People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 35

August 29, 2004

        Convention Of Agricultural Labour Held In Haryana


THE Haryana state unit of the All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU) recently held a convention attended by over 400 delegates from all over the state to discuss the serious condition of agricultural labour in the state and the total disregard of legislation in favour of dalits and the gross violation of their human rights in the state.  The convention was presided over by a presidium of three members – Ram Kumar, state president, Prakash Chandra, vice president of AIAWU and Chandan Singh.  The steering committee consisted of Dharamvit Singh Chiri, state secretary of AIAWU, Jagmal Singh state joint secretary and Sushil Kumar.


Inaugurating the convention, Suneet Chopra, joint secretary of AIAWU congratulated the agricultural workers for having ensured defeat of the BJP at the centre. He asked them also to be aware of two other major developments: the setting up of a secular government at the centre and the increase in the Left presence in parliament. This, he pointed out, gave the working people, and agricultural labour as part of them, a far better basis to work towards solving their pressing problems and to ensure that they are no longer marginalised as during the NDA rule.


He warned them, however, that nothing would be achieved without coming out on the streets to press for their demands as not only had the prime minister and finance minister failed to meet agricultural labour organisations in their pre-budget discussions but the economic survey of 2003-04 praised the BJP’s agrarian policies which had led to nearly 20,000 suicides (a fact the survey even failed to mention), and the budget itself had further reduced the amount allocated under rural employment schemes from the NDA government’s interim budget of February 2004. But provisions in the CMP for the employment guarantee of 100 days work for agricultural labour families, implementing land reforms, ensuring minimum wages and ensuring a central legislation for agricultural labour, gave one the right to struggle even harder to achieve these as without them only hunger, starvation and death could be expected. This convention, he said, was a step forward in the right direction in fighting for implementation of these commitments. He further pointed out that agricultural labour had to be organised not only for its economic demands but also from the perspective of completing the task of an agrarian revolution without which the country could not go forward, and hoped the convention would pay attention to this important aspect of the role agricultural labourers have to play in society.


Greeting the convention, Inderjit Singh, state secretary of CPI(M) stressed the importance of struggling for social equality at the same time as for one’s economic demands as none of the provisions in the Indian Constitution would be implemented without struggling for them in a state under the control of the bourgeois-landlord classes. He highlighted the increase of atrocities on dalits under NDA rule and the anti-agricultural labour character of the BJP and stressed the need in changed times to ensure that their politics be defeated thoroughly.


Also greeting the conference, Jagmati  Sangwan, state president of AIDWA and AIAWU state executive member, highlighted the enormous growth of unemployment among agricultural labour and of atrocities on woman  agricultural labourers and dalits in Haryana based on a survey conducted by these mass organisations recently. Such appalling conditions called for an immediate response and they welcomed the union’s initiative in this matter.


Dharmvir Singh Chiri, placed a resolution demanding that 30 per cent of all village common land be contracted out for farming among dalits as stipulated by law, ceiling surplus lands which dalits have been given pattas but are held up by the courts be distributed among them, house-sites for the homeless, for the initiation of adequate food-for-work programmes and for employment schemes to be implemented speedily, for the provision of PDS supplies to all agricultural labour at BPL rates and for strict action against those who committed atrocities on dalits. A lively discussion followed.


At the end of the convention, a programme of action was chalked out. Conventions of women agricultural labourers are planned from August 19 on wards. On September 3, demonstrations will be held at the district level all over the state. The union also demanded that flood and drought relief that was being given to farmers on a per acre basis be given to agricultural labour per family. The convention closed with an optimistic note and resounding slogans. (INN)