People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
July 29, 2007
Prakash Karat Visits Hunger Strike Camp
Says Land Struggle Will Become An All India Movement
Karat with CPI state secretary K Narayana and CPI(M) state secretary B V Raghavulu at the camp
M Venugopala Rao
PRAKASH Karat, general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) warned the Congress government of Andhra Pradesh that the land struggle being waged by the CPI(M), CPI and mass organisations demanding land and house sites for the urban and rural poor in the state would become an all-India movement, if it did not respond positively to solve the demands. The leaders of the CPI(M), CPI and 195 mass organisations are on a indefinite hunger strike since July 22.
Prakash Karat visited the indefinite hunger strike camp in Hyderabad on July 25. He garlanded the leaders on hunger strike and expressed his solidarity and support to the struggle. Addressing the gathering, he congratulated and extended warm greetings to the leaders and cadres of the CPI(M) and CPI and of mass organisations, who have started this hunger strike in the course of the nearly three-month-old movement in which thousands of people have been participating. Reminding that during the last assembly elections, the Congress party had promised distribution of land to the landless people and house sites and houses to the poor, Prakash Karat said that it was unfortunate that instead of fulfilling its promises, the state government had sought to put down the movement, using its police machinery and arresting thousands of people and putting them in jails, not sparing even women and children who had participated in the movement. The government of Andhra Pradesh should know that no amount of repression could suppress the movement, he asserted.
As far as the Left parties were concerned, the whole history of independent India showed that the Left Front governments in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura had implemented land reforms and distributed lakhs of acres of surplus land and land held illegally by landlords by taking over the same and distributing it to the landless poor, Prakash Karat said. That was the commitment with which the Left parties wanted to see that land reforms were implemented in Andhra Pradesh and other states to ensure that the poor and landless people, both in rural and urban areas, were provided land for their livelihood and houses, he explained. The Congress leaders of Andhra Pradesh, instead of fulfilling their responsibility, were levelling all sorts of false and baseless charges against the LF government in West Bengal, Prakash Karat criticised. He made it clear that the people of West Bengal knew that they were given land and land reforms were implemented during the last 30 years under the rule of the LF government. More than 80 per cent of the land in that state was in the hands of the poor, security for tenancy of sharecroppers was ensured, he said. The people of West Bengal have always stood by the Left. Despite all the anti-Left propaganda of the Congress at Nandigram, Singur and other areas, the Left had won the elections everytime. Despite such anti-Left propaganda and notwithstanding the Congress, Trinamool Congress and the BJP together putting up a single candidate in each segment against the Left candidates, the LF had won 19 out of 26 seats in the latest elections to the Haldia municipal corporation, Prakash Karat explained. This was a fitting reply by the people of West Bengal to the false propaganda of the Congress leaders of Andhra Pradesh, too, Prakash Karat asserted.
Pointing out that people of Andhra Pradesh were participating in large numbers in the movement on land issue, Prakash Karat appealed to the state government to draw proper lessons and not adopt a negative attitude towards the movement but respond positively to its demands. When chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy had met him in Delhi to discuss the land issue, Prakash Karat had told him that it was better that he met the leaders of the CPI(M) and CPI in Andhra Pradesh and to find a way to settle the demands they had raised which were justified. The CM was asked to look into all questions raised by them, including complaints about implementation of Indiramma and other housing programmes, identification of beneficiaries, and invite leaders of both the parties for talks and arrive at an agreement on the issues of the movement for land, Prakash Karat said. Though the Congress government had held talks with leaders of the CPI(M) and CPI on the issue, it had not come out with any purposeful and appropriate responses to the demands, he said. Pointing out that the ongoing session of the legislative assembly was discussing the issue, Prakash Karat said that he expected the Congress leadership, the CM and the government to come out with concrete and favourable measures to ensure distribution of house sites and land to the poor. Expressing concern over the health of the leaders on indefinite hunger strike, he pointed out that the leaders spearheading the movement on land issue were committed to ensure that the demands of the poor are met. The support extended by not only the Left parties but also by other political forces and mass organisations confirmed the legitimacy and force behind the movement, Prakash Karat said. Reminding that the communists in Andhra Pradesh had the legacy of the glorious Telangana armed struggle for land, Prakash Karat pointed out that it was with such a determination the leadership and thousands of people were conducting the movement on land issue. Prakash Karat announced that the land struggle would not remain confined to Andhra Pradesh alone, if the government did not respond positively for resolving the issue, then it would become an all-India struggle and the CPI(M) would mobilise all forces in that direction.
Earlier, welcoming Prakash Karat, K Ramakrishna, state secretariat member of the CPI said that 500 leaders were on indefinite hunger strike at 52 centres in the state and that relay hunger strikes were going on at hundreds of centres. Y Venkateswara Rao, state secretariat member of the CPI(M), made concluding remarks.