The Second National Convention of the Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch was held in Madurai, Tamil Nadu from November 4-6. The conference venue was named as Rohith Vemula Hall. From 21 states, 452 delegates including 55 women attended the convention.
The convention began with an inaugural session on November 4 in the evening at 4.00 pm. The Venmani Jyoti (torchlight) against the Venmani killings was received by A Lazar and P Suganthi and the torchv against Honour Killings was received by S Bala and P Uchimahali. All the delegates paid homage to the martyrs at the Martyrs Column followed by the garlanding of various leaders who fought for social justice.
The inaugural session was presided over by K Radhakrishnan, convenor of the DSMM. K Samuel Raj delivered the welcome address. The chief guest of the inaugural session was Prakash Ambedkar and the guest of honour was Thol. Thirumavalavan.
Addressing the convention, Prakash Ambedkar said that the Left, dalit and other progressive forces together should articulate an alternative economic policy and work towards capturing power instead of depending on the Congress to keep the BJP at bay. He said that the country must choose between following the constitutional school of thought or the Manuwadi school of thought. Pointing out that the major questions faced during the framing of the Constitution regarding nationalism and building an egalitarian society have cropped up again in new form, he blamed the RSS for upholding cultural nationalism instead of constitutional nationalism and intending to rewrite the Constitution based on Hindutva philosophy. He argued for a new policy on education to ensure that youngsters are not denied opportunity for education and are provided a choice for education.
Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, VCK president Thol Thirumavalavan, speaking at the inauguration of the DSMM convention, congratulated and applauded the Left parties for their relentless efforts and undeniable contribution in the fight against caste system. Talking about the anti-dalit policies of the BJP government at the centre, he said that though the BJP is working against the interests of the dalits, it nevertheless is trying hard to woo dalit leaders and bring them under its fold, as part of its vote bank politics. He cautioned the democratic forces on this phenomenon. Stating that he would always be ready to work with the Left parties, Thirumavalavan said that strong measures would be needed to prevent the BJP from coming to power again.
The condolence resolution was placed in the inaugural session by G Mamatha.
The delegate session began with the election of various committees to conduct the proceedings of the convention. The presidium for the convention comprised Ramachandra Dome, Shanta Kumari, Sudhan Das, G Mamatha and P Sampath. Resolution Committee comprised Soma Prasad (convenor), Nathu Prasad and Ratan Bhaumik. Minutes Committee comprised Shylendra Kamble (convenor), Kishan Meghwal, V K Rawat and Bhaskar. Credential Committee comprised Sanjay Madhav (convenor), Debesh Das and Madhu Vanditharam. Steering Committee comprised K Radha Krishnan, K Varadarajan, V Srinivasa Rao, B V Raghavulu, A Malyadri and Skylab.
The convenor’s report to the convention was divided into two parts. Part-I which dealt with the conditions of the dalits in the last three years since the first convention of the DSMM in 2014, was placed by K Radhakrishnan and Part-II which dealt with the activities of the DSMM and the experiences gained, was placed by V Srinivas Rao.
33 delegates participated in the discussions on the report and enriched it with their suggestions and experiences. On November 5, the Madurai Declaration (full text is published along with this report) highlighting the future course of action, was placed by V Srinivas Rao. In the afternoon session of the convention, in a rousing reception, various fighters for the cause of social justice were felicitated.
On November 6, B V Raghavulu addressed the convention and clarified on various issues raised by the delegates during the discussions on the report. He exhorted the delegates to work steadfastly for establishing social justice in the country, which can be achieved only by a simultaneous fight against economic exploitation and social oppression. He called on the delegates to expose and fight the communal forces and the neoliberal economic policies. He exposed the BJP which is working to restore primacy of caste in society through its Hindutva agenda and appealed for a united fight by democratic and progressive forces against caste.
Resolutions demanding the resumption of SCSP and TSP and providing them statutory status; on reservations in private sector and in promotions; against indiscriminate land acquisition and dispossession of dalits; on growing inequalities and struggles across the world; on attacks by communal and casteist forces; resolution demanding a mission against untouchability and caste discrimination; on dalit women; demanding rehabilitation of devadasi women; on safai karmacharis; resolution condemning physical attacks on freedom of expression; against installation of Manu’s statue in the Rajasthan High Court premises, were moved and adopted in the convention.
A new committee with 52 members (including four co-options) was elected in the convention with K Radhakrishnan as president, Ramachandra Dome as general secretary and G Mamatha as treasurer. The other office bearers of the DSMM are as follows:
Vice presidents: Subhashini Ali, Sudhan Das, Gopala Krishna Haralahally, Shailendra Kamble and Ramkumar Behpalpuria.
Secretaries: V Srinivasa Rao, Samuel Raj, Skylab Babu, Andra Malyadri and Nathu Prasad.