THE 16th Maharashtra state conference of the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) was held from January 3-5, 2017 in Beed, in the background of various effective student struggles.
These included the statewide agitation of 5,000 Industrial Training Institute (ITI) students representing 13 districts on December 30, 2014 in Mumbai; the two-day siege to the Aurangabad Commissionarate on drought-affected students’ issues on May 3-4, 2016; the two-day mega-siege on tribal students’ demands to tribal development minister Vishnu Savra’s residence at Wada in Palghar district along with the Kisan Sabha on October 3-4, 2016, wherein 2,000 students from various districts participated; to name a few.
Various state level study classes and conventions were also held in the last three years. A remarkable achievement was the considerable increase of over 10,000 membership, compared to that in the last state conference, from 57,579 to 67,909. It was decided to conduct this 16th state conference in Beed city and district of the Marathwada region. An SFI state conference was held in Beed 34 years ago, way back in 1983.
Once the conference venue was finalised, preparations began. All Left and progressive people were contacted and a reception committee was formed. Following the state girls’ convention of the SFI, which was successfully held at Nanded on November 29-30, 2016, thousands of leaflets were printed and distributed. All SFI activists and reception committee members moved door-to-door to collect funds. The overwhelming response encouraged SFI activists to work harder to make this conference a grand success.
During the preparations, a 1000-strong ITI students’ rally was held in Beed for their various demands. This also helped in preparing the ground for the conference. All the unit, taluka and district conferences were held during this period. Effective publicity through word of mouth was done. Thousands of leaflets and posters were distributed, the city was decorated with flags, banners and wall-painting, including in schools, colleges and major public places.
IMPRESSIVE RALLY AND PUBLIC MEETING
January 3, 2017, the birth anniversary of the great social reformer and pioneer of women’s education in Maharashtra, Savitribai Phule, was marked by an impressive student rally in Beed city. A large mass of more than 3,500 students gathered and the rally began. It was led by SFI all India general secretary Vikram Singh, all India president VP Sanu, state secretary Datta Chavan and state president Mohan Jadhav, and it covered all the major streets of Beed city, with students giving resonant slogans.
The venue of the public meeting was Yashwantrao Chavan auditorium, the biggest hall in the city. But students gathered in such large numbers, that the hall could hardly accommodate them. Hundreds of them had to stand outside.
Besides the student community, many dignitaries from the political and social sphere attended. The main speaker was CPI(M) Polit Bureau member, member of parliament and former DYFI general secretary Mohd Salim, AIKS joint secretary and former SFI state secretary Ashok Dhawale, VP Sanu, Vikram Singh, AIDWA general secretary and former SFI state secretary Mariam Dhawale and SFI founder state president Vithal More. Mohan Jadhav presided and Datta Chavan made the introductory remarks.
Mohd Salim in his speech criticised the Modi-led BJP government for its rampant anti-people policies. He stated categorically that all the different schemes declared every now and then by the Modi regime are only to divert public attention from its failures on every front. He came down heavily on the demonetisation fiasco. All other leaders in their respective speeches, criticised the state and central governments led by the BJP for their retrograde policies on education and employment, their neoliberal, communal and divisive policies, and appealed to students to fight unitedly against them.
The venue of the conference was named after Comrade Govind Pansare, the auditorium after the Hyderabad Central University’s student leader Rohith Vemula and the dais after the great leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro. The conference was attended by 271 delegates from 18 districts, of which 85 were girl students.
After the flag hoisting by Mohan Jadhav, the homage to martyrs, the condolence resolution and the election of various committees to conduct the conference, it was inaugurated by VP Sanu. He dwelt upon the danger of attacks on students from various quarters and also discussed students’ role in politics. Vikram Singh also addressed the inaugural session.
The conference was greeted by leaders of various fraternal mass organisations like Uddhav Bhavalkar (state vice president of CITU), Ajit Nawale (state general secretary of AIKS), Baliram Bhumbe (state general secretary of AIAWU), Mariam Dhawale (all India general secretary and state president of AIDWA), Adv Ajay Burande (state vice president of DYFI), Pankaj Tandale of AISF and Navnath Naikwadi of Hamal Panchayat.
The delegate session began on January 4. State secretary Datta Chavan placed the report since the 15th state conference. The report outlined the current political challenges, social and educational policies of the government, the struggles undertaken by Maharashtra SFI on various student issues and the organisational report.
Delegates from every district participated in the discussion that took place on the report. They discussed in depth the current scenario of education and conditions of educational institutions in their district. It was a lively discussion that will certainly strengthen the organisation to intensify its struggle against the ills afflicting education. After the reply of the secretary to the discussion, the report was adopted unanimously by the conference.
Various resolutions regarding vital educational demands were placed and adopted by this conference. They were as follows: strengthen the public education system, intensify struggle for scholarships, stop communalisation of education, intensify struggle against unemployment, improve the educational conditions of migrant workers’ children, and on the myriad problems facing girl students.
A special session of all ex-state presidents and ex-state secretaries of the Maharashtra SFI was held during the conference. Ashok Dhawale, Adv Motiram Darade, Umesh Deshmukh, Adv Ajay Burande, Dadasaheb Shinde, Bhausaheb Zirpe and Vinod Govindwar shared their experiences as main office bearers of the organisation and recalled their memories regarding various struggles undertaken successfully by the SFI.
On January 5, the state conference elected a 49-member state committee, which in turn elected a 15-member state secretariat. Mohan Jadhav was re-elected state president and Balaji Kaletwad was elected state secretary. Vice presidents – Datta Chavan, Manjushree Kabade, Sunil Rathod, Somnath Nirmal; joint secretaries – Rohidas Jadhav, Anil Misal, Kavita Ware, Meera Kamble; Secretariat members – Nitin Wavhale, Rameshwar Shere, Sachin Khadke, Vilas Sable and Amol Waghmare.
The retiring state secretariat and state committee members, including state joint secretary Ravindra Madne, were felicitated in this session.
Concluding the conference, Vikram Singh spoke on issues that set the future direction for work. The re-elected state president Mohan Jadhav, in his concluding speech, thanked the SFI Beed district committee and all volunteers and fraternal organisations who had helped to make the conference a grand success.
The 16th state conference of the Maharashtra SFI, which gave a call ‘to intensify struggle against communalisation, privatisation and centralisation of education’, then concluded with the ever-inspiring song ‘We Shall Overcome’ and revolutionary slogans.