“BEML that has played an important part in defense production is being handed over to private parties at a paltry sum. The valuation of BEML at Rs 518.44 crores is ridiculously low, even less than the value of the land owned by the company. It is unimaginable that the government is selling a company of strategic importance that is running well and the one that had contributed to the exchequer to the extent of Rs 693.46 crores in 2016-17. Stop this privatization,” demanded A K Padmanabhan, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and vice president of CITU. He was speaking at the Karmika Jagruthi Jatha rally at KGF (Kolar Gold Fields) on July 29. He also attacked the government for closing down the world renowned Kolar Gold Fields without paying adequate compensation to thousands of employees who toiled for years at the mines, and is now handing over mines to private parties for profits on the potential of gold reserves. He recalled the glorious part played by the militant KGF workers movement in the working class movements of Karnataka as well as Tamil Nadu. He also congratulated the Karnataka CITU for the historic jatha.
Padmanabhan was speaking at the fourth major rally on the first day of the 16-day jatha criss-crossing Karnataka covering all the 30 districts and having major rallies at 39 working class centres and culminating at Kundapura in the coastal district of Udupi. It will stop at many more places for the meetings. As on August 2, Jagruthi Jatha had covered nine districts and 13 major meetings and many more smaller meetings have been held. Jatha will highlight common and major demands of various sections of workers of Karnataka that includes minimum wage of Rs 18,000, withdrawal of anti-worker amendments to labour laws, inclusion of CITU in state labour tri-partite bodies, laws to regulate contract work, consider scheme (ICDS, Mid-day meal etc) workers as “workers” under labour laws and settle demands of gram panchayat and beedi workers.
VJK Nair, vice president of Karnataka CITU flagged off the jatha on July 29, from Vidurashwatha (an important place in the freedom struggle in Karnataka, also known as Jallianwala Bagh of Karnataka) after paying tributes to the martyrs. The jatha is led by Varalakshmi, CITU state president, Meenakshi Sundaram, general secretary, K N Umesh, vice president and other leaders. A CITU cultural troupe is accompanying jatha and is performing a play, which is an adaptation of the famous street-play “Halla Bol” by Safdar Hashmi. The jatha was preceded by study camps for local trade union leaders in many districts and taluks, for strengthening local units. The jatha will have an oath taking programme on August 14th midnight at district/taluk levels. There will be a massive march of lakhs of workers to Bangalore on September 14.