People's Democracy

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


No. 19

May 12, 2013




AIAWU Conference Calls for United Struggles


Veeraiah Konduri


THE Andhra Pradesh state unit of the All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU) held its 26th state conference at Guntur from April 28 to 30, 2013. It called upon the agricultural workers of the state to rally around six tasks: consolidating the MGNREGA workers, opening up of new fronts for several agricultural and allied workers, writing diary of agricultural workers, identifying the clusters for sustained land struggles, evolving AIAWU activist into a true servant of the public and expanding AIAWU activities into new areas and new segments of agricultural workers, in the coming three years. The conference began with an impressive rally where thousands of agricultural workers from the state marched from BR Stadium to Jyoti Basu Nagar on April 28th evening. CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury flayed both the central as well state governments for their inaction on the long standing demand for a comprehensive central legislation to protect the agricultural workers. Yechury recalled how despite the intense pressure from the Left, UPA 1 delayed the MGNREGA for four years. He also took the governments to task by questioning their motives behind the efforts to derail the MGNREGA, the only piece of law that is meant for increasing the wages and ensuring the minimum working days for the agricultural labour. He expressed dismay over the taking back of legal provisions in MGNREGA such as enhancing the minimum wages along with inflation. Yechury criticised the UPA 2 for juxtaposing the rural poor with the rural rich when it comes to the safeguarding the interests of rural India. Castigating the Congress, TDP and YSR CP parties for diverting the masses from issues of bread and butter through their Padayatras, Comrade Tammineni Veerabhadram said the government has failed to earmark necessary funds for the comprehensive development of the SC/ST habitations in the name of austerity. He emphasised the need for building up pressure to force the governments to respond positively towards their demands by changing the course of policy directions. AIAWU all India general secretary Vijayaraghavan said the orchestrated campaign against MGNREGA is revealing the true colours of the government. He asked the agricultural workers across the country to counter falsification of MGNREGA and fight for its proper execution.  




Inaugurating the conference, renowned economist Jayati Ghosh raised alarm over the multiple crises rural India is passing through.  She termed the agrarian crisis as the crises of employment, crises of land, water and food. She also cautioned the agricultural workers that the ruling classes are trying to scuttle the positive developments such as MGNREGA and seriously trying to restore their class hegemony. She felt that the implementation of MGNREGA gave strength to the agricultural workers for wage bargaining which led to the antagonistic approach of rich peasantry. Jayati Ghosh termed the consistent refusal in enhancing the budgetary support for scheme by the central government as part of the plan to scuttle the positive impact of the Act. She called upon the agricultural workers to fight against these attempts of restoring the class hegemony of landlords.


The delegate session began at Comrade Kuppanaidu Nagar, on 28th night after the public meeting where the state secretary of Andhra Pradesh Agricultural Workers Union, B Venkat presented the report on behalf of the state committee. He said the three year period from the last conference was a period of government apathy towards the agricultural workers. He recalled the united action under the leadership of KVPS and APAWU which resulted in the enactment of SC/ST Sub Plan Act, which happened to be the first of its kind in the country, safeguarding the financial allocations to the dedicated development of SC/ST population. He highlighted the issues that the agricultural workers encountered during this period as well as the successes achieved under the banner of AIAWU. Venkat pointed out the deceleration in availability of food grains and their intake by the agricultural workers and the crisis in the PDS system, as a calculated attempt to scuttle the whole scheme. He highlighted how the MGNREGA is being relegated to the back burner by the central government by not enhancing the funds for the scheme, and by the state government by not utilising the meagre funds available to the state. The union, though the single largest unit of AIAWU outside Kerala and Bengal, is yet to strive to be a true representative of agricultural workers in the state. He called for opening up of new fronts and organisations for different types of wage labour with in the agricultural workers and all these frontal organisations could be affiliated to the AIAWU. He complimented the districts that were in forefront in taking up specific issues of agricultural workers on the ground and building sustained movements. In the midst of applause, Venkat announced that the AIAWU AP committee is conducting the land struggle by seizing nearly over one lakh acres of land. The conference also demanded scrapping of all the GOs that are entrusting government lands to the corporates. He also asked the delegates to prepare for Chalo Assembly on the issues of MGNREGA workers during the May third week. The conference gave a call to develop the activists of AIAWU to be the workers of rural poor who will be available on call. Venkat also informed the conference that the state centre is trying to open up dedicated phone lines where any agricultural worker can contact the union on their issues, which is a novel attempt to utilise the communication technology as a tool for mobilising the rural poor in the state. B V Raghavulu spoke at length addressing the delegates and analysed the situation and guided the union in choosing the immediate tasks. Raghavulu said the coming period will see more intensification of the rural crisis and called upon the AIAWU to equip theoretically and practically to fight for the interests of agricultural workers. He also said unless the downtrodden classes are economically liberated from the clutches of ruling classes, they cannot be part of the coalition of struggles. The conference concluded with a call to consolidate MGNREGA workers, building of sustained struggles for land distribution and resorting to direct actions on this issue, organising different streams of agricultural workers basing on their nature of work and starting new unions to meet their specific demands, strengthening block level committees and writing a dairy of agricultural workers daily itinerary.


The conference also took oath to continue the legacy of struggle of its founding leader Comrade Puchlapalli Sundarayya whose birth centenary is being commemorated across the country. State joint secretary Ch Venkateswarlu placed the condolence resolution. State president P Muralikrishna, Khammam secretary M Venkateswarlu, state executive member Shesharatnam, Nalgonda secretary Ilaiah acted as a presidium of the conference. Kranti presented the credential report of the delegates. A total of 67 delegates took part in discussions on the secretary’s report which was adopted unanimously. A new state committee of 102 members was elected by the conference with B Venkat as secretary and P Muralikrishna as its president.


AIAWU All India general secretary and former MP, A Vijayaraghavan addressed the conference. After following the discussions for over one and half day, Vijayaraghavan congratulated the AP unit of AIAWU for adding to its strength. He explained how the free trade agreements and liberalisation of exports and imports are hurting the wage labour in agriculture. With the governments walking back on social support systems, he said, it is the agricultural workers who are bearing the brunt more than any other section in the society. Vijayaraghavan criticised the government’s lacklustre view on land reforms and their attempts to restore the class hegemony of rich peasants and capitalist class by entrusting the lakhs of acres of cultivable land in the name of SEZs and industrial corridors. He exhorted the union leaders to intervene wherever possible and, wherever the MGNREGA act is not being implemented properly. He also congratulated the conference for its new insights on the concrete conditions in rural areas.


On the side lines of the conference a state level seminar was organised on problems of MGNREGA workers where the minister for rural development, from government of Andhra Pradesh D Manikya Varaprasad and commissioner for rural development, Reddy Subramanyam participated. Varaprasad openly admitted that some of his ministerial colleagues are trying their best to scuttle the implementation of MGNREGA and called the union to work with the department to ensure its successful implementation. The commissioner for rural development Reddy Subramanyam explained the measures that were undertook by the government to ensure a speedy delivery of the benefits under the scheme. He also informed the delegates that wherever the banks failed to deposit the wage amount to the beneficiaries accounts, in such occasions the banks were fined for their delay and the state government collected more than Rs 30 crores through such fines from financial institutions. He called upon the workers as well as their union representatives to keep a vigil on the execution of the MGNREGA at the ground level. In another session, several fraternal union leaders addressed the conference and called for building up of joint actions in the forthcoming seasons.