Statue and Murals of Gangadhar Appa Burande Unveiled
“THE ruling BJP is dismantling the constitution by methodically attacking the foundational principles of democracy, secularism, sovereignty and federalism enshrined in it,” said Sitaram Yechury, general secretary of the CPI(M). The reigns of the country have gone into the hands of anti-people political forces who are bent on calling anti-national those who oppose the anti-people policies of the BJP. The central agencies like ED, CBI are being misused in order to browbeat the opposition leaders, he pointed out.
“Maharashtra, embodying a proud legacy of the freedom struggle, the 1946 naval uprising against the British imperialists ably supported by the valiant working class, and a glorious democratic struggle for the formation of the linguistic state, has gone into the hands of an immoral and opportunistic coalition,” he charged. “The corporate-communal nexus represented by the BJP is devastating the economic foundation of the country, creating a ‘shining India’ for an obscenely rich minority and a ‘suffering India’ for the great majority. The ruling forces of the RSS/BJP are seeking to divide the toiling masses on the basis of religion, caste, ethnicity etc. However, people are rising all across the country and we are certain that in the forthcoming general elections in 2024 they will give a fitting blow to this nefarious force by responding to the slogan ‘Judega Bharat – Jeetega India.’
Sitaram Yechury was addressing a massive gathering of thousands of people at Moha village in Beed district on October 1, 2023. The occasion commemorated the 15th death anniversary of Gangadhar Appa Burande, a legendary CPI(M) and AIKS leader, freedom fighter, and former MP. Before the public meeting Sitaram Yechury unveiled a statue of Gangadhar Appa Burande and an elegant mural depicting prominent events from his life as well as some of his comrades. Appa, as he was fondly known to multitudes, hailed from Moha, a small village among the hillocks, an area suffering from endemic drought year after year. He was a prominent Left leader from Marathwada who was deeply immersed in the struggles of independence of the region from under the Nizam’s rule as well as of Goa’s struggle for freedom from the colonial Portuguese rule. He also took the lead in organising the Samyukta Maharashtra Movement. Since the region he hailed from was socially and economically backward, he founded in 1960 the Maharashtra Education Society, which runs several schools and hostels in the area. A state secretariat member of the CPI(M) and the state president of the AIKS, Appa was jailed during the emergency of 1975 and was elected to the Lok Sabha in the 1977 parliamentary general elections.
Yechury was welcomed and after unveiling the inspiring murals and the statue of Appa, he was taken in a procession to the huge pandal erected in the sprawling premises of the Maharashtra Vidyalaya for the public meeting. The meeting was presided over by D L Karad, CPI(M) state secretariat member and national vice president of CITU. Polit Bureau member and AIKS national president Ashok Dhawale and state secretary of the Party, Uday Narkar also addressed the public meeting. Ajay Burande, secretary of the Beed district of CPI(M) delivered the welcome speech and conducted the public meeting.
The meeting was preceded by a vibrant cultural programme of struggle songs and dances presented by the school children. The entire village was decorated with flowers and rangolis. A Marathwada Mukti Sangram Jatha begun on September 25 and covering many villages concluded on October 1. A photo exhibition on the Marathwada Liberation Struggle, Goa Freedom Struggle, Samyukta Maharashtra Movement, Renaming of Marathwada University after Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and the revolutionary life of Appa and his innumerable comrades was also organised on the occasion.
PUBLICATION OF HALLA BOL IN MARATHI
HALLA Bol: Safdar Hashmicha Mrutyu ani Jeewan, written by Sudhanva Deshpande, translated into Marathi and published by Janashakti Granth Prakashan, was released in an impressive function in Mumbai on October 4, 2023. This oft- translated book on the death and life of Safdar Hashmi, iconic martyred peoples' artist, has been translated into Marathi by novelist and theatre critic Shanta Gokhale. Many prominent personalities in the metropolis from the fields of theatre, film, art, literature and politics were present in large numbers.
The chief guests included internationally acclaimed documentary film director Anand Patwardhan, poet and painter Sanjeev Khandekar, theatre actor and director Sandesh Kulkarni, editor of Janashakti Granth Prakashan Pvt Ltd, Prof. Maya Pandit, translator Shanta Gokhale and author Sudhanva Deshpande. The guests were welcomed by Ashok Dhawale and Uday Narkar, directors of the Janashakti Granth Prakashan Pvt Ltd.
Vijay Patil, managing director of Janashakti welcomed the gathering and Prof. Maya Pandit recounted the valuable contribution made by Janashakti Prakashan since its founding in 2004. She explained how some very important books by B T Ranadive, Shiv Varma, Prabhakar Sanzgiri, Krishna Khopkar, Vithal More, Ashok Dhawale, Uday Narkar and others, including some volumes of poetry were published by the publication house in about two decades and its plans to publish six more books in the current year.
Sanjeev Khandekar, poet, writer and visual artist, narrated his response to the book by highlighting how Safdar was an artist who sought answers through his theatre to the problems the toiling masses were going through. Anand Patwardhan recounted how Safdar and he together participated, two years before his life was brutally cut short, in Bharat Gyan Vigyan Jatha. Anand explained Safdar’s signal contribution to not only street theatre but to painting, poetry, children’s literature also as a significant celebration of human creativity. “It was the struggle for emancipation that connected us to each other, which was the thread that runs through our respective work,” Patwardhan said.
Sudhanva Deshpande apprised the audience that this was eighth translation of the book and praised the translator for its excellent rendering into Marathi. However, his third person narration turned into an emotionally packed recollection of how he was the witness to that dastardly crime. He shared his agony of living with the unwritten book for over a quarter of a century before he could get the answer to the question for whom was he to pen it. As an answer to this question he narrated a revealing incident at Delhi’s Ramjas College. A programme in 2017 in which he, along with Umar Khalid, was to speak in the college was cancelled because the college was attacked the previous day by ABVP goons objecting to Umar Khalid’s participation. The students protested this dastardly attack in demonstrations. The demonstrating students also carried portraits of Safdar Hashmi in their hands. When he asked one of the girls about it, she replied, “We are carrying forward Safdar’s legacy” and proudly added, “He was an alumnus of this college, he was killed for performing a street play.” This supplied Sudhanva with the answer he was searching. This girl, who was born 10 years after Safdar’s death, was proudly proclaiming she was an heir to Safdar’s legacy. He now knew for whom to write! It was this youthful generation, fighting an ardent battle in an extremely hostile situation, who had inspired him to put his thoughts and emotions on paper, Sudhanva said.
The programme concluded with readings of some of the emotionally charged and stylistically brilliant passages from the book by actor-director Sandesh Kulkarni.
It was a cultural evening everyone present believed would stay with them for a long time to come.
AIKS Organises Interaction with Jeremy Corbyn in Mumbai
THE All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) organised an enlightening interaction with Jeremy Corbyn, MP and senior leader of the British Labour Party, while on his visit to Mumbai on the evening of October 20, 2023. Around 35 Left leaders and progressive intellectuals of Maharashtra attended the meeting. They included leaders from trade unions, bank unions, teachers unions, women's organisations, student organisation, journalists, progressive intellectuals, cultural activists, and leaders of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) in Maharashtra.
The meeting started with the introductory remarks by Varsha G N of the Progressive International (PI) where she described the work of the PI and Jeremy's leading role in the cause of peace and justice.
AIKS national president Ashok Dhawale introduced Jeremy Corbyn and his wife Laura Alvarez. He stressed Jeremy's Corbyn's firm anti-imperialist and socialist commitment for over half a century, which has made him a legendary figure. He has been elected to the British parliament constantly for the last 40 years since 1983. From 2015 to 2019 he was the leader of the Labour Party and also leader of the opposition in parliament. But he has also been a rebel with a cause, and has fearlessly defied the Labour Party leadership whenever it has taken wrong positions on domestic or international issues. He has always been a friend of India and strongly supported the historic farmers' struggle.
On behalf of all the Left parties that were present, Prakash Reddy of the CPI greeted Jeremy Corbyn with a bouquet, renowned filmmaker Anand Patwardhan greeted Laura Alvarez, and public intellectual Sanjeev Chandorkar greeted Varsha G N. CPI(M) state secretary Uday Narkar presented Jeremy with a Nehru jacket which he happily exhibited and wore right there. AIDWA national general secretary Mariam Dhawale presented Laura Alvarez with a shawl, and CITU state secretary Vivek Monteiro presented Jeremy and Laura with decorative plates. At the end, Ashok Dhawale presented Jeremy three books on farmers' struggles in India and Maharashtra.
Jeremy Corbyn spoke about the political issues in the UK, the working class struggle against the corporates and their government, the global rise of the right wing, the debate in the UK parliament supporting India’s farmers' movement, and so on. He condemned the decades-long brutality of Israel towards the Palestinian people and said that it was crystal clear that US imperialism was behind Israel, and also behind many other wars going on in the world. He briefed about the huge protest marches in the UK and in the world in support of Palestine and against Israel that were recently organised and the fact that he will be leaving tonight back to London where he will be participating in a massive protest march of more than 200,000 people to galvanise global support for the people of Palestine. He lauded the various Left movements in Latin America and Europe. He took pleasure in describing his memorable meetings with former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu.
Laura Alvarez, the founder of the Peace and Justice project along with Jeremy, spoke on the various progressive movements in Latin America. She spoke about her experiences in India and how it is getting difficult for the progressive and social movements to spearhead their pro-people work. She expressed her agony at the internet shutdowns and telecommunication blockades by the Government of India. She lauded the work that has been undertaken by the Left and progressive activists in India in spite of such a hostile situation.
The meeting was then thrown open for questions from the attendees. Ten of them posed questions to Jeremy to which he replied briefly and astutely, while appreciating the broad based nature of this gathering.
Ashok Dhawale summed up the evening with a call to bend all efforts to achieve a democratic political change in the general elections in both India and the UK next year. He also called for solidarity for the Palestinian people with large demonstrations across India. He ended his address with the inspiring poem of struggle called "Enemy of the Sun".
Varsha G N mentioned the work undertaken by PI globally especially for the working class, unionising Amazon workers etc, and the resistance of workers worldwide.
At the end, Uday Narkar proposed a vote of thanks to all those present and to the organising team who made the meeting a success despite short notice.