Thursday, November 14, 2013
9TH STATE CONFERENCE OF TRIPURA KHET MAZOOR UNION (AN AFFILIATE OF AIAWU) HELD FROM 26TH TO 28TH OCTOBER IN BELONIA, THE DISTRICT HEADQUARTER OF SOUTH TRIPURA.
Intensify Struggle against Neo-liberal Onslaught on Agriculture
THE crisis facing the agricultural workers is a direct fall out of the neo-liberal economic policies being pursued by the ruling classes. The neo-liberal onslaught on agriculture and the overall agrarian crisis have resulted in increase in the number of agricultural labourers on the one hand and worsening of their living conditions on the other. Hence for their survival the rural proletariat must intensify struggles against the neo-liberal policies and strive for alternative policies.
This was in brief the message emerging out from the 9th state conference of Tripura Khet Mazoor Union (an affiliate of AIAWU) held from 26th to 28th October in Belonia, the district headquarter of South Tripura.
The conference got underway with the ceremonial hoisting of the union’s flag by its president Bhanulal Saha in presence of AIAWU general secretary A Vijayraghavan and CPI(M) Tripura state committee secretary Bijan Dhar. The conference flag was brought from the martyrs’ ground of Birchandra Manu, where 13 comrades were brutally murdered by the Congress goons on 12th October, 1988 during the Congress-TUJS jungle rule. The conference venue of Town hall was rechristened as Comrade Brajamohan Jamatia Nagar, one of the witnesses of that ghastly massacre and a valiant fighter in the glorious land struggles waged by CPI(M) and GMP in the undivided Belonia subdivision during 1960s. The conference hall was named after comrades Badal Sarkar and Abani Dutta, both state council members of the union who have died in the aftermath of the 8th state conference.
The entire town of Belonia wore a red look to celebrate the conference. This is the sub division where maximum numbers of political murders took place during the 1988-92 period. 7 martyrs’ corners were built at different places of the town. Replicas of the permanent martyr statues of the Birchandra Manu, Nalua, Debdaru, Jolaibari and other martyrs’ grounds were placed in those corners.
CPI(M) state secretary, Bijan Dhar, inaugurating the delegate session of the conference said that during the period of semi-fascist terror of Congress-TUJS era the attacks were fiercest in the areas where the agricultural workers are organised and it is these agricultural workers who have remained in the forefront of the struggle of establishing and safeguarding the Left Front governments in the state. He reminded that in the long and arduous struggle of social transformation in India, the agricultural workers representing the rural proletariat are the closest ally of the working class. So TKMU has to be more active for further organising the agricultural workers and at the same time strive for achieving a broader class unity of the poor and toiling masses in the villages, drawing in the fold the poor and marginal peasants, artisans, unorganised workers, plantation workers.
Bijan Dhar said, the agrarian crisis in the country is due to the neo-liberal policies being pursued by the UPA government. This crisis is adversely affecting the agricultural workers as well since with farming becoming unviable the days of work in the farm sector is also sharply declining. The promises of land reforms have been betrayed. On the contrary, thousands of hectares of farmland are being handed over to corporates, evicting the real farmers. Subsidies on agricultural inputs are dwindling, prices of essential commodities are skyrocketing, corruption has broken all records, industrial production is falling and economy as a whole is in severe crisis. The solution to these problems lies in a total change in the policy trajectory for which a prolonged and unified struggle is called for.
The solution to this crisis lies in implementing an alternative set of policies, as shown by the Left Front government in Tripura. Today, Tripura tops the country in literacy, MNREGA implementation, FRA implementation and in a number of social security schemes. That is why its per capita income is rising, state GDP is increasing while the country’s growth rate is on the decrease. For strengthening this alternative approach, new friends are to be won over, unity of the masses has to be further cemented and a strict class outlook has to be maintained so that the fruits of development reach the most deserving poor people, irrespective of political affiliation. That will help attract more and more people in our fold for a class unity of the poor which is essential in this struggle for alternative policies, he said.
After the inaugural speech, TKMU state secretary Babul Bhadra placed the draft report of the state working committee for discussion in the delegate session. In the same evening, the conference adopted some resolutions including one demanding 250 days of work and 300 rupees as wage in NREGS.
Greeting the conference on the second day AIAWU general secretary A Vijayraghavan said, after 20 years of pursuit of neo-liberal policies, we are again back to the pitiable condition we were at the outset of this policy regime. Moreover, what little rights and advancements were achieved prior to liberalisation, are also being taken away from the toiling masses. He charged the UPA government of total apathy to the miseries of aam admi. It announces 16 flagship programs, but spends only 30 per cent of the required amount. In NREGS, only 37 workdays could be generated nationally because of paucity of funds. The government shows GDP figures to prove that the country is moving forward. But the fruits of increase in GDP remain confined to the handful corporate houses. BJP or the other regional parties are also determining their policies in favor of the corporates.
So, to change these ruinous policies we have only one way, that is of struggle and only one weapon that is organisation, said Vijayaraghavan. Describing the experiences in AP, Tamilnadu, Karnataka and UP, he said that wherever we could organise movements, our union has emerged stronger. In Tripura too we need to further intensify our struggles on the demands relating to NREGA.
A total of 41 delegates took part in the discussion on the report of the secretary for almost 5 hours. They stressed on strengthening the organisation, intensification of movement against neo-liberal economic policies, impediments created by the new directives of MNREGA, problems faced by workers in getting payment due to BC model of banking and the menace of chit funds and micro finance groups. The delegates hailed the decision of the Left Front government to provide homestead land and housing to all landless and homeless families within 5 years and demanded that the proposed amendments to the Tripura Land Revenue and Land Reforms Act 1960 be passed expeditiously so that ceiling surplus land could be recovered and allotted to the landless agricultural laborers. They noted that despite its limitations the Left Front government. is trying to shield the poor from the onslaught of neo-liberal policies. They stressed on involving more and more women in the struggle, elevating them to leadership, local movements and struggles based on local demands. The delegates warned against the divisive slogans of bifurcation of the state and vowed to strengthen people’s unity.
Addressing the delegates, peasant leader and state finance minister Badal Chowdhury said that Congress stands no chance of getting back to power in 2014 due to its anti-people policies. Neither BJP, which follows the same economic policies, can be an alternative. Further, its projecting Modi as PM candidate is a signal of their putting fundamentalist agenda to the fore. As such the country needs an alternative government which could only be formed on the basis of an alternative set of policies. Tripura has shown what that alternative could be. This alternative has to be highlighted before the people of our country.
AIKS state secretary Narayan Kar too addressed the conference. He said undoubtedly today TKMU is a strong organisation in rural Tripura. But the strength cannot be measured by just the number of its members. The yardstick of strength should be the extent of consciousness of the members, the actual number who could be mobilised in movements and their ability to acknowledge what lies behind their miseries and who are responsible for them. The union must strive hard for this purpose. The khet mazdoors, including the poorer sections in the villages, have played a key role in the formation of the seventh Left Front government. So their expectation from the government is not unjust. But at the same time it should also be borne in mind that this government is not a revolutionary government. It has to work within the State structure of the bourgeois-landlord State system which is intrinsically opposed to the interest of the poor. As the severity of the agrarian crisis increases, the agricultural workers cannot escape its onslaught. They can overcome the miseries of their life by waging a united struggle against the policies of the centre, which are at the root of this crisis, said Kar.
The conference unanimously accepted the report of the secretary. It also elected a new state council consisting 81 members. The state council elected a 26 member working committee and 9 office bearers. Among the 9, Bhanulal Saha and Babul Bhadra were re-elected as the president and secretary of the state council. The conference adopted a 10-point charter of demands for next movements.
The conference concluded with an impressive mass meeting at BKI school ground, Belonia. The meeting was presided by Bhanulal Saha. Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar was present as the chief orator. A Vijayaraghavan, Badal Chowdhury and Babul Bhadra too addressed the mass meeting. Manik Sarkar said that all over the country the agricultural workers are reeling under severe crisis. The central government is apathetic towards their problems. He said people of India will not forget this UPA government for its record in corruption. It has reached the peak of Mount Everest in corruption. The ship of UPA is sinking. The captains of the ship Dr Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi are helpless as their partners are deserting one by one. Even the BJP is losing allies. The secular minded people of India will not accept Modi as prime minister. The Vikash Purush (Modi) is in reality Vinash Purush to the majority of Indians, he said.
In such a situation, Manik Sarkar felt the chances for the formation of an alternative platform to form the next government at centre are present. Such a platform can emerge even in the post-poll scenario. There is dissatisfaction among the regional parties about the Congress for depriving the states. If these forces can join hands with the Left, democratic and other secular forces, such an alternative platform can be formed. But that platform can emerge only through movements for the people’s causes and demands against price rise, corruption and communalism. For this to happen, a unified movement of the people is necessary. We in Tripura too have to give momentum to these struggles to enthuse and encourage the movement all over India.
A Vijayraghavan in his speech lambasted the UPA-II government. He said we have a government at centre which has given nothing but price rise and corruption for the poor. “They have no money for our food security or social security. Their only aim is to give social security to Ambani brothers, because after the demise of Dhirubhai Ambani, they are the only two orphans that the government knows of”, he said. Referring to the campaign to make people choose between Rahul and Modi, he said both will be equally disastrous for the nation. As such we need a government like Tripura which will think and act for the poor. We must strengthen our movement for changing the present policies and for alternative policies.