THE entire country is aspiring for a pro-people alternative at the centre, sans the Congress and the BJP. The Congress party, at the helm of power continuously for two terms now, has utterly failed to address the basic problems that pinch the people most. Its neo-liberal policies have caused havoc to the people’s livelihood. However, the BJP, though it is trying to cash in on the people’s anger against the Congress misrule, is equally infamous insofar as misrule and corruption are concerned. We are striving to form a government with an alternative policy framework that may render relief to the common masses from the stings of neo-liberal policies and save the country’s secular fabric. In this endeavour, the struggling people of Tripura, including the students community shall have to play a vital role, highlighting the successes that have been achieved by the Left Front government in Tripura.
This was the appeal made by Sitaram Yechury who was addressing an impressive rally on the occasion of the 18th Tripura state conference of the Students Federation of India (SFI) at Udaipur on January 10, 2014.
Apart from Sitaram Yechury, the rally at the KBI School ground (named as C Bhaskaran Nagar) was presided over by Nilanjana Roy and was addressed, among others, by the SFI’s all-India general secretary Ritubrata Banerjee and state secretary Nabarun Deb.
Attaching high importance to the ensuing Lok Sabha elections, Yechury these elections would decide which direction the country would take in the coming days. If the Delhi assembly election is any indication, it is evident that the people will favour those parties who can viably stand against the Congress and the BJP. These two parties had had a tacit understanding in passing through the parliament all the anti-people bills in line with the neo-liberal policies.
Scathingly coming down upon the ruling Congress party that patronised the unprecedented corruption scams occurred during the UPA regime, Yechury no less than five lakh crore rupees have been misappropriated from the government exchequer in several mega scams whereas only 1.75 thousand crore rupees are sufficient to implement the Right to Education Act, provide nutritious food for all the undernourished children of the country and draw them inside the school premises. While the UPA government is denying universal rationing of essential goods including rice and wheat in the name of lack of resources, how is it that billionaires were given tax exemption of thousands of crores of rupees, Yechury retorted. Our students must not keep their eyes closed to these facts of our national life, he urged.
Describing the semi-fascist attacks on democracy in West Bengal, particularly on the opposition parties, and the attempts to annihilate the communists in the state, Ritubrata Banerjee said the strength of the communists lies in their ideology, not in any muscle power. Terror tactics have nowhere sustained for long. It is not very far off when the democratic forces of West Bengal shall emerge victorious, Banerjee said, adding that in this struggle Tripura would be our guiding force. He highly appreciated the 21 percent budgetary allocation for education in the state whereas it is only four percent at the national level.
Prior to the rally, SFI leaders and delegates paid homage at the martyrs’ column in the lawns of the Udaipur Town Hall which was named as C Bhaskaran Nagar, the slain SFI leader of Kerala. The conference flag was brought by SFI volunteers from the place of martyrdom of Kanu Dey who was shot to death on July 8, 1991 by the police of the Congress-TUJS alliance government in Tripura Sundari Higher Secondary School while he was leading a procession of students demanding supply of school books.
In the evening, the delegates session started. Altogether 539 delegates attended the conference, representing from 19 subdivisions. In his inaugurating speech, the state’s higher education minister Bhanulal Saha said students are the most sensitive section of the society and that they should not be mere money-making tools. They should realise the problems of the people, the problems in the spread of education, why many shining students of the country fail to access high education, why universal education could not be implemented after so many years of independence, what is the implication of the neo-liberal polices for the education sector. Therefore while preparing their lessons in schools, simultaneously they should build up struggle for better educational infrastructure for the coming generations.
SFI state secretary Nabarun Deb presented the political-organisational report in the first session of the conference. The report dealt with the economic and cultural aggression of imperialist powers and the surrender of the UPA government that is pursuing the neo-liberal policies. Regarding the state situation, the report said the Left Front government is working amidst multifarious adversities including financial constraints. Following the debacle faced by the Left Front in West Bengal and Kerala in 2011, the Congress was expecting to dislodge the Left Front government of Tripura too in the 2013 assembly elections. But the conscious people of the state frustrated their designs by decisively voting the Left Front to power with more seats and more votes. The student community of the state played a commendable role in this victory, the report said. Regarding organisation, the report mentioned that while at the time of the 17th state conference the SFI’s total membership was 1,38,118 in the state, now it has risen to 1,48,524. This growth has to be maintained, the report said.
On the 11th afternoon, a programme named Fire Dekha (Looking Back) was organised. Former leaders of the undivided Students Federation and of the subsequently formed SFI were invited to interact in a seminar on the day. Bijan Dhar (at present the CPI(M) state secretary), Tapas Datta (now DYFI state president) and others exchanged their experiences of the formative days of the organisation with the audience.
The delegates discussed the report of the general secretary from the first session on January 11. In all, 32 delegates including seven girls participated in the discussion and raised valuable issues concerning the student community. The issues they raised included the scarcity of teaching staff in subdivisional colleges, increasing incidents of atrocities on women in the country, poor health services in remote areas etc. They pointed out some weaknesses of the SFI organisation in the state. The SFI has no access as yet in many of the institutions, they reported. The delegates also urged about exposure of the evil politics of some corporate media to detach the student community from politics on the plea they are learners. They also demanded early passage of the women’s bill in the parliament and expressed fraternity to the fighting people of West Bengal who are groaning under the Trinamul terror.
In the last session on January 12, the SFI’s all-India general secretary Ritubara Banerjee urged the building up of a bigger countrywide struggle for democratic rights of students. The student community cannot attain these rights without fighting against the neo-liberal policies, he asserted.
With a view to further strengthening the students movement, a 79-member state committee was elected by the conference, and the state committee then elected a 17-member state secretariat. The conference bid farewell to 47 members of the preceding state committee and the new members gave them mementos. Nilanjana Roy and Nabarun Deb were re-elected president and secretary respectively.\