CPI(ML) Campaign in a Working Class Constituency
"In the kind of democracy we have in our country, it often happens that a workers' leader goes to jail and the smugglers go to assembly and parliament. The question before the people of Villivakkam constituency is to decide whether to send a smuggler or a workers' leader to the assembly. I am not naming who is a smuggler in this constituency because you can identify him when they react to this". Of course, the very next day they reacted to this election speech of Com. Vinod Mishra, delivered in a modest gathering of more than 1000 people, by sending a bunch of lumpens to our election office for issuing a veiled threat. They were not the lumpens of AIADMK as you would have anticipated in view of Tamil Nadu political situation but were the rowdies of the holy alliance of DMK-TMC combine.
In a way, situation in this constituency was conducive for our propaganda offensive because neither AIADMK nor DMK fielded its candidate, rather the seat was given to their alliance partners - Rao Congress and Moopanar Congress (TMC). One Mr.Haroon Rasheed, a smuggler-turned-politician and a millionaire, was the main contestant. And ultimately he emerged victorious in a four-cornered contest with Congress (I), MDMK and CPI(ML).
Our propaganda plank in this constituency of large number of working class voters was mainly aimed at raising the issue of anti-worker NEP and exposing its advocates of duplicate Congress represented by P.Chidambaram, the agent of MNCs and the big landlord Moopanar. We also hit hard at the opportunistic alliance of Karunanithi who claims to be the champion of once-progressive Dravidianism which uprooted Congress from the soil of Tamil Nadu. We called it a sellout by DMK and an act giving a new lease of life to the dead corpse, the Congress. We were also raising the issues of urban development.
The election campaign in Villivakkam constituency is significant mainly because of large number of workers' participation in political battle, in support of their beloved trade union leader and CPI(ML) candidate Com. Kumarasamy. As a whole, more than 300 workers took part in election work, through their participation in padayatras, cycle rallies, processions and in various forms of propaganda. The people's struggle committees formed at local area level few months before election to raise the issues of civic amenities and basic problems of the masses turned into booth committees and our propaganda matched with other dominant electoral parties.
With our limited resources, it would not have been possible to run such an impressive campaign without such a dedication and involvement displayed by the workers, including a section of workers of DMK affiliation. The whole election expenditure of about Rs 1.1 lakhs was contributed by workers themselves. The Padayatras covering about 30 Kms. of lanes and bylanes of Padi and Villivakkam in a scorching sun, for 2 days, attended by about 150 workers was a surprise for a commonman. The cyclists going about the interior parts of the streets of Ambattur municipality for 2 days in 2 different cycle rallies were also a show of attraction. The star programme of massive procession organised on the previous evening of the closing of the election campaign threw the whole traffic out of gear for more than 2 hours.
If in the last elections our work was mainly confined to main roads and general campaign programmes undertaken from above, this time it marked a spontaneous participation of workers and local youth in electioneering. Unlike the last elections, our election machinery was more efficient this time, the members of election committee had a habit of meeting every night, reviewed the day's progress, planned for the next day's work and dispersed at late night. More than 15 booth offices were erected at interior parts of the constituency and used as main centres of election work. The workers of the locality and the workers of different factories, belonging to some other constituencies assembled at their respective booth offices, discussed the campaign themes and carried out their work collectively.
On the day of polling alone more than 500 workers along with local youth engaged in canvassing voters standing outside the polling booths. We had our polling agents in 35 polling booths. In this constituency, we have about 40 affiliated unions covering about 1500 workers of small and medium industries, out of which about 750 workers live in the same constituency. Apart from this there are industry-based unions like Dunlop, TI tubes, TI Diamond Chain, Southern Switchgear etc., in which the candidate is the president. We hope more than 1500 workers of affiliated and unaffiliated unions might have voted for us. Rest of the votes out of the total secured votes of 3384 might be from the general workers of the constituency who are well aware of our struggles in TU front as well as on local issues. Despite the unsatisfactory performance in terms of votes, we are pretty sure that this campaign will be a springboard for our development in the days to come. I feel it won't be inappropriate to mention here that if our participation in last elections opened up the gates for large scale TU expansion, this time it would hopefully pave the way for a large-scale party expansion, because the kind of response and support we could gather even from DMK workers and activists is enough indication for this.