People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 25, 2007
AIAWU Holds Seventh State Conference
THE seventh state conference of the AIAWU Tripura state committee called upon the people of the state to ensure re-election of the Left Front government in the next assembly elections (due in February/March next year), with bigger popular mandate both in respect of percentage of vote as well as in number of seats.
The conference was held at Dharmanagar, the northern most sub-division of the state during on February 16-18. The venue was christened “Saroj Chanda Nagar”, in memory of the veteran agricultural workers leader, who was president of the state unit of AIAWU as also its central working committee member. Comrade Saroj Chanda passed away on October 11, 2006.
In his inaugural speech, AIAWU all India general secretary A Vijayaraghavan explained the plight of the agricultural workers who constitute 65 per cent of the total workforce of the country. For the last 15 years, there has been no increase in the allocations for agricultural sector. Agricultural production has been seriously affected due to this. On the one hand the production cost is spiralling by the day and on the other the peasants are being deprived of remunerative price. The frustrated peasant finds no other way to get rid of the debt trap but by committing suicide. The Public Distribution System is in doldrums. The per head man-days generation for agricultural workers has reduced from 78 days to 65 days per year in the last five years. He contrasted this with the position of agricultural workers in the three Left ruled states where they are not only relatively better off but also live in dignity. Vijayaraghavan concluded by calling upon the peasantry to strive for a pro-working class and pro-peasant alternative in the national sphere.
AIAWU state secretary Bhanulal Saha while presenting his political-organisational report, highlighted the Tripura Left Front government’s performance in reducing the urban-rural gap, in protecting the interest of the agricultural workers amidst serious limitations. The report stated that during the last six years 20,687 landless families were allotted 19,570 acres of land. Joint pattas were accorded to 13,053 families. Even in implementation of REGA, Dhalai district of Tripura is at the top of all the 200 districts in the country. The registered workers in the district are ensured of at least 70 to 75 days work each year. Out of the 2.10 lakh enlisted non-tribal agricultural workers in the state, more than 2.01 lakh have been enrolled under the banner of KMU (Tripura Khet Majdoor Union), which comprises 95 per cent of the total labour strength, the report noted.
A total of 36 delegates took part in the discussion on the report. Apart from pinpointing many drawbacks and lapses that needed to be plugged, the delegates stressed upon giving more representation to the women in the leadership of the organisation, imparting orientation of the ideological issues to the workers. They also urged consolidation of the organisation making use of the pro-people measures being implemented by the Left Front government.
AIAWU all India joint secretary Hannan Mollah appreciated the vibrant and positive discussions held on the report. In his intervention he said although the farmers and agricultural workers had difference of interests, there is a large area of commonality in the land-reform movement as well as in the agricultural revolution. Therefore the direction of our struggle should be to create a firm unity of both these sections. Hannan Mollah explained how the mode of exploitation in the agricultural sector has changed with the intrusion of capital in farming. Feudal exploitation is being replaced with exploitation by capital. He said agricultural workers will act as instrument for solid linkage between peasantry and working class and emphasised on organising the vast section of unorganised workers spread across the country.
Regarding the demand for a central legislation for the welfare of agricultural labour, Hannan Mollah criticised successive central governments for neglecting this demand. He contrasted this approach with that of the Tripura Left Front government which passed an Act for the welfare of agricultural workers in 1986 itself. Mollah demanded that a Central Act be enacted without any further delay and with the centre bearing the financial liability. He called upon the agricultural workers to prepare for bigger struggles on this demand in future.
After reply by the secretary Bhanulal Saha, the report, including the amendments proposed in spirit and consonance of the delegates discussion, was unanimously adopted by the conference amidst high applause. A 73-member new state council was elected by the conference. Among them included 11 women. Bhanulal Saha and Babul Bhadra were elected by the state council as the new president and secretary of the organisation respectively.
A massive rally of the agricultural workers, peasants and other sections of the people was held at B B Institution ground at Dharmanagar town on the inaugural day of the conference. The rally was presided over by Manik Biswas.
Addressing the spirited open rally, Vijayaraghavan, ridiculed the UPA government’s claim of high GDP growth saying the severe agrarian crisis in the country resulting in thousands of farmers committing suicides exposes the reality. The worst consequences of globalisation policies being pursued by the UPA government are evident for all, particularly in the field of agriculture. Nearly 20,000 agricultural workers died of hunger in many states, including the once granary states of Punjab, Rajasthan etc. The nation’s food security has been undermined and the PDS has almost become almost nonexistent. Lauding the Left ruled states for adopting various measures in favour of peasants, agricultural workers and downtrodden people despite severe limitations, Raghavan highlighted the duty of the democratic movement to project this alternative nationwide.
Hannan Mollah in his speech reminded Pandit Nehru’s promise for conducting radical land reforms and redistribution of excess land to the landless and said this promise proved to be a hollow one because the Congress party had no political will to touch the rural feudal agents like zamindars, money-lenders, dishonest traders etc as it represents these sections.
Describing the bankruptcy of the Congress, Tripura power minister Manik Dey said it was trying to stall the developmental works of the state government as assembly elections are drawing near. Despite the Congress leading the UPA government they are not working for early completion of railway project nor demanding approval of Agartala-Subroom railway project. They are also indifferent to the alternative national highway proposed by the state government. They also are not pressing for sufficient financial allocations for families affected by the construction of barbed wire fencing along the Indo-Bangladesh border. Instead, they are conniving with the extremists to destabilise the Left Front government with an eye for narrow electoral gains in the coming assembly elections. The democratic-minded politically conscious people shall teach them a lesson this time also as they did earlier, said Manik Dey.