Maha: AIKS State Conference Calls for Struggles against BJP Govt’s Disastrous Policies
THE 23rd AIKS Maharashtra state conference was held from October 31 to November 2, 2022 at Akole, in Ahmednagar district. The last 22nd state conference was held over six years ago in May 2016 at Talasari in Palghar district. These six years saw the massive and united 11-day state wide farmers’ strike in June 2017, the unprecedented Maharashtra AIKS-led Kisan Long March from Nashik to Mumbai in March 2018, and the historic year-long victorious SKM-led struggle at Delhi and all over the country from November 26, 2020 to December 11, 2021.
The conference began with a mass rally of thousands of peasants and workers, with hundreds of women also taking enthusiastic part. The peasants had come despite tremendous destruction of their crops due to heavy unseasonal rains, and also despite the paddy harvesting season which was in full swing. It was the first time in AIKS history in the state since 1945 that a state conference was being held at Akole.
The Akole rally full of hundreds of red flags of the AIKS culminated in a large and spirited public meeting which was presided over by AIKS state president Kisan Gujar, and was addressed by AIKS national president Ashok Dhawale, national finance secretary P Krishnaprasad, state general secretary Ajit Nawale, state vice president Uday Narkar, CITU state secretary Vinod Nikole, MLA, and AIDWA state general secretary Prachi Hatiwlekar. It was conducted by AIKS district leaders Sadashiv Sable, Namdev Bhangre and Eknath Mengal.
The venue of the conference was named after freedom fighter and senior AIKS state vice president Nanasaheb Pokale (district Beed), the hall after another senior AIKS leader Yadavrao Nawale (district Ahmednagar), and the stage after two AIKS state vice presidents Barkya Mangat and Ratan Budhar (district Thane-Palghar). The delegate session began with the flag hoisting by senior vice president Udayan Sharma, followed by floral tributes to martyrs. After the condolence resolution and election of the presidium and other committees, the conference was inaugurated by Ashok Dhawale.
All delegates were provided with a 122-page printed report which had been circulated to the districts in advance. The political, agrarian and work report was placed by Ajit Nawale and the organisational report was placed by Kisan Gujar. The accounts were placed by state treasurer Umesh Deshmukh. In the night there was district wise group discussion.
The AIKS in Maharashtra took up many effective struggles during this period. They included the 11-day farmers’ strike from June 1-11, 2017 and the Kisan Long March from March 6-12, 2018. Both these massive struggles succeeded in wresting a loan waiver package of Rs 40,000 crore to the farmers of Maharashtra from two successive state governments, partial implementation of the Forest Rights Act (FRA), and increased pensions to the rural poor.
The AIKS Maharashtra participation was 45,715 in the nationwide Jail Bharo of August 8, 2018; 9,312 in the CITU-AIKS-AIAWU Delhi Rally of September 5, 2018; and 1,500 in the AIKSCC Delhi Rally on November 29-30, 2018. Besides this, there was mobilisation of thousands of peasants in large district-level actions in Nashik, Thane-Palghar, Ahmednagar, Beed, Sangli and other districts on issues like FRA implementation, milk and sugarcane prices, crop insurance compensation, land acquisition, PDS, rise in fertiliser prices, and many other issues.
In the SKM-led year-long farmers’ struggle which forced the Modi government to repeal the three Farm Laws, several impressive actions were held in Maharashtra. They included a five-day 1,000-strong AIKS vehicle march from Nashik to Shahjahanpur from December 21-25, 2020; a 15,000-strong AIKS vehicle march from Nashik to Mumbai from January 23-25, 2021, culminating in a 40,000-strong joint Kisan Mazdoor Mahapanchayat in Mumbai; a month-long Shaheed Kalash Yatra throughout the state to pay homage to the Lakhimpur Kheri martyrs, culminating in a 30,000-strong Kisan Mazdoor Mahapanchayat in Mumbai on November 28, 2021, addressed by several SKM national leaders; and several other actions of support to the three Bharat Bandhs and other SKM calls during this struggle.
The AIKS membership in Maharashtra has increased from 2,01,220 in 2017-18 to 3,09,544 in 2021-22. It is the first time that it has crossed the three-lakh mark and is spread over 24 districts. However, the report also pinpointed the several weaknesses in the movement and the organisation that must be overcome, and set out concrete tasks in that direction.
On November 1, the conference session began with a 10-point presentation by AIKS CKC member R Ramakumar on various aspects of the current agrarian crisis.
The discussion on the report took place the whole day, with 49 of the 257 delegates from 23 districts enriching the report with their experiences, suggestions and criticisms.
Two new books in Marathi, published by the Left publishing house Janashakti Prakashan, Mumbai, were released. The first was a Marathi edition of the book on the recent historic nationwide farmers struggle, When Farmers Stood Up, written by Ashok Dhawale and originally published in English by LeftWord Books, New Delhi. It was released by AIKS state vice president Shankarrao Danav. The second was called Rebels, written by Ajit Nawale and Gopala Bhangre, on inspiring episodes in the freedom struggle and left Kisan movement in Ahmednagar and Pune districts. It was released by AIKS state vice president Dada Raipure.
The conference was greeted by fraternal leaders D L Karad (CITU), Baliram Bhumbe (AIAWU), Prachi Hatiwlekar (AIDWA), Sudam Thakare (DYFI) and Rohidas Jadhav (SFI).
The state conference decided that on the burning issue of compensation for the widespread destruction of crops due to unseasonal rains, other major national issues decided by the SKM, and local issues of peasants, large sit-in satyagrahas will be launched in several district and tehsil centres of the state for three days from 23 to 25 November. The culmination of these will take place on November 26, the second anniversary of the beginning of the historic Delhi farmers struggle and the All India working class strike, with massive statewide rallies of thousands in several centres of the state. It was also decided to make full preparations for the CITU-AIKS-AIAWU joint Delhi Rally to Parliament on April 5, 2023.
The organisational decisions included completing this year’s membership before December 31; completing the remaining conferences at all levels immediately; and getting maximum advertisements for the special issue of the AIKS state journal, ‘Kisan Sangharsh’.
On November 2, after the reply to the discussion by Ajit Nawale, in which he placed the above programmes of struggle and also of organisational consolidation and expansion, the report and Accounts since the last state conference were adopted unanimously. Umesh Deshmukh placed the various resolutions on burning issues. Kailas Balsane placed the credentials report.
In an enthusiastic programme, the newly elected sarpanches and gram panchayat members from Nashik, Thane-Palghar, Ahmednagar, Nandurbar and Pune districts, many of whom were women, were warmly felicitated by the leadership.
The conference unanimously elected a new 71-member state council, which in turn unanimously elected its office-bearers, with Umesh Deshmukh as the new state president, Ajit Nawale as state general secretary, and Sanjay Thakur as the new state treasurer. All three are in their mid-forties or early fifties, all of them have SFI backgrounds, and two of them are former SFI state secretaries. 35 delegates and two observers to the all India conference were also elected. There were brief speeches by Kisan Gujar, Umesh Deshmukh and Ajit Nawale.
The conference was then addressed by state vice presidents J P Gavit, ex-MLA, and Uday Narkar. The concluding speech was delivered by P Krishnaprasad.
AIKS state vice president Sunil Malusare proposed the vote of thanks, and the leadership felicitated all the volunteers. The reception committee had done a superb job in all respects.
Progressive literature worth over Rs 33,000 was sold in the state conference, apart from similar literature worth over Rs 32,000 that was sold in all the district conferences.
The Akole state conference ended with great resolve and determination to carry out its main political task of isolating and defeating the BJP-RSS, and greatly strengthening the AIKS.