The Eastern Jatha completed ten days when it ended yesterday at Buxar on the Bihar-UP border. The Jatha which began on March 1 from Kolkata has spent 2 days in west Bengal, 2 days in Jharkhand and 6 days in Bihar. What has been the experience of the Jatha in these states?
In West Bengal, all through the districts of Howrah, Hooghly, Bardhman and Purulia, tens of thousands of people came out to greet the Jatha. The turnout was especially noteworthy in Bardhman district. One of the biggest crowds was at Golshi, a place which has seen attacks by TMC goons on CPI (M) workers. Since public meetings with loudspeakers were prohibited because of school examinations, the people turned out in strength on the road-sides and in hall meetings to greet the Jatha and to express support for its demands.
What was remarkable about the experience of the Jatha in Jharkhand and Bihar was the relevance of the six issues raised by the Jatha. People related to them directly to their own lives and experience. In the course of our travel, we found adivasis complaining about the refusal to give pattas for their land under the Forest Rights Act and heard of struggles by the tribal people against displacement due to forcible acquisition of their lands in Jharkhand. We met hundreds of scheme workers such as ASHA in Bihar who complained about the pittance they are getting as allowance and have organized themselves to fight for their rights. The contract teachers are in struggle and they were severely lathi-charged by the police in Patna.
The Jatha got a big response from the rural poor, particularly women in Bihar. Food and employment being the big problems.
The Jathas activised the Party units and enthused it's supporters in these two states. At the same time, we became conscious of how many areas and sections of the people are outside the ambit of the Party and the organised Left. Hopefully, the Jatha will provide the impetus to widen the movement and bring new sections into the class and mass organisations.