Tamilnadu: The real alternative is not another party of the capitalists, but the rule of workers and peasants!

Under the rule of successive governments led by DMK, AIADMK and others, only a minority of exploiters have been enriched. Every successive government has systematically attacked the aspirations of the people for a society without oppression and exploitation. Now, one more election is around the corner.

Five years ago the assembly elections resulted in the AIADMK forming the government replacing the DMK led government. It came to power with slogans designed to allure workers and peasants. What the workers and peasants and broad masses of people have faced in these five years is one savage attack after another on their livelihood and rights. On the other side, the biggest Indian and foreign monopolies have been greatly enriched in this period. Tamilnadu is regarded as one of the most favoured destinations for Indian and foreign monopolies, because the government of Tamilnadu has left no stone unturned to ensure that these monopolies are provided the most favourable conditions for making maximum profits.

Attacks on workers

  • Tata Consultancy Services has been retrenching its workforce continuously. When thousands of IT workers were protesting the brutal attacks on, the government of Tamilnadu sent the police to prevent the IT workers from organising protests.
  • 13,500 health workers of Makkal Nala Paniyalargal (People's welfare workers) were sacked by the Jayalalitha government as soon as her government was formed simply because they were appointed by the DMK regime! These workers have been mere pawns in the hands of these two rival parties, with the DMK appointing and reinstating them and the AIDMK dismissing them! Currently, the Jayalalitha government has appealed against the Madras High Court judgment to reinstate the dismissed workers.
  • Over 3,500 nurses are languishing as contract nurses who are paid very poor wages and who have slogged for 12 hours a day for over 5 years in government hospitals. The Government has failed to honour the written agreement to make them permanent after 3 years of service. It is refusing to regularize their jobs even after thousands of them have been protesting.
  • Over 5 lakh government staff, Anganwadi and noon-meal workers, school teachers are demanding fulfillment of their long standing demands such as scrapping of new pension policy and restoring old pension scheme, regularizing Anganwadi and noon-meal workers, filling up over 2 lakh vacancies in government posts and various other demands.
  • Conditions of the unorganized workers such as construction workers, manual workers, street venders, etc. have become terrible due to escalated attacks on their rights and steep rise in prices of food and basic amenities. The rights won after prolonged struggles by construction workers are being violated.

Attacks on Peasantry

  • Sugar mill owners have not paid the sugarcane growers for the last 2 years for their produce.  While the demand of the sugarcane growers has been for Rs. 3500 per ton of sugarcane, the Government has fixed the price at Rs 2450 per ton and even this price has not been enforced when mill owners refuse to pay this amount.
  • With respect to paddy, the Government fixed the Minimum Support Price at Rs.1,460 per quintal for the common variety and Rs 1,520 for grade A variety. This is much below the Rs.3000 demanded by the peasants.
  • As per recent data from National Sample Survey Office, 82.5 per cent of Tamil Nadu's farmers are caught in insurmountable debt burden.  It is one of the states with the highest indebtedness of peasants. Each farming family in Tamil Nadu has an average debt of Rs 1,15,900. The average monthly income of a farming family in Tamil Nadu is only Rs 2,474, while its debt is 47 times more.

Attacks on Fishermen

  • Fishermen of the southern districts of the state who venture into the sea are being regularly attacked by the Sri Lankan navy. They are arrested and imprisoned in Sri Lanka for months together, and their boats and nets are seized. Neither the state government nor the central government has protected the fishermen of Tamilnadu against such attacks. The Indian government pursues policies in the interests of Indian big capitalists to expand their markets in Sri Lanka and in the bargain; interests and livelihood of poor fishermen do not matter!
  • The demand of fishermen for Rs.100 per day as allowance during the Fishing ban period is being totally ignored by the government.

Every section of the people has been under attack. The first act of the AIADMK government when it came to power five years ago was to hike the electricity tariffs by 400%. This ensured guaranteed maximum profits to big capitalists operating in power sector. Government doubled the price of Aavin milk . Fares in state owned road transport was increased more than three fold. 

On an average, prices of essential food items in Tamilnadu have soared over 60 % in the last few years. Life has become extremely insecure and miserable for vast masses of working people.

The thoroughly anti people character of the government was revealed starkly in its complete failure to protect the life and property of people during the recent floods in Chennai and other areas. The conditions for the floods were actually created by successive governments of Tamilnadu which  on one hand failed to carry out necessary desilting of water ways and on the other hand allowed big corporations and real estate mafias to occupy the water bodies and canals.

There has been a massive onslaught on the rights of workers. The Central Government is trying to amend labour laws to make it extremely difficult for workers to form unions of their choice. But what is to be noted is that the Tamilnadu government is already vigorously implementing this in practice. The very right of workers to organise themselves into unions of their choice is under savage attack. This is the bitter experience of workers of Ford, Hyundai, Foxconn, Pricol-Coimbatur and many other companies.

The Central government is amending labour laws to enormously expand the scope of contract labour. Workers in factories employing less than 40 and those under contractors employing less than 50 workers will have no rights at all. The Apprentices act has been amended to allow capitalists complete freedom to exploit young workers to the bone. No labour laws will be applicable to these workers who are called apprentices.  Any company that is declared to be a “start up” has been given freedom not to implement 9 labour laws for a period of five years, including Trade Unions Act, Minimum Wages Act, Employees State Insurance and Employees Provident Fund Acts. All this is being done in the name of “ease of doing business” and encouraging “Make in India”.

There has been a race amongst different state governments as to who will attract the big monopolies to their state, by providing most favourable conditions to make maximum profits. The Tamilnadu government has been in the forefront of this race.

The Nokia unit in Tamilnadu was shutdown, throwing out over 30,000 workers on the streets. The central and state governments have bestowed thousands of crores of rupees worth concessions, subsidies and tax waivers to this company. However, when it closed down, neither the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu nor the Prime Minister batted an eyelid. Instead capitalists and top level executives of Nokia and Microsoft continue to be hugged and kissed by the ruling class politicians.

Instead of putting the capitalist of Pricol behind bars for violating the rights of its workers and illegally terminating them from work, Government of Tamilnadu persecuted innocent workers and sentenced 8 of its workers to double life sentence on fake murder charges!

All sections of the working class are facing savage attack and are fighting for their rights. This include IT workers, government employees, contract nurses, trainees in the Integral Coach Factory, Perambur, construction workers. (See Box). Everywhere, the government has tried to criminalise the struggle of the workers, and entangle them in false cases.

The peasants of Tamilnadu are facing extreme insecurity of livelihood. They have become enslaved to moneylending institutions and monopolies who control inputs to agriculture and trade in agriculture. Water, power, agricultural implements and machinery, seeds, fertilizers, pesticides — all have become prohibitively expensive, driving increasing number of peasants to bankruptcy.

The procurement price of sugarcane and paddy announced by the Tamilnadu government are such as to ensure ruin of sugarcane growers and paddy cultivators.  (see box)

The biggest monopolies of our country owe tens of thousands of crores of monies to the banks, which the government is preparing to write-off. This is peoples hard earned monies, deposited in public sector banks, which has been looted by these big monopolies. On the other hand, a peasant who is unable to repay one installment of a loan, is dragged to the police station and thrashed, and his tractor stolen!  Caught in this vicious cycle of debts, it is not surprising that an increasing number of peasants are committing suicides!

Fishermen have been among the sections terribly impacted in the last few years.

The Tamilnadu government has been pursuing the policy of privatisation of education with a vengeance. As soon as the present government came to power, it tried to sabotage the Samacheer Kalvi (equity in education) program in the interests of the Matriculation school owners. Facilities and standards of education in government run schools have terribly deteriorated forcing many parents to shift their children to private schools. Government of Tamilnadu has turned a blind eye to the exorbitant fees and daylight robbery being carried out by private schools. Similarly colleges charge exorbitant fees from students. The Government has enabled and actively facilitated many big capitalists to make maximum profit in this sector!

Healthcare is being increasingly privatised. The state owned healthcare services are being destroyed. The state is now subsidising private hospitals. Health care has become one of the favoured arenas for capitalists to make maximum assured profits.

The workers, peasants and broad masses of people have fought courageously in defence of their rights. The government of Tamilnadu has launched fascist attacks on the people, including attacks on the right to conscience, and the right to carry on political activities.

The police force is blatantly used to prevent workers and working class parties from organising public political meetings or protests. Thousands of workers and peasants are languishing in the jails of Tamilnadu, simply because they have dared to fight against exploitation, oppression and injustice. Any voice of dissent is crushed by brutal force such as the Sedition act, indefinite imprisonments, false cases and fake defamation cases. Government of Tamilnadu ranks highest in launching maximum number of criminal defamation cases in all of India against political leaders, activists and journalists. Over 16,000 people have been charged under the Sedition Act, for opposing the Kudankulam Nuclear Plant.

The track record of the AIADMK government over the past five years is that of being thoroughly anti worker and anti peasant. It has loyally defended the interests of the biggest monopolies. This was also the track record of the DMK government that preceded it. 

The harsh reality is that every party that is entrusted with running the government at the center or in the state, is there to implement the capitalist program of globalisation through liberalisation and privatisation.  The AIADMK government has done precisely this over the past 5 years.

In colonial times, less than 50,000 Britishers ruled over 30 crore Indians.  Today, about 150 monopoly capitalist houses, at the head of about 2 lakh capitalists, rule over 125 crore Indians. 

The big capitalists rule over the toiling majority of people by controlling the same bureaucracy, army, judiciary and other arms of the state apparatus that the British colonialists had built to enslave Indians.  They rule through a political process in which their trusted parties take turns to act as their management team, while reducing the vast majority of people to vote banks.  They deploy the same tactics of divide and rule as the British rulers did in the past.  They use the same colonial era laws including the Sedition Act to imprison and hang those who refuse to be slaves.

India’s land and mineral wealth, forests, rivers and mountains all belong to the people of this country.  Tragically, the big capitalists have stolen what belongs to the people. They are mercilessly exploiting and looting the people in collusion with foreign capitalists.  They are maintaining their rule through the ballot and the bullet. The political system and process ensures that one or the other of the trusted parties  of the big bourgeoisie is entrusted with managing the government. State terrorism, and various means of divide and rule are deployed to prevent the workers and peasants, women and youth from uniting and fighting for what belongs to us. 

The challenge facing the working class is to ensure that the toiling majority of people, led by the working class, takes political power into their hands.  The means of large-scale production, which are today in the hands of a super-rich minority, must be taken over and placed under social control.  Only then is it possible to ensure that prosperity and security will be guaranteed for everyone. 

With the perspective of establishing workers and peasants rule, the immediate task is to step up the struggle against the liberalisation and privatisation program.

Unity must be forged around the alternative program of the working class – for the democratic renewal of the political process and reorientation of the economy to provide for all! 

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Assembly Elections    Apr 1-15 2016    Voice of the Party    Political Process    

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