A CPI(ML) Weekly News Magazine
Vol. 20 | No. 01 | 27 December 2016 - 2 January 2017
Resolve for 2017:
Intensify The Resistance To The Fascist Assaults on Democracy
When the PM announced the Note Ban in November, he promised that the situation would return to normal in 50 days. By December, the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has declared that cashless, digital transactions are the ‘new normal’ for India. The Note Ban began with promises of rewarding the poor and punishing the rich and corrupt. By now it is clear that the real intention was to do the opposite. The Government would like us to accept as ‘normal’ the utter devastation of the cash-based informal economy, small traders and farmers and poor cash-dependent people – and the boom for corporates who benefit from ‘cashless’ digitalization.
In fact, throughout 2016, we can see how the Modi Government and the Sangh Parivar have striven to change the face of democracy as we know it, and establish authoritarianism, bigotry and trampling of hard-won rights as ‘the new normal’ for India.
2016 began with the institutional killing of the Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula by the Hyderabad Central University authorities after he was branded ‘anti-national’ by the ABVP and Modi’s own Ministers. Soon after, the JNU became the target, with students being arrested for ‘sedition.’ There was a distinct pattern at play: the Sangh Parivar and Modi Government were indeed seeking to make it ‘normal’ for students on campuses to be branded ‘anti-national’ and subjected to witch-hunts and violence. As the New Year approaches, another JNU student, Najeeb Ahmed, is missing after being thrashed by ABVP students. From Rohith to Najeeb, it has become ‘normal’ for Sangh-appointed VCs to protect ABVP violence and punish dissenting activists instead of protecting Dalit and Muslim students from persecution and violence.
In 2015 the lynching of Akhlaq by a saffron ‘cow protection’ mob shocked the whole country. In 2016, one of the Dadri accused who died was draped by the Sangh Parivar in the national flag at his funeral. Launching mob attacks on Muslims and Dalits in the name of ‘cow protection’ and even ‘patriotism’ became ‘the new normal.’
Saffron mobs kept bullying people in the name of chanting ‘Vande Mataram’ and the national anthem. By the end of 2016, a Supreme Court order has now put the seal of approval on such bullying by making it a crime for people to remain sitting during the national anthem in cinema halls.
In the Bhopal fake encounter, the police and the BJP’s Madhya Pradesh Government did not even try very hard to disguise the murder as an ‘encounter.’ The cold-blooded killings were carried out in public and in broad daylight, and disseminated through videos. The MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, like Modi when he was Gujarat CM, openly sought public approval for the custodial killings instead of denying it. By making the Bhopal killings a public spectacle, the BJP is out to remove any lingering stigma or shame from the execution of Muslims accused of terrorism.
The BJP is now attacking the hard-won land rights of the adivasis of Jharkhand by seeking to dilute the provisions of the historic CNT and SPT Acts.
Before the Bihar elections the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had called for a review of reservations. Now, again while speaking in Uttar Pradesh on the eve of polls, Modi Minister VK Singh (already notorious for comparing Dalit victims of atrocities to dogs) has called for a debate on reservations. These remarks are not slips of the tongue. RSS and BJP leaders are deliberately testing the waters – hoping to create a ‘new normal’ in which caste-based reservations, like the CNT and SPT Acts of the adivasis or the labour laws of workers, can be diluted.
In 2016, the Modi Government has introduced a new template into the Indian State’s dealings with Kashmir. It has abandoned even the fig leaf of dialogue or political resolution of the Kashmir dispute: and has instead made it ‘normal’ to respond with pellet guns to unarmed protesters and civilian population.
In 2016 Sadhvi Prachi, a VHP leader, declared that “having achieved the mission of making a Congress-free India, it is time to make India, Muslim-free.” Nor is hers a mere ‘fringe’ sentiment. The PM himself, quoting the RSS ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay, called to Hindus to 'treat Muslims as your own' and 'refine' them. Reading the context of Deen Dayal Upadhyay’s words makes it clear that he was calling for Muslims to be assimilated into “Indian nationalism which is Hindu nationalism, and Indian culture which is Hindu culture” – failing which they would have to “driven out of India.”
The Note Ban decision is the most ambitious totalitarian project of the Modi Government so far. Trampling over the institutional autonomy of the RBI and mocking and bypassing the Parliament, Modi is seeking to test how far he can impose his own whims on the system, undermine facts and hoodwink people by emotional propaganda alone.
In their project of remapping India as Hindu Rashtra, the BJP and RSS repeatedly use the Brahminical metaphor of ‘purification’ and ‘cleansing’ for their fascist projects. The PM began by touting Note Ban as necessary to ‘cleanse’ the economy of black money; now he is silent on black money and he instead claims that cash itself is dirty and the economy must be rendered ‘cashless’ to cleanse and purify it. The RSS and BJP seek to cleanse the country and campuses of dissent. And of course they seek to cleanse the country of its diversity and plurality.
But if 2016 has been the year of unprecedented assaults, it has also been a year of remarkable resistance. The movement for justice for Rohith Vemula, the Stand With JNU movement, the powerful blow to the Sangh Parivar and to caste oppression by the Dalits of Una and Gujarat, the general strike in Kashmir that lasted several months, the ongoing struggle in Jharkhand to save the CNT and SPT Acts – all these showed that every assault by the fascists was an opportunity for the people to fight back and discover new strengths and solidarities.
2017 will begin with the task of thoroughly exposing the authoritarian, pro-corporate and anti-poor agenda of the Note Ban and channelling the resentment against it into robust resistance. The Note Ban must be exposed as not a mere economic policy of the Government – but an attack on democracy and people’s survival and livelihood. Building on the solidarities forged in the struggles of 2016, let us meet 2017 with a renewed resolve to fight fascism and defend democracy !
POL KHOL, HALLA BOL Campaign Against Demonetisation
State Cadre Convention in Lucknow
The CPI(ML) Uttar Pradesh unit organized a cadre convention on 18 December 2016, the 18th death anniversary of Com Vinod Mishra with the objective of determining effective interventions in the current political scenario and making preparations for the coming Assembly elections.
Addressing the convention, General Secretary Com Dipankar Bhattacharya said that demonetization is a huge economic disaster for the country; it has severely distressed the poor while benefiting the corrupt and the politically powerful, especially the ruling party BJP. He said that anger against demonetization is beginning to grow despite the huge false propaganda by the government; CPI(ML) is organizing a ‘Pol Khol Halla Bol’ campaign and on 30 December will stage effigy burnings to enable people to give voice to their anger. He also put the SP and BSP in the dock saying that the former’s ‘development’ was pro-corporate and not for the poor, while the latter is compromising the interests of dalits by holding hands with Brahmanism instead of raising issues of land and dignity for dalits as is being done by the dalit movement in Gujarat. The convention resolved to fight the Modi Emergency and Demonetization Disaster.
The following Resolutions were passed at the Convention:
1. A Statewide ‘Pol Khol Halla Bol’ (Expose and Challenge) campaign between 20 and 30 December. On 30 December Jan-Sunwai (people’s courts) programmes will be organized at Assembly constituency levels to highlight the distress people are going through due to demonetization, and the effigies of the Prime Minister Modi will be burnt at various Chaurahas (road intersections).
2. The following demands will be pressed: the government should pay Rs 1 lakh each as compensation to every poor person who has suffered financial loss due to demonetization; Rs 20 lakhs should be paid as compensation to the families of those who lost their lives standing in queues or deprivations caused due to demonetization; the government should waive all farmers’ loans.
3. The central government should find the whereabouts of Najeeb, the JNU student who has been missing now for two months, and should ensure his safe return. The Convention strongly condemns the criminal negligence of the police and administration in this matter. The Convention resolves to carry forward the new consciousness which has arisen across the country after the institutional murder of Rohith Vemula and the brutal attack on the four dalit youths in Una. Keeping this in view, the Convention resolves to strengthen the efforts to organize dalit workers and raise issue of land reforms on a State level.
4. The alleged encounter killing of the 8 under-trial SIMI activists should be probed by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court.
Programmes in Bihar against Demonetization
Vociferous protests were held at several block headquarters in Bihar under the banner of the CPI(ML), AIARLA, AICCTU and All India Kisan Mahasabha (AIKM) as part of the ongoing ‘Pol Khol-Halla Bol’ campaign against demonetization, with the demand for crediting Rs 1 lakh into the accounts of the poor and confiscating the black money stashed away within the country as well as abroad.
CPI(ML) Politburo member Amar said that people’s anger against demonetization is beginning to escalate and they are not going to be fooled by the false propaganda by Modi and the Sangh forces. He said that since the last 15 during the ‘Pol Khol- Halla Bol’ campaign people’s hearings were organized on village and panchayat levels and the adverse effects of demonetization on the common people were discussed. Meetings were held at the village level to expose the true intent of the Modi government behind this demonetization move. He demanded from the government to pay subsistence allowance to all those whose livelihoods have been snatched away as a result of demonetization.
Com. Amar also said that the Modi government which is talking big about nabbing black money is actually protecting black money hoarders and converting their black money into white. If the government is as honest as it claims to be, why is it not bringing the proposal to bring all political parties under the ambit of RTI? Demonetization has dealt a mortal blow on the livelihoods of the poor, the working class, daily wage earners, migrant workers working outside the State, farmers and traders. More than 2 crores of people have lost their jobs and means of earning a livelihood; this is totally against humanity. Under this ongoing campaign, protests were held in all the districts in Bihar.
Campaign against Demonetization in Delhi
CPI(ML)’s 'Pol Khol- Halla Bol' Campaign against Demonetization is being carried out regularly in different parts of Delhi. On the fourth day of the campaign in Wazirpur, thousands of pamphlets were distributed during lunch-time to workers and street meetings were conducted at several places in the entire industrial area. One of the workers said, "Don't Tata-Birla have black money, will this government ever punish them?"
A 'Jan-Sunwai' was organized on the issue of Demonetization in Gautam Buddh Nagar, Noida. Many people from the locality participated in the public hearing. Comrades from local AICCTU unit actively participated in the program. As the program was about to start, local BJP-Sangh supporters tried to interrupt it but people's support and anger defeated their moves and the public hearing was smoothly conducted. Sucheta De, President, AISA and other leaders addressed the meeting and requested all to join the campaign in coming days.
Street meetings and movie screenings were held at several places in Narela. While meetings were conducted during daytime, movie screenings were done using whatever resources that were available. At one place a pickup truck was utilised as a movie screen! One elderly person remarked, "I challenge this government to look for black money in my house and that of Ambani-Adani. Wherever it gets black money it should take action, this Demonetization is simply a whitewash nothing else." A street vendor said, "Earlier 8-9 kilograms of flour were consumed daily at my shop, now only 2 kg is enough. My business has been ruined." The activists urged the people to come out on the streets and demand answers from the government as the 50-day period cited by the government comes to a close.
CPI (ML) holds ‘Occupy RBI’ protest in Kolkata
CPI (ML) called for an ‘Occupy RBI’ protest in Kolkata on 22 December against demonetization. Several hundreds of people joined the protest and broke the barricade put up to stop them from marching. They also burned the effigy of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Loud slogans against demonetization were raised. During the protest the leaders pointed out severe economic consequences that has fallen upon the entire population of the country, particularly on the working people after demonetization. The severe cash crunch has ruined innumerable workers of the informal sector in particular, job losses, shut down of industry are the few fall outs. Within a short span of 43 days, RBI and the Ministry of Finance changed their decision 60 times that has telling effect upon the trust and confidence of the citizens of the country.
A delegation led by CPI(ML) West Bengal Secretary Partha Ghosh submitted a memorandum to the RBI. The demands outlined in the memorandum included:
1. Immediate withdrawal of all the limits of withdrawal from the current & savings bank account. It is a very fundamental right of every citizen of our country.
2. The tea garden workers are on the verge of starvation death. Special arrangements should be made forthwith to tide over this situation.
3. The pensioners, the jute workers, the salaried people are not getting their salary from their respective bank on the pretext of non-availability of cash which is again a gross infringement on people's democratic right. This has to be stopped forthwith.
4. RBI should compensate every citizen, at least to all people having Jan-Dhan account for the breach of trust that they all along maintained on the supreme monetary authority of our country.
5. RBI is an autonomous institution and must not behave as a political appendage of central govt. to the detriment of our country.
AIARLA to Campaign Against Devastating Impacts of Demonetisation on Workers
In a two-day National Executive meeting of All India Agricultural and Rural Labour Association concluded on 26 December in Patna, it was decided to further build up a nationwide resistance against the adverse impacts of demonetisation on workers who are forced to reverse migration in face of sudden rise in unemployment and consequent extreme low wages in rural areas, with government's draconian anti-poor Note Ban.
AIARLA will hold protests at all district headquarters as part of this campaign on 15 January.
AIARLA demands to compensate rural and urban workers for loss of livelihoods and lives caused by demonetisation and to waive all farmer loans. It also said that rhetorical gestures regarding Benami property are not intended to materalise just like Note Ban was not meant to curb black money. Benami properties would have been seized by now in two and a half years of Modi rule and an urban ceiling Act would have been in place if the government was really serious about curbing corruption.
AIARLA leaders from all over the country shared their experiences of harshly negative impacts of Note Ban on workers and toiling masses. In absence of cash they have to work on very low wages while Minimum Wage Act remains a mockery. Workers are forced to even barter their labour in order to survive at many places. This cynical demonetisation is a severe blow for general masses, while at the same time Modi government has amassed huge amounts of common peoples' cash in banks to further the interests of big corporates and the corrupt.
AIARLA resolved to fight for the compensation of at least Rs. one lakh to all poor and toiling masses against Note Ban losses; to declare Swish Banks' account holders and corporate bank defaulters names to the public; to stop criminalising poor people's Jan-Dhan accounts; to seize Benami properties immediately and to promulgate an urban ceiling act, to waive all types of loans of workers and peasants; to stop giving loans to big corporates and to provide more loans to general masses; to increase funds and works in MNREGA scheme; to make right to housing a basic fundamental right; and to guarantee lands, entitlements and possession for the dalits and tribals throughout India. The AIARLA will launch a nationwide campaign on these issues with immediate effect.
AIARLA has expressed its resentment on rising attacks on dalits and minorities in Bihar and other parts of country. With day by day increasing propensity towards Modi rule, Nitish government has totally stopped even mere discussions of the very important issues like land reforms and has now instead opted for indulging into demagogical 7-Resolves which is devoid of content and utterly rhetorical. The poor in Bihar are constantly under attacks and being displaced from their lands in face of various kinds of oppressions, brutalities and state repression.
Bhagalpur Bandh And Statewide Protests Against Police Brutality on Poor, Dalits, Women
A call for statewide protests in Bihar and Bhagalpur bandh on 16 December to protest against the brutal attack on peacefully protesting dalits, poor and women, was given by jointly by Left forces- CPI (ML), CPI, CPI (M), SUCI (C)and other Left parties. The bandh was highly effective.
Activists and supporters of the bandh came out in large numbers and blocked NH 80 in spite of the atmosphere of fear sought to be created by the local administration. Rallies were taken out on main roads and bazaars such as Rajendra Prasad Road, Patel Babu Road, MP Dwivedi Road and other places. The protestors raised slogans in support of their demands and against the brutality by the police and administration. The protesters put forward the following demands: removal of the Bhagalpur DM and filing of case against him and the police chief; taking back of all false cases against the protesters who were demanding homestead lands; possession for all parcha holders; action against the guilty officials; and implementation of the D Bandopadhyay land reform commission recommendations.
Protest marches were taken out in Patna and other parts of the state including Masaurhi, Jehanabad, Arwal, Darbhanga, and other places. Apart from the above demands, the following demands were also raised at the protests: putting a stop to displacement of the landless in Eastern Champaran, Darbhanga and Kataiya; release of CPI(ML) leader Com. Banhu Ram; rehabilitation of and compensation for mahadalits and the poor who have been displaced in Patna; 5 decimal land for housing to all poor; dakhal-kabja (possession) for parcha holders (allottees) in Maksudanpur, Bishanpur and Beguserai; stopping displacement of sharecroppers; release of Banka CPI(ML) leader Com. Renu Yadav without conditions.
Socialism International Conference 2016 in Malaysia
The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) organized an International Conference - Socialism International 2016 at Kuala Lumpur on 25-27 November. Comrade Balasubramanian, Central Committee member of the CPI(ML) Liberation attended the Conference. He participated in a panel discussion on ‘Exit Capitalism – Build The Left’ along with Pierre Rousset, Fourth International, France; Alex Bainbridge, Socialist Alliance, Australia and Soh Sook Hwa, Central Committee of PSM.
Balasubramanian also delivered a talk on ‘Breaking Away from Neo-Liberal Globalization’ where he pointed out that neo-liberal globalization operates primarily by creating and enforcing a neo-liberal policy consensus - by suggesting that there is no alternative, that the only ‘logical’, rationale and possible economic system is neo-liberal globalization. It is able to maintain this consensus not only by coercion by the IMF or World Bank but with the help of local ruling classes. Local and regional struggles against capital have an important role in breaking this consensus. He emphasised that “our battle has to be two-pronged” – it has to combat Islamophobia and xenophobia even as it confronts and fights the neo-liberal economic policies. He said that the election of Modi in India, Donald Trump in the US, and the Brexit vote in the UK have reminded us that the struggles against communalism, casteism, misogyny, xenophobia and racism have to be a crucial and integral component of battles against capitalist and imperialist economic policies.
He added that “country-specific revolutionary projects still continue and constitute a key component or contingent of the global quest for socialism. The clarion call of the Communist Manifesto to workers of different countries not just to unite on a worldwide scale but also to defeat capital in their respective nations by emerging as the new ruling class and establishing themselves as the nations remains the cornerstone of the revolutionary orientation of the working class and the people. The challenge of beating capital on the national terrain of course presupposes a firm rejection of and resistance to the usually chauvinistic and often jingoistic plank of bourgeois nationalism and the framework of narrow and sectarian national rivalries.” He ended with the call, “Let us share our experiences, let us learn from each other, let us face this formidable challenge together.” Pierre Rousset, as well as Jayakumar Devaraj, Member of Parliament, Malaysia, and Central Committee member of the PSM also spoke on this topic.
Workers' Protest at New Mangalore Port
AICCTU held a demonstration in front of the office of the DC of Dakshina Kannada district at Mangalore on 26 December 2016 demanding his intervention in streamlining industrial relations prevailing in shipping companies engaged in cargo movement at New Mangalore Port Trust. Hundreds of protesters also demanded right to protest in port areas and withdrawal of false cases foisted against workers of Delta Infralogistics (Worldwide) Ltd. They further demanded a meeting be organised comprising of all stakeholders including Port Chairman, shipping company managements and the union AICCTU, which is the only union operating among workers of shipping companies.
United Left March in Banaras
Left parties marched unitedly on the streets in Banaras to protest the anti-people demonetization; arrest of protesting BHU workers; razing of footpath-vendors’ shops; and the increasing land loot in Banaras in the name of ‘development’ and ‘Smart City’. They raised slogans of 'Modi Go Back' against the Prime Minister who had forced the entire country to stand in queues and while giving the black money hoarders an offer of ‘50-50’. They also demanded that the loans of farmers, workers, and small shopkeepers should be waived; a minimum of Rs 1 lakh should be put into each Jan-Dhan account; and compensation should be paid without delay to the families of those who had died due to demonetization.
CPI (ML) Convention in Hyderabad
A people’s convention was organized in Hyderabad on 12 December 2016 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Naxalbari movement on the subject of Fascist Attacks on Democracy and the Responsibilities of the Left. The convention was addressed by Dipankar Bhattacharya, N Murthy, B Bangara Rao, D Rajesh, Sudha, Mallikarjun, Ramanna, Harinath, Nagamani, Satyanarayan, Sanyasi Rao, and K Ganesh.
Protests against the Murder of the B.Tech. Student for Resisting Rape
On 16 December 2016, a 19 year old 5th semester B. Tech. student who was alone at home was attacked and brutally murdered when she resisted rape by a group of intruders. According to her elder sister, she fought till the last and finally her killers throttled her with an iron wire and burnt her face.
The next day a huge number of students from RTC Institute of Technology in Ormanjhi near Khunti (where the victim was a student) came out on the streets in protest, and they were joined by students and youth from the whole of Ranchi. Protests were held at Albert Ekka Chowk, Doranda, and Buti Mor. Various student organizations, social organizations, and political parties also held protests at many places.
AISA, AIPWA and AIDSO took out a protest march on the same day at Albert Ekka Chowk demanding punishment for the guilty and freedom without fear for women. They also led a protest march by hundreds of students on 19 December from Ranchi University. Students of RTCIT jammed national highway for 4 hours with these same demands. Though the police is still far from apprehending the culprits, the agitation continues to spread.
Two-Day AISA-RYA State Workshop in Darbhanga
AISA-RYA held a 2 day workshop starting on 19 December at Leheriyaserai in Darbhanga which was attended by about 100 delegates. Inaugurating the workshop, CPI(ML) leader Rajaram Singh said that the nationalism of Bhagat Singh, Azad and Ashfaq was based on intellect, scientific truth and the intent to put an end to imperialistic loot and internal oppression. Today a cruel joke is being played on this foundation of true nationalism. Constitutional and democratic values are being eroded. The demonetization disaster has brought dire distress to the poor, farmers, workers, daily wage earners and women, while corporate companies and corrupt politicians are being benefited. Loans to the tune of lakhs of crores are being waived for capitalists, and they are being given further loans from the hard-earned money of the common man. We have to fight unitedly against saffron nationalism and corporate capitalism. Dhirendra Jha also addressed the workshop.
Bangaluru Workers for Minimum Wage 21000 and Equal Pay for Equal Work
All India Central Council of Trade Unions (AICCTU) held a demonstration before Karnataka Labour Commissioner office on 24 December at Bangaluru, demanding a minimum wage of Rs. 21000 and Equal Pay for Equal Work as per recent Supreme Court Judgment. More than 1500 Workers from BHEL, HAL, NAL, BBMP, BWSSB, RMC, RDC, Lafarge, MICO BOSCH, NIMHANS, etc., participated in the demonstration. A memorandum with the demands was handed over to the Labour Commissioner.
Memorial Meetings for Comrade Ganeshan
A memorial meeting for Comrade Ganeshan was held on 16 December at Gandhi Peace Foundation, Delhi. Delhi CPI(ML) Secretary Ravi Rai presided over the meeting. Radhika Menon recalled how Comrade Ganeshan would send useful mails to comrades on topics of their interest, helping younger comrades explore their ideas and also how he would say that he became a communist in the quest for his own human liberation as much as for social liberation. KK Saxena, a publisher who runs Aakar Books, spoke about how he relied on Comrade Ganeshan for advice on which books to publish – and how Comrade Ganeshan would himself distribute copies of those books which he found useful for activists and intellectuals in the Left movement. Ajay Kumar of Udbhavna Prakashan also spoke about Comrade Ganeshan’s close interaction with him and other publishers and editors on the Left. Chintu Kumari, an AISA activist, recalled growing up with Comrade Ganeshan around as a very loving and caring mentor. Several others comrades and friends too shared their memories of Comrade Ganeshan.
At the meeting, CPI(ML) GS Comrade Dipankar said that with little formal schooling, Comrade Ganeshan was a self-taught Marxist intellectual who was constantly learning. He was ever willing to confront his own weaknesses, face criticism, and be willing to change himself. It was unfortunate that we could not document an important part of history which Comrade Ganeshan had helped create: the events of the workers’ and peasants’ movements in Tamil Nadu in the 1960s and 1970s. He added that in times when communism isn’t fashionable, Comrade Ganeshan lived all his life with the energy, possibilities, and hope of the communist movement.
A memorial meeting for Comrade Ganeshan was also held at Chennai on December 21st at Ambattur. The meeting also paid tribute to Fidel Castro and Tamil poet Inquilab who passed away recently. CPI(ML) Liberation’s Tamil Nadu Secretary Comrade S Kumarasamy presided over the meeting. CPI(ML) PB member Com. Kartick Pal read out a message from the Central Committee, and PB member Com. Swadesh Bhattacharya addressed the hall packed with workers. At the meeting, comrades recalled how hard-working Comrade Ganeshan was, how generous in sharing his knowledge and insights. They recalled his love for the Tamil language and his committed internationalism.
People's Poet Inquilab
The noted Tamil poet, dramatist and rationalist Inquilab passed away on December 1, 2016. He was 72. He was born Shahul Hameed at Keezhakarai in Ramanathapuram district. He had been a Tamil Professor at New College in Chennai till his retirement. A rationalist, his body was donated according to his wishes to the Chengalpattu Government Medical College. He was popularly known as ‘Makkal Kavignar’ – People’s Poet.
He began activism with the Dravidian movement, and had, like many others of his generation, participated in and been jailed during the anti-Hindi agitation of 1965. The massacre of 44 Dalit agricultural labourers at Kilvenmani in 1968 drew him towards Marxism – initially the CPI(M) and then the Marxist-Leninist movement. The angry lines of his song 'Manusangada, naanga manusangada' (Humans, we’re humans) on the Kilvenmani massacre is an anthem of sorts for the ML and Dalit movements.
He was a trailblazer of the Vaanampadi movement of modern Tamil poetry. His plays brought Sangam poetry to the modern Tamil stage. His play Avvai challenged patriarchal stereotypes by imagining the legendary poet Avvaiyar, not as a wizened and wise old woman as she is usually portrayed but as a young, sensuous and free woman. His modern rendering of the celebrated epic Manimegalai lent itself to feminist theatre in Tamil Nadu. In 2006 he returned the Kalaimamani award given to him by Tamil Nadu government in protest at the government's failure to protect Sri Lankan Tamils, whose Tamil nationalist cause he passionately advocated and supported.
His poem 'Kanmani Rajam’, criticizing the moral bankruptcy of politicians, was prescribed in school textbooks till an irate DMK Government removed it from the curriculum after Inquilab spoke out against the Government’s decision to celebrate the 1,000th birth anniversary of Raja Raja Chola – a king whom Inquilab considered an imperial oppressor who exploited labourers to build the grand Thanjavur temple.