Monday, December 16, 2013

Mumbai rally against superstitions and communalism

Ashok Dhawale, State Secretary CPIM Maharashtra

On December 2, 2013 an impressive rally of several thousand people marched in Mumbai around three main demands. These were: Immediate enactment of the law against black magic and superstition in the ensuing session of the state assembly at Nagpur beginning December 9; Immediate arrest of the killers of Dr Narendra Dabholkar and of the diabolical forces behind this murder; and stringent action against communal and obscurantist forces.

The Mumbai rally: A view
The rally was organised jointly by the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS), along with other secular and progressive parties and organisations. Prominent among them was the CPI(M) which, underlining the political importance of this rally, had consciously mobilised several thousand people from Mumbai, Thane, Nashik, Raigad and Pune districts.

The presence of CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat in this rally showed the importance attached by the Party to the vital battle against superstition and communalism. 10 of the 15 state secretariat members of the Party who participated in this rally were K L Bajaj, Mahendra Singh, Rajaram Ozare MLA, J P Gavit ex-MLA, Dr D L Karad, Dr Kishore Theckedath, Ajit Abhyankar, Mariam Dhawale, Vijay Gabhane and Dr Ashok Dhawale. Almost all Party state committee members from the above five districts also participated. 

December 2 marked 101 days since the murder of Dr Narendra Dabholkar on August 20. It is a shameful fact that the Congress-NCP-led state government of Maharashtra and its police department have not yet been able to even identify the culprits of this dastardly crime, leave alone nabbing them. It is even more shameful that in spite of having no clue about the culprits, the state government and its police recently submitted an affidavit in the court stating that communal forces were not behind this murder, thus giving them a clean chit!

Prakash Karat, N. D. Patil and Prakash Ambedkar at the Mumbai rally
The credibility of the Congress-NCP regime has touched rock bottom, and no one can guarantee that it will transform the ordinance against black magic and other superstitious practices that it hastily promulgated in the wake of Dabholkar’s murder into a law in the coming session of the state assembly that begins next week. As it is, this government dithered on the issue for the last 14 years, and even the ordinance that it eventually promulgated is a watered-down version of the Bill for which Dabholkar fought all his life.

The communal forces led by the RSS, VHP, BJP, Shiv Sena and other thoroughly reactionary organisations like the Sanatan Prabhat, apart from a large cluster of so-called god-men and god-women, have been running a virulent campaign of misinformation and slander against this Bill for the last two decades. Even now they have threatened to block the Bill in the coming state assembly session, falsely accusing it of being against religion. While all this is only to be expected of the communal forces, the real tragedy is that the state government which claims to be secular lacks the political will to frontally take on these forces.

The rally began from the Jijamata Udyan at Byculla and walked a 7 Km stretch to culminate in a large public meeting at the Azad Maidan. It was presided over by senior PWP leader N D Patil and was addressed by Prakash Karat, BRP leader Prakash Ambedkar, NAPM leader Medha Patkar, CPI state secretary Bhalchandra Kango, Lok Bharati leader Kapil Patil MLC, veteran social activist Prof Pushpa Bhave, one of the leaders of the Warkari Sampradaya Wable Maharaj, Congress MP Husain Dalwai and NCP MLC Vidya Chavan. The introductory speech was made by MANS working president Avinash Patil, and on behalf of the Dabholkar family Mukta Dabholkar addressed the gathering. A number of Marathi film and drama artistes had also gathered in solidarity and Sonali Kulkarni spoke on their behalf.

Prakash Karat, after releasing the annual special issue of the Andhashraddha Nirmulan Vartapatra, in his speech came down heavily on the conspiracies of the communal and obscurantist forces, on the antiques of the so-called god-men like Asaram and Ramdev, and also on the vacillating and opportunist policy of the Congress-NCP state government. He declared the full and active support of the CPI(M) to this joint struggle and said that the Party would try its best to see that an Anti-Superstition Act is enacted at the national level. He said that it was a shame that the killers of Dabholkar were not yet identified even though 100 days had passed, and suggested that if the state government and its police could not do the job, then it should be entrusted to some special central agency. He congratulated all the participants in the rally and expressed confidence that their struggle would gain success. The rally concluded with a spirited rendering of the song ‘We Shall Overcome.’


On November 16-17, 2013, the CPI(M) state secretariat and state committee met to conduct the mid-term review of implementation of tasks and also to decide on other important campaigns. The meeting was attended by CPI(M) central secretariat member Nilotpal Basu.

The Party also organised DC meetings and district workshops where it is contesting priority seats for the ensuing Lok Sabha elections due in April 2014 and the Vidhan Sabha elections due in October 2014. Such programmes were held in Thane district from November 13-15, in Nashik district on November 20 and 23, and in Nanded district on November 21-22. Nearly 1000 leading Party activists attended these three district workshops.

On November 19, a 10,000-strong mass rally was organised by the CPI(M) at Akole in Ahmednagar district on the two major issues of food security and pension for the rural and urban poor. All the above programmes were attended and addressed by Nilotpal Basu, Dr Ashok Dhawale and by various state secretariat members in charge of each district. The Akole rally was also addressed by state committee member Dr Ajit Nawale and others. 

The Akole rally begins

Comrade Nilotpal Basu speaking at the Akole rally
In all these workshops, Nilotpal Basu placed the political understanding of the Party as regards the ensuing Lok Sabha elections and also placed the concrete organisational tasks to be taken up as part of the election preparations.  

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