People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXIII

No. 42

October 18, 2009

JHARKHAND

 

Kisan Sabha Holds Third State Conference

 

Praphulla Linda

 

THE Jharkhand unit of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) recently held its two-day third state conference in the historic city of Jamtara that has a glorious tradition of struggle. One notes that it was in Uparbandha village of Jamtara district that Kanhu, one of the legendary leaders of Santhal Hool (revolt), was arrested in 1855. 

 

OPEN

SESSION

The conference opened with a big procession through the city, with impressive participation of women and tribals. The city was painted red on the occasion with red flags, banners, arches and wall writings etc.

The procession later converted into an open rally in the Siddhu-Kanhu Park in the city, presided over by Rajendra Singh Munda. Addressing this as the open session of the conference, AIKS joint secretary and West Bengal health minister, Surjakant Mishra, said a peasant feels compelled to commit suicide every one minute in India even after 62 years of independence. On the other hand, corporate houses are earning as much as 43 lakh rupees a day. In Jharkhand, the state government has failed to tackle the ongoing drought and the problem of starvation though several chief ministers came and went into oblivion in the last two years. Only a small part of the poor are being provided cheap ration in the name of relief work. The various ministers and chief ministers have established a culture of loot in the state, which has further deteriorated the dismal situation created by the demolition of public distribution system by the NDA and UPA governments at the centre.

Mishra said one has to take note of who are the people responsible for the ongoing drought situation. The peasant of Jharkhand is still heavily dependent on monsoon for cultivation while the nexus of the ministers, officers and contractors has turned the irrigation projects into an arena of their depredations. This is what has created a serious drought situation in the state and starvation deaths are being reported from Sahebganj, Godda, Gumla, Palamau, Chatra, Hazaribagh and other places. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), passed by the centre under pressure from the Left, could definitely provide substantial relief to the poor in such an excruciating situation, but the state government has rendered the act ineffective by not holding the panchayat elections, thereby also depriving the village people of their democratic and constitutionally guaranteed right. This requires that the dedicated Kisan Sabha cadres build their organisation in all the villages and forge militant struggles in the state.

Mishra also noted the achievements of the Left Front government in West Bengal during the last 32 years. It has effected thorough land reforms in the state and distributed land to 27 lakh poor families, so that now there is no landless person in Bengal villages. Making use of the widespread system of irrigation, created in the state since 1977, lakhs of small peasants have made West Bengal self-reliant in food and number one state in the country in the production of rice, potatoes, fish, seeds, fruits etc. Ensuring the democratic rights of the people, the Left Front government has organised panchayati raj elections seven times in the last 32 years. However, the mahajot (grand alliance) of the Trinamul Congress, the Congress and the Maoists, backed by US imperialists, is currently running a bloody campaign against the Left in order to deprive the people of whatever they have gained through their mighty struggles. However, the Left is determined to protect the people’s achievements at all costs.

AIKS joint secretary Samar Bawra, Ramchandra Thakur, Surjit Sinha and Praphulla Linda also addressed the rally, describing the ongoing campaign of displacement, being run by indigenous and foreign capitalists, in Jharkhand. As many as 15 lakh people have already been displaced, and have received no compensation to date. They, as well as Rajendra Munda delivering his presidential address, said the Kisan Sabha is planning to launch struggles on the questions of drought relief, panchayat polls and NREGA jobs, among other issues.

 

DELEGATES

SESSION

Following the rally, Rajendra Singh Munda unfurled the AIKS flag at the conference venue, followed by homage to the martyrs by Surjakant Mishra, Samar Bawra and others. A large number of people were present at the spot when a cultural troupe presented revolutionary songs near the martyrs column.

The delegates session started with the unanimous election of Rajendra Singh Munda, Jyotin Soren, Kaleshwar Hembram and Ramchandra Thakur to the presidium. The delegates also elected a credentials committee, a resolutions committee and a minutes committee. They observed silence in memory of the martyrs and other departed comrades since the last state conference and condoled the demise of people due to natural disasters, accidents and terrorist attacks over the last three years or so.

Surjakant Mishra inaugurated the delegates session, detailing the current national and international situations. He said the gap between the developed and developing countries is fast increasing, and the former are now trying to shift the burden of international crisis on to the latter. Having detailed the reasons of increasing peasant suicides in the country and discussed some other vital issues, Mishra regretted that the Kisan Sabha’s membership in Jharkhand is not much in comparison to the state’s population, and is certainly much below the national level ratio. He urged the cadres to concentrate their work on village and panchayat levels, rectify the diagnosed weaknesses of their work, and adopt a collective and democratic style of functioning.

 

SECRETARY’S

REPORT

Presenting his report to the conference, state AIKS general secretary Praphulla Linda said Jharkhand is one of the states in India to have borne the maximum brunt of the ongoing international crisis. Here, more than five lakh people have lost their jobs, meaning that about a tenth part of the state’s population of 26 million has lost their source of livelihood. Salaries of lakhs of people have been slashed and retrenchment is increasing. Whether it was the BJP led NDA government, the Congress led UPA government or the present president’s rule, the people of Jharkhand have no respite from their myriad problems. It is their policies that have caused such a situation where grain production is declining for want of irrigation facilities and starvation deaths have been reported from more than half of the districts in the state.

The report identified irrigation facilities, cheap loans for cultivation, drought relief, panchayat polls, NREGA jobs and implementation of the forests rights act as the major issues for forging a series of struggles.

Regarding organisation, the report pointed out that the AIKS had in the state only four district committees at the time of its second state conference, while the number has gone up to 18 now. The AIKS membership has also grown in the state --- from 30,000 to 95,989 --- in these three odd years. The number of delegates and observers (208) taking part in this conference was indeed an indication that the AIKS organisation and movement is likely to further grow in near future. The report expressed hope that the fourth state conference of the AIKS will take place on the basis of a two lakh membership.         

The report pointed out the organisational weaknesses from the state down to the panchayat level, adding that the rectification of these weaknesses is a must to forge the organisation and movement ahead. The report suggested some measures in this regard.  

In the discussion that followed, 15 delegates dealt with various aspects of the report threadbare while supporting the overall presentation of the situation. After the general secretary replied to the points raised by the delegates, the latter adopted the report unanimously.

 

CREDENTIALS

& RESOLUTIONS

Of the 208 delegates and observers, which included 12 women, 35 delegates belonged to the 21-30 age group, 45 to the 31-40 age group, 59 to the 41-50 age group, 35 to the 51-60 age group, 16 to the 61-70 age group, while 2 were over 70 years of age --- Rajendra Singh Munda (79) and Mantosh Mandal (71). Siddique Ansari (21) was the youngest delegate.

Of the delegates and observers, 106 were educated below matric, 15 were intermediate educated, 15 were graduates and 6 postgraduates, while 5 had got specialised education.

Of the total, 58 were members of the panchayat committees, 78 of block committees, 59 of district committees, 12 of the state committee and 2 of the all-India committee.

On the delegates and observers, 25, 69, 73, 18 and 19 belonged to the scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, backward classes, minorities and other sections respectively. Among them, there were 138 poor peasants, 17 agricultural labourers, 33 middle peasants, 2 landlords and 12 workers.

Of the participants, 36 had the jail experience of less than a month. In case of others, it was as below: one to three months (two), three months to one year (six), more than a year (5) while 176 had never been to jail. Rajendra Singh Munda had the longest jail life --- of more than three years.        

As many as 121 delegates and observers had attended an AIKS conference for the first time; 38 had attended two conferences and 45 had attended all the three.

Through resolutions, the conference demanded immediate polls to the panchayat bodies, drought and famine relief, waiver of the loans taken by the peasants, compensation for them at the rate of Rs 5,000 per acre, halt to price rise, food security, immediate implementation of the forest rights act, and halt to displacements of the poor tribals and non-tribals. Through another resolution, the conference decided to hold a big state level rally on October 27 to highlight these and other issues facing the peasantry.

Addressing the conference, DYFI state general secretary Sanjay Paswan assured his organisation’s full support to every struggle of the peasantry.

The conference unanimously elected a 41 member new state committee, with four vacancies. In its turn, the new committee held its first meeting at the conference venue to elect its office bearers. Rajendra Singh Munda and Praphulla Linda will lead the new team as president and general secretary respectively, with assistance from three vice presidents, three joint secretaries and one treasurer. The conference also elected 10 delegates and two alternate delegates for the coming all-India conference of the AIKS.

Kisan leader Samar Bawra delivered the valedictory address to the conference, congratulating the delegates for its successful conclusion and promising them his assistance to the peasant movement in Jharkhand in all possible ways. He hoped that the kisan and other democratic movements in the state would vigorously forge ahead in the coming ways.

The presidium greeted the reception committee, the kisan activists of Jamtara. The fraternal organisations and volunteers comrades for the success of the conference.