People's Democracy

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


No. 01

January 01, 2012




Working for Alternative to Congress, BJP


Tikender Singh Panwar


HELD at Harkishan Singh Surjeet Nagar at Mandi in Himachal Pradesh from December 23 to 25, 2011, the 14th state conference of the CPI(M) urged upon the people of the state to provide an alternative to the BJP as well as the Congress in the state. It said the CPI(M) would mobilise all such forces, political parties and individuals as are opposed to both the BJP and the Congress. The party would also launch struggles against the failure of the state government in fulfilling the people’s aspirations; on the contrary, this government has itself been launching newer and newer attacks on the livelihood of the Himachal people. On January 9, 2012, the CPI(M) will hold protest demonstrations throughout the state against the rising cement prices and the closure of several ration shops by the BJP controlled state government.


The conference got off to a glittering start at the Seri Manch where a massive rally was held, in which thousands of people participated. The main speaker of the rally was A Vijayaraghavan who is also in charge of the Himachal party unit. He lambasted the UPA government for following the imperialist dictated ruinous policies. He said the Congress led UPA government has been working under the dictate of pro-US groups that demand rampant privatisation of our public sector units, service sector and retail trade sector. Targeting the Congress party for its philosophy of dynastic rule, he said the Congress cannot move out of it and, unlike a Communist Party, cannot even think of inner-party democracy. He said there is a marked difference between a communist party and other parties not only in functioning but also in the style of governance. The CPI(M) has been the most pro-people party and even under the severe limitations of the present constitution, it has been able to perform in a starkly different manner from others. Communists have not only effected radical land reforms in three states; they have also put forth alternative policies in regard to rationing and food security, education and other social sectors. It is thus that the CPI(M) represents a people’s alternative that has to be strengthened, the speaker said. 


The other speaker at the rally was Rakesh Singha who dwelled upon the history of evolution of the state of Himachal Pradesh. He stressed the need for safeguarding the interests of the state and its people, and said it is only the CPI(M) that can protect the state from the loot by various agencies like private hydropower companies, cement companies, private universities etc, and fight against the withdrawal of the state in various sectors. Both the BJP and the Congress are at one in so as the issue of dilution of land reforms and imposition of new burdens on the people in various forms (e.g. on the basis of unit area) are concerned. He asked the people of Himachal Pradesh to work for a third alternative in the state.


After A Vijayraghavan inaugurated the conference, the CPI(M) state secretary placed a report of activities. The political part of the report placed the challenges that confront the people of the state owing to the neo-liberal policies being implemented by the BJP government. The biggest damage comes from implementation of the Financial Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) in the state and the recommendations of the 13th Finance Commission. Thousands of vacancies were abolished under the FRBM guidelines at a stroke. In Himachal Pradesh, the service sector is the largest contributor to the state domestic product (SDP), with a share of nearly 40 per cent. This sector is thus crucial to the growth of the state and influences the poverty and other socio-economic indices in relation to the state. But now this very sector has been severely hit by the government which is hell-bent on following the PPP model in virtually all the developmental schemes. Health, infrastructure, education and several other sectors have witnessed rampant privatisation in the garb of the PPP model. This has put further burdens on the common people. The state road transport has withdrawn itself from 120 bus routes in the state. The education department has closed down 1200 schools on the spurious plea of low attendance. At the same time, the department has virtually thrown down the higher education sector to vulture-like private players. A large number of private engineering colleges and private universities have come up in the state. The civil supply department has decided to close down all such ration shops that have sales of less than Rs 5 lakh per month. This means that over 20 per cent of the ration depots would be closed. The real estate mafia is also flourishing under the aegis of the ruling party. The government has diluted the provisions of the land reforms act and the tenancy act, and is virtually selling the state to real estate sharks. The report also laid stress on the apathetic attitude of the centre towards this hilly state. It has neglected the interests of the state with respect to its share in hydropower projects, under the Punjab Reorganisation Act and with regard to its special category status, while the 13th Finance Commission too has worked against the people of the state. The special category status stands snatched as the grants from the centre have been scuttled; the 13th Finance Commission too has put draconian riders related to the pace of development; the state’s share under the Punjab Reorganisation Act has been brushed aside. The only saving grace came with the intervention of the Supreme Court that gave a judgement in favour of the state after the centre filed an affidavit on the issue in the apex court.


In all, 31 delegates took part in the discussion that followed the presentation of the report. The discussion, which continued for six hours, focussed on building a vibrant organisation with a firm alliance of the workers and the peasants at the bottom to realise the dream of building an alternative to both the BJP and the Congress in the state. The conference adopted six resolutions unanimously --- on spending of the schedules castes & scheduled tribes special component plan, on implementation of the Forest Rights Act, on implementation of the 85th constitutional amendment, on the rising cement prices, on relief, rehabilitation and resettlement issues because of various projects in the state, and on the issues and challenges facing women in the state.


The credentials report, placed by Ravinder Kumar, said there were 68 women out of the 303 delegates who participated in the conference. Six of the delegates were from the party organisation. The trade union front accounted for 89, kisan front 74, science movement 26, youth front 15, women’s movement 36, and students front 39. The class backgrounds of the delegates were as below: from working class 19, agricultural labour 10, marginal farmers 21, poor farmers 128, middle peasants 101, rich peasants 4 and landlords 4. The age-wise break-up of the delegates was as below: from 15-20 years age group 8, 21-30 years - 69, 31-40 years - 101, 41-50 years - 82, 51-60 years - 10, above 61 - 3. The oldest delegate was Om Dutta (72 years) and youngest was Ruchika (18 years). As far as joining the communist movement was concerned, most of the delegates came to it during the 2001-10 period. Two delegates joined it before 1970; 11 during 1971-80, 56 during 1981-90; 76 during 1991-2000 and 148 during 2001-10. Om Dutta joined the Communist Party in 1956.


The conference elected a 25 member state committee who in turn re-elected Rakesh Singha as the state secretary. The state committee also elected a six member state secretariat and five delegates for the 20th party congress to be held in Khozikhode in April 2012. The newly elected state control commission has Ghanshayam Chauhan as its chairperson and Paras Ram and Lakhan Pal Sharma as members.