MADHYA Pradesh today is another laboratory for Hindutva vaadi policies. Manuvaadi thinking, attacks on the rights and equal status of dalits, adivasis, women and are the order of the day. Simultaneously, the BJP government of Shivraj Patil is ruthlessly implementing neo-liberal policies by handing over the natural resources of the state to corporate and land mafia. Corruption has reached new heights while employment, industry and the farm sector are all devastated. Welfare schemes have either been scrapped or are ridden with corruption. The 15th state conference of the CPI(M) resolved to accept and contest these challenges and attacks.
This conference was held at a time when there was a renewed confidence and a fresh experience of struggles in the entire Party. In the last three years, the Party has played an important role in uniting Left forces and initiating united struggles. The formation of the Bhoomi Adhikar Manch has brought together various struggles against displacement that were taking place in a haphazard manner in different areas and a new sharpness has been imparted to them. The Party has also brought non-Congress, secular forces, social groups and movements on a common platform. These developments are preparing the ground for more increasing independent activities and strength of our Party along with organisation of more militant struggles.
The conference was held from November 16-18, at Sambalgarh, Morena district. Morena is a district known for struggles of the peasantry etc, and Sambalgarh has a special significance because it was the home of Comrade Bahadur Singh Dhakkad (former CPI(M) state secretary) was the chairman of the Town Area in the past. The conference venue was named in his memory. The place where the well-attended public meeting that preceded the conference was held was named after Comrade Munne Khan Master, a legendary Party leader, Comrade Dhakkad’s close associate. The conference pandal itself was named after Comrade Pratibha Tiwari, who died recently after a long struggle with cancer and who was the chairman of Kailaras Town Area of the district.
The Party flag was hoisted before the conference by veteran adivasi comrade and leader, Dhaniram who has spent his life traversing hilly and forest areas on foot, organising tribals and their struggles. This was followed by floral tributes paid to the Martyrs Column.
In his inaugural speech, Sitaram Yechury, general secretary, said that the way in which the Modi government is implementing neo-liberal policies has meant that many sections of people have lost not only their employment but also their means of sustenance to the corporates. He spoke about the ill-effects of demonetisation and GST and also said that the pro-imperialist attitude adopted by the government has meant that relations between our country and its neighbours have got strained.
He went on to say that the Modi government is controlled by the RSS and this is damaging the secular fabric of our country and institutions like the courts, etc. Manuvaadi policies are impacting against the welfare and rights of tribals, minorities, dalits and women and freedom of expression is under threat. Therefore, we have to fight not only against the economic policies of this government but also on social issues and against communalism.
Later, state secretary, Badal Saroj placed the Political-Organisational Report. He said that although the state government is spending crores on jamborees involving investment in industry and power and is also forcibly taking away land from poor peasants, industry is in a state of decline. Contractual employment is being encouraged in every sphere and labour laws have been done away with. Demonetisation had a very adverse effect on employment and industry in the state.
Neo-liberalism has created an agrarian crisis in the state. It now occupies the fifth rank in the number of farmer suicides. Now agricultural labourers are also committing suicide. While input prices are increasing, the farmers’ produce is not fetching remunerative prices. The Mandsaur farmers’ agitation is an example of the desperation of the peasantry and the cruelty of the government’s response. It is the responsibility of the Party to organise this discontent and also to build a strong movement against displacement.
An example of the government’s anti-people policies is the organised loot resorted to by private power companies which enjoy government protection. Health and education are also being privatised and the private mafia are either BJP members or its supporters. BJP leaders have cornered 90 per cent and 80 per cent respectively of sand and mining rights. Welfare schemes are in shambles.
As far as the organisational situation is concerned, the report observed that despite an increase in struggles, membership in the Party and mass organisations has not increased appreciably. In fact, the situation of stagnation in some areas is of concern. However, there has been an increase in the intervention on dalit issues, Lok Jatan is being brought out regularly, 10 small publications have been brought out and sold in large numbers, the AIDWA national conference could be successfully organised. These initiatives need to be consolidated. Bringing women, youth, dalits, adivasis into the organisation must be prioritised at all levels.
There was a good and focused discussion on the report. 67 delegates spoke of whom seven were women. Many good suggestions were accepted and the report was unanimously passed.
The conference unanimously passed the formation of a 30-member state committee and also the delegation for the 22nd Party Congress.
CPI(M) Polit Bureau member, Subhashini Ali spoke in conclusion. She stressed the importance of beginning the preparations for the election campaign on 2018 immediately after the conference. She said that fighting the elections in co-ordination with Left parties, secular and regional parties and social movements must be ensured but, at the same time, we must plan and organise in the seats that we plan to campaign so that we can make the greatest impact.
The newly elected state committee met and Jaswinder Singh was elected the new state secretary and his election was enthusiastically received by the delegates. The members of the state secretariat are – Badal Saroj, Jaswinder Singh, Sandhya Shaily, Ramnarain Kuraria, Pramod Pradhan, Ramvilas Goswami, PV Ramchandran, Neena Sharma, Ashok Tiwari, Kailash Limbodiya and Akhilesh Yadav.
Residents of a largely dalit village, Kaimpura have supported the Party over the years because of the struggle led by Comrade Dhakkad against a notorious dacoit, Vikram Sikarvar. Then the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Arjun Singh leased the land being cultivated by the dalits to the dacoit and it was the heroic intervention of the Party and Comrade Dhakkad that ensured that the lease was cancelled. On the 17th, the villagers contributed towards and organised lunch for all the delegates.