Saturday, 14 July 2012

Explaining the SFI Delhi State Committee's position on recent organizational developments

Students’ Federation of India
Delhi State Committee
4, Ashoka Road, New Delhi 1100 01

Press Release 14.07.2012
There seems to be concerted effort by certain vested interests to give a wrong impression that Delhi state committee’s decision of 10.07.12 was taken by the all India leadership of SFI. Further, it is being suggested that the decision was taken in an undemocratic manner, with certain state committee members being coerced. We would like to clarify that this goes entirely against the actuality of events.

1. The decision was taken by the state committee, with prior information being given to all the state committee members. Out of the 21 members of the state committee elected in the last conference held on 09.02.10, two have been expelled; three have been dropped because they changed cities for further studies. One member (Robert) is in Germany and another state committee member is in Hyderabad. Out of the fourteen available members twelve attended the meeting and eight state committee members voted in favour of the expulsion of these four comrades and dissolution of the unit.

2. In the meeting, full opportunity was given to the state committee members including Roshan Kishore, PK Anand, Zico Dasgupta and V Lenin Kumar to explain their position, but they refused to acknowledge the organizational indiscipline on their part. Instead their arrogance was so evident that even when certain comrades asked them to revisit their positions, they unsympathetically brushed aside the arguments of these comrades, who were pained by the developments. It was in this background, that the Delhi state committee was forced to take this decision. 

3. The expelled members are presenting a twisted and selective version of the events. SFI’s programme clearly states that it is a mass organization and not a political party. Hence, its job isn’t to defend the positions of any political party. Further, even when any unit feels the necessity of taking any such position, then the democratic principles laid down in our constitution clearly spell out the mechanism of doing it. In this case the unit should have approached the state committee and with further discussions it could have been handed over to the CEC but instead they bypassed all these to approach the bourgeois media directly. The media celebrated it against the interests of our organization all over India.

4. In the two pamphlets following the GBM, the erroneous understanding of the erstwhile JNU unit was made amply clear. After the initial positions, the organization asked them to desist from bringing out such pamphlets. Even after that they brought out the pamphlet continuing with their flawed understanding. “Even while criticizing the erroneous decisions and wrong trends within the CPI (M)...” (09.07.12).While claiming to be fighting against the supposed right deviations of the CPI (M) and correcting it wrongs, it forgot the very mass organizational character of SFI. Accepting ultra left’s arguments as the reasons behind the electoral reverses since 2007, the then unit very conveniently played in the hands of AISA. Later in the state committee meeting Com Anand said, “We are happy that the AISA for the first time was forced to congratulate us on our stance” (AISA pamphlet dated 08.07.12.). This ludicrous argument clearly showcases where the unit went wrong and fell into the trap of the ultra-left logic and tailed the AISA line.

5. Not only this, Anand and Zico actively tried to create disruptions in various units, by personally contacting HCU unit and Pondicherry University Unit. Earlier they also tried to contact comrades in at least 5 state committees . The anti-organizational and disruptive motive was very clear.

6. Roshan Kishore, P.K. Anand and V Lenin Kumar organized the GBM and made public speeches targeting the organization, in their capacities as the CEC invitee and state committee members respectively. This was done without the consultation of these respective committees.

7. CEC is the forum where the appeal against the decision can be made, which can then take decision in the next meeting.

Kopal, Secretary
Sumeet Tanwar, President

Friday, 13 July 2012

Unit Organizing Committee of SFI formed in JNU

Students’ Federation of India
Delhi State Committee
4, Ashoka Road, New Delhi 1100 01

Press Release, Dated 12 July 2012
Unit Organizing committee of SFI formed in JNU

A unit organising committee has been formed in the Jawaharlal Nehru University. Manu MR, T Lakshmi Narayana, Prathibha G and Siddik Rabiyath are the coordinators of this organizing committee. Convenor and co-convenor will be elected in the coming days.

Kopal, Acting State Secretary.                
Sumeet Tanwar, Acting State President. 

Where the leaders of “SFI-JNU” Erred - Part Two

Pamphlet dated 13 July 2012

Failure to engage in consultations

We would like to explain a point that we made in our earlier pamphlet further. Why didn’t the leaders of the erstwhile JNU unit of SFI engage in wider consultations before evolving the line to be discussed at the GBM? Did the erstwhile leadership explore all available avenues before pushing their line? Four members of the Delhi State Committee were part of the unit here, including two State Vice-Presidents and the State President himself who could have convened a State Committee meeting. They could have easily forced the Delhi State Committee to take a stand on the issue and to send it to the Central Executive Committee, of which the State President was a permanent invitee. Not only was this option NOT exercised, but the Delhi State Committee was not even convened for a full one and a half years. Lamenting the higher leadership’s intervention after all these happened cannot be taken seriously.

From Tailism to Opportunist Consensus

While the AISA welcomed Prasenjit Bose’s resignation and concentrated on attacking the organised Left (as they have been doing for a long time), the erstwhile leadership sought to insulate the JNU unit of SFI from the larger movement precisely over the same reasons. They failed to realise that the choice before the Left in the Presidential elections was between NDA-backed Kalam and a Congress-backed candidate. The formulation “support to the secular candidate with the widest possible acceptance” was crucial in forcing the withdrawal of the former from the Presidential elections.

Moreover, several SFI members pointed out at the GBM that regardless of one’s opinion on the Presidential polls, this issue was not one that merited the disruption of the unity of the organisation itself. As has been noted by several sympathisers, unless the erstwhile leaders believed that this is an issue that could arouse the masses into action and contribute to a revival of class politics in the country, the haste in which the course of action they adopted raises serious questions. If the unit decides to withdraw from the larger left movement on such a pretext, it can only be called “left-wing childishness”if not an attempt to bolster the viewpoints of an individual who has resigned.

Lack of class bias

The lack of class bias evident in the pamphlets issued by “SFI-JNU” was best exemplified in their approach to the legacy of the working class movement in Idukki in Kerala, where M M Mani was the district secretary of the CPI(M). M M Mani’s statement was reprehensible and needs to be condemned. Having denounced his statement and called for action against him, the leadership should also have made an attempt to talk about the working class movement in Idukki without in any manner justifying Mani’s statement. The movement of the working class in the district was built up in the face of ruthless repression from the ruling classes and the state machinery. Thousands of workers who were employed in big cardamom estates like Kaanthippaara, Venkalappaara, Aanachaal and a number of others in Idukki were subject to inhuman exploitation. The efforts to organise these workers during the 1970s and 80s were met with such brutal violence that trade union leaders had to go underground. That was taken as an opportunity by the goons of the big estate owners and the goons of the Congress to unleash violence on activists who remained behind, to molest women and so on in an attempt to get them to leave CITU and to force them to join the pliant INTUC. All these were done with the full backing of the repressive police machinery – K Karunakaran of the Congress was the Chief Minister then.

One particularly gruesome incident was when the notorious Congress goon Mullanchira Mathai dragged out a woman member of the CITU from her home when she refused to leave CITU. She was eight months pregnant. Mathai sat on her stomach and said, “Wow, it’s nice sitting on your stomach, woman. It’s softer than a mattress.” There was also another incident when Mathai and other goons attacked Thilothama Soman (currently member of the Saanthanpaara Area Committee of the CPI(M)) at her home and threw her six-month old child on the road. The popular resistance to ruling class oppression in Idukki involved fighting goons like Mathai. This resistance was broad-based and not confined to just one political party.  It was this popular resistance that finally facilitated open trade union activity and enabled the working class movement to stand on its own.

Instead of making even a feeble attempt to talk about the fighting legacy of the working class movement in Idukki, the “SFI-JNU” leaders chose to abdicate the responsibility of politicising the students (the vast majority of which are obviously not aware of the history of the labour movement in Idukki). The stance they adopted instead of taking on this responsibility was nothing but a position of convenience. It is apt remembering Mao’s words in this context: A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous.”

We understand that the present political confinement of the erstwhile leaders of SFI’s JNU unit has forced them to resort to desperate remarks like “We will not let the new SFI ad-hoc committee to function in the campus”. We urge the unit organising committee of the SFI in JNU to forge a larger political unity within the organisation in order to strengthen the left and democratic students’ movement.


T. Lakshmi Narayana, Manu M R, Rajeev Kumar, Siddik Rabiyath, Subin Dennis.

Down with Liquidationism!!
Long Live the Students Federation of India!!!

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Where the leaders of "SFI-JNU" Erred - I

Pamphlet dated 11 July 2012

The Delhi State Committee of the Students Federation of India dissolved the JNU unit of SFI yesterday (10 July 2012), following the adoption of a wrong and divisive line at a thinly attended GBM of SFI’s JNU unit and the circulation of two pamphlets (dated 7 July and 9 July 2012) that betray, among other things, an appalling lack of class bias. In this context, we the undersigned would like to make the following political points.

Erroneous political line of the “SFI-JNU” leadership

The “SFI-JNU” pamphlet dated 7 July laments, “the developments since 2007 have made the SFI vulnerable to attacks of “double-speak” by the ultra Left”. We would like to make it clear that this is reflective of the spectacular failure of the leadership of “SFI-JNU” to understand the perceptible shift in the political line of the AISA since 2004 (since the time of UPA-I), when it began subscribing to the ruling class line of relentlessly attacking the organised left in an attempt to garner right-reactionary votes in the campus. This is nothing new when compared to earlier AISA lines, from ‘SFI over-estimating the danger of communal fascism’ in the post-Chandrashekhar Prasad murder UGBM in 1997 to a meek subservience during the NDA rule, marked by the formulation “fascism in power is less dangerous than fascism out of power”. This has been in evidence in the 2012 JNUSU elections, when the right-wing votes in the campus neatly disappeared into the AISA kitty, manifested in their majority this year. The vacuousness of the political line of the leaders of “SFI-JNU” has been exposed by their willingness to fall into the trap laid by AISA in setting the terms of the debate, thus letting down the sincere activists and sympathisers of SFI.

What happened in the SFI GBM?

The “SFI-JNU” pamphlet dated 10 July 2012 claims, “The political position against CPI(M) support to Pranab Mukherjee was adopted in a transparent and democratic manner, after convening EC meeting and a GBM, which is the highest decision making body of the unit.”

We would like to point out that taking a political stand that goes contrary to the position adopted by the national leadership of the left movement SFI is partisan towards is not a trivial matter. Why didn’t the leadership engage in wider consultations, by, for instance, calling activists’ meetings and convening GBMs at all hostels, in keeping with the past traditions of SFI? Look at the GBM itself. According to the Political-Organizational Report adopted at the Unit Conference of the JNU unit of SFI, the total membership of the organisation in JNU is 560. But the number of members who voted at the GBM on 5 July was a mere 46. In other words, not even 10% of the total membership of SFI’s JNU unit voted at the meeting, and yet, the “SFI-JNU” leaders misled activists and members, and unilaterally pushed their wrong and divisive line. So much for the pompous preaching on democracy by the “SFI-JNU” leadership. It is rank opportunism and shameless double-speak when a leadership which did not hold a unit conference for two and a half years indulges in tall-talk about democratic functioning.

Several SFI members who attended the GBM pointed out that many serious issues have arisen in the past few years on which a contribution to the debate within the left, particularly within the CPI(M), would have been a valuable help that the JNU unit of SFI could have provided to the left movement in this country.  Such issues were far more serious than the election to a post with mostly de jure powers. The Left parties in India, after all, have adopted positions that are tactical in practically every Presidential election since 1992, when they decided to support the candidature of Shankar Dayal Sharma. It has been conveniently ignored by the “SFI-JNU” leadership that the prime concern this time as well was to have a secular candidate, given the concrete danger of a candidate of the TMC earning the support of the NDA as well, and taking the groundswell of support from conservative sections of the middle class to bolster his chances of victory.

The shocking irony here is that while the leaders of “SFI-JNU” wax eloquent on “Left unity”, they found it acceptable to disrupt the unity of their very own (now erstwhile) organisation. Thus what started supposedly as a genuine debate within the Left has transformed itself into a shameless, factionalist bourgeois tendency, the praxis of which has been confirmed by the actions of the “SFI-JNU” leadership. This is exemplified in the fact that the whole brouhaha associated with the rabble-rousing by the “SFI-JNU” leadership has played out in the bourgeois media of Bengal as a TMC-sponsored drama, and in Kerala as a UDF-sponsored stage show.

On the irrationality of the new formation calling themselves “SFI-JNU”:

Given how stunning the servile allegiance of the leaders of “SFI-JNU” towards their political overlord and their tailing of AISA is, it is better for them to call themselves by the name AISA(B) – either to indicate their degenerating as the B Team of AISA, or sticking to the time-tested bourgeois tradition of naming the faction in the overlord’s name (Bose). This bourgeois factional tendency has absolutely no right to tarnish the fighting, progressive class partisan traditions of the SFI in JNU by using the name it is currently using.


T. Lakshmi Narayana, Manu M R, Rajeev Kumar, Siddik Rabiyath, Subin Dennis.