Mansa: A Brief introduction

The district of Mansa was carved out of the erstwhile Bathinda district in 1992. It still remains a part of the Bathinda Lok Sabha constituency. Situated on the south-western end of the Punjab, Mansa district shares its boundaries with Bathinda, Barnala and Sangrur districts of Punjab and Sirsa and Fatehabad districts of Haryana. A small seasonal river Ghaggar flows through the southern part of the district. Mansa is divided into three Tehsils viz. Mansa, Budhlada and Sardulgarh, (which are also the three assembly segments of the district) and 5 blocks. According to the 2011 census the total population of Mansa was around 7,68,808 out of which Mansa town accounts for 82,956. The total geographical area of the district is around 2174 km2.

Agriculture in Mansa used to be completely rain-dependent. Economic development began with the construction of the Delhi-Bathinda-Ferozpur-Lahore rail line and the Sirhind Canal system in the early 20th century. From a small rural railway station, Mansa gradually developed into a grain market and an emerging town in the region.

Cotton and wheat are the two major crops of the area. But the cultivation of paddy has been on the rise during the last 25 years, and with it the falling water table in the region has become a major concern among the masses. As for industries, the district now has only rice mills and a single private sector (Vedanta) Thermal Power Plant. Around 1980 the region had two major cooperative sector units - a cotton spinning mill at Mansa and a sugar mill at Budhlada. In the wake of the new economic policies, both were declared ‘sick’ around 1995 and were sold to the real estate mafia at throwaway prices. The garment sector which was on the rise during the last few years has been hit hard by the twin blows of demonetisation and GST.

Politically, the region has been a communist bastion for decades. Before independence the area was a part of the erstwhile princely state of Patiala, due to which the people experienced utmost exploitation and feudal oppression. The tenancy system was widely in vogue. On 16-17 July 1928 a large conference was held at Mansa under the leadership of Baba Kharak Singh against the repression and mischiefs of feudal lords. From the conference an organization was formed in the name of ‘Riyasati Praja Mandal’ (a branch of the ‘All India States Peoples Conference’ formed in December 1927 in Bombay), and it organized the masses against the atrocities of feudal lords in 18 erstwhile princely states including the states of Patiala, Jind, Malerkotla, Kalsian, Faridkot, Kapoorthala, Bahavalpur, Nalagarh etc.

Communist ideas and organisation struck deep roots amidst these anti-feudal struggles. Under the banner of the Kirti Communist Party (Workers communist Party) and later Lal Communist Party (Red Communist Party of Hind Union), tenant farmers waged a heroic battle, including a protracted armed guerilla people’s struggle against the tenancy and feudal system. The struggle attained a remarkable victory on 29 May 1952 when feudal lords unconditionally surrendered their land ownership in favour of tenant farmers without any compensation at a massive conference held in Mansa under the chairmanship of Comrade Jagir Singh Joga.

This was a landmark victory which ensured land ownership rights for thousands of tenant farmers across 784 villages of the region. Mansa was the centre of action during the struggle and the communists were the heroes of the masses. Consequently, communist candidates won several elections in the region and the area remained a communist stronghold for a long time.

In the late 1960s, Mansa was the first region of Punjab to respond to the call of the great Naxalbari peasant revolt. In 1968, the first land seizure action was executed in Samaon village under the leadership of Comrade Hakim Singh. In the first phase of Naxalbari Struggle (1968-1971) Punjab lost around 80 revolutionaries out of which 17 belonged to the Mansa-Bathinda region. Since then revolutionary communist activism has continued more or less uninterruptedly in the region among students, youth, workers and peasants.

In the 1980s, CPI(ML) Liberation initiated its activities in the region through Indian People’s Front (IPF). In the face of the rising Khalistan movement, the Party spread its political influence by raising the legitimate demands of Punjab and insisting on democratic resolution of the Punjab question rejecting both Khalistani as well as state terrorism. In 1992 assembly elections, a party candidate won a seat on IPF ticket in the district. The Party has been resolutely leading various struggles for Dalits, rural workers and women, on issues revolving around social justice and self-respect as well as basic rights like residential plots for rural workers.

The Party has also stood by the crisis-ridden peasantry, boldly resisting every attempt to confiscate peasant property in the name of debt recovery. Alongside the popular 'Karza Mukti Andolan' (Freedom from Debt Movement), the Party is now also building a ‘Rozgar Guarantee Andolan’ (employment guarantee movement) for the youth. In the wake of the invasion of FDI in retail sector and various government policies adversely affecting retailers, shopkeepers and small traders, the Party is also taking various initiatives to organise the small traders. It is the Party's constant presence and work among the masses for the last three decades that has enabled it to shoulder the responsibility of organizing the 10th Party Congress at Mansa.


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