On August 1, 2015, the CPI (M) Maharashtra state committee organised an impressive rally of over 10,000 people as part of the nationwide campaign against the anti-people and pro-corporate policies, communal conspiracies and corruption scandals of the BJP-led Modi regime at the Centre, and the BJP-led Phadnavis regime in the State. The participants included peasants, agricultural workers, organised and unorganised workers, women, students and youth from all over Maharashtra, except the Vidarbha region for which a separate rally will be held in Nagpur on August 12.

The rally was led by Sitaram Yechury, MP, general secretary of the CPI(M); Dr Ashok Dhawale, central secretariat member; central committee members Narasayya Adam (state secretary and ex-MLA), Mahendra Singh and Sudha Sundararaman; and state secretariat members J P Gavit MLA, Dr Kishore Theckedath, Mariam Dhawale, Barkya Mangat, Kisan Gujar, Nathu Salve, M H Shaikh, Vijay Gabhane and P S Ghadge.

Coincidentally, August 1 was also the birth anniversary of legendary Communist poet, writer and singer of Maharashtra, Anna Bhau Sathe who, along with his comrades Amar Shaikh and Datta Gavhankar, formed the renowned Lal Bavta Kalapathak (cultural squad) of the Communist Party from the 1940s to the 1960s. The same day also happened to be the death anniversary of the staunch anti-imperialist fighter Lokmanya Tilak, whose declaration that ‘Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it’ had galvanised the country.   

Prior to the rally, a 16-member delegation led by Sitaram Yechury met the Governor of Maharashtra C Vidyasagar Rao for over an hour at the Raj Bhavan and submitted a memorandum highlighting the burning problems of all the toiling sections of the state. The detailed memorandum included issues related to price rise, non-implementation of the food security act, weakening of the public distribution system, against the anti-peasant and pro-corporate land acquisition Ordinance/bill, stringent implementation of the forest rights act, remunerative prices and sufficient bank loans with low interest rates to the peasantry as per the Swaminathan Commission recommendations, the problems related to irrigation and power, allocation of more funds to MNERGA for provision of work and enhanced wages to agricultural workers, against anti-labour and pro-corporate changes in labour laws, regularisation of all scheme workers, provision of social security and minimum wages of Rs. 15,000 to all unorganised workers, regularising the slums till 2015, problems related to education and employment, and strict action in cases of atrocities and violence against Dalits, Adivasis, women and minorities.

The protest march started from Jijamata Udyan, Byculla and culminated at Azad Maidan covering a distance of over 7 Kms in the heart of South Mumbai. The participants carried red flags, placards, banners and raised slogans against the anti-people policies of the government.

The staunch anti-communal crusader Teesta Setalvad, who is being hounded by the CBI at the dictates of the Modi regime, also participated in the long march. Students from the FTII further enlivened the rally with a couple of revolutionary songs.

The public meeting was addressed by Sitaram Yechury, Dr. Ashok Dhawale, Narasayya Adam, Sudha Sundararaman, J. P. Gavit MLA, Mariam Dhawale, M.H. Shaikh, Nathu Salve, Arjun Adey, Shubha Shamim and Dr. Ajit Nawale. Mahendra Singh presided over the rally and Shailendra Kamble conducted the proceedings.

Addressing the huge gathering, Sitaram Yechury explained why the CPI(M) has launched the nationwide campaign against the Modi regime, which will culminate in the All India Hartal on September 2. Dealing with various aspects of the severe agrarian crisis that has led to thousands of peasant suicides in several states, he said that the Modi regime’s policies were squarely in favour of the ‘Dhanwans’ (the rich) and against the ‘Kisans’ (farmers). He gave instance of the draconian Land Acquisition Ordinance, the refusal to give remunerative prices to the peasantry despite the pre-election assurances in the BJP manifesto, the moves to kill the MGNREGA, the Forest Rights Act (FRA) and the Food Security Act (FSA), the reactionary changes in labour laws and so on.

Hitting out at the cascading corruption scandals of the BJP-led central government and the BJP-led state governments of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh and Maharashtra, he accused the Modi regime of adopting double standards – disrupting Parliament demanding the resignations of corrupt ministers in the UPA regime when in opposition on the one hand, and refusing to make its own corrupt ministers and chief ministers resign on the other.

Lashing out at the communal conspiracies of the BJP regime, he extended full support of the CPI(M) to valiant fighters against communalism like Teesta Setalvad and Javed Anand. While condemning all kinds of terrorism and communal riots which are two sides of the same coin, he said that Yakub Memon was hanged for his role in the Mumbai bomb blasts of March 1993 which killed 257 people, but what about the Shiv Sena and BJP criminals who were responsible for the killing of 900 people in the Mumbai communal riots two months earlier in December 1992 and January 1993? They have gone scot free. The RSS-VHP-BJP perpetrators of the horrific Gujarat riots of 2002 are also still at large. It is this injustice that we are fighting against.

In conclusion, he said that it was in the month of August 1942 that Mahatma Gandhi had given the Quit India call to the British imperialists from this historic city itself. Today, he said, we are  giving the same call from here to the communalists. We are appealing to the people that this is a struggle between those who want to save India and those who want to break India. Only massive struggles of the working people will help us to achieve our aim.

The Nagpur rally on August 12 will be addressed by CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and AIKS general secretary Hannan Mollah, and it will concentrate on the agrarian crisis which is the worst in Vidarbha. Each district committee had printed thousands of leaflets. Between August 2 and 14 there will be many rallies and demonstrations at the district and tehsil centres all over the state. The state committee has published 40,000 copies of a booklet written by Dr Ashok Dhawale against the Modi regime and 15,000 posters for both the Mumbai and the Nagpur rallies.