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"We Tamil" Party Tries to Divide Indian Auto Workers on Ethnic Lines

 "We Tamil" Party Tries to Divide Indian Auto Workers on Ethnic Lines

Senthamizhan Seeman, the chief coordinator of the Tamil Nationalist Party Naam Tamil (NTK - "We Tamil", "We Tamils"), sheds crocodile tears as COVID-19 rages in India.

This is his response to the increasing number of strikes and demonstrations in Indian car factories, as anger rises among workers forced to work continuously without any safety measures. Dozens of auto workers have died from COVID-19 so far, and infections are spreading rapidly. Ford, Hyundai, Renault-Nissan, Wipro, Eicher Motors, India Yamaha Motor and Royal Enfield have been forced to close temporarily due to strikes or protests.

Suddenly, fourteen months after the start of the pandemic, Seeman is turning 180 degrees and making empty calls for social distancing policies in Tamil Nadu state in southern India. According to him, "non-essential factories should be temporarily banned from operation in the current and precarious situation where workers are highly susceptible to coronary infection." Realizing that the workers' anger was out of control, he sighs: "It is shocking that non-essential factories have been allowed to continue to operate and that workers are becoming more and more infected as a result."

"We Tamil" Party Tries to Divide Indian Auto Workers on Ethnic Lines
Senthamizhan Seeman (Wikimedia Commons)

Strict application of scientific measures is essential to stop the spread of the virus; this includes closing non-essential workplaces, closing schools, and providing emergency financial support to help people survive until the crisis is over. But the strongest warning goes to the NTK, a party that promotes a communitarian policy of dividing workers on an ethnic basis, aimed at blocking a unified movement of the working class to impose health measures and necessary security.

If Seeman today takes the pose of one who is concerned about the plight of factory workers, he is a follower of the policies of "collective immunity" of the Indian government of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), Hindu supremacist, and of that of DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), a Tamil nationalist, in the state of Tamil Nadu. These have led to a rapid spread of COVID-19 in the main industrial and commercial centers of Tamil Nadu including its capital Chennai, but also in Coimbatore, Chengalpattu, Tiruvallur, Kanchipuram, Tiruppur, Erode, Salem, Trichy, Thanjavur and Madurai.

Ahead of the Tamil Nadu Assembly election in April 2021, the NTK did not follow any social distancing rules in its campaign meetings. Instead, he organized rallies with thousands of people, ignoring the ongoing rise of the virus. This was also one of the reasons for the acceleration of the spread of the pandemic in Tamil Nadu.

In these elections, the NTK came third with 3,108,906 votes (6.1 percent). It came out ahead of the Stalinist Indian Communist Party (504,537 votes, or 1.09 percent; the Indian-Marxist Communist Party (390,455 votes, or 0.84 percent), and the Congress Party traditionally in power in India (1976. 527 votes, or 4.28 percent.) The Stalinists are in coalition with the ruling DMK.

Amid the discrediting of the Congress Party, the Stalinist parties and their unions following decades of pro-imperialist and anti-worker policies while in power, the NTK opposes the building of a movement alternative in the working class, using a divisive, ethnic and nationalist discourse.

Since the formation of the NTK in 2010, the racist and anti-worker rhetoric of Seeman, and other leaders of this party, has become notorious. Seeman said publicly, "Tamil Nadu is in danger because millions of people from other states have infiltrated Tamil Nadu and occupied the entire economic life of Tamils ​​through economic exploitation."

Seeman makes the racist argument that only ethnic Tamils ​​can rule Tamil Nadu and that Tamil jobs are stolen by workers of other ethnicities. “My people need power. Tamils ​​should rule Tamil Nadu, ”he says. According to him, the domination of the Tamil ethnic group would guarantee the emergence in Tamil Nadu of a “disinterested, loving and corruption-free dictatorial government”. He calls for the "modernization of the police force", known in this state for their attacks on democratic rights.

Seeman not only encourages police forces that attack the working class, but also far-right political organizations. He supported the alliance of the BJP and the Hindu extremist Shiv Sena party in the 2012 municipal elections in the Dharavi district of Mumbai and is campaigning for it. The Shiv Sena is known for its bloody attacks on Muslims.

Publicly questioned about his alliance with far-right forces, Seeman could not deny it but instead replied: “The BJP candidate Tamil Selvan belongs to our region of Pudukottai [in reference to one of the districts of Tamil Nadu]. The supporters of the liberation of Sri Lankan Tamil Eelam are a bulwark for the [Tamil] people there ”.

That is to say that Seeman and the NTK, whose alliance with communitarian elements was unmasked, reacted by cynically seeking to exploit the sympathy of workers in Tamil Nadu and the Tamil diaspora in the face of the communal massacre of Sri Lankan Tamils ​​by The Sri Lankan army in 2009. The massacre of more than 40,000 people committed by the Sri Lankan army at the end of the 2009 communal war is a horrific crime, but the fact remains that Seeman makes the promotion of forces which also advocate an anti-worker and communitarian policy.

Last year, under Tamil Nadu's previous All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government, residents of Sathyavani Muthunagar slum in Chennai were forcibly evicted. Seeman responded to this brutal attack on the oppressed in this city by seeking to deflect anger on a nationalist basis against workers of other ethnicities in India. “People from other states in Chennai can obtain permanent residence without any obstacles and live safely in the main areas of the city with all the amenities. But the former Tamil settlers do not benefit from this facility, ”he said.

If he suddenly takes the cynical pose of one who worries about Tamil auto workers, Seeman has said nothing about the whole pandemic of workers' opposition to exploitation, agency work or the fact. to be kept at work for non-essential tasks, thus contributing to the spread of the virus.

Rather, he once again attempted to appeal to ethnic hatred, this time by spewing the right-wing coronavirus conspiracy theory peddled by US imperialism against China and calling the pandemic a "biological war" launched by China. He has thus made it clear to Washington - which seeks to make India a frontline military ally against China - the type of pro-imperialist and pro-investor policies he would pursue if he were in power.

The pandemic is a global crisis, caused by a virus that ignores passports and borders and can therefore only be resolved by an international struggle of the working class for rational and scientific policy. Strikes and protests by Indian workers, which led to temporary factory closures, once again demonstrated the power of the working class. But this power can only be harnessed in a conscious struggle to unify workers in India, across all ethnic lines, with their class brothers and sisters in China, America and elsewhere.

The International Committee of the Fourth International called for the construction of an International Workers' Alliance of Grassroots Committees so that workers can organize and mobilize in a struggle to defend life against corporate profits. Seeman's calls for ethnic hatred oppose such a movement and subordinate the working class to existing Stalinist organizations and the failed nation-state system. They must be rejected as the work of an enemy of the workers and the oppressed.

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