People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
December 23, 2007
‘Ensure CPI(M) Victory In Shimla For
A New Direction In Himachal Politics’
Even if elected what will one CPI(M) MLA in Himachal state assembly achieve? This has been the common refrain of both the Congress and BJP candidates in the prestigious seat of Shimla, capital city of Himachal Pradesh. Their desperate efforts to sway voters away from the CPI(M) through such campaign were strongly rebuffed by the CPI(M) at an impressive, spirited election meeting at Subzi Mandi grounds in Shimla on December 15.
Party Polit Bureau member and MP Sitaram Yechury asserted that the election of CPI(M) candidate in Shimla would result in giving a new direction to Himachal politics apart from giving voice to the struggles of the working masses inside the assembly. CPI(M) J&K state secretary and MLA, who was also the main speaker at the rally, endorsed this view quoting his own experience.
Earlier thousands of CPI(M) workers and sympathisers led by Sanjay Chauhan held a vibrant march through the narrow lanes of the city appealing for votes.
Yechury in his speech said the main issue in this election in Shimla is the defeat of power-centric Congress and communal BJP and strengthening of democratic politics through election of CPI(M) candidate. He said that today it is very clear that the main fight in Shimla is between CPI(M) and BJP and warned that votes for Congress would only mean helping the BJP to win. He launched a scathing attack on BJP saying that it always indulges in Dushasana politics whereby it seeks to pit one brother against another. He appealed to the voters that India’s unity and integrity can be saved only by defeating BJP.
Referring to the repeated assaults on working class by both the Congress and earlier BJP-regimes, he said the interests of the working people, petty traders, minorities can only be protected by sending the CPI(M) candidate in Shimla to the state assembly. Despite the fact that Shimla would come to a grinding halt if the unorganized workers of the city refuse to work for one day, the governments were targeting them through evictions, harassment and outright hatred. He criticised the Congress for continuing the ‘Shining India’ policies of NDA government, both at the centre and the state.
Yechury asserted that whatever little pro-people measures were undertaken by the UPA government were only done at the constant pressure of the CPI(M)-led Left parties, with whatever little strength they have in Parliament. He cited the instances of NREGA, Forest Rights Act for tribals, the safeguarding of State Electricity Boards etc. He also explained how Himachal Pradesh and particularly Shimla have also benefited by this pressure of the Left parties. The UPA government was forced to agree to the setting up of central university in all states and thus the Himachal University would also have to be upgraded to a central university. Similarly the Indira Gandhi Hospital in Shimla would be upgraded to PGI/AIIMS standards. He concluded saying that CPI(M)’s victory would not be limited to Shimla alone but would impact the state politics and also strengthen the democratic struggle nationwide for making India a better place for the teeming millions living under poverty.
Yusuf Tarigami delivered a forceful speech in Urdu which enthused the gathering no end. He started off saying how Kashmiris opted to stay with India in 1947 despite blandishments of religion by Pakistan because India was a secular progressive nation. He lamented how fundamentalist forces in India were spreading hatred in the name of religion and seeking to undermine its secularism. He also attacked the Congress for not being any different to BJP in terms of economic policies. Recounting how CPI(M) is leading the struggle against these neo-liberal policies and fundamentalism, Tarigami appealed to the people of Shimla to give him a friend in Himachal assembly to continue the fight effectively. “Mujhe ek saathi chahiye. Is andheri mein ek chingari chahiye (I need one friend. I need one spark in this darkness), so saying he concluded.
CPI(M) candidate Sanjay Chauhan in his speech placed the Party’s agenda for making the lives of Shimlaites, particularly the working people, better. Among the main issues he raised were the utter failure of both the parties in providing drinking water, resulting in severe scarcity; the privatisation of municipal services, the attempts to snatch the livelihood of footpath vendors, petty traders; rampant privatisation of education, health services etc; severe traffic congestion problem in the city etc. He said the people of Shimla have well understood the policies of both the Congress and BJP governments in the state and concluded with a pledge to carry on the struggle to protect the interests of downtrodden both inside and outside the assembly.
CPI(M) state secretariat members Mohar Singh, Dr Kashmir Singh and Kushal Bharadwaj were present on the dais while another secretariat member Tikender Singh Panwar conducted the proceedings of the meeting.
(N S Arjun)