THE 22nd Karnataka state conference of the CPI(M) was held at Moodabidri from January 2-5. The Party had decided to hold its state conference in the Dakshina Kannada district, the “laboratory of Sanghi communal offensive”. Moodabidri, a historic town in this district is about 35 kilometres from Mangalore.
The Congress government in the state after following pro-corporate, anti-people neo-liberal policies for years, has, in the background of ensuing assembly elections, given a slogan, “Committed to building New Karnataka”. BJP named its state-wide pre-election jatha “Nava Karnataka Parivartana Yatra”, but is resorting to vicious communal polarisation. Congress has failed to stop BJP’s communal offensive both politically and administratively. Both have not defined what the “Nava Karnataka” is and the plans for it, apart from abusing each other. CPI(M) has taken up concrete issues of workers, peasants and the common people in the last three years and on the basis of the steps evolved to resolve these issues, has called for “pro-people alternative for building a new Karnataka”, in this conference.
CPI(M) in Karnataka has raised the slogan of minimum wage of Rs 18,000 for all workers, ending of all forms of non-permanent work and same wage for same work. It has supported many historic struggles of the working class. Party led many struggles for land, water and house-sites. It has resulted in some success as the government has removed certain legal hurdles for conferring land pattas to poor farmers tilling “bagair hukum” land.
Social issues have been taken up in right earnest in this period. Apart from organising Communal-Harmony Convention at Mangalore facing full fury of Sangh Parivar in February 2017 that drew national attention, several resistance struggles against atrocities on dalits have been taken up. A relentless campaign launched along with other forces against the inhuman and degrading superstitious practices such as Made-Snana, has resulted in an Act banning such practices.
Moodabidri town was painted red with buntings, flags, posters and banners. The conference started on January 2 with an impressive procession through the town, with Red volunteers both men and women marching to the rhythm of the band, with folk dancers, conference delegates and Party members/supporters from the town and district following them. As red march winded through the main streets of the town, people of Moodabidri crowded on either side watching with wonder. They had not seen such a big and disciplined rally earlier. The procession reached Swaraj Maidan, venue of the public meeting named Fidel Castro Nagar.
Sitaram Yechury, general secretary of CPI(M) addressing the public meeting stated that Modi-Shah want to make the country opposition-free. They claim that their policies are right and accepted by people, as they are winning all the elections. They feel they cannot be stopped by anyone. But the workers and peasants represented by hammer and sickle in our red flag, will stop them, he declared.
GV Sriramareddy, state secretary of CPI(M), explaining about the political situation in Karnataka, exposed both the ruling Congress and the BJP. Both parties never bothered to fight for or solve any of the problems of the people. He described in detail blood-stained record of the BJP in communalising the polity. In spite of dogged struggles of workers and peasants, the Congress government has refused to implement minimum wage or equal wage for equal work. Debt burden has increased on the people of the state. S Varalaxmi, state secretariat member described how instead of solving the problems of the people of the district, BJP MPs want to ‘burn’ the district on the pretext of every unexplained murder that takes place here. She also spoke about problems faced by various sections of workers.
A resolution condemning the heinous attacks by the saffron brigade in Maharashtra on the 200th anniversary celebrations of Koregaon battle against Peshwa regime was adopted by the public meeting.
The conference was held at Comrade Abraham Karkada Nagar (named after veteran militant peasant leader of the district) and Comrade Prasanna Kumar Manch (named after prominent trade union leader and Party secretariat member who died young). Party flag hoisting was done by K R Sriyan, eldest delegate and currently chairman of the state control commission. He was secretary of this district and state secretariat member till the last conference. After that, floral tributes were paid to the martyrs.
Sitaram Yechury inaugurating the delegate session, asserted that only the Left can resist attacks on people and the country from the neo-liberal policies, from the sharp escalation of communal polarisation and from the attack on constitutional order, democratic rights and authoritarian tendencies. He explained how attempts to get out of the current global crisis are driving it deeper into prolonged crisis. Father John Fernandez, president of the reception committee delivered the welcome speech.
GV Sriramareddy presented the political organisation report, which highlighted the failures of the Congress government particularly in - tackling rural distress worsened by serial drought and resultant peasant suicides, industrial policy dependent only on Indian corporates and FDI, tackling increasing atrocities on dalits and minorities, privatisation and commercialisation of education and health sectors, preventing communal polarisation, in finding and punishing killers of Dr M M Kalburgi and Gauri Lankesh. The report also highlighted the failings of the BJP and the JD(S) as opposition parties.
On the organisational front, the report analyses the causes of decline in the Party’s political influence and membership, in spite of huge unprecedented struggles on economic and social issues. The report also points to organisational shortcomings such as – inability to raise the quality of the membership, non-functioning of branches according to an expected level, inability to improve collective functioning and achieving unity at state centre, to raise funds and pay regular decent allowance to full-timers, stagnation on student/youth fronts and their proportion in Party membership, stagnation in circulation of Party papers, inability of district and lower committees to devise and conduct struggles on local issues.
Out of 249 delegates, 71 delegates including 10 women from 26 districts spoke in the discussions on the report and enriched it. After the secretary’s reply, the report was unanimously adopted.
The conference adopted 17 resolutions including the ones – to resolve Mahadayi water-sharing dispute, to utilise irrigation resources appropriately, to demand central legislation to implement SCSP/TSP, to prevent atrocities on SC/STs, to oppose privatisation of public sector units, supporting reservation for SC/STs in private sector and in promotions, for minimum wage of Rs 18,000, opposing anti-people measures in the name of environmentally sensitive zones, to increase allocation to ICDS and to stop its privatisation.
Credentials report revealed that 19 per cent of delegates and 14 per cent of observers were women. 39 per cent of the participants are full-timers. 40 per cent joined the Party after 2000 and 49 per cent joined between 1980 and 2000. 52 per cent were of age 30-50 and 6.5 per cent were below 30. Class origin-wise, 64 per cent were from worker or poor peasant or agricultural labour background. Social background-wise 24 per cent were from SC/STs, 7.5 per cent from minorities, 30 per cent from OBC. 34 per cent had education upto SSLC, 10 per cent upto PUC and 38 per cent, graduates.
Sitaram Yechury and M A Baby spoke in the concluding session. The conference elected 23 member state committee keeping 12 positions vacant. It also elected 11 delegates to the 22nd Congress. The newly elected state committee unanimously re-elected GV Sriramareddy as the secretary.
Three books – Translations of Memoirs of Fidel Castro and of Subodh Roy (youngest participant in the famous Chittagong Armoury Raid) and Ten Wonders of Soviet Union; Special Calendar marking the 200th anniversary celebrations of Marx; and Pre-Publication Discount Coupons for a set of seven works of Marx including Capital Vol. 1 (to be released by May 5, 2018) – were released respectively by Sitaram Yechury, S Ramachandra Pillai and B V Raghavulu.