THE CPI(ML) held a Samajik Parivartan Yatra (March for Social Change) all over Bihar to strengthen the unity and continuity between Bihar’s long struggles for social transformation and the Una uprising in Gujarat, as well as the many progressive and revolutionary movements for social assertion of the poor, oppressed and women that India has witnessed.
The Yatra began on 5 September at district centres of Bhojpur, Patna, Siwan, Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Arwal, Jehanabad, Nalanda and others.
At Patna, the Yatra began at Bhagat Singh Chowk, led by Gopal Ravidas, Bihar Secretary of the All India Agricultural and Rural Workers’ Association, peasant leader Kripanarayan Singh, youth leader Sadhu Sharan Das and others. Party Polit Bureau member Comrade Amar flagged off the Yatra. In the hilly regions of Patna district, the Yatra travelled through Bairiya, Sampatchak, Fatepur, Gaurichak, and Beldarichak, holding village meetings along the way. The Yatra then passed through Dhanarua, Masaurhi, Sain, Paliganj, Bikram, Naubatpur, Bihta, Maner and other blocks, ending the journey on 13 September.
Tarari MLA Sudama Prasad flagged off the Bhojpur leg of the Yatra, with a team that included RYA State President Manoj Manzil, Raju Yadav, Ajit Kushwaha, and other student and youth activists. In Jehanabad, member of the Control Commission Ramjatan Sharma, peasant leader and party state committee member Ramadhar Singh among others addressed meetings.
The Samajik Parivartan Yatra received an enthusiastic response in Bhojpur, with street corner meetings and village meetings in many villages which have been centres of the party’s movement. Meetings were held in villages including Bagar, Nonadih, Sikarhata, Dev, Kapurdihra, Sedaha, Baldih, Hasanbazar, Piro, Agiaon, Sahar, Khaira, Andhari, Mopti Bazar, Khutha, Bihta, Tarari, Karath, Jethvar, Fatepur, Bihiya, Banahi, Shahpur, Sasaram, Gajrajganj, Dhamar, Bibiganj, Sarthua, Chakardah, and others. In these meetings, pledges were taken to fulfil the dreams of Bhagat Singh, Ambedkar, Comrade Ram Naresh Ram and the martyrs of the ML movement, for socio-economic transformation, and villages resolved to resist communal hate-mongering, and uphold women’s rights and freedoms in all matters.
On 15 September, the Yatra reached the historic Lasadhi Shaheed Mela where peasants and labourers were martyred resisting the British Raj.
Throughout the Yatra, the legacies of India’s and Bihar’s many battles for social transformation were including those led by the Phules, Periyar, Ambedkar, the Naxalbari movement which is in its 50th anniversary year, as well as ongoing movements today at Una.
ON 19 September, a massive Samajik Parivartan Sammelan was held in Sasaram. The Conference was addressed by AIARLA national President comrade Rameshwar Prasad, RYA Bihar state President comrade Manoj Manzil, well-known medical practitioner in Patna Dr. P.N.P. Pal, leader of the CPI(ML) legislative party in the Bihar Assembly comrade Mahbub Alam, AIKM national general secretary comrade Rajaram Singh, AIPWA national general secretary comrade Meena Tiwari, CPI(ML) CC member comrade Salim, and CPI(ML) general secretary comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya. The Conference was moderated by AIARLA national general secretary comrade Dhirendra Jha.
The speakers highlighted several issues, including the growing instances of social oppression and communal frenzy in Bihar which is ruled by a government which swears by ‘social justice’, the bail to Shahabuddin and the continuing incarceration of comrades Amarjeet Kushwaha and Satyadev Ram, the ongoing heroic Dalit struggle in Una, the continuing violence of cow vigilante groups in Haryana, Gujarat, Jharkhand and elsewhere, the recent communal violence in Bijnore, the continuing violence and state repression in Kashmir as well as the attack on an army base in Uri, and the victory of the United Left panel in JNU by defeating the ABVP-RSS agenda of #ShutDownJNU.
Addressing the open session, CPI(ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya said that the BJP and the RSS have launched a multi-pronged assault on people’s rights. National sovereignty is being compromised through increasingly close ties with the US, lynch mobs and state terror is being unleashed on Dalits and Muslims, farmers, peasants and workers are reeling under the impact of a disastrous economic policy of the Modi government. He also pointed out that the Naxalbari movement nearly 50 years back opened a path for Dalit liberation, and it is this path of Naxalbari that will lead to annihilation of caste and complete social transformation.
AIPWA general secretary Meena Tiwari spoke of the how the Nitish government, for all its tall claims of ensuring a ban on liquor in the state, has in fact for 10 years been responsible for creating and perpetuating alcoholism. Dr. Pal spoke of the urgent need for dialogue and unity between the Left movement and the Ambedkarite movement.
Jignesh Mevani, leader of the Una Dalit Atyachar Ladai Samiti, send a video message to the Samajik Parivartan Sammelan (see his message below).
The Samajik Parivartan Sammelan adopted several resolutions:
CPI(ML)’s 10th Bihar State conference began with the ‘Samajik Parivartan Sammelan’ (Conference on Social Transformation), which was the open session of the Bihar State conference.
The conference was held at the Multipurpose Hall in Sasaram, christened Bhaiyaram Yadav-Mitranand Singh Hall for the purpose of the conference. The podium was named after comrade Shah Chand, and Sasaram was christened after Comrade Ramnaresh Ram on the occasion. Thousands of workers, peasants, farmers, students, youth and women from all four districts of Shahabad reached Sasaram for this open session. The slogans at the conference hall, which highlighted struggles from Naxalbari to Una, indicated the unity of various streams of struggles, resistance and freedom. Photographs of the martyrs and heroes of the Naxalbari movement as well as the Bhojpur resistance, as well as those of Jyotiba and Savitribai Phule, Periyar, Ambedkar and Rohith Vemula were garlanded.
After the Samajik Parivartan Sammelan, around 580 participants took part in the delegate session of the 10th state conference. This session was conducted over by a 6-member presidium, consisting of comrades Amar, Rameshwar Prasad, Meena Tiwari, Ramadhar Singh, R.K. Sharma and Raju Yadav. The outgoing secretary comrade Kunal presented the political and organisational report, following which there was a day-long discussion. The state secretary’s report presented an overview of the Party’s work in Bihar over the past four years. The report analysed the present political situation, while also highlighting specific and crucial campaigns undertaken by the Party as well as various mass organisations. It also analysed the Party’s electoral performances and successes, and various other initiatives of the Party.
12 major points were discussed while analysing the prevailing political situation. The report highlighted that the RSS-BJP was on the one hand trying to impose corporate slavery on the country, while at the same it is trying to impose social slavery on Dalits, Muslims, women and the poor. The RSS-BJP is trying to fulfil its dream of a ‘Hindu nation’ through several shrill campaigns such as cow protection and love jihad. In the process, the country is witnessing a Brahminical assault on constitutional and democratic institutions and values, on India’s social fabric. While the farce of the Modi government’s ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign by the Sangh Parivar’s forced imposition of patriarchal values on women and the BJP’s dilly-dallying on the Women’s Reservation Bill, we are also witnessing major assaults on freedom of expression, rampant corruption and the footfalls of fascism.
The Bihar government, which claims to be the custodians of ‘social justice’, is actually killing the rights of the poor and the deprived in the state. Like the Modi government, it is following in the footsteps of neo-liberal ‘development’. It has shelved the agenda of land reforms, it has refused to ensure minimum wages and has encouraged rampant contractualisation, it has washed its hands off public education and is encouraging privatisation in the education sector, it has curtailed the rights for Dalits and fellowships for students. It has also justified the horrific Forbesganj massacre and has brutally cracked down on people’s movements. Strengthening the police and bureaucracy, and curtailing democratic and political spaces of dissent have become the hallmark of the Nitish government. There is a raging agrarian crisis and resulting mass distress migration, due to lack of state support to small and medium farmers, and no rights for bataidaars who are the spine of the agricultural system in the state. There poor water management, with no proper plan or implementation to address the routine floods in Bihar and the crying need to provide adequate water for irrigation. The Conference elected a 71-member State Committee and re-elected Comrade Kunal as the Secretary.
In his concluding address at the delegate session, CPI(ML) GS Comrade Dipankar said that the entire country is facing the threat of fascism. Communist and democratic forces will have to decide how to challenge and resist this threat. This threat can neither be challenged by tailing behind the Congress, nor by electoral experiments such as the Grand Alliance in Bihar. It can only be challenged by mass struggles against all forms of feudalism, capitalism, communal frenzy, and social-economic exploitation. It can be challenged by a unity of the current struggles of adivasis and farmers against displacement and alienation from land, Dalit and oppressed people’s struggles for dignity and social and economic justice as well as women’s struggles for freedom, autonomy and equality. Communists and revolutionaries seek to change existing social and economic structures, and in this process they need to analyse as well as dialogue with non-Marxist progressive forces too. Comrade Dipankar especially stressed the importance of the legacy of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar for our movement. Comrade Dipankar also said that the #JusticeforRohithVemula movement and the ongoing Una struggle have joined the Dalit movement with the democratic and fundamental questions of the day.
Today, CPIML comrades are holding the Samajik Parivartan Sammelan, and I salute them and regret I could not join them. We in Gujarat have begun a struggle for land and dignity for Dalits, and have had a taste of the difficulties faced by such a movement. So we can fully appreciate how the ML took on the Ranveer Sena goons, feudal forces and the repressive State, fighting courageous battles, braving jail and making huge sacrifices. I salute the spirit of that movement, and hope that in the days to come we also can create such a movement in Gujarat. Today, we are at the Ahmedabad Collector’s office where, standing behind me, there are landless Dalits who have not yet been given physical possession of the lands which have been allotted to them on paper. We are struggling on that issue and plan a Rasta Roko and I may even be detained and arrested. My message to all the comrades at the Samajik Parivartan Sammelan is that we have learnt from and hope to learn more from your struggles on the question of land and rights of Dalit, backward castes and oppressed people. We salute the spirit of your struggle. Salaams to all the struggling comrades, and hope we can in the future share a joint platform of struggle.