13th State Conference Of CPI(M)
Begins With Massive Rally
Tikender Singh Panwar
THE 13th state conference of the Himachal Pradesh unit of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was held on March 1-3, 2008 at Rampur Bushahar in Shimla district. A massive rally of workers , peasants, women, students and youth was held on March 1. The rallyists thronged the Satluj river basin (Rampur town exists on left bank of Satluj river) since morning. The venue of the public meeting was Brow, which is on the right bank of the river and falls in Kullu district. At three places the rallyists assembled and started the procession towards Rampur Bazar. Almost half a dozen traditional bands consisting of the famous tribal bands of Kinnaur, Saraj, Kullu, and Rampur marched with emphatic music and slogans of struggle of the workers and peasants. Nearly half the number of the people included women. The traffic in the town came to a standstill and it took almost two hours for the traffic to normalise. The vice president of the reception committee Prem Gautam presided over the mass meeting and Tikender Singh Panwar conducted the proceedings of the mass meeting
Sitaram Yechury, the main speaker of the rally, spoke on the current political situation in the country. He explained the historic role which the CPI(M) and Left are playing at the present juncture. Talking about the two India?s i.e. the Shining and bleeding, he said the gap between the rich and the poor is increasing in the country. ?On the one hand we have the largest growth of billionaires taking place even surpassing Japan, on the other more than 70 per cent of the people in the country live on just Rs 22 a day,? he said. Yechury while commenting on the budget said it is because of our Party that some pro-people measures have been adopted which also includes the termination of debt of farmers.
Finally, he called upon the people to launch massive struggles and said this was the basis on which the present UPA government could be forced to implement certain pro-people measures in the CMP.
Hannan Mollah, Central secretariat member of the Party cautioned those who are the enemies of the people and the Left, that their long old rhetoric of saying ?the red flag is finished? does not hold ground. The Left has a strong presence in the country and has re-emerged in various parts of the world especially in Latin America, he said. This, he said, has happened due to the unflinching struggles led by the Communist parties the world over. Hannan also narrated the changing situation in West Bengal and the kind of class struggle which is taking place there. As far as development is concerned, because of the conscious efforts of the Left and the CPI(M) in particular in implementing the land reforms, the buying capacity is rural Bengal has increased from Rs 200 crore to Rs 20 thousand crore. This is a major reason for investment and the inflow of capital. He said all sorts of forces from extreme Left to extreme Right and also US imperialism are eyeing this outpost of the Left to undo what the Left has done, but have failed in the past and shall fail again, he said.
Rakesh Singha , the state secretary of the Party asked the people to be prepared for the attacks by the state government. As a starter, the BJP government has gifted the people with an increase of 25 per cent in the fares in government buses throughout the state, now a rupee per kilometer for travel in government buses is the charge. Like in the past when the Party and its cadres stood in the forefront to face the attacks of the people, once again the Party will remain ahead in this responsibility. He said, the BJP has been instrumental in using the regional card between the new and old Himachal, as it cannot gain by communalising on religious lines here in this hilly state. He further thanked the people for their overwhelming participation in the mass meeting.
Onkar Shad, the state secretariat member of the Party explained in detail the problems being faced by the people of the state and the area. Whereas the government has banned the use of timber distribution rights under which a family is allowed to get one cedrus tree in two years on the pretext of saving the green cover, on the other, the same government has allowed to cut thousands of cedrus trees by the Jay Prakash company to lay electricity towers. Secondly, the forest corporation is being allowed to cut trees in large number under silviculture. Now the peasant will get wood but only at price. The timber distribution rights form one of the basic rights of the hilly people. The wood is used for various kinds of works including the construction of houses, burning of corpse and fuel. He further explained the foremost demand of the people of regularising the encroachments of the hilly people. In Himachal, more than 66 per cent of the land is under the forests. The people since long had grazing and other rights on such land. However, since the forest owns these lands, after 1980 the people have been denied their legitimate rights. However, the possession remains with the people. The government even started eviction drive which was resisted by the Party. He said, the government is refusing to provide such land to people but at the same time has even given 1000 acres of forest land to a tea company on just Re 1 per year lease. This shall be fought thoroughly, he stated. The third important issue of the area was to increase the price of milk supplied by local producers. Shockingly a price of Rs 8 was being given to the milk producers when milk from outside the state was being sold at Rs 21 per litre. The kisans fought a valiant battle under the banner of Himachal Kisan Sabha at various places and now the price is at Rs 13. Increasing to Rs 18 is the primary demand on which struggle will take place immediately after. The fourth important issue pertains to the fact that employment and proper utilisation of the money be used under the catchment?s area treatment (CAT) plan. He said that at present the distress cost that the company is bound to pay and utilise at the site of the Hydel projects construction is being diverted to other areas. For example, the JP management constructing the 1000 MW Wangtoo Karcham project is bound to spend money for rehabilitation and other such works in the tribal district of Kinnaur, but instead, it is constructing an auditorium for medical students at Shimla. He further stated, that more struggles are in the offing and the Party shall lead them.
During the course of the public meeting, families of martyrs and freedom fighters were honored by Sitaram Yechury. These include the family of Babu Ram who was killed in Chamba while he was forming a union of the workers in HCC Company by the company management. In addition, the other two comrades who were killed by the management included Vijan and Dhan Singh. The families of Tara, Govind and Heera were also honoured. They laid down their lives during the agitation for the increase of minimum support price for apple. The family of the legendary freedom fighter and leader of the Prajamandal movement Master Annu Lal was also honoured.
The reception committee was formed on January 30, 2008 in which more than 300 people participated. Immediately after that, meetings were fixed in adjoining areas comprising working class, peasant, youth and students. In these meetings the basic thrust was the formation of mass organisations, identifying issues for struggles and also mobilisation for the rally. The Party has a plan that after the rally on the issues, struggles would be launched. In these meetings, village and institution wise meetings were fixed. In all, the following areas were identified: Karsog, Chattri, Anni, Kotgarh and Thanedhar, Nirmand, Nankhari, Rampur, Kinnaur and more than 200 meetings were organised in these areas. Intensive fund campaign was held in these areas and a good amount of fund was generated in cash and kind. In six places jeep jathas were also held from February 27- 29, 2008 and these include Anni jatha led by Pratap Thakur, Karsog led by Kushal Bhardwaj, Nirmand Jatha led by Puran Thakur, Kinnaur jatha led by Ashok Negi and Mohal Lal, Nankhari jatha led by Vivek and Sanjay Chauhan and Rampur Jatha led by Bihar Sewgi . In all, more than fifty meetings took place. Also with three jathas, street plays were organised by two teams one from the Act One group and another by the students from Himachal Pradesh University. These jathas were able to further intensify the campaign for mobilisation.
Apart from this, a cultural programme was also organised at the rally venue from February 27-29, 2008. This was organised under the Lok Sanskriti Manch. Through this, the folk culture of the state was popularised and a film festival was held.