Gears up to Take on New Challenge

Six years after it began its march from this historic city of Allahabad with its founding conference, AISA met again at the Lal Padmadhar Hall in Allahabad University campus with a new zeal and vibrancy to assess its role an chart out its future course in today's political situation.

The occasion was its National Convention for the Right to Work and Education. Incidentally, AISA's journey way back in 1990 had started with the same demand. However, with the current political dispensation at the Centre the same demand assumes a new significance today. While most of the political parties that are now part of, or supporters to, the UF Government have in their election manifestoes promised to make the right to work and education a fundamental right, the same is missing from the Common Minimum Programme accepted by each one of these parties. In fact the document has no mention of the problems of education, employment or other problems affecting students.

AISA has given an ultimatum to the UF Government to take up these demands of the students or else face the wrath of the students. The recent convention of 14 student-youth organisations including SFI, AISF, DYFI, NSUI(I) (Tiwari Cong.) belonging to the parties associated with UF have only shed crocodile tears at being let down and all they could do was to present Deve Gowda with a memorandum of their displeasure. This opens a new political stage where AISA is the only Left oppositional student force. Moreover, as the UF government is bulldozing through with its economic onslaught with gusto that would put the previous regime to shame, a challenge is thrown up for revolutionary left organisations like AISA to resist all these policies on behalf on the student community.

In this context AISA national convention has come up at an opportune moment. With a relatively new team of leaders and cadres, the convention began with the inaugural address by Comrade Vinod Mishra (see excerpts of the speech). In particular, he appealed to the students to rise above caste and feudal backward thinking and take new light into the society.

The two-day convention focussed attention over today's political atmosphere and the new role for AISA in the student movement. It also discussed at length the course of action for the movement for education and employment. Activists raised practical problems they were facing in mobilising students over this particular issue. Some suggestions also emerged from this discussion to begin with but it was decided to continue the discussion at lower level workshops to be held very soon. It was decided that while continuing agitation on this demand against the UF Government, AISA would organise an elaborate campaign which will culminate with an all-India strike sometime in September.

While it was felt that in the given political situation the demand for education and employment assumes added importance, AISA would continue to stand in solidarity with anti-feudal struggles. At the same time it held that the question of education and employment is connected with other social-political questions; it is not merely an economic problem in isolation.
Taking up a new political challenge and infused with a new energy, the convention kindled hope among the participants to take this movement to greater heights. Overcoming its weaknesses and stagnations, now it is for AISA to move forward in bold and giant steps.

- Siddartha