Vol. XLI No. 17 April 23, 2017

TELANGANA: Relay Hunger Strike for Protection of Dharna Chowk

M Venugopala Rao

THE Left parties, including the CPI(M), and various mass organisations commenced relay hunger strike demanding the TRS government to continue the dharna chowk at Indira Park in Hyderabad. Started by the Left parties on April 15, the relay hunger strikes by different mass organisations and different sections of the people would continue till the 14th May and culminate into occupation of Dharna Chowk on the 15th May. A decision was taken by the Committee for protection of Dharna Chowk at a meeting held on the 8th April at Sundarayya Vignana Kendram in which leaders of the Left parties and various mass organizations participated. Co-convener of the Committee for protection of Dharna Chowk Prof P L Visweswara Rao, central committee member of the CPI(M) Cherupalli Sitaramulu, M Adireddy, State secretariat member of CPI, P Ranga Rao of (CPI-ML) New Democracy, G Govardhan of New Democracy, social activist Sajaya, Srisail Reddy of Praja Telangana and Ravichander of TPF announced that the relay hunger strikes would be organized at Makhdoom Bhavan, state headquarters of the CPI, and listed out the mass organizations and different sections of the people who participate in them on daily basis. Denouncing the decision of the government to shift the Dharna Chowk to the outskirts of Hyderabad, they announced that round-table conferences on the issue would be organized in the districts from the 20th April.

On the 15th, leaders of the Left parties participated in the relay hunger strike.  Eminent educationist Chukka Ramaiah and Prof Visweswara Rao garlanded them. Speaking on the occasion, Tammineni Veerabhadram, secretary the state committee of the CPI(M), regretted that a situation had arisen in the Telangana state achieved by the people when the right to protest had to be protected.  Encounters have been taking place as usual. The rulers have been intolerant to the demands for regularization of contract employees and implementation of minimum wages. Reminding that in the undivided Andhra Pradesh, whenever dharnas were held on different demands, the authorities used to call the agitating sections for consultations, but under the TRS dispensation in Telangana, there has been no such occasion, Veerabhadram said. Explaining the undemocratic and intolerant functioning of the TRS government, he narrated several instances like dismissal of municipal workers who had gone on strike, repression of the movement of the unemployed, changing of the venue of concluding massive public meeting of Mahajana Padayatra by modifying the permission given for it, and arrest of Prof M Kodandaram, chairman of Telangana JAC, at midnight by breaking the doors of his house. Veerabhadram gave a call for a long-term struggle against such undemocratic tendencies of the government. Pointing out that Dharna Chowk was a key place in the movement for separate Telangana state, Chukka Ramaiah said that it is painful that a leader of that movement and CM K Chandrasekhar Rao, after coming to power, had felt that there was no need for that Dharna Chowk. Making it clear that it was not an issue to be resolved by the police, he asked the government to correct its decision before the struggle for protection of the dharna chowk gets intensified.  Chada Venkat Reddy, secretary of the state council of CPI, said protection of dharna chowk is a question of life and death for the people. Commenting that Telangana was not a jagir of the ancestors of KCR, he warned that those who try to destroy democracy themselves would perish. Leaders of the Left parties Vemulapalli Venkatramaiah (CPI-ML New Democracy), S Venkateswara Rao (New Democracy),  Janaki Ramulu (RSP), Murahari (SUCI-C), Tandra Kumar (MCPI-U), Rajesh (CPI-ML Libertion), Varavara Rao (Revolutionary Democratic Front), Venkat Reddy (TJAC), Prakash (AAP) and others addressed, stressing on the need for intensifying the struggle for protection of the dharna chowk and taking its spirit to every house and every village. Central committee member of the CPI(M), Ch Sitaramulu, state secretariat members of the Party J Ranga Reddy and D G Narasimha Rao were among the leaders who participated in the hunger strike. On the 16th, leaders of various associations of farmers participated in the relay hunger strike, and on the 17th, leaders of different trade unions participated.