First National Convention of Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch Held
THE first National Convention of the Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch was held in New Delhi on November 27, 2014. More than 465 delegates from 21 states attended the convention. 42 were women delegates. Representatives from Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir could not attend the convention as assembly elections are due in these two states. K Varadarajan, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member welcomed the delegates. The convention was inaugurated by Prof. Gopal Guru from Jawaharlal Nehru University. Debunking the theory that Dalit Capitalism is a messiah for Dalits, he said the inherent characteristic of capitalism is to exploit workers and similarly for Dalit Capitalism to exist, it has to exploit the Dalit workers. So, rather than being a messiah, Dalit capitalism will only serve the corporate interests and exploit the Dalit workers. He challenged the propagandists of Dalit capitalism who say that Dr B R Ambedkar had talked about it, to show even a single instance of this, in any of his writings. He said it is a lie. Gopal Guru underlined the need for combined fight against caste system, against class exploitation and against patriarchy. He said anyone who fights these, is a friend in the struggle for social emancipation. Brinda Karat, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member clicked open the Facebook page and Twitter account of the DSMM. V Srinivas Rao, central secretariat member of the CPI(M) placed the report. He spoke about the widespread prevalence of untouchability all across the country, rising atrocities on Dalits and about various issues confronting Dalits in our country like the non-allocation of funds according to the Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan, non-implementation of the Scheduled Castes/ Scheduled Tribes Prevention of Atrocities Act, landlessness etc. 27 delegates participated in the discussions and enriched the report with their experiences and suggestions. The report was adopted unanimously by the delegates. In the concluding session, Prakash Karat, general secretary of the CPI(M) addressed the delegates. He stated that in this very venue in 2006, the CPI(M) had organised an all India convention to discuss the problems faced by the Dalits. This was indeed the first attempt by the Party to specifically focus on the issues of the Dalits. A charter of demands was formulated in this convention, which formed the basis for the work among the Dalits during this period. He commended the work done by the TNUEF in Tamil Nadu, KVPS in the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, Pattikajathi Kshema Samithi in Kerala and the organisations formed in 9 states to address the problems faced by Dalits and organise them. The work done by these organisations in their respective states formed the basis for the formation of a platform at the all India level. Stating that there are state level organisations even now in only 9 states, he said that this also shows the need of much more work to be done. He stressed on the need to organise Dalits against social oppression and integrate them into the broad democratic movement. Commenting on the present juncture, where the attacks on the livelihood and the limited gains secured by the various peoples' movements are increasing by the day, Karat emphasised the necessity to integrate the struggle against social oppression and the struggle against neo-liberal policies. He stated that neoliberal policies will further increase inequalities in the society, impoverish people and increase both economic and social exploitation. The withdrawal of State from its responsibility – both in running of public sector enterprises and also in implementing social security measures – is best reflected in the attitude of the present BJP government towards Planning Commission, which it has abolished. The aggressive pursuit of neoliberal policies by the BJP government is supplemented by their attempts to communalise and divide the society on religious lines. He reminded that the BJP, controlled by the RSS, is rabidly spreading communal hatred in the society and this can be witnessed in the recent attacks on Muslims in various parts of the country, by pitting the Dalits against them. He called for building an active resistance to the BJP government’s efforts to pursue aggressive neo-liberal policies together with the resistance towards the Sangh Parivar's attempts to communally polarise the society. Recalling Dr Ambedkar's words commending the Constitution for adoption in the Constituent Assembly – “On the 26th of January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality. In politics we will be recognizing the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value. In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value. How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which is Assembly has to laboriously built up” – Prakash Karat emphasised the need to simultaneously fight social oppression and economic exploitation. He commended the participants in the convention and stated that the first step taken with the formation of the platform - Dalit Shoshan Mukti Manch - should be used to further intensify the struggles against both social and economic exploitation prevalent in the society. Resolutions were adopted in the convention demanding a special session of parliament to discuss issues concerning Dalits, on enacting a law for providing statutory status to the Scheduled Castes Sub-Plan, on passing the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Bill 2014, on reservations in private sector, on land, house-sites and houses for Dalits, on inter-caste marriages, on Dalit women, for skill development of Dalits and against dilution of MGNREGA. A 34 member convening committee (with 2 co-options) was formed with K Radhakrishnan from Kerala as convenor and Asim Bala from West Bengal as co-convenor.