People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXII

No. 40

October 12, 2008

 

AGAINST NUCLEAR DEAL, PRICE RISE, AGRARIAN DISTRESS AND COMMUNALISM


Left Campaign In Maharashtra Evokes Rousing Response


Ashok Dhawale


THE nationwide mass political campaign launched by the Left against the India-US nuclear deal, price rise, agrarian distress, the anti-people policies of the Congress-led UPA regime and the growing danger of communal and terrorist forces met with rousing response all over Maharashtra in the month of August 2008.


Several central leaders of the CPI(M) and CPI along with state leaders of these parties and PWP and Forward Bloc addressed large and enthusiastic public meetings at 28 centres in 18 districts spread out all over the state. Braving heavy rains in many places, all these meetings together mobilised over 50,000 people and all of them received excellent coverage in the print and electronic media. The campaign culminated with the nearly 25,000-strong mass rally addressed by CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat at Solapur, a brief account of which is given below.


However, the two largest rallies of this campaign in Maharashtra are yet to be held. They will take place in the two strongest rural bastions of the Party in Thane and Nashik districts on October 19 and 20 respectively and the mobilisation target set for these rallies is 50,000 each. Both these rallies will be addressed by Prakash Karat.


For this campaign, the CPI(M) Maharashtra state committee published 25,000 copies of two pamphlets in Marathi – one on the nuclear deal and the other on price rise. Almost all these pamphlets were sold out during the campaign month itself. The state committee also printed a Marathi poster on these issues. CPI(M) district committees printed tens of thousands of leaflets propagating the above public meetings. The latest ideological publication of the Party state committee is a special issue of its journal ‘Jeevanmarg’ on the theme “61 Years of Indian Independence”, a 232-page issue comprising articles written by several Left leaders and progressive intellectuals.


Among the central Left leaders, Prakash Karat and CPI general secretary A B Bardhan jointly addressed the public meeting in Mumbai, from where Prakash Karat went on to address the massive rally in Solapur (Dist Solapur) and A B Bardhan addressed a meeting in Nashik (Dist Nashik). CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury addressed meetings in Mumbai, Kinwat (Dist Nanded), Parbhani (Dist Parbhani), Parali Vaijnath (Dist Beed) and Latur (Dist Latur). Another Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat addressed two meetings in Pune district, at Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad. CPI(M) leader in Lok Sabha Basudeb Acharya addressed meetings in Sangli (Dist Sangli), Kolhapur and Ichalkaranji (Dist Kolhapur); CPI(M) central secretariat member and MP Hannan Mollah in Taloda (Dist Nandurbar), Akole (Dist Ahmednagar) and Nashik; another central secretariat member Nilotpal Basu in Amravati (Dist Amravati), Yavatmal and Mahagaon (Dist Yavatmal) and Kalamnuri (Dist Hingoli); and CPI(M) deputy leader in Lok Sabha Mohd Salim in Uran (Dist Raigad) and in the Bhandup, Andheri and Marol suburbs in Mumbai. CPI leader Aziz Pasha addressed meetings at Nanded, Beed and Aurangabad, all three being district centres. FB leaders Murtuza Hussain and Hafiz Alam Sheran addressed the meeting at Nagpur. This campaign truly galvanized the entire Party in Maharashtra.


STRIKE AND RALLIES  ON AUGUST 20


Held along with the above political campaign was the campaign for the August 20 all India strike in Maharashtra. The demands of the strike covered the burning issues of the working class, the peasantry, agricultural workers and other toiling sections. The anti-people and neo-liberal policies of the UPA government were castigated along with the danger of communalism and terrorism. The CITU Maharashtra state committee spearheaded the strike campaign along with other central trade unions like the AITUC and others. Lakhs of workers, both organised and unorganised, took part in the strike in Maharashtra. The strike was actively supported by other mass organisations like the AIKS, AIAWU, AIDWA, DYFI and SFI.


The CPI(M), CITU and AIKS state committees had given a call for holding massive rallies at all district and tehsil centres in Maharashtra on that day. Accordingly, over one and a quarter lakh people came out on the streets to protest against the policies of the central and state government. The largest districtwide mobilisations – many jointly along with other unions and some independently - were in Thane (40,000), Nashik (34,000), Solapur (10,000), Aurangabad (10,000), Mumbai (5,000), Amravati (5,000), Kolhapur (5,000) and so on.


MASSIVE RALLY  IN SOLAPUR


By far the biggest rally in the above political campaign in Maharashtra was the one at Solapur, a city in South Maharashtra with a glorious anti-imperialist working class legacy of struggle dating back to the freedom movement. The 25,000-strong rally in the evening was presided over by CPI(M) state secretariat member and MLA Narsayya Adam and it was addressed by CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat, CPI(M) state secretary Dr Ashok Dhawale, PWP leader S M Patil, CPI leader Tanaji Thombre and CPI(M) state committee member Ravindra Mokashi, while CPI(M) district secretariat member M H Shaikh conducted the proceedings. The working class of Solapur turned up in large numbers, the overwhelming majority being unorganised workers with a big section of women workers. The peasantry from the outskirts of Solapur was also well represented.


The whole day in Solapur was hectic. It was the first visit to Solapur by any CPI(M) general secretary so far. Prakash Karat was received by thousands of people at the railway station and was taken in procession on an open jeep. Karat addressed a jam-packed media conference; visited the house of the legendary Dr Dwarkanath Kotnis; went around the huge complex of 10,000 houses for women beedi workers called the Comrade Godutai Parulekar Gharkul Scheme that has been completed with the initiative of the CPI(M) and the CITU, with equal contributions by the women workers as well as the central and state governments; visited the CPI(M) Solapur office; and addressed a video conference organised by the newspaper chain ‘Sakaal’ with all its 9 editions in Maharashtra and Goa and also its new TV channel.