January 11, 2015

UTTARAKHAND: Fifth State Conference of CPI(M) Concludes with an Optimistic Note

Vijay Rawat

THE fifth state conference of the Uttarakhand CPI(M) concluded on December 29 at Karan Prayag in the Chamoli district of the state. The township situated on the Badrinath highway at the confluence of River Alaknanda and Pindar was decorated with Party flags, posters, festoons and extensive postering and wall writing. The conference began with a massive rally which comprised of peasant men and women, anganwadi and village workers of assorted trades, local lawyers, students and youth.

Party Central Committee members and Central observers, Hannan Mollah and Tapan Sen were in the forefront of the rally which passed through the main street and finally culminated into a public meeting at  the Karan Prayag bus stand. The rallyists were welcomed by the secretary of the reception committee, BPS Rawat. Seated on the dais were Captain Bakhtawar Singh Negi, chairman of the reception committee, Ganga Dhar Nautiyal, Indu Naudiyal, S Sajwan and Rajendra Negi along with Hannan Mollah and Tapan Sen. Rajendra Negi  presided over the meeting. Hannan  Mollah while  addressing the rally spoke about the national  situation specially after the 16th Lok Sabha elections. There is a sharp rightward shift in economic policy. Social oppression, rise of communalism, increasing attacks on minorities, dalits, and women  have become the order of the day, he said. Tapan Sen  spoke about the crisis of capitalism  and how international finance capital has taken over control  of economies all over the globe and how resistance is being offered by various sections of working  people from  Latin America to Europe and in our own country.

CPI(M) state secretary Vijay Rawat greeted the people and congratulated the district committee for hosting the conference and for its excellent preparations. He reminded the delegates that how from  four comrades he had met many years ago, a powerful movement was built in the area. He also recalled his visit during floods and disasters along River Pinder and Mandakini in June 2013 and the work done by comrades providing relief and medical help. The open session concluded with a street play and folk dance of the local people.

                The conference began with flag hosting by  Satyaprakash, who is a Party veteran associated with the Party since 1964 and president of Uttarakhand CITU. A total of 150 delegates lined up to pay homage to martyrs of the Party and democratic movements. The venue of the conference  was named after the legendry hero Comrade Chandra Singh Garhwali, who was with the Party since 1964, until his death in 1974. The hall was named after Comrade Binoy Krishna Konar legendary peasant leader of Kisan Sabha. Navratan dwars (nine entrances) were made symbolising the nine founding Polit Bureau members of the Party.

                The conference began with the election of the  presidium, credentials committee and minutes committee. A presidium of three including  Ganga Dhar Nautiyal, Indu Naudiyal, Virendra Bhandari conducted the deliberations of the conference. The  credentials committee comprised of Sambhu Mamgain, Kamlesh Gaur, and Anant Akash; the minutes committee comprised of Bhagwan Singh Rana, R P Joshi and Kamlesh Khantwal. The condolence resolution was  moved by G D Nautiyal, following which delegates paid homage by observing two minutes silence in memory of the departed comrades.

                The inaugural speech was delivered by Hannan Mollah. He congratulated the Chamoli district committee for the massive rally in which rural workers, peasants, women and sections of the middle classes took part. He spoke about the current political situation and the tasks before the Party and the need for taking up issues that have come after the formation of the new government led by the BJP. The effect of corporate friendly  policies on various sections of the toiling people, the use of the ruling power to divide our society on communal lines are challenges that have to be vigorously met by our Party and the mass organisations.

                Vijay Rawat, state secretary, while presenting the report highlighted the main areas of  work undertaken during the last three years after the fourth conference. These included the Vidhan Sabha elections in 2012, intervention of the Party in the aftermath of the Kedarnath floods, and disasters in other areas, Lok Sabha elections, local bodies and Panchayat elections etc. He said that while reviews of each of these activities were conducted from time to time, it was found that the organisational position of the Party could not match the challenges posed by the political situation confronting us in the state. He said that the central task of the Party in the state was to create a political space for itself and expand it. He was hopeful of accomplishing this task, having seen the journey of the Party after separation from Uttar Pradesh – confined to one or two districts at that time, the spread to 10 districts has been accomplished during the last decade. He reported that of 140 branches in the state, 123 had their branch conferences, leading to district conferences in four districts and 12 local conferences. They have taken the  task of organising 22 local committees and two more district committees and a target of crossing a membership figure of two thousand by the time of the next state.

                The Party which had been branded as anti-Uttarakhand by the separate state political formations has finally emerged as the main Left party in the state and the credit goes to comrades working at various levels and different mass organisations. The ground work for many decisions which are to be implemented in the coming future was laid before the conference, the time line suggested was by the next mid-term review.

                The secretary  report was very self-critical and shortcomings from the state committee down to the branches were laid bare. It was said that a section of all committees of the Party and mass organisations remained inactive, this inactivity was rooted in the weaknesses at ideological level and in terms of implementing the Party organisational principal of democratic centralism. Although the last mid-term review had pointed out these weaknesses and a Party workshop of leaders of the mass fronts, branch secretaries, local and district committee members was held, the shortcomings still persist and need enhanced efforts at rectification. It was felt that the role of Party fractions has to be emphasized  and  these important committees need to be activated and their responsibilities clearly defined. In the absence of this, the relations between the Party and the mass organisations take questionable turn. Branches and fraction committees should have a special place in our scheme of work. Finally the report suggested that the state centre needs to be strengthened in terms of cadre, funds, and leaders capable of moving in the state.

                Out of a delegation strength of 150, 30 delegates took part in the debate and discussion, the contribution of comrades was very enriching and optimistic. Some very important resolutions were passed which definitely will become the basis of coming struggles. Some of them were focused on the issue of migrations and demographic change, loss of life and crops by wild animals, resettlement of disaster-affected people and villages, issues related to revival of IDPL & HMT, implementation of schemes for the disabled, reservation for dalits in the private sector, fight against dilution of labour laws, dilution of Land Acquisition Act and MGNREGA, on fight against communalism, defence of public sector and financial institutions and against atrocities on women. These resolutions were passed with certain suitable amendments.

                The secretary report was unanimously adopted  by the delegates. The report of the credentials committee indicated that no delegate was illiterate, 18 women delegates took part, 23 delegates belong to SC & ST, 11 delegates from OBC and seven delegates were Muslims  .

                The outgoing secretary presented a proposal of 25-member state committee of which one position was kept vacant. The proposal also suggested to have three invitees.  A seven-member secretariat was elected with Rajendra Singh Negi as secretary, other members being Vijay Rawat, Bachi Ram Kanswal, Ganga Dhar Nautiyal, Surendra Sajwan,  Indu Naudiyal, and Virendra Bhandari. A delegation of four comrades was elected for the 21st Party   Congress.

                Tapan Sen, who has been coming to the state for the  last six years, congratulated the Chamoli committee and the state leadership for holding the  conference successfully and for the huge mass mobilisation for the rally.  He, however, emphasized that the shortcomings mentioned by the secretary need to be overcome. He was confident that the leadership in the state has the capacity to do so. A vigorous attempt should start at the district and local committee levels to ideologically educate the cadre, identify auxiliary committee members and allocate them responsibilities of mass work. He also mentioned and stressed the need for vastly improved and extensive work of mass organisations, correcting the distortions visible in the relationship between the Party and mass organisations. He spoke about the machinations of the present day capitalism and imperialism. He also spoke of how communalism was being encouraged to weaken the struggle against the international finance capital and corporations. Before concluding his speech he expressed his anxiety about the student and youth movement in the state, which he felt was weak at the moment and needed immediate attention.

                On the sidelines and on the last day, meetings with TU, youth, and women delegates were also held by the two Central Committee members. The conference concluded by a short speech on behalf of  Comrade  Virendra Bhandari.