People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 26, 2006
CPI(M) To Hold Statewide Mass Rally In Mumbai
On April 4 Around Peoples' Burning Issues
major trends mark the political situation in Maharashtra today. The first is the
severe setbacks to the Shiv Sena and disarray in the SS-BJP communal alliance.
The second is the increasing discontent of the people against the INC-NCP state
government due to the spate of peasant suicides, massive power shortages and
load-shedding, breakdown of the public distribution system and rising
TO SHIV SENA
the parliamentary by-election in Mumbai and the assembly by-election in Malwan,
in both of which the Shiv Sena was badly trounced, five more assembly
by-elections took place in the last two months. Four of these were in the
Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri and Raigad districts of the Konkan region and the fifth
was in Mumbai city.
by-elections were necessitated by the resignations of five Shiv Sena MLAs who
had left the SS and cast their lot with former SS chief minister Narayan Rane,
who is now in the Congress and is revenue minister in the state government. Four
of these five MLAs won with large margins as Congress candidates. This included
the seat in central Mumbai, which was once a citadel of the SS. These losses,
particularly the loss in Mumbai, were a big setback for the Sena.
one of the seats in Konkan, the CPI(M) supported the Kunabi Sena with which it
has been having joint movements in Thane district for the last couple of years.
The Kunabi Sena candidate stood third with nearly 25,000 votes, which was about
3,000 more than it had got in the 2004 elections.
fifth seat in Raigad district was retained by the SS for the following three
reasons: (a) The presence of an NCP rebel candidate in the fray; (b) The Raigad
unit of the PWP – a Left party – publicly supporting the SS-BJP candidate;
(c) Internal dissensions within the INC. The PWP stand was particularly
unfortunate and it reflected serious electoral opportunism.
add to the SS discomfiture, Raj Thackeray after a statewide tour, announced last
week that he would form a new political party – the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena
(MNS) – at a rally in Shivaji Park in Mumbai on March 19. Raj announced that
the new party would contest the Mumbai municipal corporation elections early
next year. The formation of this new outfit will certainly weaken the SS even
IN THE NCP
the above election results, the number of MLAs of the INC has surpassed that of
the NCP for the first time since the assembly elections of 2004. This has led to
considerable heartburn in the NCP, and relations between the two parties have
touched a new low, with constant sniping and backbiting between their leaders.
has further intensified as a result of a fast unto death undertaken in January
by senior Gandhian social worker Anna Hazare on the issue of corruption of four
NCP state ministers. Due to an earlier fast by him on the same issue, the state
government had to institute an enquiry committee headed by former Supreme Court
chief justice P B Sawant. The committee had indicted all four NCP ministers on
one count or the other. A new committee was instituted headed by a former chief
secretary to frame the Action Taken Report (ATR), and it promptly gave a clean
chit to three of the four indicted ministers, saying that no action need be
taken against them.
resulted in the fast unto death by Hazare, under pressure of which the ATR had
to be cancelled and a new three-member committee had to be constituted to frame
a new ATR. Although this decision was collectively taken by the state cabinet,
the NCP has targetted the INC for this turn of events. Meanwhile, the Mumbai
High Court has permitted the launching of criminal proceedings in a corruption
case involving a fifth NCP minister!
few days ago, the Supreme Court handed down a thoroughly retrograde judgement
regarding textile mill lands in Mumbai. Most of the textile mills in Mumbai have
closed down over the years, throwing nearly two lakh workers on to the streets.
The mill-owners, with the help of successive state governments, have gone on a
spree of selling their huge mill-lands to the builder lobby at astronomical
prices without even paying the legitimate dues owed to workers, and with no
thought to the overall development of Mumbai city. A classic case of this was
the then SS leader Raj Thackeray, in partnership with the son of another SS
leader Manohar Joshi, buying the 4.9 acre Kohinoor Mill land in Mumbai for a
whopping sum of Rs 421 crore!
months ago, the Mumbai High Court in a welcome judgement had ruled that of the
mill-lands to be sold, one-third would be earmarked for providing cheap housing,
one-third for public parks and gardens and the remaining one-third could be sold
to the builders for development. The case went to the Supreme Court in appeal.
Now the Supreme Court has ruled that 87 per cent of the lands can be given to
the builder lobby, while only 13 per cent need be kept for public purposes! So
much for judicial activism!
second trend – that of discontent against the INC-NCP state government – has
also been steadily increasing. The peasant suicides in Vidarbha continue
unabated and they are spreading to Marathwada. Some cases have been reported
from Western Maharashtra as well. There have been cases of peasant suicides in
union agriculture and food minister Sharad Pawar's constituency of Baramati and
also in chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh's constituency of Latur. These are
manifestations of deep agrarian crisis.
12-hour load-shedding of power all across rural Maharashtra and 4-6 hours
load-shedding in urban Maharashtra continues. The shortfall in power is to the
tune of 4000 MW and it is likely to rise to 5000 MW in a few months. As written
in these columns earlier, the power crisis is essentially due to the corrupt
deals of all four major bourgeois parties with Enron, and the refusal to give
permission to the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB) to set up any new
power generation projects in the last 12 years.
public distribution system is in shambles: thousands of poor families are denied
BPL ration cards, ration grain is not available and there is large-scale
corruption in the PDS. Malnutrition deaths of children in tribal areas of the
state are on the rise for the last several years, but nothing tangible is done.
both rural and urban, continues to be a serious problem. The number of
registered unemployed in Maharashtra has crossed 45 lakhs. Hundreds of factories
have closed down or are sick. The days of employment of agricultural workers
have sharply declined, and so have their real wages. Large sections of
unorganised sector workers are being mercilessly exploited, with no job or
social security whatsoever.
CPI(M) STATE RALLY
IN MUMBAI ON APRIL 4
view of all this, the CPI(M) Maharashtra state committee has decided to organise
a massive statewide rally and jail bharo stir on the budget session of
the state assembly in Mumbai on April 4, 2006, on the following four burning
issues: PDS-related questions, load-shedding of power, peasant suicides and
rising unemployment. Extensive preparations have begun in the state to make this
rally a great success. CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury will address
this rally. Last year, too, precisely on April 4, 2005, the CPI(M) state
committee had organised a 25,000-strong statewide rally in Mumbai, on the eve of
the 18th Party congress in New Delhi. To prepare for the coming rally,
demonstrations of thousands at several district and tehsil centres in the state
were organised from February 20 to 28.
decision taken by the state committee is to observe March 23, the 75th
anniversary of martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev all over the state
in a big way. This campaign will target imperialism and communalism; it will
defend national sovereignty and national unity; and it will also propagate the
struggle for socialism - ideals for which Bhagat Singh and his comrades laid
down their lives. The Party has also decided to observe the Bhagat Singh Birth
Centenary Year from September 27 and the Godavari Parulekar Birth Centenary Year
from August 14 all over the state.
third decision of the state committee is to take concerted steps to ensure the
proper implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (REGA).
Twelve districts in Maharashtra are among the 200 districts in the country where
the REGA has begun to be implemented. In all districts of Maharashtra, the
Employment Guarantee Scheme (EGS) of the state government has been in operation,
but very unsatisfactorily. The Party and AIAWU, are conducting campaigns to
mobilise people to register their names and fill the application forms for
getting employment. They are also insisting on the implementation of the scheme
through panchayat decisions.
March 2, large demonstrations were held in almost all districts and several
tehsils of Maharashtra by the CPI(M) along with other left and democratic forces
to condemn imperialism and the visit of U.S. President George Bush to India.
Several thousand people participated in these statewide actions. In Mumbai,
various Muslim organisations joined the rally organised by the Forum Against War
and Terrorism that comprised the CPI(M), CPI, SP, CITU and other trade unions
and some NGOs. The Mumbai mobilisation against Bush crossed the one lakh mark.
All the anti-Bush demonstrations in Maharashtra were well covered by the media.
31st National Conference of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) was successfully
held at Nashik from January 28 to 31, 2006. An AIKS national conference was
being held in Maharashtra after 51 years. The conference was attended by 720
delegates from 24 states. The total amount collected for the conference from all
parts of Maharashtra exceeded Rs 30 lakhs, which was another record. The AIKS
membership in the state this year has crossed the two lakh mark for the first
time. A big propaganda campaign for this conference was launched amongst the
peasantry throughout the state. The conference arrangements were diligently made
by hundreds of activists in Nashik district. Thousands of activists of the
Maharashtra Rajya Kisan Sabha put in untiring efforts for four months to ensure
the success of this conference, and all other mass organisations – CITU, NRMU,
MSMRA, AIAWU, AIDWA, DYFI, SFI and others – helped the AIKS in this onerous
task. The organisation of this conference was a valuable learning experience.