People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXIV

No. 11

March 14, 2010

 MAHARASHTRA

 

State Tribal Workshop Sets Tasks For Growth

 

Mariam Dhawale

 

“OUR work in the tribal areas of Maharashtra has increased in the last few years. Along with the consolidation in our traditional bases in Thane, Nashik and Nandurbar districts, our work has spread to newer districts and areas. We need to understand and discuss the various issues faced by our activists while building the Left movement in these areas.  We have to work out our strategy and tactics and organise militant struggles on these issues. This state-level workshop will definitely help us in this aim.” It was with these words that Rajaram Ozare, CPI(M) state secretariat member, convenor of the state tribal subcommittee and re-elected MLA from the Dahanu seat in Thane district, opened the state tribal workshop of the CPI(M). CPI(M) state committee member Kisan Gujar welcomed the delegates. CPI(M) state committee member Jaisingh Mali placed the condolence resolution.

This two-day workshop was organised at the beautiful hilly location of Saptashrungi Gad in Nashik district. The CPI(M) Nashik district committee had organised the workshop excellently. A total of 106 delegates, including 13 women, from Thane, Nashik, Nandurbar, Ahmednagar, Pune, Buldana, Amravati, Yavatmal, Jalgaon and Nagpur districts participated in this workshop. Delegates also came from the Union territory of Dadra-Nagarhaveli and Umbargaon tehsil in Gujarat which are neighbouring Thane district. The 85 adivasi delegates belonged to 11 different tribal communities, namely Warli, Bhil, Kokana, Mahadev Koli, Thakar, Korku, K Thakur, Dhodi, Kolam, Bhillara and Barela. 21 delegates were non-tribals. 96 delegates (90.6 per cent) were literate and 81 delegates (76.4 per cent) were below the age of 50.

Three written notes were circulated amongst the delegates on the following topics – 1) Party’s perspective regarding questions of tribals, issues of struggle and building of our mass base, 2) The different government schemes for tribals and 3) Party plan for our work in tribal areas. These topics were explained by CPI(M) Central Committee member Kumar Shiralkar, state secretariat member Jiva Pandu Gavit, ex-MLA, and state secretariat member Mariam Dhawale respectively. Kumar Shiralkar also explained the importance of conducting a survey and studying different aspects of an issue to be taken up for struggle and the methodology of conducting a survey.

Veteran state committee member L B Dhangar, who has been working amongst the adivasis in Thane district since the 1950s along with the legendary leaders Comrades Shamrao and Godavari Parulekar, gave an inspiring account of the historic adivasi revolt and roused the delegates to dedicate their lives for the uplift of the tribals and for strengthening the Party.  

A lively discussion and question-answer session followed the placing of every topic. Several delegates spoke, and they not only narrated their experiences but also gave valuable suggestions for building and strengthening our mass base in the tribal areas.

In the concluding session of the workshop, CPI(M) state secretary Dr Ashok Dhawale said that the tribal population in Maharashtra is 90 lakhs, which is nine per cent of the population of Maharashtra, whereas 49 per cent of the Party membership in the state consisted of tribal comrades. The two Lok Sabha seats that the Party fought were both ST reserved seats in Nashik and Thane districts. Two MLAs of the Party have been almost consistently elected from these two districts since 1978. Work in tribal areas has spread to new districts.

He spoke of the adverse impact of the neo-liberal policies pursued by the central and state governments on the tribal community in Maharashtra. 4.77 per cent of the budget that was being allocated for tribal schemes has been reduced to 4.5 per cent. Actually not even 2 per cent of the amount reaches the tribals. Growing hunger, malnutrition and starvation deaths, lack of employment opportunities leading to seasonal migration, problems of educational and health facilities, etc. are the burning issues that have to be addressed. Condemning the total apathy regarding the implementation of the Forest Rights Act and the NREGA shown by the state government, he exhorted the comrades to organise militant struggles to force the government to implement them. He also stressed on the importance of taking up the issues of the emerging young educated tribal sections, combating the communal forces who have been making inroads amongst the tribals and maintaining the unity of the tribal and non-tribal population. He placed the excellent work done by the Left Front government of Tripura in this connection.

After consultation with the several state committee members of the Party attending the workshop, Ashok Dhawale outlined the eleven tasks to be implemented as follows:

·        To identify issues for survey in some villages in every tehsil in each district.

·        To pay attention towards organising struggles for the implementation of the Forest Rights Act and NREGA.

·        To take forward our struggle for food security.

·        To campaign for starting the ‘doorstep ration supply’ scheme.

·        To take up struggles on local problems, and continuously keep a follow-up till they are solved.

·        To encourage the growth of all mass organisations, especially the student, youth and women’s organisations in tribal areas.

·        To activate the Party units and hold monthly meetings of the units.

·        To enrol subscribers for the state Party weekly ‘Jeevanmarg’.

·        To hold tribal workshops in districts.

·        To identify the seats to be fought in the zilla parishad and panchayat samiti elections to be held in March 2012.

·        To generate Party wholetimers for work in the tribal areas.