THE 23rd state conference of the Karnataka committee of the CPI (M) was held from January 2-4 at Gangavathi, Koppal district, in Comrades K Varadarajan and Balappa Nagar. The conference hall was named after veteran leader of the trade union movement and of the Party, Comrade B Madhava and another trade union leader Comrade R Srinivas who underwent life imprisonment (and was released after 16 years in jail) in a false case. Both leaders died in the period after the 22nd conference. The stage was named after Comrade Maruti Manpade, prominent kisan and Party leader who passed away in the first wave of Covid.
Due to Covid restrictions, only about 500 people attended the inaugural session of the conference including the 300 delegates and observers. Party Polit Bureau members Prakash Karat, B V Raghavulu and M A Baby attended the inaugural session. Bharadwaj from CPI(ML – Liberation) and Dr T R Chandashekar, well known progressive economist from Karnataka also attended. Former Central Committee member and veteran leader Party, V J K Nair hoisted the Red flag to begin the conference.
Addressing the inaugural session, Prakash Karat presented an overview of the current political situation. He said that Hindutva, corporates, and imperialism form the three pillars of Modi's New India. He remarked that Covid-19 has shown the vast difference between how capitalist and socialist countries respond to issues affecting people. The small socialist country of Cuba has already developed six vaccines against Covid-19. The pandemic has also widened the contradiction between the rich capitalist countries and the vast number of people living in developing countries. While the advanced capitalist countries are having two or three vaccine shots for their population, they are preventing the distribution of vaccines among poor developing countries citing intellectual property rights.
The past few years have exacerbated the economic crisis with high levels unemployment and pushing people below poverty line. The right-wing governments across the world have joined in alliance with the USA. The present India is also part of this. The "New India" that Modi speaks about is a pro-corporate, pro-imperialist regime with a Hindutva vision.
While there are these attacks against people, there are resistance movements too, he said. The wheels of history are moving, even if at a slow pace. A 35-year old candidate of the Left, who is a former student leader, has won presidential elections in Chile. Chile was the first country to introduce neoliberal reforms around 50 years ago.
There has also been resistance against the Hindutva-corporate onslaught in India. There were big movements against the abrogation of Article 370 and Citizenship Amendment Act. The united movement and victory of peasants against farm laws and the role of peasant-workers alliance is historic.
It is necessary to build a Left and Democratic alternative against the parties supporting neoliberalism and communalism. Strengthening CPI(M) as an independent force is important in this context. Prakash Karat concluded his speech by saying that the upcoming Party Congress will be discussing this issue at length.
It was a conference of unity. 246 delegates and 47 observers from 24 districts participated in the conference. State secretary U Basavaraj introduced the report. 74 delegates spoke for 480 minutes on the report. After the secretary’s reply on the points raised by delegates, the report was adopted unanimously. Basavaraj called on the delegates and observers to work for building a prosperous, ‘Nava Karnataka’ free from corporate loot, corruption and communalism.
The conference adopted 40 resolutions, calling for withdrawal of the anti-conversion law, the three state agri laws which facilitate corporatisation of agriculture and the ordinance on implementation of pro-corporate labour codes and on other vital issues of the people.
The conference elected a 34-member state committee leaving one seat for Chikkaballapura district. The newly elected state committee met and re-elected U Basavaraj as state secretary and a 12-member state secretariat comprising S Varalaxmi, K N Umesh, Meenakshi Sundaram, K Prakash, Syed Mujib, Gopalkrishna Aralahalli, G C Bayyareddy, K Yadava Sheety, M P M Univenkatappa, G Nagraj and K Neela. The number of women members has increased from 5 to 8, dalit members from 2 to 5, minority members from 1 to 2, in the new state committee and three are office bearers of devadasi organisation. The committee consists of seven young members and 80 per cent from basic classes.
PREVENT BJP’S EXPANSION
The conference concluded on January 4. Addressing the concluding session, B V Raghavulu exhorted the delegates to build a movement to resist and confront the BJP in Karnataka and stop its expansion in the south.
Raghavulu also called for concrete study of the effects of neoliberalism at local levels and chalk out struggles to take up issues people face in daily life due to the dismantling of whatever little welfare measures were in place. He underlined that the fight against communalism besides being fought at the political ideological levels, should also be fought through cultural intervention at the local level by utilising rich cultural patterns, arts and heritage which are subversive of the system. Similarly attracting youth to our movements and taking up issues of social oppression are a must to confront communal onslaught of the sangha parivar, he stressed.
The conference felicitated four veteran comrades – V J K Nair, G N Nagaraj, Nithyananda Swamy and K Shankar who were relieved from the state committee after decades of dedicated service to the Party.
Five books and a calendar were released at the conference, three in the inaugural session and the rest in the other session.
CPI(M) Karnataka state conference paid tributes to Savitribai Phule and Fatima Sheikh for their contributions to women’s literacy and struggle against patriarchy. Prakash Karat, B V Raghavulu, M A Baby, and U Basavaraj paid tributes. K S Vimala spoke about their contributions.
STUDENT PROTESTER FELICITATED
Some of the mutts in Karnataka had recently opposed providing eggs as part of mid-day meals in schools and the BJP government was about to buckle down to this pressure tactic. The Students’ Federation of India had called for a state-wide protest against this and was able to stall it.
Anjali, a class 8 student and SFI activist from Gangavathi was part of the protest. Video of her criticism of Mutt heads and the threat that if they oppose eggs, students will come to Mutts and eat the eggs, went viral in the national and social media. This impacted the success of the movement in a significant way.
CPI(M) Karnataka state committee at its 23rd conference felicitated Anjali. Prakash Karat felicitated her at the conference amidst cheering.