Tuesday, April 28, 2009

CPI (M)'s Robust Election Campaign in Maharashtra

From India News Network (INN)
Mumbai, April 28, 2009

The CPI(M) ran a robust election campaign in Maharashtra in the two Lok Sabha seats that it fought – Palghar (ST) in Thane district and Dindori (ST) in Nashik district. The campaign began in the first week of March 2009 with two district-level election workshops in Thane and Nashik districts that were addressed by CPI(M) central secretariat member Hannan Mollah, MP, and were attended by over 600 leading activists. A concerted six-month long agitational and political campaign had been conducted as a run-up to the actual election campaign in both districts. A brief report of this has already appeared in these columns earlier in the piece ‘The Election Scenario in Maharashtra’.

The CPI(M) Maharashtra state committee which met on February 22-23 and again on March 22 in the presence of Polit Bureau members Sitaram Yechury and K Varadha Rajan, took broad decisions about the campaign, gave a statewide fund call and decided about the allocation of activists in both the constituencies. The state committee published three booklets for the statewide election campaign, titled ‘The Global Economic Crisis and the Lessons for India’, ‘Communalism and Terrorism: Two Sides of the Same Coin’ and ‘How to Win the Election Battle’ - the last one written by CPI(M) central secretariat member Nilotpal Basu.

The CPI(M) Thane and Nashik district committees had planned out the campaign in detail, and so had the CPI(M) Mumbai district committee, which took charge of the election campaign in the Vasai and Nalasopara urban assembly segments that fall in the Palghar constituency. A series of general body meetings of Party activists were held in all tehsils to explain the strategy to be adopted and the issues to be focused in the campaign.

While the main political cutting edge of the election campaign was directed against the BJP-led NDA and the Congress-led UPA and their disastrous policies, the specific issues that were focused were the Tribal Forest Rights Act, NREGA, price rise, breakdown of the PDS, malnutrition, recession, unemployment, plight of the peasantry and peasant suicides due to indebtedness, load-shedding of power and other issues of development of the constituency. In both constituencies a total of around 10 lakh leaflets were printed explaining the political line of the Party and giving a brief bio-data of the candidates.

The choice of CPI(M) candidates – ex-MP and three-time ex-MLA Lahanu Shidva Kom in Palghar and six-time sitting MLA Jiva Pandu Gavit in Dindori – both of them state secretariat members of the Party and senior leaders of the AIKS - was widely welcomed by large sections of the people who were conversant with their struggles and work in the cause of the people for the last several decades.

The other constituents of the Left Democratic Front that was formed in Maharashtra – CPI, PWP, JD(S), Socialist Front – and other organizations like the Bhoomi Sena, Kunabi Sena, Lokbharati etc helped the CPI(M) in the Dindori and Palghar seats.

The main rivals of the CPI(M) in Dindori were the BJP and NCP, while in Palghar they were the BJP, INC and the Bahujan Vikas Aghadi.

Thousands of CPI(M) activists and activists of the mass organizations from Thane, Nashik and Mumbai districts ran a village-to- village, street-to-street and a door-to-door campaign for over a month in both Palghar and Dindori constituencies, which have over 15 lakh voters each. They collected funds, distributed leaflets, took group meetings, disbursed voter slips and did everything else that was possible to take the message of the Party to the people. Women activists, most of them Adivasis, also took part in this campaign in a big way. Selected Party activists from other districts of Maharashtra came to help in the campaign. Other district committees also contributed to the fund campaign.

One significant feature was that over 400 Party activists from the Party stronghold in Surgana tehsil and over 100 activists from the Tryambakeshwar tehsil fanned out to the weaker parts of the Dindori constituency for 8-10 days to strengthen the campaign. Similarly, over 100 activists from Shahapur tehsil, which lies outside the constituency, worked for over 10 days in different tehsils of the Palghar constituency.

Another significant feature was the large motor-cycle rallies with red flags that were organized by the Party towards the end of the campaign in the Talasari, Dahanu, Jawhar, Mokhada, Vikramgad, Wada and Vasai tehsils of Palghar and in the Niphad, Yeola, Nandgaon, Chandwad, Deola and Malegaon tehsils of Dindori. Over 1000 motor cycles were mobilized by Party activists in all these rallies and this created a big impact. An impressive day-long procession was organized in the Vasai-Virar-Nalasopara urban belt.

The highlight of the campaign was the series of large and enthusiastic public meetings addressed by central Party leaders. 12 such public meetings were organized in the Dindori constituency, and 19 public meetings in the Palghar constituency. Thousands of people braved the scorching heat to attend these meetings in impressive numbers. The total attendance in all these meetings together crossed the 50,000 mark. The public meetings enthused the people and they got good media coverage.

Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury and Central Committee member Subhashini Ali addressed meetings in both Dindori and Palghar constituencies. Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat addressed meetings in the Dindori constituency. Polit Bureau member Dr M K Pandhe addressed meetings in the Palghar constituency. Polit Bureau member and Kerala chief minister V S Achuthanandan and Sitaram Yechury addressed a large meeting in Vasai in the Palghar constituency. Sitaram Yechury and Brinda Karat also addressed well-attended press conferences.

In the Talasari meeting, the Lal Bavta Thane Jilha Kamgar Union presented a cheque of Rs 3.5 lakhs to Dr M K Pandhe for the Palghar election campaign, this being one day’s wage of each worker of the Union.

CPI(M) state committee members who led this election campaign were: In Dindori, candidate J P Gavit, Kumar Shiralkar, Dr D L Karad, Dr Vithal More, Kiran Moghe, Mariam Dhawale, Kisan Gujar, Janardan Bhoye, Sitaram Thombre, Jaisingh Mali, Nathu Salve, Shubha Shamim, Prakash Choudhary and Dr Ashok Dhawale; and in Palghar, candidate L S Kom, Krishna Khopkar, Mahendra Singh, K L Bajaj, Ashok Bannerjee, Mariam Dhawale, L B Dhangar, Rajaram Ozare, Barkya Mangat, Ratan Budhar, Edward Vartha, Hemlata Kom, Dr Kishore Theckedath, Sayeed Ahmed, Hemkant Samant, Dr Vivek Monteiro, Shubha Shamim, Kisan Gujar and Dr Ashok Dhawale.

Along with them were, of course, thousands of activists of the Party who worked admirably day and night in this election campaign in both constituencies for over a month, together with the leaders and activists of the friendly parties.

Elsewhere in the state, Party activists worked sincerely for LDF candidates and, where LDF candidates were not there, for credible candidates of parties opposed to the BJP-SS combine and the INC-NCP alliance. Particularly effective campaigns were led by the CPI(M) in the Solapur seat for the BSP candidate, in the Hatkanangale seat for the LDF candidate of the Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, and in the Kolhapur and the Shirdi seats for weighty Independent candidates.

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