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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Ex-parte 9th National Conference: Dictatorship in the PCJSS

The PCJSS was founded on the 15th February, 1972 for protecting rights of the Jumma people of the CHT. It participated to the 1st national election of Bangladesh held on 7th March 1973 with two candidates, MN Larma and Chaithowai Roaza from 299 and 300 CHT seats. Both returned with landslide victory and halted the victory-chariot of the Awami League on the CHT-Chittagong border. It went to underground soon after the assassination of Bangabandhu Seikh Mujibur Rahman on 15th August 1975.

Rupayan Dewan and Ching Thowai Mong Chowdhury (David) hoist national and party flags respectively as part of the PCJSS Special Workers' Conference 2010 at Baradam High School Ground on 10th April 2010.

After 22 years and 6 months the PCJSS is back to over ground politics as a result of the signing of the CHT Accord and convened its 6th National Conference in an open environment in October 1999 at CHT Development Board rest house at Khagarachari. The 7th one was held at Khagarapur community centre, Khagarachari in 2002 and the 8th one at Tuk Tuk Eco-village in March 2006. Open undemocratic and conspiratorial activities of the party president before the 8th national conference in 2005 for controlling the party under his sole authority was witnessed. He excluded many names from the list of delegates to the conference. Thus, he gave birth to sheer frustration and anger among the party members and the leaders. Soon after assuming the power as president of the PCJSS he unofficially expelled many veteran senior and mid-ranking leaders whom he did not like. This move includes some key seniors leaders who are also members of the CHT Regional Council and beyond.

Chandra Sekhar Chakma, central committee member (He was General Secretary of the PCJSS for three consecutive terms for 11 years) sued against Santu Larma for his involvement on the attack on him on 26th February 2009. Similarly, fingers go towards him on the attacks on Pragati Chakma (PCJSS Thana level leader) on 25 April 2009 and Anshuman Chakma (central leader) on 21 June 2009.

He did not invite any leaders whom he does not like when the caretaker government relaxed state emergency for indoor political activities and when political activities had been freed. He even did not invite them for their participation to the 9th national conference. He did not listen to any person for resolving the PCJSS crisis amicably or based on the party constitution. There had been a few moves from outside and inside and all had been a total failure. One septuagenarian Jumma leader also initiated to help settle the crisis but failed to yield any result, rather he was misguided on 22 August 2009 by telling "I'm president of central committee and executive committee. Central committee takes decision and executive committee executes it. The president has no any power to do anything alone."

Pritimoy Chakma (Dr. Jugal) speaks before the conference as the representative of Dighinala PCJSS Thana Committee.

6 key figures of the PCJSS (Goutam Kumar, Mangal Kumar, Saktipada, Raktotpal, Dr. Nilu Kumar and KS Mong) met secretly at CHTRC rest house in Dhaka in September 2009. They all were in favour of the single and undivided PCJSS. Based on their decision Goutam prepared a 6-page written statement which was discussed in the central committee meeting held on 12th Oct 2009. On 12 October Rupayan Dewan wrote an email to Goutam, Saktipada and Mangal for party unity and offered his retirement from the PCJSS for having a democratic PCJSS based on collective leadership. He also requested the vice president of the party for playing a positive role for a democratic party led by a collective leadership.

Goutam’s written statement includes 4 recommendations which are:
1. To postpone the party national conference till the 31st Dec 2010;
2. To work with the existing central committee instead of a new one;
3. To avoid confrontational policy of the party with dissentient leaders and workers and gradually open up door for dialogue with many of them;
4. To call upon all for following the policy of unity, peace and non-aggression for maintaining the state of accord implementation.

As usual, Mr. Santu Larma convened the last one-sided central committee meeting prior to the 9th national conference on the 25th April. He finalised everything (including finalisation of the delegates list, venue and etc.) which he can not do without a full central committee meeting at list three months ahead of the national conference.

Rupayan Dewan delivers his speech as the conference was presided over by him.

The 3-day 9th national conference was held on 29, 30 and 31st March 2010 at Rangamati. The left-inclined key political leaders did not come as representatives; when some invited guests from Dhaka avoided the inauguration tactfully. During the third day the main drama was staged when Ms. Joyoti Chakma (Inu) and Ms. Yching Marma’s names were proposed for their candidature to the central committee, after the declaration of the panel for the next term. Not a single delegate spoke in their favour. The panel committee which is responsible for making a list of probable central committee members finalised it. It has been learnt that many members of the panel committee did not buy any arguments and bent to any pressure to accept these two names in their consideration. Therefore, there was last resort to push the conference for their acceptance.

Pankaj Bhattarcharya, Presidium Member, Gano Forum was one of the three guests from Dhaka to the 9th National Conference of Mr. Larma.

When all were silent in favour of the move, the senior panel committee members went to the stage and requested concerned quarters for withdrawing these two names. Yching understood the situation and accordingly went to the stage, picked up the microphone and withdrew the proposal by saying- Yeah, I withdraw my name from the contest as none is favouring me. But, Inu did not follow Yching. She rather went to the stage and wept to draw sympathy and pleaded in her favour by saying- who says I don’t have any quality to be a PCJSS central committee member? Don’t I expense money for the PCJSS? Don’t I give shelter to the PCJSS members?

Mr. Santu Larma stood up and grasped the microphone and told very confidently- please raise your hands who among you don’t want Joyoti in the central committee. A large number of the delegates immediately raised their hands making Larma surprised. He was a bit confused and again told- possibly you couldn’t pick up my question. Okay, now again I tell you, please raise your hands who among you actually don't want Joyoti. Again there was great hand raising. In 3rd attempt Mr. Larma again tried and reversed the question and told- please tell me who among you do support infavour of the move. There were seen 22 hands out of 150 delegates, surprisingly; Larma’s elder brother’s daughter who is completely dependent on Larma and Samichin, a headquarters staff, a Larma’s dependent also opposed the move. This testifies the amount of detest against Inu. Failing to bring them in the central committee, Mr. Larma with anger left the place he was occupying and took a chair isolated and spoke to none, for about half an hour, a tactic he used to use to creating pressure to the second opinion holders during past. His offended state of mind mixed with anger continued and Ushatan Talukdar went to console him to accept the verdict of the national conference, the highest body of the PCJSS which sits after every three years, as per party constitution. He failed to soften Larma; Goutam followed and tried to make him normal. He also fails to agree him. Afterward, Victor Babu (Pranati Bikash Chakma), the new General Secretary had succeeded to soften Mr. Larma (father-in-law through maternal line). This is notable that during 8th national conference also Mr. Larma wanted these two leaders (!) in the central committee. Because of sheer opposition he could not do it.

Delegates are ready for lunch inside the Baradam High School hall.

In another drama Mr. Larma went to the dais on the third day and told the national conference that the issue of expulsion of six senior veteran key leaders (He mentioned their names by saying Rupayan Dewan, Sudhasindhu Khisa, Tatindra Lal Chakma, Chandra Sekhar Chakma, Mrinal Kanti Tripura and Saktiman Chakma) was discussed in the recent central committee meeting and he drew the opinion of the delegates. He tabled the motion such a way as if it was approved by the central committee. A few very young and unknown faces went to the dais and strongly supported his move. This is fact that the expulsion issue was not discussed in the central committee meeting and there was no any topic on it. Mr. Larma befooled the national conference and even expelled a person who died on 9th of August 2009 (Chandra Sekhar Chakma).

Chandra Sekhar Chakma, former General Secretary who died on 9th August 2009 was also expelled from the PCJSS on 31 March 2010 during the 9th National Conference. It raised question among key Jumma figures on the extent of revenge tendency of PCJSS leadership against own deceased comrade.

As a result, with the strong demand of the general PCJSS members and ex-combatants the formally expelled and informally excluded PCJSS leaders organised the Special Workers Conference 2010 in Baradam of Dighinala Upazila on 10th of April. This Dighinala conference strongly condemned the holding of the 9th national conference and termed the move as ex-parte, unconstitutional and undemocratic and, hence, the 9th conference was unanimously rejected. There were 1,500 delegates in the conference from different Thanas and 300 student volunteers who strongly supported it to make it safe and successful. This conference adopted the Dighinala Declaration with great applause and approved a 6-member convening committee for leading the party until a full central committee comes in appropriate time. These committee leaders are determined to reunify the PCJSS based on democracy and collective leadership as there are a few veteran senior leaders and many junior followers with Mr. Larma who do not at all support the bifurcated PCJSS.

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