(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
June 09, 2013
SECOND STATE CONFERENCE OF KVPS CALLS
Put up United Resistance
Against Caste Discrimination
THE second state conference of the KVPS (Struggle Committee against Caste Discrimination) has called for waging a broad-based united resistance movement against continuing forms of caste discrimination in the state. Over 100 dalit and mass organizations, intellectuals have expressed their willingness to support and participate in such a movement.
The conference was
held during May 22-23, 2013
in Sundarayya Vignana Kendram,
The proceedings began with the flag hoisting by KVPS state president and CPI(M) central committee member Paturi Ramaiah. KVPS state vice president and CPI(M) Polit Bureau member B V Raghavulu led the delegates in paying homage to those martyred in the social and democratic movement.
The inaugural session of the state conference had three main speakers dealing with the subject ‘Social Justice and Dalits’. Former chief secretary of Andhra Pradesh, K Madhava Rao in his inaugural speech underlined that exploitation in our country is being manifested in two aspects – poverty and caste oppression. He called for waging a serious struggle simultaneously against both these aspects. Lauding the state unit of the CPI(M) for taking initiative in this regard, he said it is entirely to CPI(M)’s credit that the state government was forced to bring a legislation for implementation of SC, ST sub plans. He said there is an urgent need today for unity between Marxists and Ambedkarites in the struggle against caste oppression and that he would be willing to be of any use in bridging this unity. He concluded by expressing his willingness to become part of KVPS family.
Justice B Chandra Kumar of AP High Court, who could not come to the conference, sent a message of greetings. In it he said that even today caste discrimination and inequalities are continuing with vehemence in our society. Successive governments could not solve these issues till date. He was of the firm opinion that caste oppression and inequalities can end only after attaining socialism. B V Raghavulu also spoke.
Immediately following the inaugural, there was a session on ‘Caste Discrimination – Attacks – United Movement’ in which representatives of many dalit bodies, mass organisations and intellectuals participated. KVPS state secretary John Wesley placed a resolution mentioning the over 125 forms of caste discrimination, the kind of attacks on those resisting this discrimination and the need to build a broad-based, united resistance movement in the state. The resolution was whole-heartedly supported by the representatives and intellectuals who spoke briefly in this session. They unanimously lauded the role being played by KVPS in this regard.
Placing the general secretary report in the conference, Wesley enumerated the major struggles and achievements during the last six years since the first state conference was held. He also gave an overview of the main activity of KVPS towards attaining of the goals of ‘Self-Respect, Equality and Annihilation of Caste’ since its formation in 1998. A total of 38 delegates participated in the discussion on the report, strengthening it before it was adopted unanimously on the concluding day of the conference.
The report gave an account of the activity conducted by the organisation since the first state conference. Nine state-level cycle yatras were conducted across the state in 2008 on the occasion of Ambedkar Jayanti. Raghavulu participated in these yatras, one day in each district. This time sub jathas were taken out from 160 centres covering 904 mandals, 8330 villages and 50,000 km distance. A total of 2500 activists participated in these yatras continuously for a period of 12 days. Resistance actions against forms of caste discrimination and other aspects like land grab were held in over 700 villages. They included actions against two-glass system and forcible temple entries, drawing of water from common wells etc.
campaign during this period has
been the struggle for improving the living places of dalits
and tribals in the
state in 2010 undertaken jointly by KVPS, AP Girijana
Sangham and All India
Agricultural Workers Union. Cycle yatras were held in the
dalit and tribal
habitations in 407 mandals in 15 districts of the state.
programme culminated in a ‘Chalo
Assembly’ rally. The demand for a legislation for
implementation of SC, ST sub
plans was also included in this rally as the CPI(M) state
leaders B V
A special session on ‘SC ST Sub Plans and Implementation’ was held on the second day of the conference in which senior journalist and director of Centre for Dalit Studies, M Laxmaiah, B V Raghavulu and John Wesley spoke. Laxmaiah acknowledged that legislation was achieved largely due to the crucial role played by KVPS and CPI(M). He called for continued vigilance to see that the implementation of this legislation is not sabotaged by government negligence.
Raghavulu lampooned the chief minister’s effort to take entire credit for the passage of sub plans bill. He said there is no objection to that effort but if the government fails to implement the legislation, the people will bury the government. He demanded that the framing of rules for the legislation must be done in a transparent and time-bound manner, by releasing draft rules for open discussion. Expressing concern at the utter neglect of government schools, which are mostly used by dalits and tribal students, Raghavulu called for a sustained agitation for improvement of government schools in the coming period.
The most important and successful agitation taken up by the KVPS during this period has been the movement for enactment of a legislation to oversee the implementation of SC, ST sub plans. Actually, the organisation has been conducting agitations for proper implementation of sub plans, appointment of a nodal agency and allotment of funds to it since 2002. Protesting against the state government’s empty promises, a mass hunger strike was held by 25 leaders of KVPS, including B V Raghavulu, for six days during February 21-27, 2008 on this issue. This phase of agitation forced the government to announce formation of a nodal agency and an Apex Committee under the chairmanship of the chief minister to oversee the implementation of sub plans.
Although the government increased the allocation for sub plans, its refusal to give powers to nodal agency resulted in continued diversion of sub plans funds to other purposes. This resulted in the demand for a separate legislation to oversee implementation of sub plans. A Joint Action Committee (JAC) with over 100 organisations was formed under the chairmanship of K Madhava Rao to launch a movement on this demand. District and mandal JACs were also formed after holding of conventions. During the assembly budget session in March 2012, a 72-hour hunger strike by leaders of 12 organisations, including KVPS, was conducted. All political parties excepting Congress supported the hunger strike and held a token one day hunger strike in solidarity. As a culmination to this, a ‘Chalo Assembly’ was held under the aegis of the JAC which was sought to be crushed by using force.
high-handed response of the
government and its refusal to accede to the genuine demands,
Bureau member B V Raghavulu led a mass sit-in programme at
All these developments forced the government to concede the demand. A two day special session of state assembly and council was convened to discuss and adopt the draft legislation in January 2013. With the governor giving assent to the bill on January 24, 2013, Andhra Pradesh became the first state in the country to have a legislation to oversee the implementation of SC, ST sub plans. Rs 12,500 crore was allocated in this year’s budget for the sub plans. Although it is a major victory of the united movement, much more needs to be done for ensuring that the loopholes in the legislations are overcome in the rules that have to be framed.
Apart from encouraging inter-caste marriages, KVPS conducted a successful agitation for release of Rs 3 crore pending amount by the government that had to be given to such couples. It demanded enhancement of this amount from Rs 25,000 to Rs 1 lakh for each couple. The government however increased it to Rs 50,000. Dalits are facing serious problems in finding space for cremation. KVPS conducted a state-wide agitation on this demanding allotment of 2 acres of land for every dalit hamlet for this purpose. It held demonstrations in front of district collectorate offices with coffins as also a ‘Chalo Assembly’. The government issued a G.O. allotting land for cremation to dalits and other caste persons who are in need.
Dalits constitute the majority of the poor who sell or donate their blood, which is then used even by upper caste persons. Despite this, untouchability continues to be practiced by upper caste persons. In light of this, the KVPS took up the slogan ‘Blood has no caste’ and organised a huge blood-donation campaign across the state on the occasion of birth anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar. Another major issue taken up by KVPS was the problems of students residing in social welfare hostels. It conducted surveys and then took up agitation for solving the problems of students. It resulted in hiking of mess charges and improvement of infrastructural facilities. It also took up issues pertaining to leather making workers, drum-beating artisans, watchmen at burial grounds, SC/ST employees and worked for providing relief.
Intervening in the discussion on the concluding day, Raghavulu stressed the need to organise dalits and raise their consciousness as a continuous effort instead of just reacting to the attacks carried out against them. He also called for a widespread, united movement for removal of social and economic inequalities facing the dalits. He in particular called upon dalit organisations to join the struggle against caste discrimination.