People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 24, 2008
CPI(M) AP STATE COMMITTEE 22ND STATE CONFERENCE
A Conference Of Struggles
N S Arjun
HELD in the midst of ongoing heroic struggle for land and house sites, the 22nd state conference of Andhra Pradesh state unit of CPI(M) resolved to further unleash militant struggles on people's issues and thus convert the growing prestige of the Party into increased mass base. The conference called upon the Party to so act as to set the political agenda around people's issues. The need to counter the multifarious attacks on the Party - physical, ideological, divisive etc - by further people's unity and broad support was also stressed.
The conference held in Comrade Koratala Satyanarayana Nagar (Pragathi Nagar) in Ranga Reddy district during February 8 - 10, 2008 was attended by 560 delegates, 127 observers and 25 special invitees.
The major task before the CPI(M) and the Left forces today is to carry forward and intensify the struggles against neo-liberal economic policies being thrust upon the people by successive governments at the behest of imperialist powers. The CPI(M) will also take initiative in forging a policies-based third alternative to the BJP and the Congress.
So said the CPI(M) general secretary, Prakash Karat, while inaugurating the 22nd state conference of the Andhra Pradesh unit of the CPI(M). Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury, central secretariat member V Srinivasa Rao and central committee member Jogender Sharma were also present at the inauguration.
Linking the thrust upon the neo-liberal policies by US imperialism to its strategic embracement of India, Karat called for combining the ongoing fight for defence of national sovereignty and independent foreign policy with the one against the neo-liberal offensive of US imperialism. "Our ruling classes' efforts to have a strategic cum economic alliance with US imperialism must not be allowed," he said.
Karat launched a scathing attack on the UPA government for pursuing neo-liberal economic policies which are ruining the lives of vast millions of people. "Inequalities in our country are rising sharply due to these policies. On the one hand, the number of billionaires has almost doubled from 25 in 2006 to 48 in 2007. On the other hand, the government's own figures show that around 77 percent of Indians are earning less than Rs 20 a day," said Karat.
He termed the UPA government's inability to curb price rise as "its singular failure." On the one hand, the prices of essential commodities have gone up sharply due to government's failure in checking speculative forward trading and, on the other hand, the public distribution system is being systematically throttled, resulting in growing misery of the poor. Karat also attacked the UPA government for its failure to tackle the growing agrarian crisis, which is resulting in thousands of farmers committing suicide in various parts of the country. The brunt of the slowdown in agricultural growth is being borne by the poor.
Karat also noted that the CPI(M) and the Left parties have to an extent "succeeded in slowing down the push for neo-liberal economic policies in the last four years." He cited the instances of government backing down from privatising the profit-making public sector companies, the halting of allowing FDI into finance, insurance and retail sectors, etc.
He termed the BJP as the most reactionary advocate both neo-liberal policies and a strategic partnership with the US. He pointed out that wherever BJP was in power, on its own or in a coalition, there have been growing attacks on minorities. If it thinks, however, that it can make entire country another Gujarat, it was living in a dream world. He asserted that the CPI(M) will continue its efforts to isolate the communal forces and take head on its challenge of converting the nation into a Gujarat.
Karat traced the growing attacks on the CPI(M), particularly its biggest bastion of Bengal, to the fact that the party and other Left parties are in the forefront of struggle against neo-liberal policies and penetration of US imperialism into our country. Referring to how peace was reigning in Nandigram and how the recent Bengal state conference saw the biggest mobilisation of around 10 lakh people in Brigade Parade Grounds in Kolkata, he asserted that the CPI(M) cannot be weakened, rather it would actually grow stronger in its bastions. In this regard, he said that the coming elections to Tripura state assembly would see the party bettering its present two-third majority.
Karat congratulated the Andhra state unit for its heroic struggle on the issues of land and house sites for the poor. "The way the struggle was conducted, braving the police repression, has electrified the entire nation. Everybody has appreciated the resolve and sacrifices made in the struggle. I pay homage to the martyrs of Mudigonda who laid down their lives in this struggle." He expressed his wish to see the Andhra unit of the party grow stronger, widen its mass base as it would help in strengthening the party at the all-India level. He also stressed the importance of Left unity at the state level.
In his address to the conference, CPI state secretary K Narayana found fault with the media and others who sought to see the differences between CPI(M) and CPI state units with a magnifying glass. He pointed out that the two parties were conducting struggles jointly. With both being separate parties, there are bound to be divergent views on certain issues (for example on seperate Telengana state) but these were also being discussed among the two parties.
In his brief address, CPI(M) state secretary and Polit Bureau member B V Raghavulu decried the efforts of the bourgeois landlord parties to split the poor on the lines of caste, region and religion. He saw the demand of a separate Telangana state as part of this very game and said the BJP's active support in this regard is prompted by its vision of small, emasculated states whereby it could lord over the country and implement its agenda. Raghavulu pointed out that the united Communist Party stood for a unified state on linguistic basis and, as inheritors of the united party traditions, the CPI(M) is committed to that stand. He concluded saying that the only way forward for Left unity, unity of the state and unity of the working poor is by waging militant struggles and agitations on the people's issues.
Party state secretary B V Raghavulu placed the political organisational report in the conference after the inaugural session. The report was reached to the delegates in their districts itself in the form of a 55-page printed book to enable a thorough study. Of the 55 pages, 22 pages comprise data in tabular form pertaining to various aspects of the movement and organisation.
Introducing the report, Raghavulu said that the political situation in the state is complex, uncertain and full of contradictions. It is also fast changing with the possibilities of newer sections, forces coming into politics. Calling for careful analysis of the fluid situation and consequent adoption of tactics, he stressed on the need for the Party to focus on people's struggles in the coming period.
Although the last three years have seen good monsoon and higher than national average industrial growth, masses of the people are groaning under serious problems. The extent of resentment against the state government, which is following the same World Bank dictated path as the previous Telugu Desam government, has to be carefully weighed. It has been seen that wherever concrete agitations were taken up against the ill-effects of neo-liberal policies, people have responded well and joined the struggles. For example the struggles against project displacement, against Outer Ring Road in Hyderabad, against hike in property tax, land struggle etc witnessed huge participation of the people. Therefore the need to bring into the struggles all those facing the effects of neo-liberal policies, as widely as possible, was stressed. Waging such wider struggles would not only make the people confident about the Party but would also increase the pressure on the government and bring newer sections into our fold. This was tellingly seen in the land struggle.
Raghavulu noted that the Party has become the centre of focus in the state, largely for attack, because of the prestigious struggles being waged and the sacrifices being made by the Party cadre in these militant struggles. The membership of the Party increased from 49,527 to 68,684 i.e. an increase of 38.6 per cent. The fierce safeguarding of Party's independent political position has also contributed to increased prestige of the Party and its expansion. This needs to be continued in the coming period not only at the state level but also at the district and local level, he stressed. Similarly Party's ideological commitment must be safeguarded and in this connection he cited the attacks on the Party on the issue of separate statehood for Telangana. Post Soviet Union collapse also there was tremendous pressure on the Party to desert socialism, drop Red flag but the Party stood by its ideological commitment and today it is in the position it is because of such steadfast ideological commitment, he asserted.
Raghavulu cited the non conduct of sufficient struggles on local issues as the main weakness of the Party. Although the response to state level struggles has been good - and these would be needed to be continued in the future also - the mass base of the Party can be expanded only through conduct of struggles on local issues. Calling for unleashing of struggles on local issues on a large scale, he stressed that these must be waged not in a ritualistic manner but in a fight to finish mode.
The last conference call of expanding the Party mass base has been met partially with good results in urban areas like Hyderabad, Warangal, Kurnool, Tirupathi, Kadapa etc and also in Vishakapatnam agency area. However work in selected concentration areas has not been satisfactory. Stressing on the importance of toning up the organisational machinery, Raghavulu said that the political-ideological capacities of the wholetimers and cadre must be augmented on an urgent basis. He lauded the cadre's militant participation in the struggles conducted in the last three years and called for further militancy.
The discussion on the political organisational report placed by the state secretary was conducted in two phases - one district wise and another mass front wise. All the delegates participating in the discussion unanimously endorsed the report and praised it for its analysis, brevity and sharp focus and felt that it would aid the growth of the movement in the coming period. Most of the delegates participating in the discussion followed the pattern of the report and spoke in a brief manner about the political situation in their district, the status of progress of the Party in terms of mass base and struggles in their district etc. They enriched it through suggestions. Some like the comrade who spoke from Prakasam district felt that the lack of struggles on local issues in their district was mainly due to the non-study of the district leadership on the problems facing their district.
The land struggle was highlighted in the discussion by all delegates. Many comrades spoke about the tremendous response from the poor and how they stood in the face of repression. They were unanimous about the way this struggle has charged up the Party. The significant participation of women in the struggle, including in the facing of repression, was noted by the delegates. The lack of sufficient number of wholetimers to meet the growing opportunities for expansion was pointed out by some districts.
As for the Telangana issue, there was unanimous endorsement of the principled stand taken by the Party against further division of linguistic states. Some suggested that the Party must intensify agitation for the development of the region in order to beat back the sentiment for separate statehood.
In his one hour forty minutes long reply to the two day discussion on the report, Raghavulu touched on the political issue of Party's approach to various parties, the Telangana issue and other organisational matters.
The growth of the Party and its prestige was largely due to the militant struggles it waged in the last three years and it was essential to carry on this fight relentlessly against the anti-people policies of the Congress state government. As for electoral tactics, the Party can be open-minded and take a decision based on the concrete situation prevailing at the time of elections. He also cautioned against the sectarian view of fighting alone.
On the separate Telangana issue, he saw the growing clamour among employees, rich peasants, higher middle classes etc on this issue as part of bourgeoisie chauvinism. Their anger is concentrated on CPI(M) because it is the only party to take a consistent, principled stand on the issue. He called for going among the people in a big way and fighting on their problems as the only way of defeating such chauvinism. In this regard he cited the padayatra conducted by the Party Medak district unit on the issue of bringing Singur drinking water to the area and how the TRS party leaders were forced to greet the padayatra. So the only way to face such divisive movements is by waging struggles on people's issues, he underlined.
The divisive, separatist movement, the threat of Maoist violence and the increasing repression of the state government and Congress party are the main challenges facing the Party in the coming period, said Raghavulu. He concluded the reply by stressing on the need to forge greatest unity of democratic forces in the struggles in the coming period.
The report was then unanimously adopted by the conference amidst thunderous applause.
After inaugurating the conference and listening to the deliberations during the entire duration, Party general secretary Prakash Karat made a brief speech giving his observations. He congratulated the Andhra Pradesh state committee for strengthening the Party and taking it forward through struggles and sacrifices. He said the 18th Party Congress had stressed on taking up local issues and conducting sustained struggles. The Andhra unit has been the most successful unit in implementing this task and it has also been the most active unit outside the three strong states of West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura, said Karat.
Asking the delegates to expect more attacks from the ruling classes, reactionaries, divisive forces, ultra Left Maoists, he said they are targeting CPI(M) because of the important role it is playing at the national level in taking on the neo-liberal, imperialist sections. He linked the attacks on the Bengal unit as part of efforts to weaken the Party in its strongest bastion. He called for striving to strengthen the Left unity while advancing struggles on people's issues.
Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury in his observations said the state committee has fulfilled the tasks mandated by the previous state conference at Warangal - of increasing the prestige of the Party by waging militant struggles and widening our mass base. The Party could successfully generate enthusiasm among people. Warning that the ruling classes will try their best to halt CPI(M)'s growth, Yechury called for utilising the differences within the ruling classes and create opportunities for growth of the Party.He also called for resolute fight against communalism which seeks to split the unity of basic classes.
Yechury lauded the political organisational report for its self-critical approach and felt that the discussions in this conference were of a higher level as compared to the previous Warangal conference. He complimented the Andhra state committee for playing an important role in projection of CPI(M) as a fighting force across the country.
The conference ended with the election of the 80-member new state committee, which re-elected B V Raghavulu as state secretary for the fourth consecutive term. The reception committee and the volunteer comrades were greeted warmly by the delegates for the excellent arrangements made for the conference. The conference concluded with the singing of Internationale by the delegates.
A total of 712 delegates (including observers) attended the conference. 78 delegates were in the age group of below 30 years, 204 in 31-40 years, 203 in 41-50 years, 151 in 51-60 years, 29 in 61-70 years and 25 delegates in above 71 years. 70.28 per cent of the delegates were below fifty years of age.
526 delegates are whole timers. 13 delegates belonged to the working class, 60 from the employees, 11 from the agricultural workers, 10 from farmers, one from traders, 11 from the artisans and 46 delegates belonged to other sectors.
16 delegates earned an income of below Rs 500, 158 earned Rs 501-2000, 346 earned Rs 2001-5000, 66 earned Rs 5000-10,000 and 76 delegates earned more than Rs 10,000.
A large number of delegates came from the peasant background. 127 delegates were from the poor peasant families, 198 from the middle peasant families, 45 from the rich peasantry and 102 came from the agricultural workers families. 58 came from the working class, 46 from the artisan families, 63 from the middle classes, 12 from the small traders; one from the capitalist class, 11 from the landlord class and 23 came from other backgrounds.
53.47 per cent of the delegates were from the downtrodden sections of the society.
9 delegates joined the Party before 1947, 19 in 1948-63, 80 in 1964-76, 353 in 1977-91, 191 in 1992-02 and 31 delegates joined after 2002.
52 per cent of the delegates have experienced jail life in the course of struggles on people's issues. 42 delegates were jailed for below a year, 4 for below five years and 3 delegates were jailed for above five years. Due to police repression, 36 delegates had underground life for below a year and 16 for over a year. Cases were booked on a majority of delegates.