People's Democracy

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


No. 10

March 10, 2013


EASTERN JATHA Goes through land of struggles

Good Response in Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar


Debashish Chakraborty


THE Eastern Sangharsh Sandesh Jatha was flagged off with great enthusiasm from Kolkata on the morning of March 01, 2013 amidst hundreds of people who gathered on Rani Rasmoni road. Red flags covered the entire area, although there were restrictions on holding of large public meetings because of state school examinations. CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and Bengal state secretary Biman Basu, who himself is part of the Jatha team, presided over the public meeting held for a short duration.


CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat, who is leading this jatha, addressed the gathering for a brief while. He explained the purpose of the jatha and said an arduous struggle for alternative policies would be launched throughout the country and this jatha is a message for that struggle. He said that even after 65 years of independence, a large section of the people are deprived of basic rights. CPI(M) has taken this initiative for the four jathas that would criss-cross the country to highlight people's issues. The need for such a struggle has been vindicated once again by the union budget that only served the interests of the rich. Karat congratulated the people of Tripura for the historic verdict in favour of Left Front that has given a new impetus for the democratic forces in the country. 


The jatha was flagged of by CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. Apart from Prakash Karat and Biman Basu, central committee members Jogender Sharma and Gyan Shankar Majumdar are the other members of the jatha. Participants of sub-jathas from Guwahati and Odisha joined in the public meeting.




The eastern jatha traversed through West Bengal for two days with massive response from the people. On the first day, Friday, it travelled through the districts of Howrah, Hooghly, Burdwan and Purulia.  The entire journey was a reflection of people's love and affection towards the CPI(M) and an expression of their solidarity with its struggles.


Hundreds of people gathered on both sides of the roads that the jatha travelled and showered the leaders with flowers and shouted slogans on the issues that are being raised by the jatha. Youth on motorbikes came along the jatha all through. In many places, including Howrah town, Dankuni, Chuchura, Chandannagore, people gathered and raised slogans. In Pandua, a meeting was held in which Karat and Biman Basu spoke. In Howrah, Karat and Biman Basu were taken in an open-jeep as large crowds stood on the roadside offering them flowers and ‘red salutes’.


In Palshit in Burdwan district, the scene was moving. Hundreds gathered on Durgapur Expresway, including women with children and received the leaders with drum beats and dance. In Burdwan, a large gathering attended a public meeting in the town hall. Hundreds were forced to remain outside the hall. Before that the leaders were taken in a procession which coloured the entire town red.


The jatha was being held in the aftermath of the two day general strike which, in West Bengal, was transformed into a bitterly fought struggle against government and ruling party oppression. Strikers were continued to be attacked even after the strike. The sense of struggle reverberated in people's intense response to jatha, particularly when it moved through the industrial and coal belt of West Bengal on the second day of its journey. It started from Durgapur on Saturday morning with a colorful procession. On the way, the jatha was received with warm, spontaneous greetings by hundreds of workers. In Andal, a coal mine area, coal workers came onto the streets and raised slogans like ‘Workers Unity Zindabad'. They virtually flooded the national highway. Some workers shouted in the din to Prakash Karat, “Be sure Comrade, Bengal will be red forever, please try to develop the Party in more states”. CPI(M) general secretary assured them that maximum effort would be given to develop the struggle.


In Raniganj industrial area, workers came out of their factories and greeted the jatha , many with CITU flags. Workers’ families were also present with flowers and garlanded the leaders. Some of them interacted with the leaders and reported how private contractors in Eastern Coalfields are deceiving them of their minimum wages. While an ECL regular employee gets a daily wage of Rs 450, these workers of Sripur Colliery get a paltry sum of Rs 130. It was they who reminded that one of the main demands of general strike was regular wages for contract labourers.


In Asansol, a huge public meeting was held in Rabindra Bhaban. Large sections of urban poor and middle classes attended the meeting. Prakash Karat, Biman Basu and Nirupam Sen addressed the meeting. Karat, in this meeting, particularly noted about the danger of communal forces and emphasized that while fighting for alternative policies, the fight against these forces must be continued.


The jatha entered the district of Purulia through Neturia, crossing the bridge over river Damodar. Hundreds of people greeted the jatha with traditional music and dances. In Raghunathpur, thousands of men and women marched with the jatha, waving red flags, sporting red caps and red shirts. A large section of them were tribals. The march went through the town, creating a red wave. Prakash Karat and Biman Basu rode in an open top jeep and virtually floated along the stream of people. In Raghunathpur, Jogender Sharma and Gyanshankar Majumdar addressed the public meeting.


On the way to Purulia town, the jatha had to stop at least five times. People from villages waited for hours to receive the jatha. Many were seen running from their villages to have a glimpse of the jatha convoy. The enthusiasm among the women was particularly noticeable. Their sentiments were echoed by a middle-aged woman in Chatra when she said, “Comrades, we waited for hours just to tell you fight harder thorough out the country”.


In Purulia town, it was virtually a road show with hundreds of youth riding on motor bikes ahead of a procession. In the public meeting that followed Prakash Karat and others explained the basic demands of the jatha.




Eastern Sangharsh Sandesh Jatha entered Jharkhand on Sunday, March 03.  It was received by tribals with traditional dances. Just after crossing Subranarekha river, addressing a roadside meeting in Muri, Prakash Karat told that the people's struggle in various states would be strengthened by the jatha.


One particular feature of the meeting was that villagers who are fighting a desperate battle against forcible land grabbing of private corporate Hindalco attended the meeting in large numbers. Over 12,000 acres of land was earmarked for the project without any proper rehabilitation. The villagers, under the leadership of AIKS and CPI(M), resisted police atrocities and the government machinery and won partial victory. Those who came to the meeting told INN that it was but for the Red flag that they could save their land and continue tilling.


On the way to Ranchi, crimson red palash flowers have ignited the spring and the hilly terrain of the plateau is bursting red. Red flags in various spots have added to the beauty. In Jona, known for waterfalls, local people gathered to report their distress to CPI(M) leaders. Adivasis of Dumargarhi in Angaraha block reported that though they have tilled and resided in the forests for 40 years, they have not been given the legal forest rights. These poor peasants submitted a memorandum to Prakash Karat detailing their problems. Karat assured them that CPI(M) would continue to fight for their rights.


A large motorcycle rally brought the jatha to Ranchi.


Eastern Jatha has travelled through Ramgarh, Hazaribag and Koderma In Jharkhand on Monday, March 04.


In Ramgarh, a town in colliery belt, coal workers and daily wage workers attended a public meeting in the morning. They reported about spiraling price rise. In Central Coal Fields mines, the number of workers is decreasing while the load of work is increasing. “1 worker, 4 times work”, said a worker. Their houses have become dangerous to live. Coal dumps have been constructed in workers colony, and poisonous smoke is creating havoc with people, specially children.


In Hazaribagh, large number of women were present, mainly from nearby villages. They were listening with apt attention to Subhashini Ali’s speech as she was chronicling women’s distress in the country. These villagers alleged that BPL cards are not available to them.


In Jhumri Tilaya, Koderma, there was a huge meeting. Mainly daily wage earners and peasants attended the meeting. Thousands of young and aged have become migrant workers in other parts of the country as no job, not even at very low wage, are available here. Some reported that daily wage has come down to as low as less than Rs 50. But the poor urban workers have united under the Red flag. Some of them have started working with the CPI(M) under very difficult conditions and even in underground.


Different sections of people and leading activists of mass movement met CPI(M) leaders in Koderma. Elected panchayat representatives alleged that while panchayat elections were held after 35 years, no devolution of powers, funds or projects has been done. Panchayats remained non-functional. 


Koderma was once the mica capital of the country. Hundreds used to work in mica mining companies, all of which, are now closed. Earlier, local people used to collect parts of broken mica from the natural dumps and sell them to dealers. But now they are not allowed to do so. The state administration detains people carrying such mica. According to MICA Act 1937, local people are entitled to collect mica thinner than 3 inches. But despite that, they are not being allowed. They have no alternative livelihood.  It is very difficult to cultivate lands because the soil is too hard and most of the villagers have no land of their own. Villagers from Meghatari and other nearby villages met CPI(M) leaders and explained their distress. 


Saiya (ASHA) workers reported that there was no monthly allowance for them, neither any social security. Saiya workers like Pinki Kumari, Rani Kumari reported to Karat, Biman Basu and Subhashini Ali that Saiya workers have to work at any time of the day. It is they who cater to basic child and mother care to villagers, but there is no care for them from the government. CPI(M) leaders urged them to organize themselves, maintain co-ordination with other scheme workers.




First, it was revered condolence. For Hugo Chavez, who ignited millions  of minds in a far off continent. The huge gathering in Begusarai, Bihar on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 05, began with a minute of observing silence in memory of a revolutionary. Biman Basu placed the condolence resolution and thousands of people stood in unison to pay homage to a person, whom many of them never heard of, but who, they understood, was one in their struggle.


Then, it was thunderous applause. Again for some struggling people who are far away from them, but an inspiration to them. The seventh Left Front government took office on Wednesday in Tripura around the same time as this meeting was being held. This was announced with joy in the meeting and ‘Tripura ko lal salam” was heard from every corner.


The meeting in Begusarai was the biggest public gathering so far in the route of Eastern Jatha. This district of Bihar is a land of great struggle, particularly land struggle. It has elected CPI(M) and Left representatives time and again in assembly and parliament. The fight to defend the lands of the peasants is still going on. The fight for irrigation, housing sites for the poor, fight against government apathy have made the CPI(M) popular among the toiling masses.


That the response to jatha would be enthusiastic was evident when a large number of people received the jatha on the Rajendra Setu, the bridge on the Ganges itself. The jatha was brought to Begusarai town with a motorbike procession from there itself. In the town, gates were erected in the name of leading lights of communist movement in India - Jyoti Basu, Harksihen Singh Surjeet, B T Ranadive, E M S Namboodiripad and P Sundarayya. The maidan was nearly full even before the jatha reached there. A pandal was erected but it could accommodate only a section of the rally. According to estimates, nearly ten thousand people attended the rally. In fact, the entire town was reverberating with the slogans of the jatha. Daily wage earners, agricultural workers, poor peasants, scheme workers were the overwhelming majority in the gathering.


Biman Basu was the main speaker of the meeting. He explained that the goal of this jatha was not elections, but to develop mass movements all over the country.  The West Bengal Left Front chairman reminded the people that the Left Front in Bengal was not born as an electoral alliance. It fought for three decades on people's issues and then the Left Front government came into being. His assertion that despite the horrific situation in the state, the Left movement in Bengal would go on fighting was received with warm clapping.


Jogender Sharma, Subhashini Ali, Gyanshankar Majumdar and CPI(M) Bihar state secretary Vijaykant Thakur also addressed the rally.


Earlier, a meeting was held in Rajgir . Prakash Karat and others addressed it briefly. The jatha team visited “Marxbadi Nagar”, a colony of 200 poor families, mostly dalits, in Rajgir. This colony was built after the land was seized by the landless dalits under the leadership of the CPI(M). Till this day, this habitat of the poor is a red fort.