People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXIII

No. 51

December 20, 2009

Orissa: Kisan Sabha Holds 21st State Conference

 

Abhiram Behera

 

THE Orissa state unit of the All India Kisan Sabha held its 21st conference at Chatrapur in Ganjam district from November 13 to 15, with the venue names as Harkishan Singh Surjeet Nagar, after the late Kisan Sabha leader. Senior kisan leader hoisted Jaganath Mishra the AIKS flag, while the state Kisan Sabha president Yameswar Samantrai presided over the conference.  A total of 131 delegates from 21 out if 30 districts in the state attended the conference.

While inaugurating the delegates’ session, central AIKS functionary Nurul Hooda observed that the entire country has been facing an acute agrarian crisis due to the wrong neo-liberal agricultural policies being pursued by the central government and the non-Left state governments at the dictate of the World Bank-IMF-WTO trio. This crisis has compelled an excessively large number of farmers in several states to commit suicide. This is coupled with growing pauperisation of the peasantry. He said 300 districts have been facing droughts this year and some states have been hit by floods. Production of major crops has gone down; the coming months will make the peasantry suffer a far more witness miserable condition. Thus, starvation conditions will prevail in many parts of our vast country, unless the central government and the state governments pool resources in a combined manner and adopt concrete measures to tackle the crisis. However, the central government has not responded so far to the recommendations of the M S Swaminathan commission as well as the findings of the Arjun Sen Gupta committee, while both these bodies were appointed by the central government itself. That is why Nurul Hooda urged the delegates to the Orissa state kisan conference to work hard to strengthen the organisation, approach the rural masses on the widest possible scale, unite them and launch powerful struggles against the anti-farmer, anti-poor policies of the central government and non-Left state governments.

Left political leader Janardan Pati greeted the conference, observing that Orissa is a poor and backward state where 57 per cent of the people are below the poverty line and 32 lakhs of the rural people are landless. In a population of 3.68 crore, scheduled tribes constitute 22 per cent and scheduled castes 16.5 per cent, and 86 per cent of them are landless. They are deprived of health and education facilities. The state government led by the Biju Janata Dal and its leader Navin Patnaik has waived the loans owed by big capitalists but did not take requisite steps to waive the loans owed by the poor and marginal farmers. The state government has also granted 8,000 acres of land for a so-called foreign university, known as “Vedanta University,” but refuse to give even one acre of land to a poor landless family. This government is also inviting the multinational corporations to loot the rich minerals of Orissa. So, it is the bounden duty of the Left parties as well as the peasant organisations like the All Indian Kisan Sabha to unite the peasants and other rural people in order to build up a powerful movement against the central and state governments. 

Representative of the CITU, AIDWA, SFI, AIAWU and DYFI greeted the conference and expressed solidarity with the peasantry organised under the banner of All India Kisan Sabha.

An All India Kisan Sabha leader and a minister in the Left Front government of West Bengal, Surjya Kant Mishra, also addressed the conference and dealt with the intricacies of organisational problems.

Abhiram Behera placed the general secretary’s report on behalf of the outgoing committee and 40 delegates took part in the discussion. The report reviewed the state of implementation of the decisions arrived at the last conference and urged the delegates to intensify their struggle and strengthen the organisation with a view to meeting the exigencies of the situation in the state.  He observed that the state kisan centre has improved its functioning.

The conference report took note of the fact that the state Kisan Sabha had organised land struggles in some selected blocks, viz five blocks in Ganjam district, Ranapur block in Nayagarh district, and Gosani and Kashpur blocks in Gajapati district. Kisan Sabha mobilised the landless and poor peasants to occupy thousands of acres of land but the state government refused to issue pattas to the occupants. District units of the Kisan Sabha also organised those who do not have homestead lands. The Puri Jagannath temple owns two lakh acres of land but the temple authorities refuse to confer on the sharecroppers and other landless peasants their due rights.

The state Kisan Sabha also organised protest against the mill owners who are collecting paddy at the rate of a paltry Rs 650 per quintal, and staged demonstrations in districts like Bhadrak and Baleswar. Kisan Sabha units in Nayagarh and other districts demonstrated before the collectors’ offices and banks demanding loan waiver and fresh loans for agricultural operations at four per cent interest. There were demonstrations demanding the issuance of BPL cards for more people, ensured 100 days work under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and universalisation of the public distribution system.

In the course of its deliberations, the conference decided to convert the Orissa Adivasi Mahasabha, having a membership of 32,000, into a separate organisation while it has so far been so long affiliated to the Orissa State Kisan Sabha. Now the Orissa Adivasi Mahasabha, an organisation of the tribal people in the state, has an independent state committee comprising 25 members. Bhanja Kishore Nayak is now the president and Sala Marandi the secretary of this organisation. The conference noted that in spite of certain measures taken by the central and state governments during the last several decades, the tribal people remain landless and form the poorest of the poor in our society. Even pure drinking water and minimum health facilities elude them.

The conference gave its deliberations an organised shape by forming four commissions for discussion purposes. These were on the (1) agrarian crisis and Kisan Sabha’s alternative policy, (2) food security and public distribution system, (3) problems of the SC-ST people and the forest rights bill, and (4) organisation. In this way, 125 delegates took part in the discussion and then the observations of the commissions were placed before the conference.

The conference also adopted resolutions on the price rise, land reforms and distribution of land to the landless, remunerative prices to farmers’ produce, registration of sharecroppers and issuance of cards to them, loans for the peasantry at four per cent interest, increase in daily wage and ensured 100 days work under the NREGA, and compensation to the peasants who have committed suicide. The conference decided to stage demonstrations in front of the district collectors’ offices to demand Rs five lakh compensation for each of the families of those who were compelled to commit suicide.

On the last day of the conference a public meeting was held at Chatrapur where Surjya Kant Mishra, Nurul Hooda, Jagannath Mishra and other leaders addressed the gathering.

The conference elected Abhiram Behera as president, Jagannath Mishra as vice president, Yaneswar Samantrai as general secretary and Suresh Panigrahi as treasurer.