(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
March 20, 2011
CPI(M) Leaders Undertake
Indefinite Hunger Strike
CPI(M) state secretary B V Raghavulu and three other state leaders have begun an indefinite hunger strike in Hyderabad on 17 March demanding the state government to solve the urgent people’s issues, particularly those relating to the dalits and tribals. CPI(M) veteran leader and Telangana armed struggle participant, Mallu Swarajyam, inaugurated the hunger strike camp at the dharna chowk near Indira Park amidst thousands who gathered on the occasion.
The hunger strike by the CPI(M) leaders is a continuation of the campaign undertaken by the Party focussing on the issues of dalits and tribals. The surveys conducted on the situation in the living places of dalits and tribals, the cycle jathas conducted in various districts propagating the demand for special funds to improve the living places, the dharnas in front of various government offices were part of this campaign. Memorandums were submitted to district collectors, ministers and even the chief minister seeking urgent steps in this regard. But the state government, immersed as it is in survival manoeuvres, paid scant respect to these demands as was seen in the budget it placed.
In this context, Raghavulu and CPI(M) state secretariat members S Veeraiah and G Nagaiah, CPI(M) state committee member and former Lok Sabha member Dr M Babu Rao have undertaken this joint indefinite fast to force the government to solve the 44 demands pertaining to the SC, ST, urban poor, contract workers, tenant farmers, women etc that have been formulated for this agitation.
Speaking on this occasion, Raghavulu said that they were forced to resort to this indefinite hunger strike as the government did not respond positively to the agitation it has launched on these issues right from mandal level. He charged the government of trying to escape from its responsibilities under the cover of the ongoing agitations for and against the division of the state. “The chief minister and the ministers are happily sleeping in the truncated state assembly as there is no grilling on people’s issues inside the House. But we will not let them sleep anymore with our agitations outside the assembly”, he said.
Raghavulu asserted that the mood among the people of the state is not one of waiting for the political issue of division of the state to be settled first. They want their bread and butter issues to be solved immediately and the CPI(M) is intensifying the agitation keeping this in mind. With sections of Congress and TDP members boycotting the ongoing assembly session for most part, the government is getting away literally with murder. He cited the brutal killing of two fishermen in Kakarapalli in Srikakulam district recently while agitating against the private thermal power project. He asked why the other opposition parties, including TDP, are not focussing on the people’s issues.
As for the issues for which the hunger strike has been undertaken, Raghavulu highlighted a few of them. Despite the Planning Commission guidelines, the Sub Plans for SCs and STs are routinely ignored by successive state governments. Either the allocations in the budget are not in proportion to these sections populations or the meagre allocations are grossly misused/diverted for other purposes. Given this track record, Raghavulu demanded that the government must enact a separate legislation for this purpose and strengthen the Nodal Agency to oversee the implementation. He also demanded appointment of chairman for the Sc/ST Commission that has been headless for the last two years. The state of Andhra Pradesh ranks among the lowest as far as implementation of the Forest Rights Act is concerned. He felt that associating the Forest Department with the task of implementation of this Act is one of the reasons for this and demanded immediate removal of this responsibility. He demanded that a bill must be brought within the ongoing session for protecting the rights of the nearly 40 lakh tenant farmers in the state.
Mallu Swarajyam in her address lambasted the ruling classes for ignoring the issues of the millions of working people and warned that they will be thrown away if the masses rise in anger. All the entitlements in the Constitution for dalits and tribals are being thrown to the wind by the ruling classes, who use these sections only as vote banks. Praising the movement launched by the Party as a patriotic one, she called on all sections of people to extend support to this struggle.
Various intellectuals, dalit and tribal activists, political parties came to the hunger strike camp to express solidarity.