People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXIV

No. 03

January 17, 2010

CALL TO UNLEASH COUNTRYWIDE UNITED STRUGGLES

 

Impressive Rally Concludes 32nd AIKS Conference in Guntur

 

N S Arjun from Guntur

 

THE All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has resolved to unleash countrywide united struggles of peasants to force the UPA government to reverse its anti-peasant, anti-people policies and implement alternative agrarian policies to change the lives of millions of peasants.

This was announced by the newly elected leadership of AIKS at a public meeting held in culmination of the 32nd all India conference in Guntur on January 10, 2009. The meeting was preceded by an impressive and colourful rally through the main thoroughfares of Guntur in which the entire leadership and delegates marched to the venue of the meeting, rechristened Comrade Koratala Satyanarayana Nagar.

The newly re-elected president of AIKS, S Ramachandran Pillai, who presided over the public meeting, spoke about the unprecedented and all-encompassing agrarian crisis the country is going through. Agriculture has today become totally unviable for the majority of peasants who have become indebted and are forced to sell their land and cattle to survive.  This is resulting in increased landlessness. Poverty is expanding to new sections of people. The gravity of the present crisis is such that according to the latest NSS survey, nearly half of the peasantry has expressed willingness to quit farming if alternative is available.

Pillai traced this grim situation to the capitalist path of development and pursuit of neo-liberal policies by successive governments. Land reforms would be the key to overcome this situation. Except for the Left-ruled  states of Bengal, Kerala and Tripura, no other state has distributed land to the peasants. He announced that the all India conference has decided to conduct widest possible struggles to force the government to implement land reforms in these states. He also demanded that the government must expand irrigation and power facilities; expand credit facilities; provide remunerative prices for agricultural crops; expand insurance scheme to cover all crops; re-introduce Quantitative Restrictions that were removed under pressure from WTO etc.

CPI(M) Polit Bureau member, Brinda Karat, in her speech lambasted the UPA government for showing alacrity in coming to the aid of corporate sector in the wake of global economic crisis while remaining aloof to the plight of millions of farmers who were reeling under the impact of drought, floods and indebtedness. She said the peasant is looted twice over: once as a producer because of increasing input prices due to  the cuts in subsidies, and again when he goes to sell his produce because of no remunerative price. The biggest problem facing the people today is the sky-rocketing prices of essential commodities. “Normally, women get tears while cutting an onion. But today women get tears by seeing an onion in a market due to its high cost”, she said to the applause of the gathering. Similar is the case with dal, rice, cooking oil etc whose prices have gone out of the reach of common people.

Brinda Karat said it is shameful that one decade after 21st century, there are still starvation and hunger deaths in our country. She blamed the government policies of trying to finish the Public Distribution System which is resulting in such deaths. She called for protection of tenant farmers who are the most vulnerable in this crisis situation. Similarly the demands of dalits and other oppressed sections need to be championed by the AIKS. On the present situation in the state of Andhra Pradesh, she termed it as a tragedy that people are being pitted against each other by the ruling classes in order to divert their real issues. “Are not the problems of a peasant in Telangana and a peasant in Andhra the same? Is the pain felt by a mother in Telangana seeing her child go hungry not the same as the pain felt by a mother in Andhra region?” she asked passionately. She wanted the AIKS to take a lead in meeting this challenge and forging the unity of people.

She traced the attacks in West Bengal to the conspiracy to weaken the Left movement in the country by targeting its strongest bastion. These attacks are happening because the ruling classes know that it is only the Left that poses a challenge to their bankrupt policies. Praising the Left cadre in that state who despite the regular killings are bravely countering the forces of anarchy, she said the campaign of solidarity decided by the AIKS conference must be made successful.

The newly re-elected general secretary of AIKS, K Varadharajan, in his speech stressed that the need of the hour today is the projection of alternative policies to the bankrupt neo-liberal policies being aggressively pursued by the UPA government. He said these neo-liberal policies have resulted in a situation where today every 30 minutes a farmer is committing suicide in the country. Mahatma Gandhi had said that India lives in villages but today's rulers have made the rural population unbearable to carry on living. Their lives are being crushed under the weight of these anti-people policies. The AIKS leader lambasted the UPA government for not acting on the M S Swaminathan Commission recommendations and instead appointing another committee to look into these recommendations.

CPI(M) central secretariat member V Srinivasa Rao, AP Rytu Sangham president S Malla Reddy, AP Rytu Sangham Guntur district secretary P Narasimha Rao were among those who addressed the gathering.

 

COLOURFUL

RALLY

Koya tribals with their traditional attire, children playing kolatam  (dandiya), young students and youth in red shirts and red sarees, another section of youth on motorcycles ... these were glimpses of the contingent forming at the head of the colourful rally that began from the conference venue in Market centre, Guntur.

S R Pillai, K Varadharajan, Brinda Karat and S Malla Reddy stood on a tractor which was at the forefront and they greeted the crowds along the route. Behind the tractor formed the main contingent of rally led AIKS central and AP leaders. The end of the cavalcade consisted of few tableus on tractors in which artistes depicted the present situation of farmers. One of them showed how the WTO-IMF-World Bank put a noose around Indian farmer's neck. Another depicted the rising prices while yet another showed the need of fighting these policies by enacting the legendary fighters of freedom movement like Alluri Sitarama Raju and Bhagat Singh.

The beating of drums and singing of songs by Praja Natya Mandali during the entire course of journey made it irresistable for many delegates who kept dancing with gay abandon. Among them included academics like Venkatesh Athreya, V K Ramakrishnan and others. All in all, this impressive rally created a good impact in Guntur and generated great enthusiasm among the delegates of AIKS conference.