People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
January 20, 2008
Tamilnadu -- CPI(M) Holds Successful Conference At Madurai
THE Tamilnadu state committee of the CPI (M) held its 19th conference at Madurai, a strong base for trade union and democratic struggles on January 8 – 10, 2008. It called upon all the Party units to launch an intensive campaign against price rise from January 29 to February 4, 2008 and appealed to the people of the state to en-masse join the picketing of central and state government offices on February 5, 2008.
The state conference commenced on January 8, 2008 with a rousing reception to the jathas which carried the conference flag from Nagercoil, venue of the 18th conference and the torch in memory of the martyrs from Pothumbhu village in Madurai district. G Veeraian, a veteran leader of the state Party and kisan movement hoisted the flag.
Prakasah Karat, general secretary, inaugurating the conference declared that the Left parties, along with democratic forces, would form a third front as an alternative to the Congress and the communal Bharatiya Janata Party. He said, “Though the CPI (M) was supporting the United Progressive Alliance government at the centre, it had assumed the role of the opposition by pushing real issues of the working class and peasantry to the fore. It was the CPI (M) that mounted pressure on the government to formulate the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Right to Information Act, and Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Bill, 2005. Besides, it prevented disinvestment in Navratna companies and further opening up of banking and insurance sectors.”
While noting that the Party was being targeted as it was working to defend the nation’s sovereignty and opposing neo-liberal policies, he said, ‘a section of the media had stepped up the attack on the CPI (M) in the Party-ruled states. However, people in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura had rallied behind the Party in large numbers’. He was confident that the Party would come back to power in Tripura with increased strength in the February elections as, “there is no anti-incumbency wave, as the Party is pursuing a policy in the interest of the working class. On the other hand, the people had rejected the Congress in three states ruled by it – Punjab, Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh – as its economic policies did not benefit them.”
Adding that Tamilnadu was one of the important states for the Party, he emphasised, “Left parties should grow independently through mass movements and by taking up people’s issues.”
D Pandian, state secretary of the Communist Party of India greeted the conference.
A total of 507 delegates including 80 women delegates and 37 observers representing 90,291 Party members attended the conference from all over state.
A five-member presidium comprising K Balakrishnan, A Rengasamy, K Palnivelu, P Suganthy and S Kannan conducted the conference proceedings.
N Varadarajan, on behalf of the state committee, introduced the political organisation report in the delegates’ session.
The report recalled that the 18th conference held in February 2005 vowed to defeat the then AIADMK, which had earned notoriety for its authoritarian and anti-people measures, a task successfully completed by forging an alliance with the democratic secular parties in the state led by the DMK. The slogan of ‘authoritarianism vs. democracy’ put out by the Party had a resounding echo throughout the state. The Party had been extending support to the DMK government formed after the state elections in 2006. While welcoming the measures taken by the DMK in fulfillment of pro-people commitments in its election manifesto, the Party had been rallying the masses in pursuing the basic issues of the people like land and house site pattas, eradicating untouchability and social oppression, democratic and trade union rights etc. This has contributed to a tremendous growth of the Party’s influence in the state.
Membership of mass organisations has gone up during this period. The membership of all mass organisations which stood at 23,59,093 in 2004 has gone up to 29,23,384, marking a growth of about 25 percent. The whole Party has strived hard to improve the quality of the membership in this period. Political classes on various topics including Party organisation have been widely held throughout the state. A conscious effort to improve the level of political consciousness has been made and the Party has made some advance in this direction.
Circulation of the Party daily, Theekkathir, monthly magazines Semmalar and Marxist and People's Democracy has gone up in this period. A third edition of Theekkathir was launched at Coimbatore apart from Madurai and Chennai editions.
The report also made a self critical appraisal of the implementation of the tasks mandated by the Party in the 18th Congress and the last state conference viz. the fight against imperialism, communalism and economic liberalisation and taking up of social issues. The report also pinpointed the efforts taken to strengthen the Party organisation in the state and rectifying the weaknesses noticed. It also laid out the tasks before the Party in the period ahead.
84 delegates, including 19 women participated in the discussions thereon. After the secretary, on behalf of the steering committee summed up the discussions, the conference adopted the report unanimously. K Kanagaraj presented the report of the credentials committee, which was also adopted. The conference also elected the new state committee (see box). 49 delegates to the Party Congress also were elected unanimously.
S Ramachandran Pillai and R Umanath, members of the Party Polit Bureau addressed the delegates.
Eleven senior comrades viz. K Vaithianathan, N R Ramasamy, P Nagammal, N Manian, K S Karuppusamy, H M Athawullah, R Savithri, S Swayampakasam, K N Gopalakrishnan, P Ramamurthy and G Kaliaperumal were felicitated at the conference for their exemplary services rendered to the Party.
On this occasion, books written by S Ramachandran Pillai, Polit Bureau member on problems facing the peasants, by K Varadarajan, Polit Bureau member on Caste, Religion and Class in our Society, and by P Shanmugam, state committee member on Vachathi(where tribals were attacked by Police) were released.
Parkash Karat in his concluding address congratulated the state party for having taken up social issues like untouchability and social oppression meted out to the Arundatiyar community forming the lowest rung of the dalits in the state. He emphasised that the unity exhibited in the conference deliberations and conclusions should be carried forward for building a strong Party in the state, capable of rallying the people of Tamilnadu in meeting the challenges and tasks before the Party both at national and state levels.
The state conference adopted several resolutions. It urged the state and central government to implement the Sethusamudram project within a timeframe and termed the attempts to stop the project in the name of Ramar Sethu as anti-people. The conference criticised the centre for ignoring the welfare of farm workers by not enacting necessary legislation.
Alleging that corruption, irregularities and underpayment marred the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the Party demanded that the scheme be well regulated and adequate funds be allotted.
Another resolution said the state government’s policy on industrial development should cover all sectors, including public and cooperative, and encourage tiny, medium and small- scale industries. It should protect public sector units and the labour-intensive rural, handicraft and traditional industries.
Expressing concern over the increasing activities of fundamentalist groups, the conference said some forces were threatening the state’s communal harmony, attempting to mobilise people on the basis of religion. The Party said lack of attention to power generation had led to severe shortage. The demand could not be met with private investments aimed at profits.
The conference demanded foreign direct investment and domestic giants should not be allowed into the retail sector, the dalit Christians be brought under the list of the Scheduled Caste, untouchability prevalent in over 150 forms in several districts be eradicated, an exclusive election commission for cooperative societies be set up, distribution of land to landless agricultural labourers be made, granting house site pattas be effected and Tamil be made medium of instruction in higher education and an official language in the High Court.
The conference also resolved to host the 19th Congress of the Party, to be held in Coimbatore in March and sought the cooperation of the people of Tamilnadu in making it a success.
In the evening of January 10, 2008, a massive rally was held at the Thamukkam Grounds in the heart of the city. Though the mobilisation for the rally was restricted to Madurai and the neighbouring districts, the huge gathering of the people overflowed the venue of the meeting. Party leaders, including Prakash Karat, R Umanath, K Varadarajan, N Sankaraiah, N Varadarajan, T K Rengarajan, U Vasuki and P Mohan, MP addressed the rally.
W R Varadarajan
& N Srinivasan