The 21st Maharashtra state conference of the CPI(M) began on March 14, 2015 – the death anniversary of Karl Marx and the birth anniversary of Albert Einstein – with a massive rally of over 20,000 people at Kalwan in Nashik district. The large gathering comprised mainly Adivasi peasants from all the rural tehsils of Nashik district. Kalwan (ST) is the state assembly constituency that was won by J P Gavit for the CPI(M) last year in October 2014. Ever since the formation of the CPI(M) five decades ago in 1964, this was the first state conference of the Party being held in Nashik district.


The main speaker at the rally was CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury. It was addressed by central secretariat member Nilotpal Basu, central committee member Sudha Sundarraman, state secretary and central committee member Dr Ashok Dhawale, central committee member Narsayya Adam and district secretary Hemant Waghere, while it was presided over by state secretariat member J P Gavit, MLA. Kalwan town was decorated with hundreds of red flags. In fact, the entire route from Dindori to Kalwan had been decorated in red to welcome the state conference.

Sitaram Yechury and the other speakers spoke of the political challenges before the country and the state. Yechury came down heavily on the BJP central government and said that it had not only reneged upon its election promises, but was taking flagrant anti-people and pro-rich steps. He attacked the continuing price rise in essential commodities, the failure to give remunerative prices to the peasantry leading to a spurt in peasant suicides, the move to bring in reactionary amendments to labour laws and the utterly retrograde land acquisition act. He then castigated the RSS-BJP for its attempts to stir up communal hatred. Finally, he called upon the gathering to launch massive struggles on peoples’ issues and to strengthen the Party and the Left forces in the days ahead.    


The state conference began on the evening of March 14 at the picturesque hill resort of Saptashrungi Gad in Kalwan tehsil in the venue named after Comrade K L Bajaj; the hall was named after Comrade Suman Sanzgiri; the dais after Comrade P R Menon; and the venue of the public meeting after martyrs Comrade Govind Pansare and Dr Narendra Dabholkar.    

The inaugural session began on the evening of March 14 with the flag-hoisting at the hands of the senior most comrade and chairman of the state control commission L B Dhangar, who is 87 years old and who joined the Party way back in 1947. The central leaders who comprised Sitaram Yechury, K Varadha Rajan, Nilotpal Basu and Sudha Sundarraman, state leaders, leaders of fraternal left parties and all the delegates and observers paid floral tributes to the martyrs’ column.

The conference elected a presidium comprising Narsayya Adam, J P Gavit, Ratan Budhar, Dada Raipure, Arjun Adey, Shailendra Kamble and Naseema Shaikh; a steering committee comprising the state secretariat; a resolutions committee comprising Ajit Abhyankar (Convenor), Mahendra Singh, Dr Subhash Jadhav, Shubha Shamim and M H Shaikh; a credentials committee comprising Sanjay Thakur (Convenor), Preethy Sekhar and Ravi Kadam; and a minutes committee comprising Prakash Choudhari (Convenor), Amrut Meshram, Vinod Govindwar, Pravin Manjalkar and Anil Thakre. Dr S K Rege placed the condolence resolution to martyrs, departed leaders and progressive personalities.

After the welcome address by J P Gavit on behalf of the reception committee, the state conference was inaugurated by Sitaram Yechury. He began by saying that for the ensuing 21st Congress of the Party, the Central Committee had released two important documents for inner-Party discussion and, as per the norms of democratic centralism, had invited amendments and suggestions to them from all over the country. These were the Draft Review Report of the Political-Tactical Line and the Draft Political Resolution. After the Party Congress, an Organisational Plenum will be held to review our organisation-building and to make the necessary changes to strengthen it manifold.

Coming to the national situation, Sitaram Yechury said that there had been a major rightward shift in the country after the last general elections with the advent of the BJP regime. This is having an adverse impact in all spheres. The BJP has come to central power with only 31 per cent of the vote and in less than a year, the anti-incumbency factor is becoming evident. This was dramatically seen in the Delhi state assembly elections last month in which the BJP could win only 3 seats out of 70.

In the recent Union budget, the BJP-led regime slashed the outlay on social welfare schemes, abolished the wealth tax, gave tax relief worth Rs 8,000 crore to corporate fatcats and, on the contrary, increased the burden of indirect taxes on the common people by Rs 23,000 crore. It increased diesel and petrol prices and made big cutbacks in the allocation for MGNREGA, food security and fertiliser subsidy. The agrarian crisis continues unabated with a serious increase in peasant suicides. Thoroughly reactionary changes are being made in labour laws and in the land acquisition laws which will hit both workers and peasants and will be a bonanza for the corporates.

While the rich are thus being made richer, the purchasing power of the working people is getting eroded. It is because of this that the FICCI has said that there is no need to manufacture anything for the next two years, since the goods produced are still lying unsold. The Modi regime has increased the FDI limit in insurance and defence. FDI will come to increase its profits and not to provide jobs. These are clear manifestations of the bankrupt neoliberal path that the erstwhile Congress regime was also pursuing and which the BJP regime is now accelerating. This bankruptcy is proved by the world financial crisis in 2008 which still continues in Europe, Japan and the USA in the form of the austerity measures imposed on workers. The workers everywhere are putting up stiff resistance.

Yechury asserted that the BJP is the political arm of the RSS. In order to achieve the RSS objective of a Hindu Rashtra, campaigns like love jehad, ghar vapasi are being engineered to increase communal tension. Totally unscientific and unhistorical statements are being made by the prime minister downwards. The RSS wants to impose a drab monolithic uniformity on the country by destroying our rich syncretic heritage. After the Delhi election results, Narendra Modi talked about tolerance. But it is not a question of tolerance; it is a question of equal rights to all citizens. The communal conspiracies of the Hindutva forces help the growth of the Islamist communal forces and vice versa.         

Yechury concluded by saying that the present crucial battle is against corporate communalism, neoliberal attacks on the people and authoritarian trends of the current BJP regime. This battle must be waged on the basis of Left unity and all other parties who are willing to come with us against the grave communal danger must be mobilised. An alternative has to be built on the basis of the unity and struggles of the left and democratic forces. For the advance of the Party, it is necessary to launch sustained mass struggles on both economic and social issues. It is with this confidence that we must go ahead after this state conference.

The conference was greeted by Peasants and Workers Party (PWP) general secretary Jayant Patil, CPI leader Prakash Reddy and Satyashodhak Communist Party leader Kishor Dhamale. All of them called for strengthening Left unity in the days ahead. And here the inaugural session came to an end.


In the delegate session on the morning of March 15, state secretary Dr Ashok Dhawale placed the Political-Organisational Report. Four printed documents had been circulated to all the delegates – Political Report, Organisational Report, Statistical Appendices to the Organisational Report, and Mass Front Reports. All of them had been discussed and adopted by the state committee earlier.

The Political Report takes stock of the socio-economic processes unfolding in Maharashtra and concludes that agrarian crisis, chronic drought, regional imbalances, anarchic urbanisation, economic inequalities, social oppression and massive corruption and criminalisation are the main features.

The political situation is characterised by the victory of the BJP in the state assembly elections in October 2014; the belated entry of the Shiv Sena into the state government; the current bonhomie between the BJP and the NCP; growing tensions between the Shiv Sena and BJP and the Congress and NCP; the decline of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS); Muslim consolidation behind the MIM; the anti-people steps of the BJP-Shiv Sena state government especially as regards land acquisition, labour laws and food security; and the shocking political assassinations of Comrade Govind Pansare and Dr Narendra Dabholkar in the last one and a half years – both suspected to be the handiwork of extremist majority communal elements who still remain untraced.

The Organisational Report takes objective stock of the Party organisation in three sections: Agitational work; Political-Ideological work; and Organisational work. The main features of the work of the Party in Maharashtra during the last three years are as follows:

  • The Party has conducted statewide mass struggles and political campaigns, in some of which there has been good mobilisation of over one lakh people each: against price rise and for food security; on the issue of chronic drought ; the effective statewide jathas and public meetings that were a part of the CPI(M)’s nationwide Sangharsh Sandesh Yatra campaign in March 2013 culminating in the participation of over 8,300 people from Maharashtra in the Delhi Rally of March 19; state conventions of the Adivasi Adhikar Rashtriya Manch, Minorities Rights Struggle Committee and Struggle Committee for the Eradication of Caste in Talasari, Solapur and Nagpur respectively; prompt intervention in several cases of social atrocities; the unprecedented mass collection of Rs 60 lakh by the CPI(M) for the first time within a week in December 2013 to mark the Comrade Jyoti Basu Birth Centenary Year; the participation of thousands of people in struggles on the housing issue in Solapur; and electoral campaigns for the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections.
  • The mass organisations have conducted statewide struggles as follows: Trade Union front – Large participation in the two-day All India strike of February 20-21, 2013; the month-long successful joint statewide strike of Anganwadi workers and the 40-day successful joint strike of powerloom workers in Ichalkaranji; and constant state and district struggles of various sections of unorganised workers that have mobilised thousands. Kisan front – Militant road blockade for implementation of the Forest Rights Act, in which over 1 lakh peasants courted arrest; State and district level actions on burning peasant issues like peasant suicides, debt relief, remunerative prices and chronic drought. Agricultural Workers front – Struggles on issues like MGNREGA, ration and houses. Women’s Front – Struggles on issues of atrocities on women, price rise, PDS and food security; Youth and Student fronts – Struggles on issues of employment, commercialisation of education, and problems of students in universities, social welfare hostels and Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs); and a campaign by AIKS in Nashik district of mass marriages of Adivasi couples to save them from exorbitant wedding expenses and to create a new culture.
  • In the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, the CPI(M) polled 1,81,629 votes in the four constituencies of Palghar (ST) in Thane district (76,890), Dindori (ST) in Nashik district (72,599), Nashik in Nashik district (17,154) and Hingoli which includes three districts of Yavatmal, Nanded and Hingoli in Vidarbha and Marathwada (14,986). Our votes in the Palghar (ST) and Dindori (ST) seats, although they showed some decline from the last elections, were nevertheless the highest votes polled by the CPI(M) in the country outside of West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. In the Vidhan Sabha elections of 2014, the Party polled 2,07,933 votes in 20 seats, wrested the Kalwan (ST) seat in Nashik district for the seventh time since 1978, polling nearly 68,000 votes there; lost the sitting Dahanu (ST) seat in Thane district and polled over 28,000 votes there; and got over 10,000 votes in five more seats – Nashik West, Dindori (ST), Solapur Central, Vikramgad (ST) and Akole (ST). In the local body elections of January 2015 that were held due to the division of the old Thane district into Thane and Palghar, the CPI(M) fought against heavy odds to win 5 Zilla Parishad and 11 Panchayat Samiti seats. Local body elections in other districts had been held in February 2012. Thus the CPI(M) now has 33 seats in the local bodies – 8 Zilla Parishad seats, 19 Panchayat Samiti seats and 6 Municipal Corporation seats. These seats are in 6 districts – Thane-Palghar, Nashik, Solapur, Parbhani, Nanded and Buldana. In the LS, VS and local body elections, although there were nominal alliances with left and secular parties, the CPI(M) had to basically fight on its own independent strength.
  • There was an increase of nearly 25,000 (6,79,129 to 7,04,070) in the total membership of all six mass organisations during the last three years, as follows: Trade union – 1,22,487 to 1,56,460; Kisan – 2,35,212 to 2,25,978; Agricultural workers – 1,26,530 to 1,17,273; Women – 73,510 to 83,168; Youth – 86,055 to 70,673; and Student – 35,335 to 50,518.
  • The proportion of Party membership in each mass front in 2014 was as follows: Kisan – 51.1 %; Trade union – 20.4 %; Youth – 11.8 %; Women – 8.1 %; Agricultural workers – 4.1 %; Students – 1.6 %; Other fronts – 2.6 %.
  • Apart from the six main mass fronts, good work was done on the University and College Teachers front, in some sectors of the Bank and Insurance employees front and in a few districts on the Housing front. However, there was a setback on the Transport front and continued weakness on the Cultural front. A new Research Unit that was set up under the state committee during this period did encouraging work in many fields.
  • Publication of a new colour edition of the Party weekly Jeevan Marg began from January 2012 with resultant increase in circulation, but much more increase is necessary. One special annual issue of Jeevan Marg was published in 2014. An attractive and meaningful 2015 calendar to commemorate the golden jubilee year of both the CPI(M) and of Jeevan Marg was published, and nearly 10,000 copies of it were sold in the state.
  • 1,86,000 copies of 53 different books and pamphlets were published by the Party state committee and by the Party publishing house Janashakti Prakashan in the last few years. There was good sale of this literature by the districts (Rs 7 lakh in the last three years).
  • A three-day state-level Party class was held in Mumbai in January 2013 to mark the Comrade P Sundarayya Birth Centenary Year. It was attended by 413 comrades from 28 districts. Among the central leaders who took various subjects were CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat, Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury and central secretariat member Nilotpal Basu. The class was greatly appreciated by all.
  • Six of the twelve small booklets that form the Party syllabus for the Maharashtra CPI(M) were published in 2013-14. These are: The Challenge of Identity Politics – Prakash Karat; Imperialism in our Time – Sitaram Yechury; Our Concept of the Indian Revolution – Ashok Dhawale; Building the Communist Party Organisation – Nilotpal Basu; Marxist Economics – Kishore Theckedath; Religion, Caste and Class – Kumar Shiralkar. The remaining six booklets will be published within a year.   
  • Three state-level classes were held on the Student front, two on the Kisan front, two on the Youth front, one on the Women’s front and none on the Trade Union and Agricultural workers front. Several district-level Party classes were held. But very few district classes for branch secretaries were held and the state-level class for elected representatives could not be held. More sustained work on the Party education front is necessary.
  • There was a marginal decrease in Party membership from 12,586 to 12,507 in the last three years. In class terms, 60.4 % of Party membership is from the peasantry, 19.8 % is from agricultural workers, 15.0 % is from the working class and 4.7 % from the middle class. There was an increase of 0.6 % in the peasant membership, but a corresponding decline of 0.3%, 0.2 % and 0.1 % in the agricultural workers, working class and middle class membership respectively in the last three years.
  • A significant feature of Maharashtra is that 50.2 % of the total Party membership is from Adivasis, and most of it is from the Thane-Palghar and Nashik districts. These two districts account for 51.3 % of the total Party membership in the state. The proportion of Dalits in the total Party membership is 9.3 %, of minorities is 4.6 % and of women is 17.2 %. There is a decrease of 3.3 % in the proportion of Adivasi comrades, 1.2 % in Dalit comrades, and 0.5 % in minority comrades in the last three years. But there is an increase of 1.2 % in the proportion of women comrades in the same period.
  • One worrisome feature is the continuous decline in the proportion of young comrades below 40 years of age. This youth proportion was 60 % of the total Party membership in 2003; it declined to 52 % in 2007; to 46 % in 2011; and to 43 % in 2014. This aspect must be taken very seriously by the Party by vastly strengthening the student-youth fronts.
  • Important initiatives were taken by the state committee in the last few years on the question of Party whole timers. A Rs 40 lakh whole timers fund was collected in the state for the first time in 2008-09. In 2013 again Rs 17 lakh was collected for the same purpose. A sum of Rs 12 lakh from the Rs 60 lakh mass collection of the Jyoti Basu Centenary Fund in 2013 came to the state committee and the rest went to the district committees.
  • There are a total of 198 Party and mass front whole timers today in 21 districts. The Party state committee gives a wage of Rs 4,000 per month to 53 whole timers spread across several districts and mass fronts. The Kisan front state committee takes care of 5 whole timers and the Trade union state committee takes care of one whole timer. The remaining whole timers are taken care of by Party district committees and by various trade union centres. An increase in the number and wages of whole timers was made, but more is necessary. At the same time a regular check up on the work output and accountability of whole timers has also become very necessary. The first state-level Party whole timers class was held three years ago. A special resolution on Party whole timers was adopted by the state committee for the first time.
  • There was a substantial increase in the Party levy coming to the state committee, from Rs 8.42 lakh in 2005 to Rs 29.55 lakh in 2013. A Rs 8.5 lakh fund was collected from the state and given to the West Bengal Solidarity Fund. Rs 17 lakh worth of advertisements were collected from the state for the Jeevanmarg special issue four years ago, and this amount was utilised for the renovation of the state Party office Janashakti in Mumbai and for the Comrade B T Ranadive Smarak Bhavan in New Mumbai.
  • A resolution on Party Rectification in Maharashtra was discussed thoroughly and adopted by the state committee, but implementation of the campaign was not satisfactory at the lower levels. A One and a Half Year Plan for Party Development was adopted by the state committee after review of the earlier Plan, but some tasks still remain to be completed.
  • The report reviews the functioning of the Party state secretariat, state committee, district committees and Party branches. It calls for improvement at all these levels, especially at the level of the district and lower committees and much more so in the Party branches.

The Political-Organisational Report concludes by setting out the direction of tasks to be adopted for the future. It stresses on unleashing large and sustained class and mass struggles on burning people’s issues; combating the grave danger of all types of communal forces; taking up social issues seriously; leading campaigns against corruption and criminalisation; fighting against imperialist intervention in all spheres; increasing political-ideological awareness amongst Party members manifold; giving a much more extensive, democratic and militant shape to all mass fronts; strengthening Left unity and building the unity of Left and democratic forces around it; and fully concentrating on increasing the independent strength and mass influence of the Party.

The various reports of the mass fronts were briefly placed before the conference by Narsayya Adam, Kisan Gujar, Prakash Choudhari, Mariam Dhawale, Preethy Sekhar and Mohan Jadhav respectively.

In the day-long discussion on the Political-Organisational report on March 15, as many as 54 comrades participated. The level of discussion surpassed that of earlier state conferences and the delegates freely expressed their views, criticisms and suggestions that greatly helped to enrich the report. The most important feature of the discussion this time was the essential unity that was manifested. The report was adopted unanimously after a brief reply by the state secretary.

CPI(M) Polit Bureau member K Varadha Rajan and Central Secretariat member Nilotpal Basu addressed the conference after the conclusion of the discussion on the report, and congratulated the delegates for their enlightening discussion. They stressed the need for conducting militant local struggles on people’s issues at the right time, building up the mass fronts and the Party in a sustained manner and taking our political line to the people in a convincing way.


In a special session to commemorate the golden jubilee of the CPI(M) and of the Party state weekly Jeevan Marg, on the afternoon of March 15, a get together was organised of all delegates with the spouses and children of departed state Party leaders who had devoted their entire lives to the Party.

The spouses and children of all departed Party state committee members and district secretaries were contacted personally by letter and on phone and letters were also emailed to those who were abroad. Those who attended included Alka Rangnekar (daughter-in-law of Ahilya and P B Rangnekar), Prabhatai, Adv Deepa, Marish and Sachin Bajaj (wife, daughter and sons of K L Bajaj), Devyanitai, Subodh, Nachiket, Atul and Dinant More (wife and sons of Satyendra More, who in turn was the son of R B More, one of the closest associates of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar and the founder-editor of Jeevan Marg), Anuradhatai and Vijayatai Malusare (wife and sister-in law of Narendra Malusare), Lata and Shaila Menon (daughters of P R Menon), Prabhatai and Ajay Ghangare (wife and son of Ramchandra Ghangare), Sitabai and Sanjay Pawar (wife and son of K K Pawar), Gauri Mahabaleshwarkar (daughter of Prabhakar Mahabaleshwarkar), Manda and Sneha Gaikwad (wife and daughter of Vinayak Gaikwad), and Mukesh Chheda (very close associate of Ahilya Rangnekar).

Dr Ashok Dhawale explained the purpose and nature of this special session and introduced the guests. Sitaram Yechury felicitated all of them with gifts of books recently published by the CPI(M) Maharashtra state committee and its publishing house Janashakti Prakashan. One member per family spoke briefly of what the Party and their spouse/parent had meant to them. Some of their speeches brought tears to many eyes. They thanked the Party for arranging this programme and for remembering its veteran leaders. Many of these Party families also made a handsome contribution to the Party fund. This emotional session was greatly appreciated and will always be remembered. 


In the concluding session of the state conference on March 16, the conference adopted a number of important resolutions: On the chronic drought situation in Maharashtra and against the river linking project that will adversely affect drought-hit Maharashtra; Against the ideological onslaught of the communal forces; Against growing social atrocities on dalits and women; Against reactionary anti-working class changes in labour laws; Against the anti-peasant land acquisition law; Against the ban on beef imposed by the BJP-SS state government; For 5 % reservation for Muslims in education and jobs; and In solidarity with the CPI(M)’s struggle against repression in West Bengal.

Sanjay Thakur placed the Credentials Report. There were 350 delegates and 23 observers from 30 of the 36 districts. There were 56 women delegates. 65 delegates were from the working class, 96 from agricultural workers, 110 from poor peasants, 40 from middle peasants, 1 from rich peasants and 48 from the middle class. 164 were Adivasis, 49 were Dalits and 10 were from the minorities. 3 had joined the Party before 1964, 30 from 1965-75, 133 from 1976-90, 82 from 1991-2005, 61 from 2006-12 and 12 after 2012. 32 were less than 30 years of age, 112 from 31-40 years, 117 from 41-60 years, 45 from 61-70 years, 11 from 71-80 years and 3 were over 80 years of age. 17 were illiterate, 47 had primary education, 110 had secondary education, 83 had higher secondary education, 59 were graduates, 19 were postgraduates, 28 were doctorates and professionals.

136 delegates were working in the AIKS, 90 in CITU and other trade unions, 41 in AIDWA, 38 in DYFI, 23 in AIAWU and 17 in SFI. 240 were subscribers to Jeevan Marg, 59 to Loklahar, 34 to People’s Democracy, 15 to Marxist and 8 to other Party papers. 154 delegates had ongoing police cases against them. 130 delegates had been jailed or arrested for various periods – of them 6 were jailed for over a year and 3 for over 5 years. 10 comrades had experience of underground life. There was 1 MLA, 4 zilla parishad members, 8 panchayat samiti members, 26 gram panchayat members, 3 municipal corporators and 25 co-operative society members. There were 120 Party whole timers among the delegates, and 94 more were prepared to become Party whole timers.

The conference unanimously elected the following with cheers: a 52-member new state committee with two vacancies, a 3-member state control commission and 16 delegates and 6 alternate delegates to the 21th Party Congress. 6 special invitees to the state committee were also announced. There were 9 new entrants into the state committee, who included 2 women, 2 Adivasis and 3 youth. The new state committee now has a total of 6 women, 8 tribals, 7 minorities and 2 dalits.  

Since Dr Ashok Dhawale had completed three terms as state secretary, the new state committee unanimously elected Narsayya Adam as the state secretary and also unanimously elected a 15-member new state secretariat whose other members are: Dr Ashok Dhawale, Mahendra Singh, J P Gavit, Mariam Dhawale, Ajit Abhyankar, Manohar Muley, Dr Kishore Theckedath, Udayan Sharma, Vijay Gabhane, Nathu Salve, P S Ghadge, M H Shaikh, Kisan Gujar and Barkya Mangat.

Senior leader Dr Vithal More, who had worked closely with Dr Ashok Dhawale since their SFI days from 1978, delivered an emotional farewell address to the retiring state secretary and he also welcomed the new state secretary Narsayya Adam. Dr Ashok Dhawale warmly thanked all the comrades whose guidance he had received in the last one decade as state secretary and in the last four decades as a party member. He pledged all help and support to the new state secretary.   

After the perceptive concluding remarks by Sitaram Yechury, the enthusiastic felicitation of all the young volunteers at the hands of the central leaders, the vote of thanks and the spirited red salute by all the delegates to the Nashik comrades who had done a splendid job of hosting this state conference, the conference ended with the Internationale amidst resounding revolutionary slogans.   

A 45-minute documentary film called “Journey of Study and Struggle” outlining the brief history of the Maharashtra SFI, prepared by former SFI leaders Avinash Salvi and Shrikant Bhosale, was inaugurated by Sitaram Yechury. Rs 25,000 worth of progressive literature was sold and Rs 30,000 worth of subscriptions to the Party papers was collected during this conference. A book stall was put up by the state committee in the district conferences and literature worth Rs 1.20 lakh was sold.