Young and dynamic tribal leader Kiran Raj Gahala will lead the red flag’s fight in the Palghar Lok Sabha bypoll: Team SI
The lok Sabha bypoll for the Palghar (ST) scheduled for May 28 has become very interesting with all the three main ruling class parties in the fray facing internal conflicts due to the choice of candidates. The decision of Shiv Sena to break its relationship with BJP by fielding its own candidate on the seat and that too the son of BJP MP Chintaman Vanaga-whose death in January necessitated the Palghar Lok Sabha bypoll- has send BJP into jittery mode. BJP too has fielded a turncoat- Rajendra Gavit, a former Congress candidate in the seat. A visibly miffed Congress leadership said that ‘BJP used money power to poach its leader, who anyways was not going to get Congress ticket since he had lost two consecutive elections’. Yet, Congress leadership didn’t mince any words when it called Rajendra Gavit a gaddar (traitor) who will be taught lesson by the electorate of Palghar. Congress has fielded five-time MP Damu Shingdha, following the desertion of Gavit. Even though Baujan Vikas Aghadi’s Baliram Jadhav too is in fray, the real person to watch out for in this multicorner election will be CPI (M)’s young, tribal leader Kiran Raja Gahala.
( Kiran Raj Gahala, the CPI (M) candidate in the Palghar (ST) Lok Sabha bypoll scheduled for 28 May)
Palghar is one of the strong base areas of CPI (M) in the state and in the recently concluded historic long march to Mumbai; a sizeable section included the marginal adivasis farmers from this region. The mood for the bypoll was set in the ‘Vijay and Nirdhaar morcha’ ( victory and assessment rally) held in Dahanu on 3rd May following the victory in the long march that forced the Maharashtra government to concede to the demands of the peasants in the form of a written agreement signed by the Chief Secretary of the Maharashtra government. The 9 demands of the Mumbai long marchers included like the unconditional loan waiver, transfer of forest land in the name of tribals under the Forest Rights Act, 2006, setting up a panel for agro produce, compensation for the Pink Bollworm attack, which affected lakhs of cotton farmers in the State, implementation of the M S Swaminathan Committee, and other demands. Around 50,000 farmers from Palghar, Talasari, Dahanu, Nasik and other surrounding areas had attended the rally held at Par Naka in Dahanu. The Dahanu rally had decided that no forcible land acquisition in the name of fancy projects like the Ahmadabad-Mumbai bullet train or super highways and expressways will be allowed to happen. It needs to be noted that earlier the state government had earlier assured that no farm land will be acquired without permission from the farmers. The Dahanu rally had roared that every such project will be stalled if the BJP government dares to break its promise. The momentum from the long march and later the Dahanu rally have indeed given a political weight to the adivasi marginal farmers and agricultural labourers of the region, who have had a long history of struggles under the red flag. The Dahanu rally, just as the long march was marked by the participation of overwhelming number of women peasants. Dr. Ashok Dhawale, the national president of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) and the Central Secretariat member of CPI (M) addressing the rally in Dahanu had said that “CPI (M) has nearly 1 lakh dedicated votes in the 6 assembly constituencies of the Palghar LS seat and it is now upon the secular parties to support the CPI (M) candidate to defeat the BJP”.
( Thousands of people accompanying Gahala, while he went to file his nomination papers)
The Palghar seat before the delimitation in 2009 was known as Dahanu LS seat and due to delimitation many of the assembly segments with strong CPI (M) bases are no longer part of the seat. In spite of this, Party has been getting good number of votes. Let us have a look at the votes secured by CPI (M) canididates in the seat- Dahanu (until 2004) and Palghar (2009 onwards):
|Year||Votes secured by CPI (M) candidate|
While the main base of CPI (M) is among the adivasis who are present in good numbers across the assembly segments, the main electoral challenge would be to ensure support among the non-tribal sections and the minorities (who are present in large numbers in a few assembly segments). CPI (M) is contesting the elections in the backdrop of a improved performance in the 2015 local body elections. The CPI (M) won 5 zilla parishad (ZP) seats and 11 panchayat samiti (PS) seats in four out of the eight tehsils of Palghar district and in one tehsil of Thane district. When compared to the Vidhan Sabha polls three months ago, the CPI (M) in these elections substantially increased its votes in its main tribal bastion in the Talasari, Dahanu, Jawhar and Vikramgad tehsils. For instance, in the Talasari tehsil its votes increased from 15,130 to 18,334, and in the Dahanu tehsil its votes increased from 16,019 to 18,142.
The CPI(M) also retained the Talasari tehsil panchayat samiti, which it has been winning for the past 53 years since 1962 without a break, by wresting 5 out of the 10 seats there in a particularly difficult situation. The Party for the first time won a panchayat samiti seat in the Murbad tehsil of Thane district.
Apart from the 16 seats that it won, in 3 more ZP seats and in 10 more PS seats, the Party stood second. Some of them were lost by wafer-thin margins. For instance, the Saravli PS seat in Dahanu was lost by just 8 votes; the Zai PS seat in Talasari by 84 votes; the Dehene PS seat in Dahanu by 209 votes; the Dehene ZP seat in Dahanu by 268 votes; the Jamshet PS seat in Dahanu by 315 votes; the Vehelpada PS seat in Vikramgad by 363 votes; and so on.
These elections were an uphill political task for the CPI (M). The BJP and Shiv Sena had swept the Lok Sabha and the Vidhan Sabha polls in Thane-Palghar districts, as in the rest of Maharashtra. Due to this, most of the opportunist leaders of the Congress and NCP in Palghar district deserted their sinking ships and joined the BJP or Shiv Sena before the ZP/PS elections. As a result, the Congress and NCP were nearly obliterated in Palghar district, increasing the strength of the BJP and SS, who fought these elections against each other.
The electoral gains after setback in 2014 lok Sabha elections and later the assembly elections along with the determined political advances shown through recent mobilizations will certainly ensure that CPI (M) will give a tough fight to all the opportunist candidates of the ruling class’ political parties. Its not only an electoral fight for the lakhs of adivasi peasants and their families- It is an extension of the class struggle which they are carrying forward every single day of their lives. And, Socialist India is certain that the victory will be ours!
(People United Shall Always Be Victorious)