People's Democracy

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


No. 12

March 24, 2013



Western Sangharsh Sandesh Jatha

Concludes its 2717 Km Journey

N S Arjun


The Western Sangharsh Sandesh Jatha concluded its nine day long, 2717 km journey across the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana when it reached CPI(M) central committee office, AKG Bhavan, around 10 pm on March 16. It received an enthusiastic reception by hundreds of Party activists of centre and Delhi state committee with shouting of slogans and garlanding of jatha leaders, Sitaram Yechury, Nilotpal Basu and Md Salim. Central secretariat members, Hari Singh Kang, V Sreenivasa Rao, Jogender Sharma and Delhi state secretary  P M S Grewal led the reception.


Earlier, the last meeting of the jatha was held at Ballabgarh in Haryana. Despite the jatha reaching the place a couple of hours late, the crowd remained and listened to the speeches of jatha leaders and Haryana state secretary Inderjeet Singh. From there, it moved on to Faridabad where it was received by comrades of Delhi state committee. Over 100 red volunteers sporting red flags on their motorcycles and shouting slogans escorted the jatha to AKG Bhavan. Before that in the evening, the jatha passed briefly through Rajasthan and later through Uttar Pradesh. It was received with enthusiasm at Mathura by Party activists.


The last day of jatha began with CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and leader of Western Sangharsh Sandesh Jatha, Sitaram Yechury holding a press conference at the Gwalior district committee office of the Party. Asked about possibilities of formation of a third front government in 2014, Yechury made it clear that the goal of the CPI(M) is to work not just for an alternative government but one that will implement alternative policies. In this regard, he mentioned how there is growing pressure from below, from the mass base of parties like Samajwadi Party against neo-liberal policies that cut the subsidies to poor and result in unprecedented price rise.


Replying to a question, he felt there is no possibility of early Lok Sabha election despite the fact that this government is a minority one surviving on outside support of SP and BSP. “Although there is instability, we think even these two parties are not in a position to go for early polls”.  He charged the Manmohan Singh government of deliberately being lenient towards the Italian government on the issue of Italian marines shooting down our fishermen. He said this amounted to compromising our sovereign rights as a nation.


Later in the day, the last public meeting in Madhya Pradesh was held in Kailaras of Morena district in the afternoon. Among those attending were a large section of workers of a cooperative sugar factory here that was closed down around four years ago. The CITU has conducted struggles demanding reopening of the mill and payment of backlog wages. Even though only Rs 1 crore was required to revive the factory, the BJP government has stubbornly refused to grant this amount. On the other hand it gave out subsidies of Rs 5 crore to many private-run sugar factories. A delegation of workers submitted a memorandum to Yechury on this issue.




The tribals of Jhabua region of Madhya Pradesh presented the Sangharsh Sandesh Jatha leaders a set of their traditional bow and arrow weapons at the start of an impressive public meeting in Phool Bagh ground in Gwalior city on Friday, March 15.


After accepting these weapons and posing with them for the public, Sitaram  Yechury announced that the CPI(M) would aim these arrows against the anti-people economic policies of the UPA-II government in its war that would be declared from Ramlila grounds on March 19.Either the Manmohan Singh government changes its policies or the people would change the government.


Earlier, the leaders paid homage to a great patriot and symbol of resistance to the British rule, Rani Jhansi Lakshmibai, at the huge statue of the Rani on horseback with a sword drawn. This statue is in a memorial park across the Phool Bagh ground.


Yechury lambasted the UPA-II government for indulging in massive corruption through pursuit of crony capitalism.After 2G, CWG, CG scams, now we have jijaji scam, he said referring to Rahul Gandhi's brother-in-law, Robert Vadra's shady land deals with connivance and help of Congress-ruled state governments. He said that the massive amounts involved in such scams and the nearly Rs 5 lakh crore given out to corporates as tax incentives, if spent by the government for the welfare of people, would change the lives of millions of poor in the country. Mohd Salim and Sandhya Shaili also spoke in the meeting.


The first meeting of the day was in Gohad town in Bhind district, where the CPI(M) has a good presence. The CPI(M) has been winning the post of municipal chairperson, who is elected directly by the voters, thrice, with a break in between. Guddibai Mahor, the present municipal chairperson, is a dalit woman, who has participated actively in CPI(M) struggles on issues of drinking water, ration cards, widow pensions etc. Drinking water is a major problem in the town and during the present tenure of CPI(M) chairperson, 18 borewells have been sunk in the entire town. Also, tankers have been pressed into service to cater to the needs of surrounding villages. Although issue of ration cards is done by tehasildar, the CPI(M)-led municipality here conducted a survey on requirements of cards and submitted 2000 application forms to the tehasildar.


Apart from the leaders of jatha, CPI(M) Madhya Pradesh state secretary Badal Saroj also addressed the huge gathering in the centre of the town. Representatives of contract teachers association submitted a memorandum to Yechury on their problems. These teachers have been waging a protracted, militant struggle in Madhya Pradesh for regularisation and wage parity. They are paid a pittance of around Rs 3000 to Rs 5000 per month while for the same work the regular teachers get over Rs 20,000 per month. The government, instead of heeding to their genuine demands, has chosen to use force to crush the agitation. Yechury called on the agitating teachers to continue their struggle as that alone would help in realising their demands.




Indergarh in Datia district is a typical small, dusty Madhya Pradesh town teeming with the poorest of poor on the narrow streets. Small kirana shops competing with tens of haath thela walahs (push cart vendors) are a common sight. But it appeared there are not enough buyers for either of them.


The progressive movement is very weak in this district. In fact the CPI(M) does not have a district committee in place. There is only one local committee in the entire district and that is the Indergarh local committee of the Party. But what was startling for us was that the jatha public meeting in Indergarh on Thursday, March 14, was by far the most enthusiastic and vibrant one after we crossed Bhopal. Two-thirds of the audience was youth and students and among them were a large number of jatavs belonging to SC community. A significant number of anganwadi workers were also present apart from a sprinkling of kisans in the audience.


Naresh Kumar Jatav is a popular DYFI leader in Indergarh and appeared to have mobilised a big section of the audience along with student leaders. In his brief speech, he made a fiery warning to the police to stop harassing dalit youth by filing false cases against them. He announced that otherwise in a week's time the CPI(M) would gherao the police station. Such militancy was cheered by the youthful audience. But it is not just speeches, the local committee here has taken up in a serious manner the issue of atrocities against dalits. That its work has inspired confidence of the dalits was reflected in their large participation in the jatha public meeting. Apart from taking up atrocities against dalits issue, the DYFI has also conducted campaigns here on unemployment and ration cards.


Naresh Jatav later told People's Democracy that the harassment of dalits is largely by police and tehsil administration. They in particular target dalit youth who run small businesses or are street vendors for bribes. He also runs a small shop of clothes in the town and has faced such harassment. Asked about social forms of discrimination, he said it is prevalent in the rural areas, perpetrated largely by landlord elements of Brahmins and Jats. There was this practice of dalits being solely responsible for removal of dead cattle from the villages. This practice was successfully removed in this area around 20 years back largely due to the effort of a communist leader Mangal Singh Jatav.


Nilotpal Basu and Md Salim garlanded the portrait of Shaheed Bhagat Singh on the dais at the start of the meeting. A musical band, complete with electric piano and tablas and two singers, sang a progressive song with a message of unity between religious communities. With the large presence of youth in the crowd, Md Salim was in his elements, connecting with the crowd through large doses of humorous anecdotes while at the same time making the elderly and women nod their heads in agreement on the serious points he made about the purpose of the jatha.


Nilotpal Basu called upon the youth to work constructively on people's issues and build on the support they have been able to gather. Madhya Pradesh state secretariat member and member of jatha, Sandhya Shaili spoke about the problems facing women.


Earlier, Basu and Salim addressed a press conference in the circuit house at Datia district headquarters. They charged Congress and BJP and corporate media of engineering a false competition between individual leaders for prime minister's post. They reminded that both BJP and Congress together do not account for more than 50 per cent of votes polled and that ours is not a presidential form.


The jatha moved into Bhind district with a small reception at Mau and a public meeting later in the night at district headquarters.




At a time when the entire nation was celebrating the dawn of independence on August 15, 1947, the people of Gwalior-Guna region of Madhya Pradesh were forced to light off diyas in their homes and mourn the leaving of Britishfriendsfrom the country. This order came from their Scindia maharaj who was collaborating with the British and opposing the freedom movement.


The maharaja system may be long gone but the remnants of that feudal order are still very strong in this region. The descendants of that Scindia family, the late Madhavrao Scindia or his son and present union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia rule the roost here. Jyotiraditya's grandmother and BJP leader, late Vijayaraje Scindia also had immense influence here due to this fact. The poor dalits and the poorest of tribals, Sahariya tribe people, are still kept in awe of their maharajas. Jyotiraditya Scindia represents Guna constituency. Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, known popularly here as Diggy raja, is from neighbouring Raghavgarh where his family was a feudal lord under the Scindia riyasat (kingdom).


As the Sangharsh Sandesh jatha rolled into Guna town, spearheaded by a group of 40 motorcycle riders with red flags fluttering, people were giving curious looks. Among the motorcycle riders were employees and workers of the National Fertilisers Ltd (NFL) unit in Guna, the lone major industrial unit in the district. Despite represented by top leaders in the ruling parties, this region has seen minimal industrialisation.


The NFL unit has around 400 permanent employees and nearly 2000 contract workers. These workers know what sangharsh is and what it can achieve. Shailendra, an employee, told People's Democracy about the bitter struggle they waged to save their company being privatised during the NDA regime.Dipankar Mukherjee in parliament and we on the ground here fought to the maximum and succeeded in saving the unit, he says referring to the then CPI(M) MP in Rajya Sabha and remarkable trade union leader late Dipankar Mukherjee's role. He also told how workers and employees from this unit rushed to Delhi on hearing the news of sudden passing away of Dipankar Mukherjee. The CITU-led NFL Ekta Mazdoor Union has succeeded through relentless struggles in raising the wages of contract workers to Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 along with benefits such as bonus, PF etc. The general secretary of the union was recently attacked by hired goons of feudal lords in a bid to terrorise the workers. 


The venue of the meeting in the centre of the town had a gathering of few hundreds to listen to the sandesh. Apart from NFL workers, most of them were dalits and tribal women and daily wage earners.  There have been instances when these poor people who go to meetings organised by the red flag have been beaten up by Jat landlords and warned not to go in future. Clearly, they are afraid of the sandesh of red flag. Nilotpal Basu, Md Salim and CPI(M) Madhya Pradesh state secretariat member and member of jatha in the state, Sandhya Shaili also spoke in the meeting. Earlier, the jatha had meetings in Biora in Rajgarh district and Ruthiyai in Guna district. A late night meeting was also held in the district headquarters of Sipri.