December 10, 2023

Maha: Peasants and Workers Hit the Streets in SKM-CTUs November Struggle

Kisan Gujar

OVER 65,000 peasants and workers in 25 districts of Maharashtra hit the streets from November 26-28, 2023, as part of the all India struggle call given by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) and the Central Trade Unions (CTUs). The actions included mahapadavs, rallies, marches, dharnas and demonstrations at numerous district and tehsil centres in the state.


A successful joint meeting of the Maharashtra chapters of the SKM and the CTUs was held at the S M Joshi Socialist Foundation at Pune on October 15. It was attended by over 100 leaders of different trade unions and peasant organisations. The SKM in Maharashtra had been formed in an impressive 1,000-strong state convention at the Yashwantrao Chavan Centre in Mumbai the previous month on September 5, 2023. The Workers and Employees Joint Action Committee, which is the Maharashtra chapter of the CTUs, has been consistently active in Maharashtra for the last several decades.
The October 15 Pune meeting was the first joint meeting of the trade unions and the peasant organisations in Maharashtra. It unanimously and enthusiastically called for a united worker-peasant March from the historic Shivaji Park Maidan to Mantralaya (secretariat) in Mumbai. The total mobilisation quotas of all organizations taken in the meeting exceeded 50,000.

However, the BJP-led Shinde-Fadnavis-Ajit Pawar state government and its Mumbai police point blank refused permission to the worker-peasant March, despite repeated demands. That would make it very difficult for the thousands of peasants and workers who would come to Mumbai from all the districts. Hence the SKM and CTUs in a joint online meeting decided instead to mobilise in strength in each district to teach the state government a lesson.

As per the detailed district-wise information gathered from across Maharashtra, the total state-wide joint mobilisation on all the three days was over 65,000. Of this the mobilisation of various organisations was as follows: AIKS – 21,220, CITU – 19,575, Lok Sangharsh Morcha – 9,250, Sarvahara Jan Andolan – 3,200, AIDWA-DYFI-SFI – 2,500, NAPM – 2,450, Kashtakari Sanghatana – 2,000, NTUI – 1,700, AIAWU – 1,053, CPI-led Kisan Sabha – 1,000, HMS – 700, Shramik Shetkari Sanghatana – 655, AITUC – 500, Satyashodhak Shetkari Sabha and Satyashodhak Sangharsh Samiti – 500, AICCTU – 150, Total – 66,453.

The largest AIKS mobilisation was in: Thane-Palghar – 12,600, Nashik – 5,000, Ahmednagar – 1,300, Satara – 1,000, Nandurbar - 300; the largest CITU mobilisation was in: Solapur – 10,500, Satara – 3,000, Nashik – 2,600, Jalna – 800, Mumbai – 700; the largest AIAWU mobilisation was in: Jalna – 504, Nandurbar – 400, Parbhani – 100.

The ten districts with the largest total mobilisation were: Thane-Palghar – 16,200, Solapur – 10,580, Nashik – 7,600, Jalgaon – 5,607, Mumbai – 5,000, Nandurbar – 4,550, Satara – 4,000, Raigad – 3,450, Ahmednagar – 3,015.


At Akole in Ahmednagar district, AIKS state general secretary Ajit Nawale and other associates went on an indefinite hunger strike on the issue of remunerative price for milk. The state government had announced that dairy farmers would get Rs 34 per litre for their milk. But the milk industry refused to implement the government’s decision. The hunger strike continued for six days. There were state-wide demonstrations by dairy farmers. AIKS president Ashok Dhawale personally intervened with NCP President Sharad Pawar and state dairy development minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil. After certain assurances, the hunger strike was withdrawn, but the struggle for remunerative price for milk still continues. A 1,600-strong rally was held by the AIKS on the last day at Akole, and another 1,000-strong one later at Sangamner. Similarly, other organisations also mobilised elsewhere in the district.
In Thane-Palghar districts, which mobilised a total of 16,200 people - 12,600 by AIKS, 2,000 by Kashtakari Sanghatana, and 1,600 by others - large mahapadavs of 2,500 to 4,000 people each were held in the tehsils of Dahanu, Vikramgad and Wada, and rallies of 1,000 to 2,000 each were held in the tehsils of Talasari, Shahapur, and Palghar. Demonstrations were held at Kalyan and Jawhar. In the largest mahapadav at Dahanu which continued for four days, the SDO and her office was gheraoed until she accepted all the main local demands. Similarly, many local demands had to be conceded in the other tehsils as well.

In Solapur, an 8,500-strong working class rally was held by the CITU on the district collectorate, and another 2,000-strong rally of scheme workers led by the CITU was held the next day, making it a total mobilisation of 10,500. In Nashik, the AIKS and CITU led a 7,600-strong rally on the district collectorate. In Mumbai, a joint 5,000-strong dharna by trade unions was held at the Azad Maidan.

ASHA workers and facilitators in Maharashtra conducted an indefinite state-wide strike which lasted for 23 days up to November 9. This led to the state government agreeing to a substantial rise in remuneration ranging from Rs 7,000 for ASHA workers to Rs 10,000 for facilitators. This, however, is yet to be implemented. But Diwali ex-gratia payment of Rs 2,000 each was immediately given to the ASHA workers. Inspired by this, Anganwadi workers in the state have now begun an indefinite strike from December 4. In this whole background, the participation of scheme workers in the November struggle in many districts was substantial.