Vol. XLIII No. 08 February 24, 2019

AIDWA State Conference Vows to Take on Communal Forces

Prachi Hatiwlekar

THE 11th Maharashtra state conference of AIDWA was held at Amravati in the Vidarbha region on February 1-3, 2019. Amravati along with its surrounding districts of Vidarbha has seen the relentless tragedy of rising peasant suicides for the last two decades.

The conference was attended by 264 women delegates coming from 14 districts, representing a membership of nearly one lakh. The conference venue was named after martyr Gauri Lankesh, the hall after state AIDWA vice president Prabhatai Ghangare and the dais after Nalinitai Ladhke, a noted social activist from Amravati of the Satyashodhak Samaj that was formed by Jotirao Phule and Savitribai Phule.

The conference began with an impressive women’s rally, which culminated in a public meeting addressed by AIDWA vice presidents Subhashini Ali and Sudha Sundararaman, general secretary Mariam Dhawale, state secretary Sonya Gill, state president Naseema Shaikh, CEC member Lahani Dauda, state joint secretary Prachi Hatiwekar and state committee member Anandi Avaghade. AIDWA Amravati district secretary Chanda Wankhede made the introductory speech and district president Safiya Khan proposed the vote of thanks. All the speakers came down heavily on the most anti-women, anti-minorities, anti-poor and communal BJP central and state governments and appealed to women to defeat them in the coming elections.

The conference was inaugurated by AIDWA president Malini Bhattacharya. In her inaugural speech she appealed to the delegates to ‘silence’ this communal, divisive and regressive BJP government which is hell bent on ‘silencing’ every voice of dissent.

The delegate session began with the flag hoisting by state president Naseema Shaikh and floral tributes to martyrs. The delegates were welcomed by reception committee chairman and CITU leader P B Uke. Leaders of fraternal organizations Udayan Sharma (AIKS state vice president), Vijay Gabhane (CITU state vice president), Dilip Shapamohan (AIAWU state vice president), Preethy Sekhar (DYFI state secretary) andBalaji Kaletwad (SFI state president) greeted the conference.

The conference was also addressed by Subhashini Ali and Sudha Sundararaman. Subhashini highlighted the contrast of the state in giving birth to great social reformers like Mahatma Phule and Babasaheb Ambedkar on one hand, and the communal followers of Manusmruti like Hedgewar and Golwalkar on the other. She appealed to the delegates to unite and fight against these regressive forces. She also expressed satisfaction with the good number of young women delegates. Sudha, with her years of close association with Maharashtra AIDWA, congratulated the delegates for their struggles on women’s issues and expressed her confidence that the team will intensify the struggle for equality and justice.

State secretary Sonya Gill placed the political, organisational and work report of the last three years. It outlined the struggles led by AIDWA on day-to-day problems like water, ration, employment, health, land and atrocities faced by women in the state. Over 1,200 women led by the Maharashtra AIDWA took part in the 10,000-strong AIDWA central rally held in drenching rain in Delhi on September 4, 2018. The report also noted the excellent response in the state to the national poster exhibition on Left women freedom fighters.

54 delegates participated in the rich discussion on this report. They expressed their fortified resolve to take on the anti-women BJP government, which is responsible for their deteriorating socio-economic conditions. There were constructive suggestions for building stronger AIDWA teams at all levels and for increasing the reach, strength and influence of the organisation. After the secretary’s reply, the report was adopted unanimously.

Four commission papers were discussed in this conference on the following topics: Implementation of Sexual Harassment Act against atrocities on women at workplace; condition of rural women; issue of triple talaq; and impact of two-child limit on women. Various resolutions were adopted as follows: increasing atrocities on women; secure and honourable jobs for women; on various fraudulent schemes of the Modi government; oppose DBT system and demand ration grain; against the commercialisation of education; oppose communalism, and uphold the Indian constitution.

AIDWA general secretary Mariam Dhawale, in her concluding speech took stock of the alarming increase in atrocities on women, decreasing number of girls, attempt to reinstate age-old retrograde customs, the issue of the Sabarimala temple entry and the historic Women’s Wall in Kerala. She stressed the need to strengthen the organisation by activating units, taking up local struggles and training and promoting new and young activists.

The conference unanimously elected a 63-member state committee, which in turn elected a 23-member secretariat, as follows: president – Naseema Shaikh, secretary – Prachi Hatiwlekar, treasurer-Subhadra Khillare, vice-presidents – Kiran Moghe, Sonya Gill, Lahani Dauda, Hemlata Patil, Saraswati Bhandirge, Shevanta Deshmukh, Rehana Shaikh, Tai Bendar, Mumtaz Haider, Anandi Avaghade, joint secretaries – Saroja Swami, Sunanda Balla, Hirabai Ghonge, Heena Vanga, Shakuntala Panibhate, Sunita Shingda, Surekha Jadhav, Durga Kakde, Pratiksha Hadke and Rekha Deshpande.

Naseema Shaikh thanked the reception committee for having made excellent arrangements for the state conference. With brief speeches by outgoing state secretary Sonya Gill and new state secretary Prachi Hatiwlekar and the song ‘We Shall Overcome’, the conference concluded with the firm resolve to defeat the regressive communal forces in the coming general elections.