People's Democracy

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


No. 03

January 17, 2010



CPI(M) Forges Campaign on Food Security, Price Issues


IN Gujarat, the second phase of the CPI(M) campaign demanding food security and a halt to the excruciating price escalations began with two-day collective fasting at district collectorates in 14 districts, culminating in a state level satyagraha at Ahmedabad on December 18. All members of the CPI(M) state committee took part in this action.

The first phase of the CPI(M) campaign had taken place in November.

Rationed food, pulses, edible oil and sugar at subsidised rates for all the ration card holders, issuance of already delayed BPL cards, sufficient supply of potable water, increase in availability of irrigation water, grant of forestlands to the adivasis who have been living there for ages and implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act in all the districts of Gujarat were among the major demands of the CPI(M) campaign.

On December 18, the satyagrahis started from the state CPI(M) office near Prathna Samaj in Raykhad and moved through Apna Bazaar and Bahumali Bhavan areas to reach Lal Darvaza where they staged the satyagraha.

A minor scuffle took place with the rude police personnel who resorted to lathicharge. However, some police officers present on the spot restrained the rough policemen in time. In all, 507 comrades including 236 females were arrested.

CPI(M) Central Committee member and state secretary Arun Mehta led the satyagraha. State secretariat members Subodh Mehta, Pragjibhai Bhambhi, Naginbhai Patel, Kuberbhai Bhambhi, Ramchandran, Ashok Sompura, Devtadin Yadav and Satish Parmar (Mini), Singjibhai Katara, as well as Dahyabhai Parmar, Bhartiben Parmar, Altaf Husein Saiyad, Manjulaben Sharma, Hansaben and Hiralben, and district committee members from various districts joined the satyagraha.

On this occasion, Arun Mehta disclosed that sugar quota had not been made available to card holders for two months --- in November and December. Also, in the preceding six months there was no supply of monthly 10 kilograms of rice at Rs 10 per kilogram. Mehta accused the Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi of sitting silently and dumbfounded despite the centre�s non-supply of regular quotas of the rationed goods. He said the CPI(M) would continue its struggle till the demands were conceded.




A day earlier, on December 17, the Gujarat Anganwadi Karmachari Sangathan, an affiliate of the All India Federation of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers (AIFAWH), organised a huge rally of anganwadi workers at Ahmedabad. These women had come from all the districts of the state.

On the day, in a procession, anganwadi workers started out from Astodia and passed through Gol Limda, Khamasha and Lal Darvaza to reach Sardarbagh where a public meeting was held.

Though the BJP government of Gujarat, led by notorious Narendra Modi, tried all the tricks and also used force to prevent these workers from reaching Ahmedabad, more than 5,000 joined the procession and rally.

The federation�s national president Nilima Maitra joined the procession from the very starting point. Suresh Mehta, former chief minister of Gujarat and now a leader of Prabudhodh Manch, also joined the procession here.

Former chief minister Shankarsinh Vaghela, former minister Smt Chandrikaben Chudasama, Gujarat Anganwadi Karmachari Sangathan president Chandubhai Lakhani, its state coordinator Arun Mehta, advisory board member Amarshibhai Patel, Sampatbhai, Bholabhai and Rameshbhai were among the others who supported the agitation.

Addressing the public meeting, Nilima Maitra said proper female and child nutrition was one of the primary needs of our country. Yet, despite the fact that the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) is there since the last 33 years in our country, the evil intention of the government is clear from the fact that so far anganwadi workers and helpers have not been recognised as government employees, nor made permanent. This is shameful, Smt Maitra said. On the contrary, under the pressure of the World Bank, the government is considering to privatise this edifice and, before that, wants to get rid of the entire anganwadi staff all over India. But these workers and helpers are determined to fight back stoutly.

Shankarsinh Vaghela said the anganwadi workers� demands would be taken at the level of the centre. He severely castigated the Gujarat government for disregarding the cause of these needy female workers, and also criticised the efforts to prevent the participants from reaching Ahmedabad. Describing Gujarat as the land of Mahatma Gandhi, he said putting up any obstacle to the realisation of democratic rights is shameful.

Peerzada (MLA from Vankaner), former MLA Amarsi Patel, kisan leader Bholabhai Patel and Sampatbhai, among others, also addressed the meeting.

This rally of the anganwadi workers and helpers took place to press the following main demands: (1) recognition of the anganwadi workers and helpers as government employees and their immediate regularisation, (2) halt to the drive to privatise the ICDS, (3) fulfilment of Narendra Modi�s promise to pay 1,75,000 rupees towards the terminal retirement, (4) elimination of the requirement to wear uniforms for activities like Sakhimandal, which are not a part of the main activity of children�s nutritional development, (5) fixation of the age limit for retirement at 65 years as in Maharashtra, (6) increase in the age limit for promotion, and (7) payment of ex-gratia amounts to the retired workers and helpers.