(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
January 02, 2011
Thousands of Peasants Rally under Kisan Sabha Banner
ON December 15, 2010, around 7,000 peasants
hailing from various districts of the regions of Vidarbha, Marathwada,
Maharashtra, Northern Maharashtra and Konkan marched to the state
its winter session at
Earlier, between November 15 and 22, 2010,
nearly 40,000 peasants under the AIKS banner took part in large
and rallies at several district and tehsil headquarters in
The AIKS Nagpur rally was described by the
The Nagpur rally culminated in a public meeting that was presided over by AIKS state vice president Udayan Sharma and was addressed by the above-mentioned leaders, as well as by AIKS state council members Laxman Gaikwad, Hemant Waghere, Vasant Dhadga, Arun Latkar, Manoj Kirtane, Shankar Sidam, Vilas Babar, Subhash Nikam, Prabhakar Nagargoje, D B Naik, Mahendra Thorat, Asha Jadhav and Anita Khunkar. The rally was greeted by PWP MLAs Meenakshi Patil and Dhairyasheel Patil and by CITU state secretary Amrut Meshram. The CPI(M) and AIKS Nagpur district committees had made excellent arrangements for this peasant rally.
Seeing the indifferent response of the state government to its demands, the AIKS Nagpur rally gave a call for a massive statewide Jail Bharo and Rasta Roko agitation from January 26 to 31.
The state government, which did not think it necessary to give a positive response to the various legitimate demands raised by the rallies of workers, peasants, agricultural labourers and other toiling sections, on the contrary pushed through a bill on the last day of this assembly session on December 16, doubling the emoluments of ministers and legislators! The only MLA to oppose and condemn this bill was the CPI(M) MLA, Rajaram Ozare, who issued a strong statement to this effect.
This year, due to excessive and unseasonal
rainfall, the crops of lakhs of farmers in
According to the figures released by the
National Crime Records Bureau of the union Home Ministry, over two lakh
peasants have committed suicide in the country over the last 12 years,
the highest number of over 41,000 peasant suicides is from
The massive rise in the cost of agricultural inputs due to slashing of government subsidies on the one hand and the encouragement given to rapacious multinationals on the other, the government policy of denying peasants remunerative prices for their crops based on the cost of production, the continuing crunch in institutional credit forcing peasants to rely on private moneylenders, the refusal to give adequate compensation for crop losses, and the poor state of irrigation in the vast dryland areas are the five main reasons for indebtedness and peasant suicides in Maharashtra.
In this situation, the AIKS struggles have been demanding lowering of the cost of inputs, remunerative prices based on the cost of production for cotton, sugarcane, paddy, soyabean and other crops, adequate peasant credit at four per cent rate of interest, and completion of all pending irrigation projects on a war footing.
On the very day of the AIKS Nagpur rally,
there came the news of former chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh having
shielded the moneylender father of Congress MLA Dilipkumar Sananda of
in the Buldana district of Vidarbha. Deshmukh ordered the then district
collector and police officials not to file a criminal case against this
moneylender, despite a complaint lodged against him by a poor farmer.
Supreme Court slapped a fine of Rs 10 lakh on the
The record of implementation of the Forest
Rights Act (FRA) and the NREGA in
The AIKS rally demanded the withdrawal of the Maharashtra Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Bill, which was slated to be adopted in this assembly session, but was not. In Raigad district, the Left parties led a massive peasant struggle that succeeded in aborting the proposed 10,000-hectare Maha Mumbai SEZ that was being promoted by Mukesh Ambani. The AIKS also demanded that temple lands, pasture lands and government lands be vested in the names of the peasants who have been cultivating them for years. It also demanded cancellation of the proposed disastrous Jaitapur atomic power plant in Ratnagiri.
Thanks to the Enron fiasco, in which all the four major parties --- Indian National Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Bharatiya Janata Party and Shiv Sena --- were involved, Maharashtra has been facing massive load-shedding of power for the last several years, coupled with periodic escalation of power tariffs. Peasants who are unable to pay their power bills are faced with the prospects of severance of their electricity connections. All this is adversely affecting agriculture. The AIKS rally took up these power-related demands as well.
At a time of astronomical price rise, the public distribution system (PDS) is nearing a collapse. The APL (above poverty line) ration card holders are getting no grains at all but even the BPL (below poverty line) ration card holders do not get regular and adequate grain quotas. Lakhs of poor households are being denied BPL ration cards. Corruption is rampant in the PDS. A Doorstep Ration Scheme (DRS), which can effectively check this corruption, was pioneered by AIKS state president J P Gavit when he was the CPI(M) MLA from Surgana in Nashik district. But it is not being extended to other districts due to resistance by the vested interests that are often in league with the administration. The AIKS struggles have therefore been demanding universalised PDS, vast expansion of the BPL lists and extension of the DRS across the state.
Finally, the AIKS Nagpur rally demanded a thorough investigation into the recent shocking scams that have rocked the country and the state, and prosecution of all the culprits involved therein. These scams include the scams in 2-G Spectrum, Commonwealth Games, Adarsh Society, Lavasa city and other land and mining deals.