(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
February 20, 2011
Intensify Struggle against
Discrimination: Brinda Karat
THE struggle against caste discrimination needs to be intensified in the coming period stressed CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and MP Brinda Karat. It is only through struggles the discrimination can be ended, she said while expressing solidarity to the ongoing struggle campaign for improvement of dalit and tribal living places in Andhra Pradesh.
Brinda Karat rode a bicycle while flagging off the cycle yatra to campaign on this demand in Bhadrachalam, in Khammam district on Monday. CPI(M) Central Committee member Thammineni Veerabhadram also rode a bicycle as part of the yatra. The statewide campaign has been undertaken by KVPS (Struggle Committee against Caste Discrimination), AP Agricultural Workers Union and other mass organisations in an effort to bring pressure on the state government to announce concrete measures for improvement of the dalit and tribal living places in the ensuing budget.
Later addressing a well attended meeting in a dalit colony, Karat lauded the efforts of the mass organisations in bringing focus on this issue. She said maximum violations of the Tribal Forest Rights Act are taking place in Congress-ruled states. The union environmental minister Jairam Ramesh himself is acting against the Act, she charged. Demanding proper allocations in the budget as per the SC and ST Sub Plans, she underlined the need to ensure that even the allocated amounts are properly spent on the welfare of these sections. She demanded that PDS must be universalised and that each tribal family must be given 35 kg of foodgrains.
Brinda Karat also visited hostels of tribal students and saw the appalling conditions prevailing. The quality of food was so dismal, she wondered how such stuff unfit for human consumption is being fed for the tribal students. She addressed meetings in other areas of the district also.
TO STATE ASSEMBLY
As part of the campaign struggle for improvement of the living places of dalits and tribals in the state and an end to the government's development discrimination, the KVPS (Struggle Committee against Caste Discrimination) has organised cycle rallies in various parts of the state.
Participating in this campaign, CPI(M) MLA Julakanti Rangareddy began his cycle rally from the Ambedkar statue at Nalgonda on 14 February and pedalled his way to the state assembly on 17 February after traversing through many dalit and tribal habitations. The 20 member team of cyclists was received in the outskirts of Hyderabad by KVPS vice president B V Raghavulu, who then travelled with the CPI(M) MLA on a bicycle into the city in a rally.
Addressing the gathering Raghavulu demanded from the state government to allot funds for dalits and tribals in the ensuing budget in proportion to their population. He criticised the rulers who for the last 60 years have violated the provisions enshrined for these sections in the Constitution. The lack of allotment of funds and the diversion of whatever meagre amounts allocated for other purposes were cited. He said the CPI(M) would raise this issue forcefully in the coming budget session of the state assembly.
Julakanti shared his experiences of visiting the dalit slums and seeing their problems first hand. He blamed the successive rulers for the injustices heaped on the dalits and demanded for the allocation of Rupees 26,000 crore in the budget for the betterment of the lot of the dalits and tribals.
CPI(M) MLC, Cherupalli Seetharamulu, also took up cycle rally on 16 February from LB Nagar, at the outskirts of Hyderabad, and reached the state assembly on 17 February. He also demanded the government to come out with a separate plan in the coming budget for the sake of providing the basic amenities at the dalit slums and the tribal abodes.
It is a village in the Kothagudem mandal of the Khammam district, where in the dalits were not allowed to enter the temples in the past. The name of village is Seethampet Banjar. This scenario and the plight of the dalits changed with the entry of the KVPS into the scene. CPI(M) Central Committee member and district honorary president of KVPS, Thammineni Veerabhadram, recently led the entry of the dalits into the village temple during his anti-caste discrimination cycle rally through the village. Speaking of this initial moment of 'breaking the chains', the village dalit elder Manda Venkateswarlu, expressed his immense joy at this first step toward ending the caste discrimination. The village elders were not allowing the entry of the dalits into the temple since long. The leaders of the KVPS held talks with the village elders and convinced them on how it is illegal to prevent the entry of dalits into the temples. They relented and now the dalits in Seethampet Banjar are offering prayers at the Hanuman temple of the village. They wish the same kind of a breakthrough for their people in other villages.
Dalit woman Gurram Guravamma expressed her admiration for the KVPS and the leaders of the cycle rally by saying that many leaders have come to the village, but none of them spent so much time with us and listened to our problems so carefully. Her feelings while uttering these words were an admixture of agony, sorrow and immense joy. She held the hands of KVPS leader Tammineni and expressed her gratitude, in these words: “We were discriminated for years. Nobody cared about our plight. But, everybody wants our votes. But you are a different lot. You spent so much of your time in our slum listening to our problems, talking to us. We are really very happy.” This is one of the happy result achieved at Seethampet village during the cycle rallies of KVPS in Khammam district against caste discrimination.