People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 10, 2005
MASSIVE CPI(M) STATEWIDE RALLY IN MUMBAI
Maharashtra CM Concedes Several Demands
MASSIVE 25,000-strong statewide rally on the state assembly in Mumbai, organised
by the CPI(M) Maharashtra state committee on April 4, 2005, effectively
highlighted the burning issues of the people like food, water, land, employment,
housing, education and electricity. With workers, peasants, agricultural
labourers, women, youth and students mobilised from 30 districts of the state,
it was the largest independent CPI(M) demonstration in recent times.
rally included a large chunk of adivasis, dalits and unorganised workers. The
big and enthusiastic participation of women was a prominent feature. Along with
impressive mobilisation from Party strongholds like Nashik and Thane districts,
the significant feature of this rally was that all other districts from regions
like Vidarbha, Marathwada, Khandesh, Western Maharashtra and Konkan (including
Mumbai) were also well represented. All the mass organisations had put in
special efforts to ensure the rally's resounding success.
the media in Mumbai, which has generally ignored the CPI(M) and its activities,
was forced to sharply sit up and take notice, and this time most of it gave
excellent front page news and photographic coverage to the CPI(M) rally. One of
the dailies, describing the truly representative nature of the rally, wrote that
what had gathered at the Azad Maidan was "Maharashtra in miniature".
CPI(M) delegation led by Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury, held an hour and a
half long discussion with the chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, who was
accompanied by several other ministers and officials of the concerned
departments. During this discussion, the CM conceded many of the demands made in
the CPI(M) memorandum, some details of which are given later.
the impressive and militant nature of the CPI(M) demonstration, for the first
time in several years, the government had to give permission to the Party to
take out a procession through the traffic-packed roads of south Mumbai. This
further enthused the already vibrant rallyists. The Party had earlier declared
that if this permission was not given, it would break the ban orders and take
out the procession, regardless of the consequences.
April 4 Mumbai rally was held as per the clarion call of the 18th state
conference of the CPI(M) held last month at Solapur. Thousands of Party and mass
organisation cadres had worked day and night for three weeks to ensure its
success. Hundreds of meetings were organised in both rural and urban areas,
thousands of posters were put up and lakhs of leaflets were distributed.
on February 23, 2005, as per the state committee call, over 75,000 people had
participated in large demonstrations in several district and tehsil centres
throughout the state on questions like ration (PDS) and water. It was these
actions that had prepared the ground for the success of the Mumbai rally.
chief minister, during the discussions with the CPI(M) delegation, issued orders
that cooking gas holders and those possessing two wheelers would henceforth be
eligible for getting yellow BPL (below poverty line) ration cards. These
conditions were being widely used for denying BPL ration cards to the deserving.
He also agreed to give priority to domestic workers and unorganised sector
labour while issuing such ration cards. He agreed to press the central
government to increase the income limit for identification of BPL families from
the present Rs 15,000 per annum to Rs 25,000 per annum.
CM announced that the previous reduction in wage rates on the Employment
Guarantee Scheme (EGS) had been revoked, and that orders would be issued
immediately to constitute the Minimum Wages Committee to revise the wages for
the EGS and agricultural workers. Such a revision has not been done in
Maharashtra for nearly a decade. As regards the serious issue of non-payment of
dues to cotton farmers, he said that this payment has begun and would be
completed by the end of April. Similarly, orders would be issued to ensure that
the pension to the old and the destitute would be paid in time.
CM issued orders for the immediate constitution of district level committees for
relief to unorganised workers and gave an assurance that he would call a
separate meeting to discuss the issue of pension and social security benefits to
this section. A scheme for paying an unemployment allowance to retrenched
workers of closed mills and factories would be considered, he said.
the question of tribal malnutrition, the CM informed the delegation that a
special plan had been prepared to provide work and food to adivasi families
throughout the year for 15,000 tribal villages in Maharashtra. No adivasi family
would be evicted from forest land and the state government resolution (GR) dated
October 10, 2002 regarding forest encroachment (which was itself a result of the
massive 1,50,000-strong statewide land satyagraha organised by the CPI-M) would
be resolutely implemented and its time limit extended. After taking into
consideration all legal aspects, the government would consider issuing an
ordinance to restore their alienated lands to the adivasis.
projects would be included on a priority basis in the Tribal Sub Plan. So far as
irrigation as a whole was concerned, the CM said that as per the demand in the
memorandum, the priorities for irrigation water would be changed so that
drinking water came first, water for agriculture would come second and water for
industries would be third.
far as the burning issue of demolition of hutments in Mumbai was concerned, the
CM said that the state government would be filing an affidavit in the High Court
on April 5 on the question of rehabilitating slum-dwellers residing upto the
year 2000. As per the demand of the delegation, he said that the state
government was willing that the Maharashtra State Electricity Board run the
Enron Dabhol Power Project under a new Power Purchase Agreement.
delegation that met the chief minister included CPI(M) Polit Bureau member
Sitaram Yechury, central committee members Prabhakar Sanzgiri and Ahilya
Rangnekar, state secretary Dr Ashok Dhawale, state secretariat members Krishna
Khopkar, K L Bajaj, Mahendra Singh, Kumar Shiralkar, Dr D L Karad, Suryaji
Salunkhe, Lahanu Kom, Manohar Muley, control commission chairman V G Padmanabhan,
all three MLAs of the Party, Narsayya Adam, J P Gavit and Raja Ozare and state
committee members Chandrakant Yadav and Kiran Moghe.
rally at the Azad Maidan was an impressive spectacle. Red flags, banners,
placards filled the area. An artistically prepared backdrop adorned the stage.
After revolutionary songs presented by the 'Jaagar' cultural group, the public
meeting began. People listened for over two hours, braving the scorching heat,
after having walked under the glaring sun for another two hours.
public meeting was presided over by CPI(M) Mumbai committee secretary Mahendra
Singh and was addressed by Sitaram Yechury, Prabhakar Sanzgiri, Dr Ashok Dhawale,
Kumar Shiralkar, Dr D L Karad, Suryaji Salunkhe, Narsayya Adam MLA, Raja Ozare
MLA, Udayan Sharma, Raju Paranjape, Vijay Gabhane, Mariam Dhawale, Shailendra
Kamble and Dr Maharudra Dake.
it must be recorded that the CPI(M) Mumbai district committee and several
volunteers of the Party and mass organisations in Mumbai had worked day and
night to make excellent preparations to ensure the success of this rally.