People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 29, 2007
CITU, AIKS & AIAWU Observe All India Demands Day
At Jantar Mantar in New Delhi
THE All India Demands Day on the charter of demands of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU), All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU) was observed through out the country by holding of dharnas on April 18, 2007.
In Delhi, a dharna was held at Jantar Mantar. The dharna was presided over by a presidium consisting of Mohan Lal, general secretary, CITU Delhi and Nurul Hooda, joint secretary, AIKS.
M K Pandhe, president CITU, K Varada Rajan, general secretary, AIKS and Hannan Mollah, joint secretary, AIAWU and Sudhir Kumar, president CITU Delhi, addressed the dharna. The speakers said that the neo-liberal economic polices followed by the government of India have made the conditions of toiling masses miserable. The prices of essential commodities are rising day in and day out. The government has abdicated its responsibility of procuring foodgrains and distributing it through fair price shops. National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, passed due to the consistent struggle of workers and peasants and the pressure of Left parties, has to be enforced properly and it should be extended to the urban poor, said the speakers. There is constant attack on the hard-earned rights of the workers. They demanded the government to ensure proper prices to the farmers produce. The government should ensure cheap credit to the farmers and outstanding loans on the poor farmers should be waived off. They also demanded regularisation of anganwadi workers.
The speakers also demanded the enactment of a law for unorganised workers and khet mazdoors. They warned the government to shed its complacency and implement the pro-people policies of the Common Minimum Programme. The unity forged among the workers, peasants and khet mazdoors has to be carried further through sustained struggles so as to ensure the change in the direction of government policies.
Lakhs of people took part in Bengal at the call of the CITU and AIKS based on a 10-point charter of demands. In Bengal, the charter had two more demands included in it. These were the demand for industrialisation and a strident protest against all attempts to derail the process of industrialisation in the state. The programme comprised mass rallies, factory gate meetings, smaller street corner meetings, conventions, and marches. In deference to the ongoing higher secondary examination, the programme was held on April 19 when the examination ended.
The big central rally was held at the Shahid Minar maidan in Kolkata. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was the principal speaker at this rally. Outlining the crisis in which the economy had fallen into at the all-India level, Buddhadeb pointed out pithily that the union government had failed despite reminders to prepare a plan document that projected the employment scenario in agriculture, industry, and the service sector for the next five years.
Lack of a planned approach, explained Buddhadeb, caused the crisis that was gradually overtaking the national economy. There was jobless growth, even a job-loss one. Kisans were forced to take their own lives, faced with stupendous crisis. The time was appropriate for the mazdoor-kisan to organise rallies and marches to protest the present dismal economic scenario of the country.
The stress on work in agriculture, said the CPI(M) leader, has not ended in Bengal due to high agricultural growth rate, indeed, far from it. The task was to accelerate further the agricultural growth rate and to diversify agricultural development. Based on the success wrought in the ploughing fields, a process of industrialisation has been started. At the same time, land was still being acquired and vested in the state government and then redistributed via patta rights among the rural landless. Bargadari rights were still being distributed among the share-croppers. An agricultural commission has been set up.
Industrialisation has been set in motion. An important target here was creating more jobs for the torch-bearers of the new century, said the chief minister. Industrialisation would not mean any lacunae in nurturing agriculture further. The opposition was politically motivated and hardly moved by the non-existent ‘plight of the kisans’ when they would indulge in acts of lawlessness to try to stop the process of industrial growth.
In his address to the rally, CITU all-India general secretary Mohd Amin said that the struggle of the mazdoor-kisan would continue apace. Other speakers were Kali Ghosh, Rajdeo Goala (who presided) and Asim Banerjee (CITU), and Sanjay Putatunda (AIKS).
Workers-peasants held protest rallies at DC Offices against anti-people economic policies, price rise and unemployment
In a joint press statement issued by Raghunath Singh, general secretary, Punjab CITU, Lehmbar Singh Taggar, general secretary, Kisan Sabha and Vasudev Jamsher, general secretary, All India Agricultural Workers Union, it was stated that over 20,000 industrial workers, brick kiln workers, transport, forest workers, anganwadi workers and helpers, agricultural workers and peasants joined the protest rallies and demonstrations all over the state demanding the following: check the rise in prices of essential commodities; give atta at Rs 4 per kg and dals at Rs 20 per kg to all the workers and poor peasants as promised in the election manifesto by the Akali Dal (Badal); revise minimum wages of industrial workers with effect from January 2006 increasing the minimum wages of unskilled workers to Rs 5000 per month, semi skilled to Rs 6500, skilled’ to Rs 8000 and highly skilled to Rs 10,000 per month; restore in full the public distribution system by strengthening procurement with remunerative prices to the peasants and make it universal; introduce comprehensive bills on unorganised labour and agricultural workers in parliament; effective implementation of national employment guarantee scheme and making it universal by covering urban areas; withdraw cuts in custom duties which adversely affect our agriculture and traditional industries; make ICDS universal and regularise anganwadi workers pending which improve their working and living conditions; give land to the tiller with special emphasis on SC/STs; amend SEZ act and rules to protect the interests of the peasants, agricultural workers and other effected people; withdraw false police cases registered against the trade union leaders all over Punjab and Chandigarh; reopen the closed industrial units and ensure payments of economic benefits to the workers of closed and sick mills.
Massive protest rallies were also held at Ludhiana, Sangrur, Rajpura, Fatehgarh Sahib, Hoshiarpur, Amritsar, Ropar, Chandigarh, Moga, Bathinda, Mukatsar, Jallandhar, Batala, Pathankot, Patiala, Faridkot and Firozpur. Balwant Singh, state secretary of CPI(M) and Raghunath Singh, Lehmbar Singh Taggar, Vijay Misra, Rachhpal Singh Vasdev Jamsher and Bhoop Chand apart from other mass organisation leaders addressed the rallies. They said that the import liberalisation of agricultural products, including food grains, withdrawal of quantitative restrictions, rise in prices of agricultural inputs and adherence to the WTO dictates have resulted in the agrarian distress getting aggravated, endangering food security for the entire population and resulting in large scale poverty and unemployment in the agrarian sector. Recurring suicides of farmers-especially in Vidharbha in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab are the manifestations of the depth of such distress.
The speakers warned the centre and the state governments that if genuine demands of the workers and peasants were not accepted and anti-people economic polices were not withdrawn, the toiling masses of the country and the state would launch more militant joint agitations in the coming days.
The call of CITU, AIKS and Agricultural Workers Union for nation-wide demonstrations on the pending demands was well responded in Orissa with demonstrations in 20 out of 30 districts in the state. A few state-level demands were added to the 10-point charter of demands like immediate distribution of 4 decimals of house site land to the landless and homeless as announced by the state government since a year, steps against irregularity in the distribution of Indira Awas and streamlining the work and taking immediate measures against poverty since Orissa has the maximum number of below poverty line people in the country.
The campaign for this mobilisation was started with a state level convention of the executive members of the three organisations along with the representatives of associate middle class employees’ organisations, tribal and fishermen organisations. The campaign was held in 22 districts covering nearly one lakh people through meetings, union general bodies and baithaks etc. More than ten thousand people participated in the demonstrations at 20 district head quarters. At some places, the representatives of the demonstrations discussed with the collectors on the burning problems of the working people. These demonstrations were led by Janardan Pati, Sivaji Patnaik, Bishnu Mohanty, Sisir Hui, Dusmant Das, Subash Singh, Kalu Panda, Jaganath Laxman Munda, MLA along with several others in various districts. (INN)