Sangharsh Sandesh Jatha:
Message of Struggle for Alternative
The Sangharsh Sandesh Jatha conducted by the CPI(M) will begin on February 24, 2013. On that day, the first jatha will start from Kanyakumari towards Delhi. Three other jathas will begin from Kolkata, Amritsar and Mumbai to Delhi in the following days. There will be jathas from Guwahati (Assam), Paralakhemundi (Odisha), Shimla (Himachal Pradesh) and Bhavnagar (Gujarat) to link up with these main jathas. Sub jathas are also being conducted within many states which will link up with the main jathas when they are passing through these states. At the culmination of the four main jathas, there will be a mass central rally on March 19 at Ramlila Ground.
Why these Jathas?
What are these jathas for? The country is faced with a critical situation. At no time, since independence, has the gulf between the rich and the poor been so wide. India has some of the richest people in the world alongside the largest number of poor people. The country has the shameful record of having the largest number of undernourished children in the world. A shocking 2.9 lakh farmers have committed suicide in the two decades since liberalization began. The ranks of the unemployed have grown exponentially and the recent years have seen only jobless growth.
All this is the result of the bankruptcy of the bourgeois-landlord rule particularly the neo-liberal policies pursued in the last two decades. The country is witnessing the super enrichment of the big business houses, the corporates, MNCs, real estate speculators and mafia groups. More and more, the policies of the State are designed to help these powerful group to loot the resources of the country; taxes on their profits and wealth are lowered and the laws help them avoid pay even these taxes. The government is adopting policies which fuel price rise and inflation. They render the people helpless in the face of price rise by cutting subsidies for petrol, diesel, fertilizer and food.
The Congress and the BJP are both advocates of neo-liberal policies and pander to imperialist interests headed by the United States. Whether it is the UPA government at the Centre or the BJP-run state governments, there is no difference in their outlook on privatization, in handing over scarce resources to big business and fulfilling the interests of foreign finance capital.
The high level corruption in the government and public institutions is an integral part of the neo-liberal regime. It is an outcome of the big business-politician-bureaucratic nexus. Such corruption is an instrument for accumulation of capital and it cannot be halted without reversing the neo-liberal policies. The Congress, the BJP and other bourgeois parties are unable to check corruption because they are linked to the corrupt nexus. Only the CPI(M) and the Left are immune from such corruption.
The predatory capitalist path is leading to social inequalities and tensions. This in turn is creating the conditions for the growth of the communal forces and their disruptive activities. Divisive forces based on regional chauvinism and ethnic identity politics are spreading. The rightwing forces seek to utilise all these elements for their reactionary politics.
The Sangharsh Sandesh Jatha will promote the message of struggle for alternative policies and address the issues and concerns of the millions of working people of the country – of the kisans, agricultural workers, workers in the organised and unorganized sectors, of women, dalits, adivasis and minorities. The jatha will project the unity of the working people against communal politics.
Aims of the Jatha
The jatha will focus on six major areas:
1) Right to Land and House-sites: Implement land reform policies by distributing surplus land to the landless. Guarantee house-sites to each landless household.
2) Curb Price Rise and Right to Food: Universal right to 35 kgs of foodgrains at a maximum price of rupees two a kg. Scrap APL/BPL based fraudulent poverty calculations. Stop forward trading in foodgrains and other essential commodities.
3) Right to Education and Health: Stop privatisation of educational and health services. Increase allocations for education and health. Guarantee implementation of the Right to Education Act. Strengthen public services in health and ensure strict regulation of the private sector.
4) Right to Employment: Step up public investment to ensure creation of jobs; lift the ban on recruitment and ensure time-bound recruitment for all vacancies, particularly for SC/ST/OBC backlog; increase days of work under NREGA with price index linked minimum wages and expand it to include guarantee of work days in urban India.
5) Ensure Social Justice : Curb violence against women and provide one-third reservation for women in legislatures and Parliament; end social practices of untouchability and discrimination against dalits; protect the land and forest rights of adivasis; provision of equal opportunities in education and jobs for the Muslim community.
6) End Corruption: Enact Lokpal legislation with independent powers of investigation; bring back black money stashed in foreign banks; recover losses from the corporates responsible; send the corrupt to jail.
This is the first time the CPI(M), as a party, is conducting these countrywide jathas. This massive effort is part of the effort to project and strengthen the independent role and activities of the Party as decided by the 20th Congress of the Party which was held in April 2012.
The all India jathas are coming just after the historic two-day general strike called by the Central Trade Unions on February 20-21 which has been the biggest working class action in the history of independent India. It also comes after the extensive mass signature campaign conducted by the Left parties for a comprehensive food security law that will provide for a universal Public Distribution System. More than five crore signatures collected through this campaign will be submitted to the Prime Minister.
The Sangharsh Sandesh Jatha will be the precursor for bigger movements and to rally all the Left and democratic forces. The jathas will send out the message that only the Left and democratic forces can provide a real alternative to the bourgeois-landlord rule.
As the jathas traverse the length and breadth of the country, they will pass through the areas – where the peasants and adivasis are struggling to protect their land from forcible acquisition; where farmers are fighting for their livelihood and a fair price for their produce; where workers in the organised and unorganized sectors are struggling for a fair wage and against the contractualisation of labour; of students who are opposing commercialization of education and demanding better educational facilities; of women who are fighting against sexual attacks and for equal rights; of dalits who are struggling for social justice; and youth who are conducting movements against unemployment.
For all of them, the Sangharsh Sandesh Jatha will be a rallying force. The jathas will convey the message that the CPI(M) is with them in their struggles and calls upon them to come forward to fight for alternative policies.