People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
November 05, 2006
CITU’s Successful Maharashtra State Conference
P R Krishnan
ICHALKARANJI, a power loom town in Kolhapur district in south west Maharashtra hosted the CITU’s state conference on October 11, 12 and 13. This was the state’s 11th conference and was attended by 298 delegates and five observers representing 90,000 members on the live rolls of 90 unions in the state.
INCREASE OF MEMBERSHIP
There has been a significant increase in the CITU membership since last conference held at Nagpur in November 2002. An appreciable feature of this is that a majority of them are from the unorganised sector, mostly the Beedi workers and domestic workers. More important is the fact that an overwhelming majority of the increased membership are women workers. As against the numerical increase in the membership, though appreciable, the disturbing factor is the fall in the number of workers from the organised sector arising out of the large-scale closure of industries, massive retrenchment and indiscriminate VRS in the organised and the service sectors. This is underlined by the fact that the number of closed units in this premier state, has now reached to the extent of 80,000; this includes small and medium industrial units, and large mills and factories from the old and organised sectors.
The venue of the conference was Ghorpode Natyagriha in the centre of Ichalkaranji town. It was named ‘Comrade K L Malabade Nagar’. Malabade was a veteran working class leader of Kolhapur district and was twice MLA from Ichalkaranji. A 100-member reception committee under the chairmanship of Suryaji Salunkhe had made elaborate arrangements for the successful conduct of the conference. The CITU president, Dr M K Pandhe, attended the three-day conference.
The programme began with flag hoisting by CITU state general secretary K L Bajaj followed by floral tributes to the martyrs. Suryaji Salunke welcomed the delegates. The state president Prabhakar Sansgiri chaired the inaugural function and the first part of the delegates session. Amrit Meshram moved the condolence resolution.
The conference was greeted by AITUC leader Dilip Pawar, Kisan Sabha leader M. Patil and DYFI leader Aslam. The NRMU general secretary P. R. Menon and Sarva Sramik Sangh president M. A. Patil had sent messages of greetings. The conference was being held in the background of the communal disturbances in Bhiwandi, a series of terrorist attacks as witnessed in the running trains in Mumbai on July 11, and in Malegaon town on September 8, and the unearthing of several plots from various parts of the state. It was commendable that though peace was disturbed, communal harmony remained undisturbed and for that credit should go to the working class and secular forces in Maharashtra.
The CITU president, M K Pandhe inaugurated the conference and later summed up the conference deliberations. He was also the main speaker in the public rally on the concluding day of the conference. He dealt with the international situation, the major problems facing the country and the burning issues in the state of Maharashtra. Emphasising the victory scored by the secular and democratic forces in the 2003 parliamentary elections defeating the BJP-led NDA government, he pointed out that it was the role played by the Left parties, the progressive people, the secular forces and the working class which had contributed to the defeat of the communal forces and the drawing up of the National Common Minimum Programme. Later, in the functioning of the government it has become clear that the Congress has become lukewarm in implementing this programme, a number of examples show the anti-working class and anti-people actions of the UPA government.
Before the CITU was formed, there were no all-India strikes or action despite the severe attacks against the working class. Only after the CITU was formed, have there been all-India protest actions and strikes on all specific urgent demands, and relating to economic policies. Though the UPA promised enactment of a law to protect the interests of the unorganised workers, the draft Bill brought forward by the government does not reflect concrete intention to render relief to the unorganised workers. Pandhe referred to the miserable conditions of the beedi workers and said we are prepared to give concessions in the excise duties on beedies, provided the employers pay statutory minimum wages to the workers. The government’s own estimate of unemployed people in urban India is four crores and eight crores in rural India while in fact the joblessness figure is much higher. Pandhe commended the work done by the Solapur CITU committee in getting 10,000 houses built for the beedi workers by the Godavari Parulekar Griha Nirman Sanstha. Similarly, the government has not yet brought the bill for 33 per cent reservation for women to the state assemblies and parliament.
NEED FOR CONTINUOUS VIGILANCE
The widespread and continuing suicides of farmers in Maharashtra was a direct result of the anti-farmer policies of the previous BJP-led Shiv Sena government in Maharashtra and the former BJP-led NDA government at the centre. But the present NCP-Congress alliance is following the same policy in Maharashtra and the UPA is implementing it at the centre, and so the agricultural situation has deteriorated. Both the state and the UPA government at the centre is bowing down to the big capitalists and multinational corporations. The uninformed attempts to acquire large plots of lands for Special Economic Zones is the latest example in the series. Of the 500 proposed SEZs by the central government, 28 are going to be in Maharashtra. Though five lakh jobs are sought to be offered in the proposed SEZs, the plan as formulated at present is going to ruin the country-side apart from creating islands of jungle raj within the rural areas. This is not only against farmers but is also against the national interest. This has to be stopped.
ON FOREIGN POLICY
Pandhe, referring to the foreign policies of the government pointed out how the UPA government is ignoring the non-alignment policies initiated by the Nehru government and succumbing to American pressures. The CITU has given a call for a nationwide protest strike against all these and other anti-working class, anti-people and anti-national policies of the government. The situation requires that all patriotic people must help to make it a big success in order to bring about the changes we seek, Pandhe said.
In his presidential address Prabhakar Sansgiri referred especially to the industrial scenario now prevailing in Maharashtra. The claim made by the present Congress-NCP coalition government with regard to the so-called progress in the state is meaningless. Though claimed by them, the number of registered factories in the state has not been increasing. If we are to regain the past glory of militant working class movement that marked this city and state, the CITU must become a vigorously fighting force and strong in the state. Only then will it enable us to bring other trade union organisations into united struggles against capitalist onslaughts and governmental attacks.
Resolutions supporting the All India Strike on December 14, against imperialism, terrorism and communalism, against special economic zones, on the demands of unorganised workers and power loom workers, on reopening of closed mills and factories, for unemployment allowance of Rs 1000 per month, on problems of working women and their demands, condemning the brutal killings of three Himachal Pradesh workers, on judicial onslaught against the working class and on the demands of the government employees were moved and passed.
The general secretary’s report presented by K L Bajaj gave a vivid picture of the industrial situation in the state. Referring to the efforts made by the state CITU to bring together various other trade union organisations under a common platform to launch united actions, noted that though there was an encouraging response, some organisations are still unwilling to join the mainstream actions. Though there has been considerable progress since the last 2002 November conference, CITU has to strive hard to make the organisation much stronger. For that, he said we should work in new areas, new fields and new sectors. In the discussions that followed the general secretary’s report, 65 delegates participated. They represented different industrial unions and regions. It was heartening to note that amongst the participants, there were 16 women workers. In his reply, Bajaj referred to the sacrifice made by Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru and Sukhdev. He particularly mentioned as to how Bhagat Singh preached for communal harmony amongst Indians while fighting against British imperialism. Bajaj said Bhagat Singh visualised the importance of unity between the peasantry and the working class to achieve the goal of socialism. We have, therefore, to carry forward this message of unity in this Bhagat Singh centenary year.
The conference elected a new state committee of 105 members with 32 office-bearers. K L Bajaj is the new president and Dr D L Karad is the new general secretary. K R Raghu is re-elected as the treasurer. The committee has 15 vice presidents and 14 secretaries. Amongst the new office bearers, there are four women.
After the election of the general council and office-bearers, the newly elected general secretary Dr D L Karad addressed the conference. Suryaji Salunkhe, K L Bajaj, Mahendra Singh Datta Mane and Madhukar Chikane also spoke and thanked the Ichalkaranji people for the successful culmination of the conference. The concluding part was the public rally in the heart of the Ichalkaranji town. The rally was addressed by M K Pandhe, K L Bajaj and Dr D L Karad, and chaired by Suryaji Salunkhe. Datta Mane and Chandrakant Yadav also spoke on the occasion.
A cultural troupe Praja Natya Mandali from Solapur and another troupe Aami Anand Yatri from Ichalkaranji staged heart-moving performances for the delegates in the conference hall and at the public rally. The songs rendered by the young artists inspired the delegates and the participants.