ANDHRA PRADESH: Women Workers Militant Protest against Privatisation of Mid-day Meal Scheme
A LARGE number of women mid-day meal workers tried to lay siege to Andhra Pradesh state HRD minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao’s house at Visakhapatnam on July 30 opposing the government’s decision to introduce cluster system all over the state and run the mid-day meal scheme through private agencies. Police did not allow them to enter the street on which the house is located, but the workers stormed through the barricades leading to arrests. There was pushing and jostling with the protesters trying to reach up to the gate of the minister’s house. Male police beat up the women protesters and dragged them to police vans indiscriminately. Many women were wounded in lathicharge, scuffle and also in the drag. Police targeted the leaders and as part of that they ruthlessly dragged K Swarupa Rani, CPI(M) state committee member and general secretary of the union. Around 3,000 workers from all over the district participated in the protest. The women workers then came onto the national highway and staged a ‘rasta roko’ there leading to traffic jam for some time. The arrested included Mid-Day Meal Scheme Workers’ Union state president and secretary G Varalakshmi and K Swarupa Rani respectively, district president K Prasanna, honorary president S Aruna, CITU district leaders G Koteswara Rao and RKSV Kumar.
The union is opposing the cluster system in which nine mandals of the district are proposed to be given to a private agency. The schools within 20 km are part of one cluster. The union contended that since the food was prepared early at one place and distributed at noon, it would lack nutritional values. It alleged that the implementation at Mangalagiri, Tulluru, Tadepalli, Gajuwaka and Rajamahendravaram showed lack of quality. They were demanding, among other things, payment of minimum wages instead of the Rs 1000 to each worker, increase in menu charges, basic facilities to prepare food, LPG on subsidy and monthly payment of bills and wages. Dharnas and rallies were conducted all over the state in which thousands of women workers participated.
STATE CONVENTION OF AGRICULTURAL WORKERS
The state convention of agricultural workers held at Nellore on July 27 under the joint auspices of CPI(M) and CPI underlined that comprehensive development of agricultural workers can be achieved only through a political alternative. V Venkateswarlu, CPI(M) state committee member proposed a resolution with 15 points and was supported by R Venkata Rao of AP Agricultural Workers Union. It demanded a comprehensive act for the welfare of agricultural workers, minimum wages, implementation of land reforms etc. The resolution was unanimously adopted after discussion. P Madhu, CPI(M) state secretary said that the crisis in agriculture has been deepening and hence the rural socio-economic conditions are worsening. Agricultural workers are to be mobilised around the political alternative through struggles on the basis of the demands put forth in the resolution, he suggested. The plight of agricultural workers can improve only when the present ruling classes are dislodged from power, CPI state secretary K Ramakrishna opined. The convention was addressed by Bose, all India president of PMC, Tony Babu from Jana sena, Sivaji from Bahujan Communist Party, Balasubrahmanyam of Lok Satta party and others. Dadala Subbarao, Chandra Rajagopal, Avula Sekhar and Ch Prabhakara Rao acted as presidium.
STATE KISAN CONVENTION
The kisan state convention demanded the central government for an act to guarantee the farmer a minimum price in the market, lest the State agency should purchase. It also demanded the state government to constitute a commission for farmers’ debt redemption, like Kerala. V Krishnaiah, CPI(M) state secretariat member and his counterpart in CPI Ravula Venkaiah presided over the convention held at Guntur on July 27. A policy document was adopted in the convention demanding implementation of MS Swaminathan Commission recommendations, to form and allocate funds for price stabilisation at state level, crop loans to tenant farmers etc. The convention gave a call to mobilise farming community around the political alternative. Former minister and farmers’ leader urged that the kisans should fight for remunerative prices for their produce like the employees and workers wage their struggles.V Srinivasa Rao, Central Committee member of CPI(M) said that the central and state governments have been systematically dismantling the agrarian economy and called on the convention to gather the entire farming community in struggles against the ruling classes. Muppalla Nageswar Rao, CPI state joint secretary appealed for a broad movement on farmers’ issues. AAP state secretary Seva Kumar, Nallamada farmers’ leader Kolla Rajamohan, Rayalseema Rytu Sangham leader Jyotirmayi, agriculture analyst Yaswanth spoke on the occasion. CPI(M) state secretariat member Y Venkateswara Rao, leaders Y Kesava Rao, Peddi Reddy, Jamalaiah, Ranga Rao and CPI leaders KV Prasad, Ramachandraiah and others participated.
Include POA Act in Ninth Schedule
DSMM and KVPS undertook Dalithula Hakkula Deeksha (fast for the rights of dalits) at Vijayawada on July 30. The main demand was to incorporate the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act in the Ninth Schedule of the constitution. P Madhu, CPI(M) state secretary inaugurated the programme. He demanded the Modi government to place the bill in the present session of the parliament without any delay. He criticised the state government for taking away the land from dalits and the poor in the guise of development. V Srinivasa Rao narrated the failures of the BJP central government in containing the attacks on dalits and in failing to protect the POA Act in the aftermath of the Supreme Court order diluting it. CPI state secretariat member G Obulesu lamented that AP stood fourth in the number of atrocities but stood first in the ease of doing business in the country. KVPS state secretary A Malyadri presided over the meeting and leaders of KVPS and DHPS Dadala Subba Rao, K Subrahmanyam, Karavadi Subba Rao and others participated. Mala Mahanadu leader Francis, Madiga Dandora leader Venkateswara Rao, VCK party leader Shyam and some others expressed their solidarity. The fast was ended in the evening by MA Gafoor, CITU state general secretary through serving lemon juice to the leaders.