People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
December 24, 2006
DADRA & NAGARHAVELI
Massive CPI(M) Rally Calls For Resistance To Autocratic And Corrupt Rule
Sitaram Yechury addressing the rally
THE tiny union territory of Dadra and Nagarhaveli (D&N) lies adjacent to the Thane district of Maharashtra. It was liberated from Portuguese colonial rule in 1954 and in this struggle for liberation, the Red Flag of the Communist Party and the Kisan Sabha led by comrades Shamrao and Godavari Parulekar had played a decisive role. In the intervening years, not enough attention was paid to this area and the movement went into decline.
But over the last few years, with the help of the CPI(M) all India centre, the CPI(M) Maharashtra state committee, through its Thane district committee, has once again started paying special attention to increasing the movement in this union territory, which has a large Adivasi population, along with even larger non-Adivasi sections from Maharashtra, Gujarat and several other states of India.
It was as a result of this that on December 2, 2006, a massive 10,000-strong rally was organised under the Red Flag of the CPI(M) at Silvassa, the capital of D&N. About half of the participants were from the union territory itself, while the remaining were from the adjoining Talasari, Dahanu and other tehsils of Thane district. The main speaker at the rally was CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury, MP.
There are 72 villages in D&N. The total population is three lakhs. The majority of the people are dependent on agriculture. Being a backward region, capitalists are given incentives to start their industries here. Around 3000 industrial units have been set up. But as our experience in many other tribal areas shows, here too the local tribal populace has largely been kept away from jobs. All the workers are employed only on a contract basis. Labour laws are flouted with impunity and no minimum wages are paid. Many government servants too, who have been in service for fifteen to twenty years, have surprisingly not been made permanent.
Mohan Delkar, who has been the member of parliament from D&N without a break since 1989, treats this constituency like his personal fiefdom. He wins the elections as an independent, but then promptly supports whichever party is in power at the centre. During the NDA regime, he supported the BJP. And now, during the UPA regime, he is with the Congress. He rules over the union territory with a gang of equally autocratic and corrupt followers through terror tactics and large-scale extortion.
The entire administration, which is controlled directly by the central government, bows to his dictates. Anyone who tries to function independently is immediately transferred. There is no degree college in D&N, in spite of it being sanctioned long ago. Delkar is said to have collected huge sums from local industrialists to set up this college, but there is no sign of any college coming up.
Any one who challenges him is mercilessly beaten, financially destroyed, implicated in false police cases and generally threatened with dire consequences. Delkar himself is allegedly implicated in a murder case, but due to his high connections, the investigation into the case has been stalled.
These and many other complaints were placed before Sitaram Yechury during his visit by people from all walks of life. They also placed their observation that the leadership of most of the bourgeois parties in D&N had been bought over by Delkar. And they fervently said that the Red Flag of the CPI(M) was the only hope left for the people of this union territory. In fact, the press conference that was addressed by Yechury took an unusual turn when the journalists themselves poured their hearts out about the shocking state of affairs prevailing there.
People marching in the rally
Local comrades worked day and night for the success of the December 2 rally. Teams of activists campaigned from village to village for three weeks. Rickshaws mounted with loudspeakers were used for propagating the rally for a week. Over 25,000 leaflets in Marathi, Gujarati and Hindi were printed and distributed in all hamlets.
Scared of the response that this campaign was generating, the administration initially refused permission to hold the rally and public meeting. It was only when the police realised that the rally would take place in spite of their ban, they grudgingly gave permission at the last moment.
Along with threats of repression were the blandishments. Three days before the rally, Delkarís men organised liquor and mutton parties in many villages to prevail upon the villagers not to attend the rally. Yet all these inducements could not dissuade the people, who have suffered much at the hands of Delkar and his goons.
This was by far the biggest rally held in the union territory in recent years. It was much larger than even the election meetings addressed by top national leaders of the bourgeois parties. Hundreds of people lined the streets to watch the massive Red Flag procession as it wound its way through Silvassa. Giving militant slogans, the people marched with renewed determination to rebuild the Left movement in this area. A memorandum of burning local demands was submitted to the Resident Collector.
Addressing the rally, Sitaram Yechury assured the people that the Red Flag of the CPI(M) would unflinchingly stand by them in the struggle for their rights and for the development of this area. Although the Portuguese were ousted in 1954 and this area won its political independence, the people here, like in the rest of the country, have yet to win their economic freedom and social equality.
He said that the central government today is dependent on the support of the Left parties, who were supporting it to keep the communal forces out of power and on the basis of a Common Minimum Programme. Due to Left pressure, the UPA regime had to pass the NREGA, stop the sale of profit-making public sector units and reduce the price of petrol and diesel. The Tribal Forest Rights Bill, for which the CPI(M) had tenaciously fought, was likely to be passed in this session of parliament.
In the 30 years of Left Front rule in West Bengal, 13 lakh acres of land had been taken from the landlords and distributed free of cost to the landless, apart from other major steps. Similar pro-people measures had been taken by the Left-led governments in Kerala and Tripura as well. It was for building such a real alternative that we are fighting throughout the country.
Yechury finally assured the rally that the burning issues of the people of D&N would be raised by him in Delhi. He called upon the people to increase and intensify their mass struggles to win their rights and also to build a new India.
CPI(M) Maharashtra state secretary Dr Ashok Dhawale reminded the rally that the Red Flag had succeeded in ousting the powerful Portuguese colonial rule from the area in 1954. The same Red Flag would now rally the people to overthrow the corrupt and autocratic rule of the bourgeois-landlord parties and elements in this union territory.
Referring to the vital questions of the people like land, water, food, education, employment and development, he said all these questions had aggravated in the last 15 years of neo-liberal policies followed by both the Congress and BJP-led regimes. He called for strengthening the Party and mass organisations on the basis of militant and widespread struggles in the days ahead.
The rally was also addressed by CPI(M) Thane district secretary and state committee member Rajaram Ozare, MLA, state secretariat member Lahanu Kom, state committee members Ramji Vartha and Mariam Dhawale, and leaders of the movement in D&N: Ladak Gimbhal, Kumar Shanmugham and Prakash Khanvelkar. The last three, along with their comrades, have bravely carried the Red Flag forward in the teeth of several attacks and repression over the years.
On December 3, another big rally of over 7,000 people was held at Jawhar in Thane district. It drew large Adivasi masses, including a sizable proportion of women, from the three tehsils of Jawhar, Mokhada and Vikramgad. It was addressed by Sitaram Yechury, Dr Ashok Dhawale, state secretariat member P B Chavan, Jawhar tehsil secretary Ratan Budhar, Vikramgad tehsil secretary Kama Tabale and it was presided over by Rajaram Ozare, MLA. All the speakers called upon the people to resoundingly defeat the BJP-SS and the INC-NCP and to ensure the victory of the CPI(M) in the ensuing statewide zilla parishad and panchayat samiti elections due in February 2007.