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ELECTIONS

tims of the rigging operations. With rigging came the attendant violence, for the Harijans had gathered some courage to rebel against this malpractice and wished to prevent the dominant castes from exercising self- assumed proxies. Indeed a few militant and determined Harijans vainly ventured to do so only to find that three of their castemen in Arnroha constituency and one at village Panwari in the Muzaffarnagar constituency had been killed in the process.

KERALA-Defectors Day

November 24, 1979 LABOUR Jute Workers Restive Timir Basu JUTE workers are restive again. They are not on the warpath yet, but there is discontent in the air. The Indian Jute Mills Association (IJMA) has said a flat 'no' to workers' demand for 20 per cent bonus; worse, many terms of the tripartite settlement have remained on paper and workers are once again helpless in absence of any legal safeguards. The state government too has been tardy. According to the terms of the -pement, the government should have up two committees to study the work-load in the industry and to examine the pay-scales of different categories of jute workers with immediate effect. But the formation of the two committees was announced only in September, after eight months. Though the committees have been asked to submit their reports within six months, the workers have little faith in such time-schedules, for obvious reasons. Even if the committees' verdicts are given in time, the IJMA can back out, precipitating a new dispute, or the committees* recommendations could be challenged in the High Court. In that event, the govenment would be rendered a 'helpless' onlooker, as has already happened on the question of reinstatement of victimised workmen. It had been agreed by all the parties at the time of the tripartite settlement. hat the labour minister's recommendation in the matter of reinstatement of workers who bad been victimised during the Emergency for political reasons would be final. It was further agreed that the number of such workers would not exceed 55, Though the minister's recommendation should have come within two months of the signing of the agreement, he did not issue his orders before the third week of September. The minister then ordered the reinstatement of 51 victimised workmen. The mill-owners, however, ignored the order without giving any reason. The affected workers belong mainly to mills owned by Birlas and Kanorias, Deben Mazumdar, a worker of the Budge Budge Jute Mill,. was retrenched in 1976 for allegedly inciting workmen on the issue of work-load and contract labour. He still does not know when, if ever, he will get his job back. In fact, not a single victimised worker has been reinstated in any mill.

KERALA- Ministry on Way Out

in Shahabad in 1970 and the subsequent road to the line of annihilation and people's war in Bhojpur was preceded by an important event. In 1969, the town of Arrah witnessed one of the most massive torch-light processions in its history. Chanting slogans like 'Harijanistan lar he hinge' (We will fight for a state for Harijans), hitherto unknown leaders converged on the dais at the meeting at Ramna Mai- dan. Among them were Jagdish Mah- to, Rameshwar Ahir, Ram Ekbal Du- sadh, Latafat Hussain. Prabhu Hariian and others who later became the founding fathers of Maoism in Bhojpur; the people who attended were largely chamars, dusadhs and musahars. lag- dish Mahto's agitation for 'Harijanis- tan' in 1969-70 can be viewed as a sequel to the SSP-generated awakening among the educated section of the backward castes; and, as a necessary prelude to the resurgence among the more exploited sections of the backward (outside the Ahir-Kurmi-Koeri section) and scheduled castes in the forthcoming 'extremist' movement in the district, That the SSP could not contain the caste awakening from changing into a class war can be understood by comparing the 1970 situation with the situation in the 1930s: between the two caste awakenings significant changes had taken place. The growth of education among sections of the backward castes; the exposure of liberal Gandhism as an ineffective response to rural landlord power; Kesari Master's evaluation that wearing the sacred thread or sanskritisation did not alter unequal status; the demonstration effect of the IADP; and lastly, spread of a violent ideology which promised immediate relief, despite its costs, to restive individuals, Jagdish Mahto and Rameshwar Ahir responded in ways unlike their forebears: as a class and not a caste.

New Alignments

members of corpbrations. One of the most significant aspects of this election is' that for the first time in the history of our country, 18-year-olds will fce exercising their franchise, thanks to' legation eiiuctedwhen A K Antony was Chief minister. They constitute nearly 20 per cent of the electorate. In all, there are about 35,000 candidates for the nearly 10,000 seats. Elections will he held in two phases, on September 15' and 18, ' There is a serious allegation that in delimiting the seats, the Ruling Front Partners had chalked out many safe seats and split up many of the sure CPI(M) seats. Besides, Muslim commiunalism has played havoc in the delimitation, the concerned minister being a Muslim Leaguer. A glaring example is the Erattupettah panchayat' in Kottayam district. There are 11 seats in this panchayat of which one has been reserved for scheduled castes. All the other 10 seats have been delimited in Mich a, way that each ward has a muslim-majority voter-strength. ' The Ruling Front had announced that it would fight the elections to the local bodies on a non-party basis and that it would -strivefor partyless democracy at the grass-roots level. This was -not a matter of new-found devotion to Gandhian idealism hut acceptance of the stark reality existing within the Ruling Front. It was evident From the results of the bye-' elections that in the event of a triangular contest the Marxist Front would sweep the polls. In the circumstances, every party in the Ruling Front was looking tor alliance with parties outside the front to better its own prospects. The CPI thought that the partyless label would help the Ruling Front to secure an alliance with the Congress(I) and the NDP and thus enable: the revival of the anti-CPI(M) front.: The Kerala Congress and the Ruling Muslim League were also for such an understanding. But the Con-

KERALA-Popular Support for Police Agitation

which had fielded its candidate there banked heavily on the upper strata of the peasants who would most likely benefit from it. The majority of the farmers are out in the cold as the state is not prepared to go in for massive procurement and they would have to fall back on uneconomic market prices.

KERALA-Divided Ruling Front

KERALA Divided Ruling Front K T Zacharias DEFEATED in the by-elections and with not much hope of things improving in future, the Kerala Ruling Front is divided and confused. It is conceded by all that in any triangular contest, the CPI(M)-led United Front will emerge victorious. This writing on the wall has compelled the partners of the present ruling coalition to desperately search for allies to "broaden and strengthen" the Ruling Front. But the Ruling Front is divided on the means to achieve this objective.

KERALA-By-Election Politics

date for the withdrawal of" nomination papers was extended to March 20. The voter enrolment conditions are so flexible that even one hour before the polling one could become a voter and the category of Sahajdhari sikhs is so vague that non-Sikh bogus voters are enrolled on a large scale.

KERALA-Justice Delayed for Contract Labour

 KERALA Justice Delayed for Contract Labour K T Zacharias THE Union Government has sat on the Kerala Casual, Temporary and Badli Workers (Wages) Bill for the past 20 months, when it had taken hardly an hour for the Kerala state legislature to get the Bill introduced, discussed, and passed on August 10, 1977. Neither the state government nor the parties which constitute the ruling front have cared, however, to take up the Bill as a policy question or as a political issue. The Bill aims to assure casual, temporary and badli workers the same rate of wages as are enjoyed by the respective categories of permanent workers.
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