People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXV

No. 45

November 06, 2011

MAHARASHTRA

AIKS Workshop Calls For

Intensifying Struggles

Kisan Gujar

 

THE Maharashtra state workshop of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) held at Nashik recently, reviewed the peasant struggles waged by the AIKS since its last state conference at Selu, Parbhani district in January 2009 that was attended by AIKS general secretary K Varadha Rajan and joint secretary Suryakant Mishra, and set out 11 agitational and organisational tasks till the next state conference. 198 leading AIKS activists from 18 districts attended the two-day workshop.

 

The workshop was held in the Comrade M K Pandhe Nagar (CITU Kamgar Bhavan). The hall was named after departed AIKS state vice president Comrade Vinayak Gaikwad and AIKS state council member Comrade Narendra Kavishwar, both leading comrades from Buldana district in the Vidarbha region. The stage was named after departed AIKS state council member from Nashik district, Comrade Shivnarayan Bharati.

 

After the flag hoisting and floral tributes to martyrs, the inaugural session began under the chairmanship of AIKS state president J P Gavit. Veteran leader L B Dhangar inaugurated the workshop with an inspiring speech laced with his experiences of working in the AIKS for over six decades from the early 1950s with legendary leaders like Shamrao Parulekar, Godavari Parulekar and Krantisimha Nana Patil (the last two were former AIKS national presidents).

 

MASS

ACTIONS

AIKS state general secretary Kisan Gujar then placed a brief written report that was circulated to all participants. After dealing with the current political situation, it took stock of the major struggles led by the AIKS in Maharashtra in the recent period.

 

These included big AIKS statewide agitations on five burning peasant issues that mobilised over 60,000 in demonstrations in January 2009 and 1,10,000 in Ďsit-iní stirs for three days at several centres in February 2009; the political campaign for the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections that followed in April and October 2009; the participation of over 50,000 peasants in the statewide anti-price rise stir in March-April 2010; mass peasant participation in the all India strike on September 7, 2010; the two-day state camp in October 2010 that was inaugurated by rural affairs editor of The Hindu, P Sainath, and addressed by AIKS president S Ramachandran Pillai, among others; participation of 40,000 peasants in AIKS statewide actions on peasant issues in November 2010; and the 7000-strong state-level AIKS peasant march to the Nagpur assembly session in December 2010, focussing on peasant suicides, cheap credit, remunerative prices for crops and other major issues.

 

2011 saw two massive statewide struggles independently led by the AIKS in Maharashtra. These were the 1,00,000-strong militant statewide jail bharo stir, with its main striking force in the Nashik, Thane, Ahmednagar, Nandurbar, Nanded and Yavatmal districts, for the implementation of the Forest Rights Act, in January-February 2011; and the 1,20,000-strong participation of the rural poor in several districts of the state on the demand of inclusion of the names of the poor in the below poverty line (BPL) lists, from March to May 2011. (Both were reported in these columns earlier.)

 

Other important activities were the joint peasant struggle in Raigad district for the last five years that eventually succeeded recently in getting Mukesh Ambaniís proposed 10,000-hectare MahaMumbai SEZ scrapped; the victorious joint agitation for getting water from the Nilwande dam in Akole in Ahmednagar district in June 2011; the continuing struggle in the south Maharashtra districts on the demand for vesting temple lands in the names of the cultivating peasants; the victories in 107 gram panchayat elections in Nashik, Thane and Nandurbar districts in June 2011; joint protest actions against the Jaitapur nuclear power plant and the police firing at Maval that killed three peasants, including a woman; and the mass peasant participation in the anti-corruption movement in August 2011. All these struggles resulted in the AIKS state membership reaching 2,35,012 in the year 2010-11. The report concluded by setting out 11 concrete tasks for the future.

 

THREE INTERESTING

SESSIONS

Over the next two days, the workshop comprised three interesting sessions. The first was on struggles, the second on the local body elections, and the third on organisation. These sessions were chaired by J P Gavit and by state vice presidents Udayan Sharma and Dr Ashok Dhawale respectively.

 

The first session began with an illuminating presentation of the agrarian situation in Maharashtra by Dr R Ramakumar of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). He dealt with various aspects like land and land relations, regionwise crop pattern, irrigation, power, prices, debt and rural banking. He analysed relevant facts and figures that showed the class exploitation of the peasants and agricultural workers and also the regional imbalances in the agrarian situation. He concluded by outlining the two major growing contradictions in the countryside pinpointed by the AIKS-AIAWU.

 

The second presentation in this session was on the 2011 BPL survey and our approach to it, by AIKS state joint secretary Dr Ajit Nawale. A comprehensive note on this issue prepared by him was circulated to the delegates and he placed various aspects of the subject effectively.

 

In the second session, AIKS state working president Rajaram Ozare (MLA) and state president J P Gavit (ex MLA) made detailed presentations on the importance of, and preparations for, the statewide zilla parishad and panchayat samiti elections that are due in March 2012.

 

In the third session, AIKS state vice presidents Arjun Adey and A B Patil stressed on various aspects of strengthening the AIKS organisation, from the village committees to the district and state council, the importance of building dedicated activists, the membership campaign, the fund drive and so on.

 

There was a districtwise group discussion twice in this workshop, in which delegates from each district worked out their agitational and organisational tasks for the coming year. One delegate from each district then placed his district plan before the workshop. This was a very lively session. During this session, CITU state general secretary Dr D L Karad greeted the AIKS delegates. An AIKS state council meeting and a separate meeting of AIKS whole-timers in the state was also held during this workshop, and these meetings decided on the concrete tasks to be fulfilled.

 

The concluding address was delivered by AIKS CKC member Dr Ashok Dhawale, who brought all the strands of the workshop together, linked them to the political challenges before the country and the state, and called for strengthening the struggles and organisation of the AIKS in the days ahead.

 

There was a brisk sale of progressive literature worth Rs 7,500 from the stall that had been specially put up at the venue. Annual subscriptions worth Rs 15,500 to Jeevanmarg, the Marathi weekly of the CPI(M), were given by the AIKS workshop participants. Volunteers of the AIKS, CITU, AIDWA, DYFI and SFI from Nashik district had made excellent arrangements for all the delegates.