People's Democracy

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


Vol. XXXVII

No. 50

December 15, 2013

 

 

                                                 

MUMBAI

 

Impressive Rally against Superstition, Communalism

 

Ashok Dhawale

 

ON December 2, 2013, an impressive rally of several thousand people marched in Mumbai around three main demands. These were: immediate enactment of a law against black magic and superstition in the ensuing session of the state assembly at Nagpur beginning December 9; immediate arrest of the killers of Dr Narendra Dabholkar and of the diabolical forces behind this murder; and stringent action against communal and obscurantist forces.

 

The rally was organised jointly by the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS), along with other secular and progressive parties and organisations. Prominent among them was the CPI(M) which, underlining the political importance of this rally, had consciously mobilised several thousand people from Mumbai, Thane, Nashik, Raigad and Pune districts.

 

The presence of CPI(M) general secretary, Prakash Karat, in this rally showed the importance attached by the party to the vital battle against superstition and communalism. The 10 of the 15 state secretariat members of the party who participated in this rally were K L Bajaj, Mahendra Singh, Rajaram Ozare (MLA), J P Gavit (former MLA), Dr D L Karad, Dr Kishore Theckedath, Ajit Abhyankar, Mariam Dhawale, Vijay Gabhane and Dr Ashok Dhawale. Almost all party state committee members from the above five districts also participated. 

 

STATE GOVT DITHERS ON

FIGHTING SUPERSTITIONS

December 2 marked the 101st day since the murder of Dr Narendra Dabholkar on August 20. It is a shameful fact that the Congress-NCP controlled state government of Maharashtra and its police department have not yet been able to even identify the culprits of this dastardly crime, leave alone nabbing them. It is even more shameful that in spite of having no clue about the culprits, the state government and its police recently submitted an affidavit in the court stating that communal forces were not behind this murder, thus giving them a clean chit!

 

The credibility of the Congress-NCP regime has touched rock bottom, and no one can guarantee that it will transform the ordinance against black magic and other superstitious practices that it hastily promulgated in the wake of Dabholkars murder, into a law in the coming session of the state assembly that was to begin on December 9. As it is, this government dithered on the issue for the last 14 years, and even the ordinance that it eventually promulgated is a watered-down version of the bill for which Dabholkar fought all his life.

 

The communal forces led by the RSS, VHP, BJP, Shiv Sena and other thoroughly reactionary organisations like the Sanatan Prabhat, apart from a large cluster of so-called god-men and god-women, have been running a virulent campaign of misinformation and slander against this bill for the last two decades. Even now they have threatened to block the bill in the coming state assembly session, falsely accusing it of being against religion. While all this is only to be expected of the communal forces, the real tragedy is that the state government which claims to be secular lacks the political will to frontally take on these forces.

 

The rally began from the Jijamata Udyan in Byculla and walked a seven km stretch to culminate in a large public meeting at the Azad Maidan. It was presided over by senior PWP leader N D Patil and was addressed by Prakash Karat, BRP leader Prakash Ambedkar, NAPM leader Medha Patkar, CPI state secretary Bhalchandra Kango, Lok Bharati leader Kapil Patil (MLC), veteran social activist Professor Pushpa Bhave, Wable Maharaj (one of the leaders of the Warkari Sampradaya), Congress MP Husain Dalwai and NCP MLC Vidya Chavan. The introductory speech was made by MANS working president Avinash Patil, and Mukta Dabholkar addressed the gathering on behalf of the Dabholkar family. A number of Marathi film and drama artistes had also gathered in solidarity, and Sonali Kulkarni spoke on their behalf.

 

Prakash Karat, in his speech after releasing the annual special issue of the Andhashraddha Nirmulan Vartapatra, came down heavily on the conspiracies of the communal and obscurantist forces, on the antiques of the so-called god-men like Asaram and Ramdev, and also on the vacillating and opportunist policy of the Congress-NCP state government. He declared the full and active support of the CPI(M) to this joint struggle and said that the party would try its best to see that an Anti-Superstition Act is enacted at the national level. He said that it was a shame that the killers of Dabholkar were not yet identified even though 100 days had passed, and suggested that if the state government and its police could not do the job, then it should be entrusted to some special central agency. He congratulated all the participants in the rally and expressed confidence that their struggle would gain success. The rally concluded with a spirited rendering of the song We Shall Overcome.

 

DIST WORKSHOPS & RALLY

FOR POLL PREPARATIONS

On November 16 and 17, 2013, the CPI(M) state secretariat and state committee met to conduct the mid-term review of implementation of tasks and also to decide on other important campaigns. The meeting was attended by CPI(M) Central Secretariat member Nilotpal Basu.

 

The party also organised district committee meetings and district level workshops where it is contesting priority seats for the ensuing Lok Sabha elections due in April 2014 and the Vidhan Sabha elections due in October 2014. Such programmes were held in Thane district from November 13 to 15, in Nashik district on November 20 and 23, and in Nanded district on November 21 and 22. Nearly a thousand leading party activists attended these three district level workshops.

 

On November 19, a 10,000 strong mass rally was organised by the CPI(M) at Akole in Ahmednagar district on the two major issues of food security and pension for the rural and urban poor. All the above programmes were attended and addressed by Nilotpal Basu, Dr Ashok Dhawale and by various state secretariat members in charge of each district. The Akole rally was also addressed by state committee member Dr Ajit Nawale and others.

 

In all these workshops, Nilotpal Basu placed the political understanding of the party as regards the ensuing Lok Sabha elections and also placed the concrete organisational tasks to be taken up as part of the election preparations.