People's Democracy

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


No. 12

March 24, 2013


Sangharsh Sandesh


G Mamatha


THE day, that I was eagerly waiting for, had come. What a day it turned out to be! It was the 19th of March, the day on which the CPI(M) had organised the massive Sangharsh Sandesh rally as a culmination to the 21-day jatha programmes it had organised for the first time in the history of the Party. The jathas had travelled for over 11,000 kilometres – travelling through the most backward regions of the country. They had gone through the Santal paraganas in Jharkand, the Vidarbha in Maharashtra, tribal regions of Maharashtra, and in Rajasthan and Haryana. I was indeed waiting for hearing the experiences of the jatha leaders, in the public rally. More than that, it was the call as a follow up to the jathas that was to be announced on that day that interested me a lot. Moving around the people who had gathered from all around the country, I was happy that I was not alone in this eager wait.


There were people from as far as Tamilnadu and Kerala in the South to West Bengal and Odisha in the East, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan in the West to Himachal Pradesh, Punjab in the North. Of course, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttarakhand too were there. Interestingly, many of them had come in their traditional attires too. So we find the Sikhs, tribals and even some sadhus in their traditional dress donning the CPI(M) badge and shouting Inquilabi slogans. Some of them had started on Friday, to reach for the rally organised on Tuesday. The rally organised only a week before the Holi, many of the trains from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were already running with overflowing crowds. Braving all these hardships, comrades nudged into the compartments and made space for themselves too, for being part of the rally. Tough the journey was, but unflinching was their spirit. Many of them were carrying their little babies along, making the journey both painful and happy – painful for the difficulties and happy for the simple reason that their dear ones too are with them.


Many of them who were put up in the make-shift camps in Ramlila Maidan did not complain of inconveniences, though it is true that toilets, water, remained issues. Rather, they were mingling with each other and getting to know that whatever be their state or district, the problems they share bond them together. More stronger bond that exists between them, of course, is the resolve to struggle.


Take the instance of Kalpagam from Tirunelveli. She says that they had come to Delhi to force the government to hear their grievances. What are they? She is clear: “give us land, house, education and health care”. Her simple yearning in life is to “live a life worthy of a human being”. So strong a feeling, but is it so difficult to live the life of a human being for all of us born as humans?


Yes, concurs seventy year old Darmeet Kaur from Punjab. She says: “we want the government to reduce the prices. Roti, kapda aur makaan chahiye”. She continues, “We want to see our children educated, to be healthy and to be employed”. Brinda Karat who led the Northern jatha through Punjab says that the state is facing a situation akin to health emergency with lots of people suffering from cancer and other deadly diseases. More than it, a dangerous phenomenon is many of the youth in Punjab are getting addicted to drugs. The people of Punjab want an end to their miseries and live a good hearted life. How is it possible?


Sheela from Hissar district of Haryana quite convincingly states that without struggle, nothing can be achieved. “We have to fight for our rights, for facilities which will enable us to live a dignified life, for education, health etc”. She narrates her experience where,  in spite of repeatedly approaching the village authorities how they were denied of their basic rights. She also states that thanks to the intervention of the CPI(M), they had participated in some struggles at the district level that won some benefits. Understanding the policies responsible for her problems, she says there is no other way than struggle. She carries a two year old baby in her arms and tirelessly joins the slogans “Sangharsh zindabad”.


The tales of the people who had participated in the rally are so heart wrenching that  everybody is bound to agree with Sheela, particularly after hearing the plight of Shakuntala from Madhya Pradesh. She stays in a village that does not have water, forget about electricity. She does not even have a BPL card, so officially in the government statistics, she is APL or rich, who does not deserve governmental support. Listen to our 'wealthy' Shakuntala: “Every morning we go and stand at the adda of the village and eagerly wait for many hours and return back sad, with no work insight. Many a day we have no food to eat and sleep hungry. We elders have lived all our lives similarly, but for her is the problem”. She shows me her ten month old girl who is weeping in her arms. “I want her not to be like me. She has to study and work in an office”, she says with dreamy, shining proud eyes. How will her dream be realised? Or will it remain, just that – a dream?


Unlikely. Because there are thousands of Shakuntalas in the rally and they are all showing a steely determination. This is the story of Nasya Masum from Godha district in Jharkhand, of Nanda Devi from Uttarakhand. Only difference between both of them is while Masum does not even have work, Nanda Devi does work – as a mid-day-meal worker. She still does not have money to buy food grains. “We don’t get even the paltry wages of Rs 1500 regularly, if we get them once in 6 months we are lucky, because at times we have to wait for many more months”. Work without wages! Indeed the government has come up with nice titles for such kind of 'workers' (Sorry Mr Chidambaram, I cannot call them volunteers as you would like us to). They are 'scheme workers', who in fact had come from all over the country and organised a Maha padav some months ago. In fact, many of them are found in this rally too.


Many of the people like Shankar Rao Danao from Yavatmal, Maharashtra are here in Delhi demanding land for tilling and homesteads. They were here demanding jobs, BPL cards and food grains at prices affordable to them. They said that they are ready to fight to any extent to ensure that their demands are met. In fact, Danao said, “We have been fighting for the last ten years for our land pattas, but have not yet secured them. That does not mean I am not going to fight tomorrow. I will fight, at least my children will get the patta. If I do not, they too will be condemned like me”.


This is the resolve that resonated around the Ramlila Maidan on the 19th of March. That is why, when Prakash Karat, the General Secretary of the CPI(M) announced the decision of the Party calling for picketing of government offices from block, tehsil, district to the state levels, it was met with a resounding applause. The resolve to fight was indeed permeating throughout the Maidan. Sangharsh Sandesh, the people are searching for an alternative. The rally promises to fight till it is realised.