People's Democracy

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


No. 13

March  27, 2011




CPI(M) Leaders End Indefinite Fast

State Govt Concedes Some Demands

N S Arjun


WITH the Congress state government of Andhra Pradesh forced to concede some of the demands raised, the indefinite hunger strike of CPI(M) leaders led by Polit Bureau member B V Raghavulu was withdrawn on 22 March 2011. Polit Bureau member and MP Brinda Karat offered lime juice to B V Raghavulu, S Veeraiah, G Nagaiah and Dr M Babu Rao in the huge public meeting that was held at Indira Park – the same venue where the CPI(M) leaders began their indefinite fast six days ago.


Even as tens of thousands of people – mostly dalits, tribals, agricultural labour, tenant farmers and urban poor – from all parts of the state converged at Sundarayya Vignana Kendram and began their march to the public meeting venue at Indira Park, the chief minister rushed two of his cabinet ministers to hold talks with B V Raghavulu at Gandhi hospital. It followed demands raised in the assembly by Left and TDP members that the government must act on the demands raised by the fasting leaders. The state social welfare minister P Satyanarayana and tribal welfare minister P Balaraju held lengthy discussions with Raghavulu at the hospital.


Addressing the public meeting Brinda Karat complimented the CPI(M) state leaders for their resolute struggle on dalit and tribal issues. This struggle forced the state government to open its eyes, ears and mouth on the burning issues facing these sections of the poor. She lambasted the Congress-led UPA government for its policies that were making the rich richer. “It is not an aam admi government but a khas admi government”, she said and cited how in the recent union budget 5 lakh crore rupees were given away to the corporates in the form of taxes foregone. Karat contrasted this with the fact of snatching away 35,000 crore rupees from dalits and tribals by not allotting that amount as per dalit and tribal sub plans. She demanded that the central government must give an account of how much it has so far allocated and spent under these sub plans. Brinda also mentioned about the recent political happenings in the state and warned that efforts are on to impose the diabolical politics of divide on the people in order to sideline the problems of the poor.


Raghavulu, who had reached the venue from the hospital along with the other three leaders, addressed the huge gathering. He told that the ministers made concrete assurances on some of the demands; a legislation will be brought in the present session of assembly on protecting the rights of tenant farmers; a committee of experts will meet on March 25 to consider some other demands; discussions will be held with intellectuals working in the field of dalit and tribal sub plans on how to streamline and effectively implement them; on some other demands the ministers gave no assurance. Terming this as a partial victory of the struggle, Raghavulu complimented the people who turned up in such huge numbers for the rally overcoming all attempts by the police to prevent mobilisation. Scores of leaders and cadres were arrested in the districts on the previous night to prevent mobilisation. Raghavulu expressed concern at this trend of growing authoritarianism of the state Congress government. He called for preparing for greater struggles in the future by having a wider platform for fighting on people's issues.


Referring to the ongoing agitations in favour of and against bifurcation of the state, Raghavulu said the parties have a right to conduct agitations but leaving all other people's issues until this political issue is sorted out is untenable. Given the stance of the ruling Congress and other political parties in the state, this political issue is not anywhere near of being sorted out. Using this opportunity, the state government is shirking its responsibilities towards people's issues, he criticised.


Tripura deputy speaker and AIAWU joint secretary Bhanulal Saha demanded that the state government of Andhra Pradesh must immediately reallocate and spend the nearly Rs 26,000 crore that had been diverted from dalit and tribal sub plans. He contrasted this with how the Left Front government of  Tripura has been catering to the development of dalits and tribals in the state. Over 50 per cent of its total budget is spent on the welfare and development of these sections, he said. The TTADC, Forest Tribal Rights Act etc were highlighted.


CPI(M) central secretariat member V Srinivasa Rao, central committee members Thammineni Veerabadhram, Paturi Ramaiah and veteran leader Mallu Swarajyam were among those who addressed the meeting.




Earlier, the police attacked the indefinite hunger strike camp of CPI(M) leaders in the early hours of Sunday and arrested CPI(M) state secretary B V Raghavulu and three other state leaders who were on an indefinite fast demanding resolution of dalit, tribal, urban poor and tenancy farmers issues from 17 March onwards.


Perhaps nervous about the growing all round support to the fast, particularly from the dalit and tribals sections, the Congress government decided to forcibly break the fast. The CPI(M) leaders however continued the fast in Gandhi hospital where they were shifted by the police. They also asserted that the proposed 'Chalo Assembly' programme would take place as scheduled on March 22.


The CPI(M) activists at the hunger strike camp in Hyderabad fiercely resisted the midnight police action by throwing a ring around the leaders tent. Shouting slogans against the strong arm tactics of the state government and police, the cadre prevented the police from reaching the fasting leaders. After much struggle, the police arrested the CPI(M) leaders and took them in an ambulance to Gandhi hospital.


There has been strong condemnation of this high-handedness of the state government. The CPI(M), CPI, TDP and Lok Satta parties have condemned the arrests and demanded the Congress government to solve the problems instead of trying to forcibly brush them aside. Mass organisations, dalit and tribal organisations, and others have also condemned these arrests.




Protests were held across the state condemning the forcible arrests of the CPI(M) leaders who undertook the fast for solving people's issues. Effigies of the government and CM were burnt in many places. In Hyderabad, hundreds of activists gathered in front of Gandhi hospital and staged a rasta roko condemning the illegal arrests of leaders who were peacefully fasting on people's issues. Addressing the protesters, CPI(M) central secretariat member V Srinivasa Rao warned the state government against adopting this anti-democratic attitude. He said it would face the wrath of the downtrodden sections of the society if it sought to ignore their demands raised through the hunger strike.


CPI state secretary K Narayana asked the Congress leaders whether it was a crime to raise the demands of the poor dalit, tribal people. Expressing full solidarity with the struggle launched by the CPI(M), he called upon the government to respond to the issues raised in the hunger strike.


TDP leader Pardhasaradhi, CPI(M) central committee member S Punyavati, CPI(M) secretariat member Y Venkateshwara Rao also spoke on the occasion. Later an effigy of the chief minister was burnt as a mark of protest against the illegal arrests.




The hunger strike launched by the CPI(M) leaders on demands pertaining to dalit, tribal, tenant farmers, agricultural labour and urban poor evoked widespread solidarity from various sections of the society. Political parties, mass organisations, dalit and tribal organisations, intellectuals, artists registered their solidarity by visiting the hunger strike camp.


Telugu Desam party president and leader of opposition in Andhra assembly warned the Congress state government against ignoring the issues raised by the CPI(M) leaders in their indefinite hunger strike. He expressed his party's support and solidarity to the struggle launched by the CPI(M) on people's issues Naidu, accompanied by other TDP MLAs, visited the hunger strike camp on 18 March and met with CPI(M) state secretary B V Raghavulu who is leading the indefinite hunger strike along with three other CPI(M) state leaders.  He endorsed the 48-point charter of demands placed by the CPI(M) saying all the demands were genuine and concerning the poorest sections of the society. Naidu attacked the state and central governments led by Congress for totally neglecting the poor and burdening them more with price hikes. The recent WikiLeaks expose once again confirms the massive corruption of the Congress leaders and the 'cash for votes' episode was a serious threat to our democracy, he felt. Raghavulu thanked the TDP leader for expressing   solidarity to the struggle.


Earlier, CPI state secretary K Narayana and four CPI MLAs visited the camp and expressed their solidarity with the struggle launched by the CPI(M). CPI floor leader, G Mallesh charged the Congress government of deceiving the dalits in the state by diverting all the funds meant for them. He lamented that the government was not giving a scope to discuss the issues pertaining to dalits and tribals in the state assembly by repeatedly adjourning the House. He called for launching greater struggles for the uplift of dalits and tribals in the state and expressed solidarity with the present struggle of CPI(M).


Loksatta president Jayaprakash Narayan also visited the camp and expressed his party's total support to the issues raised by the CPI(M) leaders. Leaders of various mass organisations, NGOs, intellectuals poured in to express solidarity. Among them included AIIEA general secretary K Venugopal, AILU joint secretary K Pardhasaradhy and Madiga Reservation Struggle Committee president Krupakar Madiga, Dalit Studies Forum head and senior journalist, Mallepalli Laxmaiah. Faced with such growing support to the CPI(M) struggle, the ruling Congress leaders spewed venom on CPI(M). A senior leader dismissed this struggle as one intended to preserve CPI(M)'s political existence. Raghavulu lambasted the Congress for resorting to cheap criticism instead of trying to solve the issues. He reminded that the CPI(M) was always in the forefront of struggles on people's issues and such attacks would not deter the Party in intensifying the struggle.


At a time when almost all political parties were revolving around the sole issue of bifurcation of the state, and the ruling party is fully immersed in fighting inner party battles, the agitation launched by the CPI(M) has brought the focus back on people's issues – after a long time.