January 18, 2015

KARNATAKA: CPI(M) State Conference calls for Decisive Struggles on People’s Issues

THE 21st CPI(M) Karnataka state conference was held in Bangalore from January 8-11, 2015. It was attended by 263 delegates including 40 women. 55 observers participated, 14 of them were women. The conference venue was named after Comrade R Umanath and the dais after Comrade Savaridas - veteran comrade who led the communist movement in Kolar Gold Fields for decades.  The red flag was hoisted by 81-year old veteran comrade K R Sriyan, leader from Dakshina Kannada with distinguished record of over five decades of service in the communist movement. 

The conference was inaugurated by Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member. Analysing the current situation, he said, hitherto we have fought against authoritarianism, communalism, and neo-liberalism/imperialism at different periods, but now we have a government which is a combination of all these three enemies of people and the nation. The Modi government is attacking the people with a ‘trishul’ consisting of communalism, neo-liberalism, combined with authoritarianism exemplified by eight ordinances in a short span of six months, and the people and the nation have to be saved from this ‘trishul’ by building a strong people’s movement. He called on the delegates and observers to deliberate over this to unleash powerful struggles in the state. The secretary of the state committee and Central Committee member G V Srirama Reddy  recalled the struggles waged by the Party in the last three years against obnoxious social practices, as also on the demands of the workers, peasants and other sections of the people and said the experiences and the way forward would be discussed in the conference.

The inaugural session was followed by an attractive and inspiring march from the venue of the conference by hundreds of red volunteers accompanied by the delegates and observers to the conference led by the members of the state secretariat, through the busy roads in the heart of the city, culminating at the Freedom Park, the venue of the public meeting. The large gathering presided over by V J K Nair, veteran leader of the Party and the trade union and a senior member of the state secretariat, was addressed by Sitaram Yechury and M A Baby. While Baby spoke of the rampage of the communal forces, particularly the moral policing by members of the saffron brigade and the need to defend the long tradition of communal harmony in the state, Yechury asserted that the twins of the toiling sections of the nation, the working class and the peasantry would stop the supposedly invincible march of the sacrificial horse, the shwethashwa of Modi government’s ‘Ashwamedha yaaga’.

Nine eminent progressive personalities of the state were felicitated. Before the meeting started, the overflowing audience consisting of thousands of workers, peasants and Party supporters were treated to a variety of cultural performances including songs by a 50-member  choir (to symbolise the Party’s golden jubilee), street plays and Dappu folk dance. 

 The deliberations of the conference started with the election of the presidium consisting of K R Sriyan, Varalaxmi, K Prakash and Siddagangappa.  G V Srirama Reddy presented the draft report of the state committee, which, after analysing the socio-economic and political situation in the state, reviewed the Party’s intervention. The report recounted the major struggles taken up by the Party on land issues, the struggles for minimum wage for the unorganised workers, as also struggles against issues of social inequalities. The struggles against the obnoxious practices of ‘made snana’ (rolling over the left-overs of the temple-feast food) and ‘pankti-bheda’ (a religio-social practice in temple-feast highlighting caste segregation) has galvanised the social scenario in the state, earning appreciation of progressive sections of the people. The report also reviewed the work done among the working class, the peasantry, the agricultural labour, women, students and youth and other sections. The report noted that the Party has registered a growth of 16.5 percent during the three years since the last conference. It also reviewed the shortcomings in the organization. While drawing the attention of the delegates and observers to the tasks before the Party in the state as enumerated in the draft report, Srirama Reddy laid emphasis on expanding people’s struggles and building the organisation while correcting organisational shortcomings.

71 delegates spoke in the discussion on the report.  The delegates while noting the advances recorded since the last conference also dwelt upon the organisational shortcomings and problems and the need to wage decisive battles, taking them to logical culmination overcoming tokenism and give special attention to the problems faced by the youth, women and the students of the state.

The conference passed 31 resolutions on issues affecting the people of the state, which included  supporting the demand of the unorganised workers for a raise in the minimum wage, against privatisation of the ICDS, demanding withdrawal of anti-farmer and anti-national amendments to the Land Acquisition Act,  against atrocities on dalits, and  increasing atrocities on women, amendment of labour laws and a permanent solution to the irrigation problems of the water-starved districts of the state and other developmental issues in the state.

 A 41-member state committee was elected by the conference. 12 delegates for 21st Party Congress were also elected. The newly elected state committee re-elected G V Srirama Reddy as secretary of the state committee. A Control Commission was also elected unanimously. K R Sriyan, who desired to be relieved from the state committee, was given a warm farewell.

Credentials committee report indicated that 30 percent of participants (delegates and observers) were aged below 40 years. Social origin-wise, 15 percent belonged to SC, 5 percent ST, 9 percent minorities and 47 percent to the OBC. Class-origin-wise, 28 percent were workers, 25 percent agricultural workers, 20 percent poor peasants, 18 percent middle peasants. 16 percent of participants joined the Party before 1964, 13 percent between 1964 and 1992, 39 percent between 1993 and 2012. 29 percent of participants entered the Party through workers front, 13 percent through peasants front, 4 percent through agricultural workers front, 30 percent through student front, 12 percent through youth front, 4 percent through women’s front. 36 percent of participants are working on the peasants front, 30 percent on agricultural workers front, 13 percent on workers front, 8 percent on youth front, 2 percent on women front, 1 percent on student front. 53 percent of participants are full-timers, 8 percent members of local bodies – from gram panchayats to zilla panchayat.

A unique feature of this conference was the public programmes held since three months before the conference. Eight major seminars on various subjects such as labour reforms, the issues concerning caste,   gender and minorities, as also on the need for a continuous dialogue among the progressive movements and sections in the state to defend the secular democratic foundations of modern India, a week-long street-play ‘Nam Kathe’ (Our Story) jatha with about 25 shows, a five-day long cultural programme near conference venue – these were some of the highlights of the campaign. At the cultural programme venue, a poster exhibition on the history of the communist movement in the country and state was immensely popular. The exhibition also saw the release in book and video forms, the contents of this poster exhibition. A discussion was held on two films “Bharat Stores’ (on ill-effect of FDI in retail) and ‘PK’. A poets’ meet and a discussion on ‘Education in Mother-tongue’ were also held.  Many eminent cultural personalities like Girish Karnad and hundreds of people participated in the programmes daily. Over 1000 auto-rickshaws fitted with Party flags, conference logo and posters were plying throughout the city creating a buzz of anticipation.