People's Democracy

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


No. 16

April 18, 2010



Massive Actions on Price Rise & People�s Issues


Ashok Dhawale


IN the months of March and April 2010, Maharashtra has witnessed four statewide mass mobilisations that have brought tens of thousands of people on the streets to slam central and state government policies that have aggravated the back-breaking price rise and have intensified all other burning issues of the people.  Two of these mass actions were led independently by the CPI(M), and one each by the Left parties and the Republican Left Democratic Front (RLDF).




On March 3, the CPI(M) Maharashtra state committee organised a 2000-strong statewide convention against price rise and for food security at Solapur, which has been reported in these columns earlier.

On March 18, as per the call of this convention, nearly 60,000 people took part in militant actions organised independently by the CPI(M) at 68 district and tehsil centres in 24 districts of the state. These were the first big statewide actions by the Party since the state assembly elections that were held six months ago last October. The state committee had published 12,000 posters and the district committees had published thousands of leaflets each for the success of these actions. Women participated in large numbers in this statewide call against price rise and the breakdown of the ration system.

The two largest actions of 10,000 people each took place at Dahanu in Thane district and Surgana in Nashik district. In Dahanu, people gheraoed the entire office building of the adivasi development project officer from all four sides for over three hours until he agreed to local demands related to the public distribution system, forest rights act, NREGA and various tribal schemes. In Surgana, people locked up the tehsil office and kept the administrative staff out the whole day until they too agreed to similar local demands. At Jawhar in Thane district, a 4000-strong rally took the adivasi development project officer there to task. At Solapur, another 4000-strong rally marched to the district collectorate and pressed local demands. At Tryambakeshwar in Nashik district, a 3000-strong rally took out a funeral procession of the government that was responsible for the massive price rise and forcibly occupied the tehsil office.

The total mobilisation in Nashik district in the March 18 actions was over 23,000, in Thane district it was over 16,000 and in Solapur district it was over 4,000. A month ago in February, tehsil-level rallies all over Thane district had already mobilised over 24,000 people on the same issues.

In Raigad district of Konkan region, a 2500-strong rally held at Uran broke the police cordon and tried to barge into the tehsil office. In Mumbai too, over 500 people broke the police cordon at Azad Maidan, leading to a scuffle with the police. At Ichalkaranji in Kolhapur district of Western Maharashtra, over 500 people marched to the SDO office, braved a lathi-charge and some of the demonstrators forcibly entered the office. Large actions of 700 each took place at Hatkanangale and Kolhapur city. Jalgaon saw an 800-strong rally. Actions also took place in Nandurbar, Pune, Ahmednagar and Satara districts.

In the Marathwada region, over 2000 people held demonstrations at the three centres of Kalamnuri, Aundha and Basmat in Hingoli district. Militant actions were held at Mahur and Kinwat in Nanded district in which 1000 people gheraoed government officials and over 400 were arrested. Another 1000 were mobilised in all eight tehsils of Jalna district for the first time. A 500-strong rally was held in Parbhani and other actions were held in Beed and Latur districts.

In the Vidarbha region, the main actions included a 1500-strong rally at Yavatmal, a 1000-strong rally at Wardha, a 700-strong rally at Amravati, 500-strong rallies at Mahagaon in Yavatmal district and Sangrampur in Buldana district, and other actions in Nagpur, Chandrapur and Bhandara districts.




On March 30, defying sweltering heat, around 15 to 20 thousand people from several districts converged in Mumbai for the Republican Left Democratic Front (RLDF) rally to the state assembly, to condemn the price rise and to champion other burning demands of the people. The participants included peasants, agricultural labourers, unorganised workers, adivasis, dalits, Muslims and a large number of women. An RLDF delegation met chief minister Ashok Chavan who agreed to consider some of the demands. This was the first RLDF statewide rally after the last state assembly elections.

The rally was presided over by N D Patil, senior leader of the Peasants and Workers Party (PWP), and it was addressed by Ramdas Athavale, Jogendra Kavade, Arjun Dangle, Avinash Mahatekar and Gautam Bhalerao (all RPI), Ganpatrao Deshmukh, Jayant Patil and Sampatrao Pawar (all PWP), Dr Ashok Dhawale, Mahendra Singh, J P Gavit, Dr D L Karad and Mariam Dhawale (all CPI-M), Narayan Ghagare and Prakash Reddy (CPI), Abu Asim Azmi and Anna Khandare (SP), Vasant Shirali (JD-S), Mahadev Jankar (Rashtriya Samaj Party), Kishore Dhamale (Satyashodhak Communist Party), Sanjeev Sane (Samajwadi Jan Parishad) and others. In order to intensify the struggle, RLDF leaders gave a call to make the April 8 nationwide Jail Bharo stir call by the Left parties a success.

The 10,000-strong CPI(M) mobilisation in the RLDF rally was no doubt the largest. Over 7,000 of these were mobilised from Thane and Nashik districts. Good contingents also came from Solapur, Mumbai, Wardha, Kolhapur and Raigad districts. Jalgaon, Yavatmal, Amravati, Buldana, Satara, Pune, Jalna, Nanded, Beed, Sangli and Ahmednagar districts also participated.




The April 8 nationwide Jail Bharo stir call given by the Left parties came as a culmination of all the above mass actions in Maharashtra. The Left parties and the RLDF had decided to conduct satyagraha at district and tehsil centres in the state. Complete reports of these actions have not yet come from many of the districts at the time of filing this report. Available reports show that the Jail Bharo stir was conducted at over 60 centres in around 25 districts. The total participation in the April 8 stir in Maharashtra would be around 60 to 70 thousand, of which the CPI(M) share would be around 45 to 50 thousand. In some places, the Jail Bharo stir was conducted jointly by the CPI(M) and CPI; in some places the PWP and other RLDF constituents also joined; in Nagpur district, it was led jointly by the CPI(M), CPI and Forward Bloc; in many places where other parties did not exist, it was led independently by the CPI(M) or the CPI.

The largest action in Maharashtra was the 15,000-strong Jail Bharo stir at Dahanu in Thane district, and this was led by CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury, MP. It was independently led by the CPI(M) with mobilisation from the three adjoining tehsils of Dahanu, Talasari and Palghar. The youth had come dressed in red T-shirts and the women in red sarees. A Party delegation met the SDO, who had called other concerned government officials, and it demanded immediate implementation of the people�s long-standing demands related to the corrupt ration system, the forest rights act, NREGA and other tribal schemes. This was followed by a massive public meeting on the ground near the Dahanu sea beach, where Sitaram Yechury and other state leaders attacked the policies of the central and state government and called for intensification of the struggle. After this, all the 15,000 participants marched to the SDO office and broke the police cordon. Women tried to barge into the office itself. Hopelessly outnumbered, the police officials declared that all the participants had been arrested. Another 5000-strong satyagraha took place at Jawhar, a 3000-strong action at Vikramgad, 1000-strong actions at Shahapur and Wada (all independent CPI-M actions) and a 100-strong CPI(M)-CPI joint action at Dombivli, all in Thane district. The total CPI(M) mobilisation in Thane district on April 8 was over 25,000.

Nashik district came next, with a total CPI(M) mobilisation of over 10,000 at 8 centres. Except in Nashik city, where 210 activists of the CPI(M), CPI and PWP jointly courted arrest, in the other 7 rural centres all the actions were independently led by the CPI(M). In Solapur city, there has been an alarming outbreak of cholera in which 21 people have died so far. Taking up this burning local issue along with the other main issues of the struggle, the CPI(M) and the RLDF gave a call for a Solapur Bandh that day. Over two lakh beedi, powerloom and MIDC workers struck work, and they were joined by hundreds of shopkeepers and autorickshaw drivers. A rally of over 1000 people was held and all of them were arrested.

In Mumbai, the CPI(M) and CPI held militant rasta roko stirs at Parel, Andheri, Kandivli and Bhandup and a demonstration at Dharavi, in all of which over 1000 people took part. Most of them were arrested. Other districts in which over 1000 people each courted arrest were Kolhapur and Nandurbar-Dhule. Over 500 each participated in districts like Nagpur, Yavatmal, Latur, Pune and Parbhani. Among other districts in which this stir was held were Amravati, Nanded, Buldana, Beed, Jalgaon, Satara and Sangli.

CPI(M) Central Committee members K L Bajaj, Kumar Shiralkar and Dr Ashok Dhawale, state secretariat members Krishna Khopkar, Mahendra Singh, Lahanu Kom, J P Gavit, Narsayya Adam, Dr D L Karad, Dr Vithal More, Manohar Muley, Ajit Abhyankar, Mariam Dhawale, Kiran Moghe and Rajaram Ozare MLA, almost all state and district committee members of the Party, and mass organisations like the CITU, AIKS, AIAWU, AIDWA, DYFI and SFI took the lead in making all the above agitational programmes in the months of March and April a resounding success.




The main issues and demands around which the above struggles in Maharashtra are being conducted are as follows: immediately curb price rise; roll back the price hike of diesel, petrol and fertilisers; ban futures trading in food grains and all essential commodities; take stringent and immediate action against hoarders and black-marketeers; cancel the VAT on food grains and other essential items levied by the state government; universalise the public distribution system; give ration cards to all; provide 35 kg of grain at Rs 2 per Kg and other essential commodities through the ration system to all; extend the doorstep ration scheme, initiated by the CPI(M) in Surgana tehsil and which is now running successfully in Nashik district, to the entire state; increase the BPL limit to an annual income of Rs 75,000 and give BPL ration cards to all families that come under this bracket by conducting a re-survey; implement the state government decision of giving BPL ration cards to beedi workers, widows and deserted women, workers of closed factories and migrant labourers; immediately provide water, grain, work and fodder to over 20,000 drought-affected villages in the state and waive all loans, electricity bills etc of the peasants there; stringently implement the Forest Rights Act and NREGA and increase NREGA wage to Rs 150; roll back the anti-worker provisions made by the state government in the NREGA on January 1, 2010; give remunerative prices to the peasantry for all crops based on their cost of production; curb load-shedding of power, roll back hike in power and water rates; enact legislation guaranteeing minimum wage and social security to all unorganised workers; enact legislation to vest temple lands and benami lands in the name of the cultivating peasants; cancel the MahaMumbai SEZ in Raigad district and also the proposed nuclear power plant in Konkan; immediately cancel the retrograde state government decision to permit and give massive subsidy to factories set up to manufacture liquor from grains.     




May 1, 2010 marks the Golden Jubilee of Samyukta Maharashtra which was formed on May 1, 1960 after a bitter struggle that was jointly led by the united CPI, PWP, PSP and RPI in the 1950s. 105 martyrs lost their lives during this struggle in police firing ordered by the then Congress government.

The CPI(M) Maharashtra state committee has decided to observe this Golden Jubilee by launching jeep jathas in each district from April 20 to 30, culminating in large public meetings on May 1. The four main issues that will be highlighted in these jathas are: the leading role of the Left in the Samyukta Maharashtra movement; the bankruptcy of the Congress-NCP and the Shiv Sena-BJP state governments in all spheres during the last 50 years; our opposition to all manner of divisive, terrorist, communal and chauvinist forces and our commitment to the unity of Maharashtra state and the unison of its working people and our alternative for the future development of Maharashtra.

Towards this end, the CPI(M) Maharashtra state committee has already printed 12,000 attractive posters that have been sent to the districts. The state committee is printing lakhs of leaflets that will be distributed to the people during these jathas. The Party�s publishing house Janashakti Prakashan is bringing out three relevant booklets on the above issues that will be widely sold during the coming jatha campaign. This will be a major political campaign to be led by the Party in Maharashtra.