Students Declare – We Are Not Fodder For Divisive Fascists, We Are The Makers Of A Better Tomorrow And A New India!

AISA Conference at Kolkata – December 15-16

F OR TWO DAYS, students from all over the country relived the memory of the glorious student movement of the 70s. Declaring that Kolkata was ‘Ashu Majumdar Nagar’ (after the student martyr of the 70s), they asserted that for radical students everywhere in India, Kolkata would be remembered as the site of the immortal student upsurge of Naxalbari. On the morning of the 15th, students from UP, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Assam, Jharkhand, Tripura, Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Pondicherry, Orissa as well as districts of West Bengal began to pour into Kolkata. They marched from Howrah and Sealdah stations to College Square, scene of many historic student actions of the 70s, which was now graced by hundreds of colourful festoons, banners and placards.

Initiating the meeting, AISA General Secretary Sunil Yadav said that the BJP govt and its friends like the Shiv Sena and ULFA wanted to exploit the explosive anger against unemployment by creating divisions on regional lines. He challenged them to come and witness the scene at College Square, where students from Assam were there in rock-solid unity with their sisters and brothers from Bihar! He warned them that students would defend the unity of their movement against the real enemy – the policies that were creating unemployment. He called upon students to intensify the struggle to expose and challenge the communal fascist Sangh Parivar and its policies of saffronisation and privatisation. Among the several student and youth leaders who addressed the mass meeting at College Square were Thakur Gaire, Secretary of the ANNFSU, who along with the Rajiv Pahari, Chief of the Educational Department, ANNFSU, had come from Nepal, as well as Hardev Joshi, General Secretary of the AINFSU. Addressing the gathering, RYA President Mithilesh Yadav called upon students to join youth in warning those in power – ‘If No Employment, The Government Must Go!’. Concluding the meeting, AISA President Kavita Krishnan said that people had high expectations that theCPI(M) Govt of WB which called itself a Left govt, would offer an alternative model. Instead, this government pursued the same policies of privatisation, feehikes and capitation fees, and the SFI had been reduced to a symbol of status-quoism. She called upon students of West Bengal and the rest of the country to rally with AISA which continued to hold high the red banner of sacrifice and struggle.

The mass meeting was followed by a seminar at the Derozio Hall, Presidency College, on the ‘Role of Students in the Struggle Against Fascism’. The seminar was addressed by Dhirendra Jha, founder General Secretary of AISA and CC Member, CPI(ML), and Mona Das, General Secretary of the JNU Students Union.

On the 16th, around 450 delegates gathered at the ‘Chandrashekhar Hall’ at the Salt Lake Stadium, where the dais was named after Rachel Corrie, the 23 year-old American woman who had been killed by the Israeli army while defending the Palestinian cause. The delegate session was preceded by a ceremony honouring the martyrs of the student movement. At a memorial to the martyrs, a flag was hoisted by Comrade Partha Ghosh, founder of the All Bengal Students Association and CC Member, CPI(ML), while students raised slogans promising to carry forward the struggles of Bhagat Singh, Ashu Majumdar and Chandrashekhar.

The delegate session began with the presentation of the draft report by the General Secretary. Following this, delegates divided themselves into six zones in order to conduct in-depth discussions on the draft. They debated about strategies to resist saffronisation and counter privatisation of education and unemployment. To counter the government’s excuse that it could not afford to provide unemployment allowances for lack of funds, students suggested that we should demand that the huge amounts of wealth amassed by the black economy should be confiscated and used to pay for unemployment allowances. Delegates stressed the need to bolster AISA’s organisational presence to match AISA’s powerful impact as a popular movement. They felt that at a time when the forces of globalisation and saffronisation were launching their ideological assault on young people, AISA should take on the role of being a popular medium of Marxist ideas. AISA should assimilate all sorts of progressive and democratic trends among students to emerge as the voice of common students on campuses.

The conference was marked by the participation of women delegates, whose number was significantly higher than in previous conferences. The Conference was also enlivened by energetic revolutionary songs in many languages by activists from various states, in particular cultural teams from Delhi, and Hirawal from Patna, which presented a play – ‘Ram Ram Gol Gol’. The Conference elected a National Council of 61 members and an Executive of 21. Kavita Krishnan and Sunil Yadav were re-elected as President and General Secretary, Indiresh Maikhuri, Balindra Saikia and Rajesh Sachan as Vice-Presidents, Ravi Rai, Abhyuday and Manish as Secretaries and Srikant as Propaganda Secretary.

Resolving to conduct a nationwide movement against the policies of privatisation and saffronisation of education, the Conference called upon people to expose the Sangh’s gameplan of getting a mandate in 3 states in the name of development, only to impose its saffron agenda surreptitiously. The Conference called for a militant resistance to the nexus of corrupt politicians, bureaucrats and criminals, and demanded the highest possible punishment for scamsters like Ranjeet ‘Don’ and his protectors, the politicians across the political spectrum, who have played with the future of thousands of young people. The Conference called upon students to defeat the forces of imperialism and communal fascism, and build a united struggle for a new and better India. ?