People's Democracy

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


No. 34

August 23, 2009

Tripura Shows the Way

For Tribal Development


Haripada Das


WHILE tribals in general are struggling hard to protect the rights in their ancestral forest land, safeguard identity, culture and heritage, and above all are languishing for survival, Tripura stands as a torchbearer showing the way before the country to the all round development of the tribal communities, through cementing ethnic harmony between tribals and non-tribals who are cohabiting here since the partition of the country. It is in this background that the 19th central conference of Tripura Rajya Upajati Ganamukti Parishad (GMP) was held at Mohanpur, about 20 kilometres from Agartala on August 8-10, 2009.

The huge rally held at the beginning of the conference was presided over by GMP president Narayan Rupini was addressed by chief minister and Polit Bureau  member of the CPI(M) Manik Sarkar, Polit Bureau member and MP Brinda Karat, West Bengal Forest minister Rabindranath Hembrom, state Tribal Welfare minister Aghore Debbarma and GMP general secretary Niranjan Debbarma.

Addressing the gathering, Brinda Karat said the consecutive shining victory of the Left Front in recently held parliamentary elections and thereafter in the three-tier panchayat elections in Tripura has given a confidence to the toiling masses that  Lal Jhanda is fluttering high and it will continue to be so. Hailing the decades long glorious history of the struggle carried out by the GMP right from the struggle for democracy in the Maharaja’s rule, she said the Congress party and their allies who won the election with the pledges for delivering good to the aam admi are acting only for khaas admi as revealed in the budget proposals recently placed in the parliament. Notwithstanding the fact that there is no dearth of commodities in the market, every essential commodity including rice and wheat has gone out of reach of the working people, thanks to the ‘aam admi sarkar’, she said. Such a situation shall not be tolerated. Left parties and their mass organisations are holding a national convention to chalk out a movement for food, she informed. Brinda Karat also highly admired the achievements of the state Left Front government in issuing land pattas to the 78 thousand tribal families under FRA whereas in other states, the number of beneficiaries is most negligible.

The chief minister of Tripura, Manik Sarkar said that only the Left parties resolutely stand against the imperialist forces in their bid to make India a pawn in the imperialist design. Thus an orchestrated attack on the Left parties, particularly the CPI(M) has been unleashed following the poor performance of the Left parties in the last Lok Sabha elections. All anti-Left forces, right from the ultra-left to the extremely right-wing reactionaries, communal and secessionist forces have ganged up on one point agenda i.e. resist the Left. Communists had faced many crises earlier, and as we always voice the common people’s interest, this time also we shall overcome, he said.


Severely criticising the central budget, Manik Sarkar  said the budget reflects the class interest of the government. Getting rid of the Left pressure, UPA 2 government has relinquished ten thousand crores of rupees in favour of the capitalists while there is no provision of upgrading purchasing power of the millions of poor, no talk of employment, no step to curb the scorching price rise, no step to tackle the ongoing draught situation etc. Congress now has a free hand to sell out the public sector including the profitable ones to oblige their imperialist masters. Every anti-people step should be explained to the masses, long drawn movement should be launched on the popular issues and GMP has the robust responsibility in this respect, Manik Sarkar said and suggested that there should be a sincere endeavour to draw the small section of the tribal that is  still lying outside the organisational fold. 


Rabindranath Hembrom, Forest minister of West Bengal and guest speaker, said that the tribals are naturally honest and simple.  They had the glory of fighting the British misrule and exploitation. Poor peasants of West Bengal are the part of the democratic movement since the Tebhaga movement. They heroically fought against the Jaminders who were the patrons of Congress party and ultimately succeeded in achieving land reforms. So the opposition parties realised that it is very difficult to take on the Left by fair means. Therefore  they resorted to wide scale vandalism and annihilation of the CPI(M) workers by joining with Maoists and other sectarian forces, Hembrom said. He gave a vivid description of the inhuman barbarous attacks carried on by the Congress-TMC-Maoist gangsters in many places of West Bengal.


The Tribal Welfare minister of the state, Ashore Debbarma warned against the conspiracy to divide the tribal unity along various ethnic lines with a demand of ‘state within state’. The GMP secretary Niranjan Debbarma briefly described the plight of the tribal masses during Congress-TUJS jungle regime with the comparison of present day development and urged the people to take a vow not to allow the coming back of those days.  Seated on the dais were CPI(M) state secretary Bijan Dhar, Party senior leader Baidyanath Majumder, Bidya Debbarma, MP Bajuban Riyan, guest from Assam Rajani Daimari and  CPI(M) Central Committee  member Rama Das.


Prior to the open rally, the conference was ceremoniously inaugurated with flag hoisting and offering floral tributes at the martyrs column. The GMP flag was carried from the very place of Uttar Maharanipur of Teliamura  sub-division where one of the senior GMP leaders Comrade Chandramohan Debbarma was gunned down by the secessionist NLFT extremists in 2008. the GMP leader octogenarian Bidya Debbarma hoisted the flag which was followed by homage to the martyrs.   


Inner Session


In the same evening, the first session of the conference began with 538 delegates at Dinesh Debbarma Nagar, the conference venue named after one of the founder leaders who passed away in 2007. After reading out the condolence resolution commemorating the stalwarts who passed away in the interim period, the conference felicitated 22 comrades who made immense contribution to the movement in their youth but now have grown aged and physically weak. Inaugurating the delegates session, CPI(M) leader octogenarian Baidyanath Majumder said that following the poor performance in the West Bengal and Kerala in the recent Lok Sabha elections, reactionary forces have started all out attacks on those two Left led governments. We would be fooled if we think that these conspirators would sit idle in Tripura. We must take a vow to fight these conspirators with people’s unity and development. He emphasised on drawing more and more young generation into the organisational fold and gradually train and promote them into the leadership.   Thereafter, GMP secretary, Niranjan Debbarma presented the political-organisational report in the conference.


On August 9, addressing the conference, Brinda Karat highlighted the CPI(M)’s role in the struggle for protecting the tribal people’s rights all over the country. Our views regarding all round development of tribals is quite different from that of other bourgeoisie parties. Protection of identity, entity, culture and heritage of each and every tribal clan alongside the socio-economic and academic upliftment is our main concern. Tripura is a model before the whole country, she said. The CPI(M) is contemplating to create a coordination committee at the all India level with various tribal organisations in the states to champion the  tribal demands in a uniform way. She said that Tripura’s achievements would be of immense use in this task.


On August 10, while addressing the delegates, Manik Sarkar said there is no doubt the GMP is the largest organisation among the tribals in the state. Alongside quantitative growth, qualitative enrichment should not be undermined. We should keep in mind that the ideology is the main guiding force. He laid importance on infrastructure development, proper use of soil, extension of educational facilities and basic needs like drinking water, housing, roads etc. in the tribal areas.  


Others who greeted the conference included Rajani Daimari, a guest from Assam, AIKS state secretary Narayan Kar, Chandrahansa Jamatia  of Tribal Youth Federation, Krishna Rakshit on behalf of AIDWA, Prasanta Debbarma of Upajati Karmachari committee, and Manik Dey, state secretariat  member of CPI(M) who spoke on behalf of the preparatory committee. 


  Thirty three delegates including six women from 18 divisional committees took part in the discussion on political-organisational report. The  issues that were highlighted by the delegates included a serious concern about the subversive activities of the extremist outfits, further strengthening of the tribal-nontribal unity and amity, achievements and weaknesses of functioning of the ADC, particularly lack of infrastructure in providing basic education in remote tribal areas,  failure of some government departments,  re-settlement of the surrendered extremists and involving them in developmental works and refuting the slanderous unfounded campaigns by the opposition against Left Front  and Left Front  government. The delegates also pin-pointed many weaknesses in organisational affairs and suggested joint action programme with the AIKS and KMU on the issue of problems of the peasants. More importantly, the delegates urged for more coordination between the functioning of the ADC and the government.


The conference unanimously passed eight resolutions - in support of women’s reservations in legislative bodies, condemning the social evil of torture on women and dowry system, demanding assurance of job and rights enshrined in the constitution for the dalits and tribal people, demanding more power to the Tripura  Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (ADC) to ensure all round development of the state, demanding augmentation of public distribution system and curbing  down the high price, demanding inclusion of ‘Kokborok’ language in the 8th schedule of the constitution, expedite completion of Agartala-Subroom railway project and gauge conversion of existing Dharmanagar-Agartala line.


An 18-point charter of demands was unanimously passed in the conference amidst loud cheers.


The last session of the conference on August 10 morning was fixed for replying to the discussions on the secretary’s report. While replying to the delegates, Niranjan Debbarma said, GMP being an oldest and largest organisation of the tribals comprising 19 communities, has no opponent in the state. But we have no room to be complacent.  We have the responsibility to draw as many people as possible into our organisational fold. There is no panacea to solve all problems in the present system. In some cases, we have fund constraint; there are hurdles with legal provisions. So we should honestly explain the people the reasons behind our failure. In many spheres, we have made staggering advancement. Still we have many miles to go, Niranjan Debbarma said. GMP, though a tribal-based organisation, does not suffer from sectarian outlook. Since inception, it is advocating for tribal-nontribal unity and all round development of the state. So we have earned trustworthiness of all sections of the people. This character of the organisation must be maintained at any cost, he suggested. 


A new 141-member central committee was proposed by the outgoing committee which was passed unanimously. Of 141 members, 140 have been elected keeping one seat vacant to be co-opted later. Out of 140 newly elected members, 36 are newly elected. The first meeting of the central committee  met on the dais of the conference and elected a 23-member Krma Parishad (executive council) which announced the re-election of Narayan Rupini and Niranjan Debbarma as president and general secretary respectively amidst huge applause.