People's Democracy

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


No. 11

March 17, 2013





Tryst with the Needy


M A Baby


THE Sangharsh Sandesh Jathas organised by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) have been a part of the renewed effort by the Party to take up the most burning problems of our people and country, and to find possible solutions and the course of struggle for the same. We were able to hear and know about their sufferings, received representations and memoranda. The Jathas helped us to convey our Party’s understanding to the various sections of people and sharpen our understanding of the real conditions and sufferings of the people from different walks of life.


March 10th was an unforgettable day for the Southern Jatha. We had our meeting and reception at Wardha, near the historic Sevagram Ashram of Mahatma Gandhi. The soil blessed with the blood and sweat of the great freedom fighters and revolutionaries during the anti-imperialist struggle filled in us inspiration and resolve that the strenuous struggles to make our independence all embracing should be carried forward.


It was in Sevagram, that the meeting which called for the the Quit India Movement of 1942 was held. Today, undoubtedly, Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Chidambaram are opening up India to those who were forced to quit India. Today, the government is wooing multinational giants like Walmart to open shops in India – a move that would take away the livelihood of at least 20 crore Indians.


Mahatmaji stated that freedom would become meaningful only when the last drops of tears are removed from the eyes of the Daridra Narayan. He was in fact a pioneer in emphasising the development of our rural areas, grameen swaraj. Today, unfortunately 67 years after achieving our independence, majority of our villages are poor and development has virtually by-passed them. Incidentally, majority of the poor in our country are landless labourers residing in these very villages. Instead of distributing land to the landless, the ruling class parties are virtually taking over the land of peasants to hand them over to real estate dealers and big corporates. Had Mahatmaji been around today, could he have approved such policies followed by both the Congress and BJP such as subverting land reforms and keeping millions without land or shelter?


One may wonder whether the Mahatma had foreseen the massive corruption and the astronomical kickbacks that the Congress Party and its leaders have been embroiled in when he suggested dismantling the Congress Party right after independence – indeed a sad state of affairs the organisation that fought for India’s freedom has stooped to.


Now when crores of people are starving and 86 crore Indians are compelled to survive with less than Rs 20 and no dignity of jobs, over 6.7 crore tonnes of food grain stock with government is rotting in government godowns.


While Mahatmaji strongly advocated for basic education linked to learning socially relevant skills for work, today, full-scale commercialisation and commodification of education is taking place as a part of neo liberal/exploitative policies. Similarly commercialisation of higher education and professional education is taking place in the most shocking manner which Mahatmaji would have opposed it lock, stock and barrel.


Besides, government’s healthcare system is in tatters – a fact which stood out in most of the regions we toured. The government has failed to provide quality and affordable healthcare to the masses. Instead, healthcare is getting commercialised and is now under the control of big companies, who make people pay through their noses for treatment of even minor ailments – a stark example of the naked commercialisation of one of the primary responsibilities of the government.


There are areas and issues where genuine Gandhians and Marxists can work together to fight the recolonisation pursued by the present Indian ruling classes. There are many areas where we can take joint positions in order to defend the rights of adivasis, minorities, backward classes, students, women and protection of environment, and to oppose the collaboration of the ruling classes with foreign finance capital.


The fact that Mahatmaji is the greatest martyr in the fight for secularism is not sincerely valued by the present day leadership of Congress and they hobnob with communal forces of various kinds for political gains.


The danger of the successors of the murderers of Mahatmaji, carrying on their nefarious activities of dividing people on religious grounds and orchestrating riots and mass killings was pointed out at the meeting held in Nagpur, the headquarters of the Sangh Parivar,  which was the first reception the Jatha had after the function near Sewagram in Wardha.


In Vidarbha region, two relatives of peasant families who committed suicide due to indebtedness, participated in our meetings. Instances of the continuing misery and hardship of people in different regions the Jatha had visited was evident from the reports in the press too. The Hindu (Bangalore) reported on March 3, 2013, “Farmer deaths highlight water issues in Dakshina Kannada.” The same day the Indian Express (Bangalore) reported “Man kills three of kin, ends life in Tumkur. The deceased were identified as Bere Gowda (58), his mother Lakhshmamma (75) daughter Swaroopa (21) and Swapna (8!), a PUC student.


The paper report continued, “The farmer had 8 to 9 acres of land, but was unable to cultivate anything. He kept selling land to make both ends meet. However, he became bankrupt and with no more land to sell, took the extreme step, sources said.”


This endorses the crux of the agrarian problem, the failure of the central and state governments to help farmers to make agriculture a remunerative vocation by providing all the necessary help. Instead of this, governments are pursuing disastrous policies as a result of which over 2.9 lakh farmers have committed suicide since the policy shift took place, which is continuing even now.


Not that the Jatha has not encountered with inspiring experiences. In Bellary, the notorious jail, from where Comrades A K Gopalan, C Kannan and OJ Joseph escaped during freedom struggle to continue the battle against the oppressors, provided us with another inspiration in the form of Lakshmamma and her colleagues. They were in the forefront of successfully fighting the notorious Reddy brothers’ efforts to take over their farm land for various commercial projects. They said so long as they hold the red flag, they will not leave the struggle to protect their land.


The remarkable success of over 30,000 power loom workers is another inspiring story which underlined the relevance of the Sangharsh Sandesh Jatha. On February 28, “the workers successfully called off a historic 37 day strike on a triumphant note,” according to The Hindu dated March 3, 2013. As per the report “the factory owners offered a 48.72 per cent increase in wages and provided workers the option of working in eight hour shifts for the first time in 28 years.”


It is also reported that, “Interestingly except for the Left Parties, none of the political parties came out in support of the workers’ demands initially”.


On February 20-21, just before the commencement of the Jatha,  over 12 crore workers under the leadership of all most all central trade unions and over 3,000 regional and local trade unions organised a 48 hour long all India strike for the first time since independence. The confidence and enthusiasm generated by this strike reverberated in the massive participation of the workers in every reception of the Sangharsh Sandesh Jatha. Coincidentally, during the Jatha, the fourth consecutive victory of the Left Front in Tripura and swearing in of Manik Sarkar took place. This was a pointer towards the unequivocal declaration of a sustainable political alternative that is expected to emerge at the all India level sooner or later.


Through the struggles of the workers, peasants, agricultural labourers, youth, women, students and other toiling and deprived sections, rights can be defended and this process of struggles would definitely give shape to the emergence of a people’s alternative. The Sangharsh Sandesh Jatha could not have been more relevant today than at any other time.