September 03, 2023
AIDWA Convention Calls for National Rally in October

Mariam Dhawale

THE “BJP-RSS Hatao, Mahila Bachao, DeshBachao” National Convention organised by the All India Democratic Women’s Association was held at the Surjeet Bhavan, New Delhi on August 17, 2023. Over 600 women and AIDWA leaders from Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tripura, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Kashmir, and Kerala attended this convention.

The convention gave a clarion call for mobilising over 10,000 women for an AIDWA-led “BJP-RSS Hatao, Mahila Bachao, DeshBachao” national rally in Delhi on October 5, 2023.


The convention began with revolutionary songs by the Bangla Sanskritik Manch. AIDWA general secretary, Mariam Dhawale welcomed the guests and participants. AIDWA president P K Sreemathi presided over the convention.

The convention was inaugurated by AIDWA Patron Brinda Karat. In her speech she outlined the importance of the struggle against the BJP-RSS government. She said that BJP, a political wing of the RSS, has proclaimed its goal for a Hindutva Rashtra which is totally against the Constitution of India. There are many verses in the Manusmriti, their ideology which demean women, dalits and other backward castes and praise the unjust caste system. The BJP-RSS is using religion to promote hatred and destroy the secular fabric of India. This divisive policy of the double engine sarkar has led to the most horrible situation in Manipur. In Manipur women’s bodies are being used as sites for horrific sexual atrocities. The victims of sexual assault are in deep despair as they have not got justice because of the partisanship of the BJP chief minister. AIDWA demands the sacking of CM Biren Singh as the first step towards finding a political solution. The burning of Manipur clearly shows the dangers of Hindutva ideology, narrow politics of identity and majoritarianism, she said. Bilkis Bano’s gang rapists and killers were released by the BJP Gujarat government on Independence Day in 2022. The BJP Uttar Pradesh state government supported the gang rapists of a young Dalit woman in Hathras as they belonged to the same upper caste as the CM.

Brinda Karat underlined that the pro-corporate polices of the BJP government have worsened the situation of women. Unemployment is high, women’s work participation has declined to an all-time low and anganwadi, mid-day meal, ASHA workers are denied their rightful salaries. SHGs are starved of funds and are forced to rely on the MFIs who charge very high rates of interest. Price rise and cuts in the allocation for food by more than Rs 90,000 crore has led to increasing hunger and malnutrition. The subsidy of the cooking gas cylinder has been removed and it costs Rs 1200 now. Petrol and diesel have crossed record levels, she noted.

She appealed to the participants to help in strengthening progressive forces like the LDF government in Kerala which has taken many pro-women alternative policies, and to unite women and work relentlessly to throw this BJP-RSS government out of power.



The convention was divided into different sessions in which the victims of the BJP-RSS regime narrated their heart-rending testimonies.

Food Security

Asha Sharma, AIDWA joint secretary, conducted this session. Central government support for PDS has come down by more than 40 per cent. Food inflation is 7 per cent and LPG prices have gone up by more than 140 per cent since 2014. The government started giving 5 kg free grains during the pandemic. But it has stopped the distribution of subsidised grains under the PDS system. More than 4 crore ration cards have been cancelled between 2013 and 2021. The testimony of Shabnam Bano from Rajasthan explained how women are getting excluded because of the weakening of the ration system as a result of the central government’s policy.

Attacks on MGNREGA

Kaninika Ghosh, AIDWA joint secretary, conducted this session. The central government has decided to kill MGNREGA with drastic cuts in the budgetary allocation for the scheme. The centre owes 18 states more than Rs 6000 crore for pending wages, and 30 states another Rs 6000 crores as material costs. Women are not getting work; they do not get wages on time and the online attendance system works to their disadvantage. The testimony of Papia Bibi from West Bengal explained how women are affected by the disruption of MGNREGA.

Sushila from Karnataka placed a brief report of the tremendous struggles that AIDWA organised forcing the authorities to start MGNREGA work in Mandya district. 

Targeting Minorities

Subhashini Ali, AIDWA vice president, conducted this session. Women have been the greatest victims of communal targeting of minorities, especially Muslims. Recent examples of this are Gurugram and Manipur. Targeting and lynching of minorities in the name of cow slaughter have left their families fighting for justice. Women and youth are also targeted through the Sangh Parivar campaign of love jihad. The testimonies of Safia from Mustafabad and Savera from Jahangirpuri in New Delhi showed the devastating impact of communal targeting on women. A victim from Nuh, Haryana mentioned how the mayhem caused in Nuh has created fear and panic among the minority community. The rioters broke open the locked houses and looted properties. Men were killed. The police are forcibly detaining the men in these areas, she said.

Atrocities on Adivasi Women

Archana Prasad, AIDWA joint secretary, conducted this session. Persistent agrarian and economic distress are leading to growing atrocities against tribal women. Cases of forced labour and human trafficking have increased. The testimony of a bonded labourer from Chengalpattu in Tamil Nadu illustrates the ways in which powerful people misuse the law to oppress women, and subject them to sexual abuse.

Impact of Microfinance Institutions

Tapasi Praharaj, AIDWA joint secretary, conducted this session. Privatisation of the banking sector and the deregulation of micro-finance has had a devastating impact on women. Women are forced into taking high interest loans from MFIs, whose malpractices are going unpunished. Many of the central government schemes that require the formation of SHGs have been penetrated by private finance banks and micro-finance companies. The testimony from Odisha brought out the extreme loot of the MFIs.

Atrocities on Dalits

Savita, AIDWA joint secretary, conducted this session. The dalit community is under continuous attack by the regressive forces. Crimes against the SC community are not getting registered after the dilution of the SC-ST Anti-Atrocities act. The testimonies from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, brought out the pain that the dalit community has had to suffer.

Women in Kashmir

P K Sreemathi, AIDWA president, conducted this session. The abrogation of article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir and the continuous attacks on the lives and livelihood of the people has intensified the misery of women. The testimony from Kashmir clearly showed the severe difficulties that women in Kashmir are facing.

Struggle for House Sites 

Jahanara Khan, AIDWA vice president, conducted this session. Housing for migrant labour is a very critical issue. Homelessness puts women in extremely insecure situations and makes them vulnerable to sexual assaults and violence. 

Domestic Violence and Dowry Death

Rampari, AIDWA vice president, conducted this session. The aggressive promotion of conservative values by the BJP-RSS has resulted in rising violence against women. There are no attempts to strengthen the infrastructure to implement the Domestic Violence Act. The two testimonies from Madhya Pradesh underscored how the law enforcement agencies have turned a blind eye to dowry death and domestic violence.

Impact of National Education Policy, 2020

C S Sujatha, AIDWA joint secretary, conducted this session. The National Education Policy, 2020 (NEP) is having an adverse impact on the educational rights of girl students from socially and economically weaker sections. Recent mergers and closures of schools, the four-year graduation programme and the cutbacks on scholarships are impacting girls adversely. Kajal Kumari’s testimony from Delhi gave some insights into the immediate impact of the policy.

Honour Crimes

Kirti Singh, AIDWA vice president, conducted this session. Young couples who have inter-faith self-choice marriages are hounded by gangs of the ‘Bajrang Dal’ and hoodlums of the self-appointed moral police with the law enforcement agencies turning a blind eye to this harassment. This silent support to these gangs leads to murder of these young couples in many cases. AIDWA has been campaigning for a law against honour crimes.  The testimonies from Uttar Pradesh highlighted extremely frightening situation in the state for young couples who opt for self-choice inter-faith marriages.

Struggles for Right to Land and Rehabilitation

S Punyavathi, AIDWA treasurer, conducted this session. The changes in the Forest Conservation (Amendment) Act, Mines and Mineral (Amendment) Act, Environmental Impact Assessment Rules have led to a wave of land grabs due to the privatisation of common lands, non-implementation of the Forest Rights Act, and rising cost of production in agriculture. Women have to bear the brunt of land evictions and displacement. They have been providing crucial leadership and support to ongoing land struggles. The testimony from NOIDA, Delhi showed the intensity with which women participate in land struggles.

Rape and Increasing Violence against Women

Kaninika Ghosh, AIDWA joint secretary, conducted this session. According to the NCRB, there were 86 daily cases of atrocities and 49 hourly cases of rape against women in 2021. This increasing rate of violence is propelled by the political protection accorded to the accused, many of whom have close proximity to BJP-RSS leaders. This testimony from Tripura provided an example of the increasing crimes against women under the BJP-RSS regime.

Impact of Drug Abuse on Women

Jagmati Sangwan, AIDWA vice president, conducted this session. Many young boys and girls are succumbing to drugs and getting trapped in drug networks. They face increasing violence and sexual assaults. Households with drug addicts are also facing numerous problems and the government has no coordinated strategy to deal with this problem. There is a strong nexus between the ruling class and the drug mafia. The testimony from Punjab highlighted the impact of this on women and their families. Drugs are smuggled into the region by drug mafias who use drones to drop drugs across the border in the night. They are then picked up by a network of peddlers who are employed by big narcotic dealers.


Placing the declaration of the convention, AIDWA general secretary Mariam Dhawale said that the testimonies are actually experiences of crores of women across the country. Basic human rights required for a decent life have been severely affected by the neo-liberal policies of the BJP-RSS government. Democratic and secular values are endangered. The Modi regime is overtly and covertly encouraging the Sangh Parivar outfits to attack minorities, dalits, adivasis and women. Women have to bear the brunt of this increasingly violent atmosphere. She called for building resistance to all these assaults and making the October 5 national rally a huge success.

AIDWA president P K Sreemathi, in her concluding speech, called upon the states to mobilise the maximum number of women for the October 5 national AIDWA rally in Delhi.  She also called for village/basti level jathas and padayatras in thousands of places in September. She appealed to women from all secular, democratic and progressive organisations to join this rally.   

The convention ended with resounding slogans and the enthusiastic singing of ‘We Shall Overcome”.