Vol. XLIII No. 14 April 07, 2019
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MAHARASHTRA: SFI State Conference Held in Mumbai

Rohidas Jadhav

THE 17th Maharashtra state conference of the SFI that was held in the Adarsh Vidyalaya, Mumbai, from December 24 to 26, 2018, was attended by 166 delegates and observers from 16 districts. They included 39 girl students. The stage was named after SFI martyr Abhimanyu from Kerala, the hall after a former SFI leader from Pune, Dr Shekhar Bendre, a young medical doctor who died in an accident last year, and the venue was named after martyr Gauri Lankesh, who was mercilessly gunned down by Sanatan Sanstha criminals.

PUBLIC MEETING

The conference began with an Educational Rights student rally in the Chembur area, which culminated in a public meeting.

The conference was inaugurated by renowned journalist P Sainath. He criticised the anti-student, anti-farmer and anti-people policies of the Modi government and said that it was the farmers’ discontent reflected in struggles that led to serious reverses to the BJP in the just-concluded assembly elections. He called upon the students to forge unity with workers and peasants to change their own condition and also to change society.

Former SFI vice-president and AIKS president Ashok Dhawale analysed the three-fold attack on education by the BJP government – commercialisation, centralisation and communalisation. He attacked the neoliberal policies and the communal and casteist conspiracies of the Modi regime and outlined the growing resistance to them all over the country. He called for the pooling of this resistance to ensure the defeat of the BJP regime.

SFI president V P Sanu and SFI general secretary Mayukh Biswas dealt with the educational challenges faced by the student community. The BJP government is targeting the students and the faculty in major universities in a vain bid to snuff out dissent. Reactionary changes are being made in the syllabi with a view to suppress the scientific temper and also to falsify and distort history along communal lines. Ensuring education only for the rich is the aim of the neoliberal policies of the rulers. They called for strengthening the movement and the organisation of the SFI manifold to combat these challenges.

DELEGATE SESSION  

The delegate session began with the flag hoisting by SFI state president Mohan Jadhav and the floral tributes to martyrs. Reception committee chairman and CITU leader Dr S K Rege welcomed the delegates. The conference was greeted by K R Raghu (CITU), Sanjay Thakur (AIKS), Vinod Govindwar (AIAWU), Sonya Gill (AIDWA) and Preethy Sekhar (DYFI).

SFI state secretary Balaji Kaletwad placed the report and accounts of the last two years. The SFI in Maharashtra has made some progress in various spheres over the last two years. Membership has grown from 68,528 in 15 districts in 2016 to 76,546 in 21 districts in 2018. Work has begun in new districts and the number of primary units has increased.

Struggles on issues like fee hikes, scholarships and demands of adivasi tribal sections have mobilised thousands of students. Some of the major actions during this period have been: 4,000-strong statewide SFI-DYFI rally in Mumbai on March 23, 2018 on burning issues of education and employment; two SFI rallies of around 2,000 tribal students each on the state Adivasi Commissioner’s office at Nashik; a state-level SFI convention at Beed on the demands related to scholarships; a university students state convention at Aurangabad; and two state-level study camps of around 150 activists of four days each at Pune and Solapur.

The largest action during this period has been the statewide human chain programme organised on October 21, 2018 against the anti-education and anti-employment policies of the BJP-led Modi and Fadnavis governments. Initiated by the DYFI and SFI, the human chain programme was organised at 52 centres in 21 districts and mobilised over 40,000 people.

In the discussion on the report, 36 delegates took part and after the secretary’s reply, the report was unanimously adopted. Various resolutions on vital issues related to education and employment, against the threat of communalism and against the atrocities on girls and women were adopted. The credentials report was placed by convenor Nitin Wavhale.

On the last day, a special lecture on the Sabarimala Women’s Temple Entry issue was delivered by former SFI vice president and AIDWA general secretary Mariam Dhawale. She placed the issue in its historical context, attacked the rabidly communal stand of the RSS-BJP and the opportunist position of the Congress in Kerala, and lauded the concerted campaign by the LDF state government, the Left forces and the AIDWA for the historic Women’s Wall.

NEW LEADERSHIP

The conference unanimously elected a 51-member new state committee with 11 girl students. The state committee in turn elected a 17-member new state secretariat as follows: president – Balaji Kaletwad, secretary – Rohidas Jadhav, vice presidents – Sunil Rathod, Somnath Nirmal, Kavita Ware, Anil Misal, joint secretaries – Sachin Khadke, Nitin Wavhale, Amol Waghmare, Mallesham Karampuri, secretariat members – Pratiksha Pawar, Vilas Sable, Pooja Kamble, Suhas Zodge, Lahu Kharge, Navnath More, Rahul Khandalkar.

A fond and emotional farewell was accorded to state president Mohan Jadhav, state vice presidents Datta Chavan and Manjushree Kabade and eight state committee members. After brief and rousing speeches by the new president and secretary, the conference concluded with revolutionary slogans and with the song ‘We Shall Overcome’.

The SFI, CITU, DYFI and AIDWA units in Mumbai and the management and workers of Adarsh Vidyalaya were thanked for having made good arrangements for this conference.