People's Democracy

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


No. 19

May 13, 2012



Sustained Work Led to Some Important Victories

Venkatesh Athreya


THERE have been several political developments and important interventions by the CPI(M) in recent weeks in the state of Tamilnadu.


Comrade S P Muthukumaran of the Communist Party of India, who had been elected to the legislative assembly from Pudukkottai constituency in the elections held in 2011, tragically died in an accident on April 1 this year. The by-election to this constituency is to take place on June 12. Even before the CPI could make a request to the AIADMK leadership that, having won the seat in the 2011 assembly elections, the CPI should be supported to contest from this constituency, the AIADMK unilaterally announced that it would contest the by-election and even named its candidate. Our Party announced that, if the CPI contested the by election, the CPI (M) would support it. However, the CPI subsequently announced that it had decided not to contest the by-election. A few days ago, the DMK leader Karunanidhi declared that the DMK would not contest, stating that the opposition parties would not get justice from the Election Commission. Among the other parties in Tamilnadu, both the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and the Marumalarchchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam(MDMK) have also announced their decision of not contesting the by-election. In this context, the DMK leadership has been indulging in some kite-flying, suggesting in various ways that a common candidate, supported by all the parties opposed to the AIADMK can be put up. The CPI(M) has categorically rejected this position of the DMK. The Party has made it clear that as the DMK is part of the UPA government at the centre and is  a party to all the anti-people policies and measures of the central government, there is no question of supporting, along with the DMK, any ‘common candidate’. At the same time, the Party has also made it clear that it would not be politically correct to let the AIADMK go uncontested in the by-election. The by-election provides an opportunity to explain to the people the anti-people character of the policies of the ruling party in the state and the ruling alliance at the centre. Currently, the Party is weighing various options in this regard. It is in touch with other concerned political parties and will also take into account the views of the Pudukkottai district committee of the Party, before taking a final decision. 


The economic situation facing the people of the state, as in the rest of the country, continues to be grim. The rise in prices is relentless. The recent central and state budgets have further worsened the situation. While the central budget has imposed a massive dose of indirect taxes and cut subsidies to agriculture and the poor while doling out tax concessions to the rich and the super-rich, the state government in Tamilnadu has imposed a burden of more than 20,000 crore rupees since it assumed office, by raising the price of milk, the bus fares and the electricity charges. This far exceeds the cost of various welfare measures announced with great fanfare by the state government. The AIADMK government in the state is following the same neoliberal policies as the UPA government at the centre, of which the DMK is an integral part and key player. On key issues concerning the development of the state such as the Sethu canal project, there is no progress.


Since the AIADMK government was formed nearly a year ago, there has been little improvement in law and order. There have been as many as 12 deaths in police custody. Police firing in Paramakkudi in the southern district of Ramanathapuram led to the death of six dalits. The government has shown little enthusiasm for bringing the land mafia and other anti-social elements to justice.


Recent political developments on the issue of Sri Lankan Tamils have seen the DMK and some other forces raising once again the issue of a separate Eaazham as against the legitimate demand for a democratic political solution within a united Sri Lanka.  There is an urgent need to take our line on this sensitive question to the people of the state.




It was in this background that the state committee of the Party had decided, at its meeting on April 26, to carry out a state-wide campaign from May 15 to 31 on the issues of neoliberal policies, price rise, central and state budgets, the democratic political solution to the Sri Lankan Tamil question and the Sethu canal project. Large public meetings and street corner rallies and meetings are to be conducted all over the state, ensuring that the wider sections of the people are mobilised and that our messages reach a wide population.


The task of reporting the resolutions and decisions of the 20th Party Congress to Party members at all levels is in progress. Prakash Karat presented the Congress resolutions and decisions at the state committee meeting on April 26. On April 29, reporting was done at seven centers across the state for district committee members and state fraction committee members. Currently, reporting is being done at the district level for members of the sub-district committees and at the next level, for branch secretaries.


A major struggle led by the Party for several months now is the question of taking strong action against the land/real estate mafia in several parts of the state who have been engaging in criminal activities and fraudulently grabbing the lands of peasants. In a specific instance, in the village of Deivacheyalpuram in Thoothukkudi district in southern Tamilnadu, out of 915 acres of land belonging to 213 farmers, 542 acres had been fraudulently transferred to one Selvam and his benamis. 373 acres had been fraudulently sold off by Selvam to various people. The CPI(M) had launched a major struggle against this fraud, and ultimately the revenue authorities had cancelled the illegally given title deeds. But no action was taken against Selvam and his henchmen. In fact, he was allowed to continue other anti social activities and even managed to pocket flood relief meant for farmers in Deivacheyalpuram. The Party exposed this as well, and ensured that the relief amounts were recovered from Selvam and paid to the eligible farmers. All this has angered the land mafia in the district. At the instance of Selvam, a petrol bomb was hurled into the house of Kanakaraj, currently a member of the state secretariat of the Party and at that time the secretary of Thoothukkudi district committee. Similarly, our firm opposition to unscrupulous land mafia elements who tried to grab and sell public trust property that was serving as a hockey field and being utilised by sportspersons in Kovilpatti Municipality in the same district, resulting in a high court judgment against the land grabbers led to a petrol bomb attack on the house of the Kovilpatti party secretary Srinivasan. Though the AIADMK makes tall claims that it has taken decisive action against the land mafia, our experience has been different. The ruling party claims that  the present government  received 34, 703 complaints of land fraud, registered 1,299 cases and recovered Rs 758 crores worth of assets. It also claims that 1,317 acres of land have been restored to the legitimate owners. But the CPI(M) has been fighting the land mafia consistently and for much longer. We find that the AIADMK government is hesitant to take action against these anti-social elements that the CPI(M) has been fighting relentlessly. Our struggle demanding stern action against the criminal land mafia who organised the attacks on the homes of Kanakaraj and Srinivasan and who continue to indulge with impunity in anti-social land grab activities has been intensified. Responding to an indefinite fast undertaken by Kanakaraj, the government has agreed to some of our key demands. Though, in response, we have called off the fast, the struggle against the land mafia will of course, continue.




The sustained work of the Party and mass organisations led by it on social and economic issues has led to some important victories as well. The court judgment in the Vachathi case rendering some justice to the tribal women who were brutalised, the victory in our struggle to break caste walls in Uthapuram in Madurai and elsewhere in a manner that sought also to build the unity of the toiling people, the sustained fight led by the Party and AIDWA against a school headmaster who indulged in serious sexual misconduct against girl students resulting in a fine court judgment that has commended the role of both the Party and AIDWA -  these are some instances of the Party carrying out  a struggle in a sustained manner, in some cases over several years, to a victorious conclusion. These and other struggles have enhanced the prestige of the Party in the state.


An important upcoming event in the state is the all India conference of the SFI, to be held in Madurai from September 4-7. A reception committee has been constituted, with the veteran freedom fighter N Sankariah as the patron. Eminent lawyer R Vaigai is the president of the reception committee and N Ram, former editor-in-chief of the Hindu group of newspapers and an outstanding journalist of global repute is the vice president. It is not out of place to mention here that Sankariah started his long and dedicated political life as a leader of the student movement from Madurai and that Ram was the all India vice president of the SFI during a crucial period in the early 1970s. Vaigai, as a lawyer and otherwise, has been deeply committed to the struggle for democratic rights and advance of the cause of working people. Work on the conference has begun, and it can be confidently expected that the conference will be held in a manner befitting the role of the SFI as the premier student organisation in the country.