odisha, they give statements about shifting the steel plant to a different location, in principle they didn’t oppose the political, ideological, ecological danger of such projects. Neither they opposed it as a symbol of imperialist penetration in India. Odisha state CPM leadership gives the same logic what they gave for Singur and Nandigram, that industrialization will create a proletariat, which will then make the people’s democratic Revolution.
Therefore CPI formed the anti-POSCO opposition at the state level with CPM, RJD, Congress, Forward Bloc Samajwadi Party etc. almost a Bourgeois formation. At Nagbhusan Bhawan the CPIML Liberation’s state committee office, I had a long 2 hours chat about POSCO issue with Comrade Kshithish Biswal, after I came back to Bhubaneswar from Gobindpur. Comrade Khistish Biswal is 85 years old and has spent 6 decades in the communist movement, he is very serious and I think he did not lie to me. He told me that just 2 years ago A.B. Bardhan told him that CPI needs two Lok Sabha seats from BJD. This is necessary for CPI to retain its registration with the Election Commission of India as a National Party. The Assembly elections in Odisha will be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections in 2014. Almost 90% of the people whom I met in Bhubaneswar and the anti-POSCO struggle villages told me that Abhay Sahoo wants the Ersama assembly seat (under which anti-POSCO struggle villages come) for himself or his son Bapi.
Fed up by this political degeneration, and wheeling dealing by CPI and PPSS. CPIML (ND). CPIML (Red Flag) CPIML (Liberation) and SUCI have formed PPJSS, to fight the POSCO plant. Bhibhu tarai the CPI Lok Sabha MP has been consistently talking about shifting the POSCO plants by 2 kms, and this was one of the main reason for the formation of PPJSS.
And finally how do we look at the POSCO issue and what should be our stand?
I think CPI or anyone doesn’t have the copy right over POSCO issue. PPSS is nobody’s private property, it is a multiparty front of anti-POSCO struggle villages like the organizations at Singur, Nandigram or Kalinganagar. In fact the there are many people in the anti-POSCO villages who vote for Congress and BJD. Personally for me it was an heroic anti imperialist struggle by the anti-POSCO villagers, which should not be allowed to be sabotaged by the CPI. Therefore left and democratic organizations and anti-POSCO struggle solidarity group should take a firm stand on anti-POSCO struggle. I suggest we write an open letter to the All India General Secretary of CPI, CPI Odisha secretary with copies marked to all the National Council Members and Odisha state council members of CPI, and ML parties. We should openly seek answer from CPI about the Role of Shishir Mahapatra secretary of PPSS, especially after the arrest of Abhay Sahoo, and CPI should clarify what is the relation of PPSS with NGO’s.
We should firmly stand with anti-POSCO struggling villagers, especially men, women and children of Gobinpur, who have suffered tremendously and have made immense scarifies. They have lost 4 bright young men by bomb attacks by paid POSCO goons. Since 8 years they have faced brutal police. Police lathi charge, economic blockades, innumerable false criminal cases, and many times have been the victim of violent Nandigram type vigilante attack by Pro-POSCO organized Lumpen army.
I suggest we should try to help them repair the Betel Vines which were destroyed in the last week of June. Especial Tuna’s betel vine, because he has been working as a whole timer in the anti-POSCO struggle from the day one, and since then has not done any work in his own betel vine, his old parents looked after it to keep the family stove burning. I once again appeal to the left and democratic organizations and anti-POSCO struggle solidarity groups to write an open letter to the National and state secretary of CPI.
POSCO Pratirodh Solidarity Delhi
Note important phone Numbers of anti-POSCO struggle.
2.Prakash Jena- +91-9777918730
3.Comrade Sadashiv (SUCI)- +91-8895372841
6.Prafulla Samantra- +91-9437259005
7.Comrade Shivram (Secretary Odisha CPIML Red Flag)- 91-9861129754
8.Comrade Bhalachandra Shadangi (Odisha State Secretary CPIML ND)- +91-9437166391