The first State conference of CPI(ML) in Uttarakhand was held at Haldwani on 13-14 May. The Conference site was named in memory of late party leader Comrade Dipak Bose who had initiated the work of building the CPI(ML) as an organised party in Uttarakhand. The Conference venue was decorated with red flags and portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Mao, as well as Charu Mazumdar, Vinod Mishra, and Nagbhushan Patnaik, and leaders of the communist movement and freedom struggle Comrades Chandra Singh Garhwali and Nagendra Saklani, as well as departed leaders of the CPI(ML) in Uttarakhand including Comrades Dipak Bose, Hayat Singh Hazara, KR Kapoor, Gopal singh Karki, Kala Bhandari, Yogesh Pandey, and Vasudha Sharma. The Conference began with hoisting of the party flag by veteran leader Comrade Bahadur Singh Jangi.
On the first day, an open session was held with a seminar on the ‘Challenges of building a Corruption- and Mafia-Free Uttarakhand, and the Left’. Addressing the seminar, Comrade Dipankar said that corruption and corporate loot marked all three new states that were formed in 2000 – Uttarakhand, as well as Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. People were being displaced and environment devastated, and people’s struggles were facing repression. Referring to Hillary Clinton’s recent visit, he said that imperialist forces were attempting to meddle in India’s economic and foreign policy as well as its internal politics and affairs. He spoke of the need to build a Left resistance to the plunder of resources and imperialist policies.
At the seminar, CPI(M) State Secretary Vijay Rawat extended good wishes for the success of the Conference and called for united struggle by Left parties against the loot in the name of development.
The party’s State In-Charge Comrade Raja Bahuguna said that it was CPI(ML) which had, during the Uttarakhand statehood struggle, given the slogan for a mafia-free and arrack-free Uttarakhand. Even before the State came into being, the CPI(ML) had stressed the need to set a people’s agenda for the new State.
The open session was presided over by CC Member Comrade Rajendra Pratholi, and conducted by State President of the All India Kisan Mahasabha, Purushottam Sharma.
In-charge of the Uttarakhand Leading Team, Comrade Raja Bahuguna, presented a detailed document on the political situation in the country and in Uttarakhand. The document summarised the party’s three decades-long journey in Uttarakhand including several landmark struggles, such as the land struggle in Bindukhatta; struggles on the land ceiling issue in the Terai; land struggles in the hill areas; the struggle of Leesa workers in Almora district (Leesa is a product of the cheed tree from which terpene oil is extracted); the struggle of Mehtosh Mod against the exploitation of Bengali women in Terai; the people’s struggle to protect agricultural land in Gauchar (Chamoli district) from forcible grab for an airstrip project; struggles of Century Pulp and Paper Mill workers and several student-youth movements. The document also summarised the party’s initiatives after state-formation, and an assessment of its work and organisation. The report was adopted by the house after being discussed and debated enthusiastically by the delegates.
Party GS Comrade Dipankar, addressing the Conference, warmly congratulated the comrades for holding their first State Conference, saying that the party’s long-standing work in a hill state like Uttarakhand had added a valuable chapter to the all-India party’s experiences. The party had been active at the time of the movement for separate statehood. After formation of the new state, big capital and mega projects are making inroads into the state, bringing mega loot in their wake. We must champion the struggles to resist the loot of water, forests, and land, and organise workers, peasants, and women in mass movements. He stressed the need to give a strong organisational shape to the party’s mass struggles in Uttarakhand, and said that the party would gain strength from forging closest possible unity with the masses. He said that because of the CPI(M)’s misplaced political priorities and sectarian conduct mutual political cooperation and united action remains a most difficult proposition in most states and also on the national level, but it is a welcome sign that states like Uttarakhand are witnessing a degree of joint action of the Left on issues that are vital for the people.
Under supervision of Central observer, CCM Com. Dhirendra Jha, a 13-member State Committee was unanimously elected by the house, which in turn unanimously elected Comrade Rajendra Pratholi as State Secretary. The rest of the State Committee comprises Comrades Raja Bahuguna, Purushottam Sharma, Bahadur Singh Jangi, Nishan Singh, Indresh Maikhuri, KK Bora, Kailash Pandey, Jagat Martoliya, Anand Singh, Man Singh Pal, Malti Haldar, and Surendra Brijwal.
Addressing the Conference, State Secretary Comrade Rajendra Pratholi said that the newly elected committee would strive to implement the directive adopted by the Conference, and to build a strong revolutionary party in Uttarakhand.
Central observer Comrade Dhirendra Jha said that there is a strong team of leading comrades in Uttarakhand, who will certainly take on the challenge of ensuring continuity of workers’ and peasants’ struggles and building the party on firm foundations.
The Conference passed several political resolutions including a demand of CBI enquiry into the 121 scams which took place in the past decade of BJP-Congress rule; condemning CM Vijay Bahuguna’s support for NCTC, SEZs and anti-people hydroelectric projects and his move to hold a Cabinet meeting at Gairsain without declaring it as the permanent State Capital; withdrawal of all false cases against CPI(ML) activists and other people’s movement activists since state formation; and demanding punishment for those responsible for the brutal police assault on AIKM leader Comrade Rajaram Singh.