THE 22nd Maharashtra state conference of the CPI(M) was held from February 15-17, 2018 at Sangli. It was the first time that Sangli, with an excellent team of young activists, was hosting a Party state conference. Sangli town was dressed in red to welcome the event.
The venue was named after Comrade Karl Marx, whose bicentenary is being celebrated this year; the hall was named after Krantisinh Comrade Nana Patil, the legendary leader of the historic Parallel Government against British rule from 1943-46, who was twice elected to the Lok Sabha on the Communist Party ticket and was the national president of the AIKS; and the stage was named after Lokshaheer Comrade Anna Bhau Sathe, another great Communist writer and singer in the famous cultural squad called Lal Bavta Kalapathak; both these latter hailing from Sangli district. The two gates to the venue were named after two valiant freedom fighters from Sangli district who were the lieutenants of Krantisinh Nana Patil in the Parallel Government – Krantiveer Nagnath Anna Naikwadi and Krantiagrani G D Bapu Lad. Another hall at the conference venue was named after Savitribai Phule.
After the flag-hoisting by veteran leader L B Dhangar, floral tributes were paid to martyrs. V Y Aaba Patil, chairman of the reception committee, a senior leader of the Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) and a progressive intellectual, delivered the welcome address.
After the condolence resolution, the conference was inaugurated by CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury. He dwelt on the dangerous nature of the RSS-BJP government at the centre – its anti-people and pro-corporate neoliberal economic policies, its incessant attacks on our basic classes and socially oppressed sections, its violent attempts at communal polarisation, its attacks on all constitutional values, its authoritarian attempts to control the judiciary, its growing corruption scandals, its targeting of the Left and the CPI(M) in Kerala, Tripura and West Bengal, and its virtual surrender to American imperialism.
He also explained the challenges in the international field, especially with regard to the aggressive and reactionary actions of the Trump regime in the US and around the world. He hailed the advances being made by the socialist countries and by Left forces in various countries, with special reference to the recent inspiring Communist victory in Nepal.
Sitaram concluded by saying that our prime task today is to defeat the communal forces. This can be achieved through mighty class and mass struggles. As the Kolkata Organisational Plenum has stressed, the independent strength and influence of the Party must increase through the correct application of the mass line and organisational streamlining. Left unity and the Left Democratic Front must be forged and strengthened. The results of the Gujarat assembly elections, the UP civic elections and the Rajasthan by-elections have begun the downward slide of the BJP. This trend must be strengthened.
The conference was greeted by PWP general secretary Jayant Patil, MLC, and by CPI state leader Namdev Gavde. A new book in Marathi titled ‘Who Was Marx?’ written by Party senior leader Dr Vithal More and published by the Party’s publishing house Janashakti Prakashan to mark the Marx bicentenary was released by Sitaram Yechury. The inaugural session concluded with the presidential address by state secretary and Central Committee member Narasayya Adam.
RALLY AND PUBLIC MEETING
On the evening of February 15, an impressive rally with hundreds of red flags and banners marched through Sangli town and it culminated in a large public meeting. People from the four districts of Sangli, Kolhapur, Solapur and Satara had gathered. The stage was called the Shivaji-Phule-Shahu-Ambedkar Manch, highlighting the progressive social tradition of Maharashtra.
The main speaker was Sitaram Yechury and it was also addressed by central secretariat members Nilotpal Basu and Dr Ashok Dhawale, Central Committee members Sudha Sundararaman, Narasayya Adam and Mahendra Singh and state secretariat members J P Gavit, MLA and Mariam Dhawale. State committee member and Sangli district secretary Umesh Deshmukh made the introductory speech and Rehana Shaikh proposed the vote of thanks. Subhash Patil presided over the public meeting.
The delegate session began by electing various committees for the conduct of the conference. State secretary Narasayya Adam placed the political-organisational report. The six main mass front reports were briefly placed by Dr D L Karad, Dr Ajit Nawale, Baliram Bhumbe, Sonya Gill, Preethy Sekhar and Balaji Kaletwad respectively.
The political report, after taking brief stock of the major international and national developments, concentrates on the political, economic and social situation in Maharashtra. Politically, the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections of 2014 and the local body elections of 2016-17 have seen the ascendancy of the BJP. But the report analyses that in all fields – agriculture, irrigation, industry, employment, education, health, public distribution system, urban development and others, the BJP-Shiv Sena state government has exposed its bankruptcy. This regime has betrayed its loan waiver assurance given to farmers after the historic peasant strike last year. Forced land acquisition from the peasantry for various fancy and elitist projects is creating great discontent. MNREGA implementation has been disastrous. Reactionary changes are being made in labour laws. The public distribution system is in doldrums. Privatisation and commercialisation of education and health services has gathered speed. Unemployment is rising exponentially. Communal and casteist attacks on Muslims, dalits, adivasis and women have shown an alarming increase. Left and democratic forces have to be and are being mobilised to take on these challenges.
The organisational report, after stressing the directives of the Kolkata organisational plenum, has the following salient features:
A large number of struggles and campaigns led by the Party and mass fronts on various issues in the last three years have been recounted. There has been good statewide mobilisation in these struggles.
There is an increase in the membership of the mass fronts in the last three years, by 78,679.
In the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, the Party secured 1,81,629 votes in four seats. In the 2014 Vidhan Sabha elections, the Party secured 2,07,933 votes in 20 seats and won the Kalwan (ST) seat in Nashik district. In the local body elections of 2016-17, in spite of the BJP ascendance, the CPI(M) increased its number of seats won from 31 in 2011-12 to 50 in 2016-17. The Party has won the sarpanch/deputy sarpanch posts in over 150 villages and has over 1,000 gram panchayat members.
The circulation of the state Party weekly Jeewan Marg is 4,000 and that of the central Party weeklies is 650. Both need to be increased.
A state-level Party class was held in Mumbai in June 2017, and five regional party classes were held in September-October 2017. Three state level classes each were held for the student and youth fronts, two each for the kisan and agricultural workers fronts and one for the women’s front. Several district Party classes were also held in the last three years. But much more needs to be done in this field.
A state level whole timers workshop was held at Solapur in August 2017There are 204 whole timers. The state committee gives wage of Rs 5,000 per month to 55 whole timers. Others are looked after by some district committees and trade union centres.
The Party membership however, remains more or less stagnant at 12,656. The class composition of the Party is as follows: working class – 16 per cent, peasantry – 60.4 per cent, agricultural workers – 19.2 per cent and middle class – 4.4 per cent. The social composition is as follows: adivasis – 51.4 per cent, dalits – 9.5 per cent, minorities – 6 per cent and women – 18.9 per cent. The proportion of those below 40 years of age is 42.4 per cent, but has declined over the years.
The amount of Party levy coming to the state committee has increased from Rs 23.50 lakh in 2014 to Rs 26.62 lakh in 2017. Over Rs 50 lakh has been collected in 2017-18 as whole timers fund in the state out of a target of one crore rupees and the drive is still continuing. In 2016, the state contributed Rs 10 lakh to the West Bengal Solidarity Fund.
The report also sharply and self-critically pinpoints several weaknesses in both the movement and the organisation and sets out 11 political tasks and 15 organisational tasks for the coming three years.
In the five hour discussion on the report that took place on February 16, 58 comrades, including 10 women comrades, took part and they enriched the report with their criticisms, suggestions and experiences. After the state secretary’s reply, the report was adopted.
Nilotpal Basu, Sudha Sundararaman and Mahendra Singh briefly addressed the conference and threw light on some important political and organisational matters.
In the concluding session on February 17, convenor of the resolutions committee Dr Uday Narkar placed the various resolutions and they were seconded by Anna Sawant. Convenor of the credentials committee Dr Subhash Jadhav placed the credentials report. There were 370 delegates, of whom 50 were women. Ashok Dhawale placed the future programmes of action of the Party and mass fronts with a call to make all of them a resounding success.
The state conference elected a 53 member state committee which includes nine women. It unanimously re-elected Narasayya Adam as state secretary. The new state secretariat will be elected after the Hyderabad Party Congress. The conference elected a three member state control commission, which elected Udayan Sharma as chairman. The conference also elected 16 delegates and six alternate delegates to the 22nd Party Congress.
After the concluding speech by Sitaram Yechury and a warm session of congratulating and thanking the reception committee and the young volunteers who had done excellent work for months, the conference ended with the rendering of the Internationale.