Fighting Injustice in Polepally SEZ

…more than courage it takes WILL to stand up against injustice !

Electoral Reforms to Save Democracy- Polepally Struggle

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Why the poor must contest in elections?

Our Constitution declares that we are “Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, and Democratic Republic”. Our democracy is the symbolic representation and acknowledgment of different identities of class, caste, gender, ethnic, minority communities unique of our geographical, historical, social background. Election process in India is an important feature of our democracy. Elections remain critical structure of the governance in the country since the first general elections in 1951, despite its bias towards protecting the interest of the dominant community to the exclusion of dalit, bahujan, adivasis, minorities, women among other vulnerable groups.

There has been large scale abuse of the system and gradual decline to becoming a mockery of the very spirit of representing and protecting the powerless. The money, power, muscle is ruling in Indian electoral process. “Almost one fourth of the 540 Indian Parliament members faced criminal charges, which include human trafficking, immigration rackets, embezzlement, rape and murders” (Washington Times, July 2008).

Growing decay in the democratic structures is major challenge affecting every section of our society, but more specifically the poor and powerless. Half measures cannot arrest this crisis. Bold action to challenge and evolve alternatives is the need of the hour.

Political parties of varied shades, in power at times and out of it, including those boycotting the polls are affected by the forces that come to power. All the above parties interact, in favor or against, with the ruling forces or those in opposition. Some parties contest elections and some affect the opportunities of select parties although not taking part in the electoral process. There is nobody out of electoral process. To be silent about poor people’s problems during the elections or being away from it is a false choice. It is a false choice especially for those who have not been with the struggle before and after the elections.

Electoral reforms are essential to cleanse the system of criminals, to make it representative, to make it transparent and accountable, to prevent horse trading and cheating the public of promising something and doing the very opposite of it on coming to power. The question is who will do it and how it happens.

What the poor sections want is change in the current electoral politics that commodify them and reduce them to mere voters to cast their franchise once elections are called for at will by those who are elected to seats of power.

The poor want to be heard, and tell the parties that they do not tolerate politics bereft of the demands and aspirations of the poor. If there is no party that represents them, they do not want to remain silent and hijacked by the machinations of the consensus drama of exploiting the masses by the political parties who are all same for being anti-poor. Poor have to assert their right and be heard and become their own representatives.

The poor may not win the elections, but they will be active instead of being passive and powerless to become pawns in the scheme of anti-poor elites

Organise, Educate and Agitate, said Ambedkar. The poor and exploited villagers of Polepally SEZ, the tribe that is going to be wiped out under Polavaram Dam, the fisher folk and the rural villagers of Kakinada SEZ, the poor in Bhopalapalli, Pulichintala, Rajolibanda, the Chenchus of Mahabubnagar and thousands in other areas are threatened of becoming destitutes under projects that are illegal and criminal. A.P stands first with 101 SEZs in the country and most of these SEZ projects conspire to usurp assigned lands of dalits and marginalized sections. SEZ schemes are castiest in looting the oppressed castes.

The state of Andhra Pradesh has become the lab for mass-looting of the poor and vulnerable to fill the coffers of the contractors and the parties dependent on these gangs. This state has crores & crores worth projects that do not have any rationale or guarantee of being completed and still of serving the intended beneficiaries. The state is condemned to become bankrupt and die under the burden of debt. Governance and democracy is conspicuous by its absence in this front with all political parties being comfortable with the modern forms of exploitation

If there are no parties that question these projects that are illegal, criminal and environmentally disastrous, the poor have no option but to organize themselves to protest the devilish games of the organized mafia with its members in all mainstream political parties.

Why now?

It is the right time, no one can deny the fact that at least now the people will be allowed to voice their woes and tales of being looted. Politics after elections are busy with non-people things and distanced from the poor until the day the elections are announced.

Forty nine farmers of Polepally have died in the past five years in the course of eviction, starvation and humiliation. No party including the TRS or the communists or radical communists has taken up their cause. Polepally killings were a matter not worth to be mentioned. Politics between two elections are always of scams and crocodile tears and mutual mud-slinging.

Polepally farmers’ deaths were ignored by parties, activists and media until the day they decided to contest the by-polls in May 2008.

They knew they were not going to win the polls, but they demonstrated they can change the fate of the rulers. The sitting MLA Laxma Reddy lost, runner up TDP candidate missed the chance by 2000 votes and the decisive role was one of the people who did not have enough to eat. They got about 13000 votes and they not only showed the world that poor and powerless unheard people if united can be a force to reckon with but also were heard. Their tale was on national agenda. The Hindu had couple of detailed stories by P Sainath and all other newspapers, both Telugu and English, carried the reports and the electronic media also covered the saga. The affected people of Polepally gained a new confidence. They were heard[1].

Later they fought with the SEZ authorities and the political forces and the collective strength grew by leaps and bounds. They became an inspiration for the movements across the state. They forced the political parties, although for political mileage, in the state to form into a Round Table to condemn the SEZ atrocities.

Voices of poor people are better heard during the elections when every party counts on every single vote

Why Polepally struggle needs your support?

Every one has a stake in others and we need to restore democracy and strengthen the peoples struggles. Polepally struggle needs your support because it is not related to elections only. It is a struggle that is before and after elections and also during the elections. Elections for the Polepally people is yet another option to put the issue on the national and state agenda. It is yet another option to keep their strength united and build it further.

Polepally is the SEZ with highest killings in the entire country. The massacre in SEZ Polepally is beyond comparisons so is its will to challenge the SEZ lords and the authorities and political elite in the service of the SEZ lords. No one can ignore the massacre or deny the need to condemn it [2].

Polepally is not alone in the struggle against inhuman displacements in the state. It is one of the popular struggles. It is consistent and live and based on the strength of the affected people themselves and built the connect between the solidarity groups.

Polepally is important because it has forced the political agendas of the political parties to acknowledge the issue of SEZ displacements. Now they plan to contest the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections to ensure

  • The need of affected people to be organized and challenge the exploiters
  • The SEZ atrocities are heard at state and national level
  • Demonstrate to people of the state that being silent spectators of dehumanized polity and decayed electoral systems is no choice, the best is to expose this rot and demand for explanation
  • Build the struggle to force the political parties to go beyond mere crocodile tears and lip sympathy that SEZ atrocities are bad, but to declare that anti-poor projects shall be withdrawn
  • Polepally insists that justice is false if it is not meaningful to the affected people. Polepally demands justice to be reinterpreted in the context of the poor-dalit, bahujan, minorities and adivasis”.

Now Polepally poor have decided to file nominations to Assembly and Parliament. Already 29 candidates (19 dalits, 4 BCs, 4 STs and 2 Muslims) have submitted papers to Lok Sabha

A.P stands first with SEZs in the country, farmers’ suicide, unprecedented corruption and displacement of dalit, bahujan and adivasis. The state is not only to lose so much of land but people of different ethnic background under Open cast mining, Uranium, Bauxite, ports and wild life sanctuaries, coastal corridors and Polavaram dam. Polepally is part of the voices across the state against injustice.

Friends, please support these farmers who represent the cause of the poor in the entire state and the challenge of making politics accountable to the oppressed

Please sponsor each one and help in their campaign and be part of the coordinated effort to demand for change in politics in favour of the people through active and aggressive assertion of the rights of the poor and oppressed.

POLEPALLY CONTESTANTS FOR LOK SABHA

POLEPALLY CONTESTANTS FOR LOK SABHA

Polepally for Telangana and Telangana for Polepally!

Jai Telangana,
Sujatha Surepally

References:

[1] http://telanganautsav.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/polepally-anti-sez-struggle/#more-462
http://www.hindu.com/2008/05/26/stories/2008052654011100.htm
http://www.indiatogether.org/2008/jun/psa-jadcherla.htm
[2] http://telanganautsav.wordpress.com/2008/07/19/why-support-anti-sez-peoples-struggle/#more-259

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Written by Sujatha Surepally

March 28, 2009 at 4:09 am

One Response

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  1. Looks like electoral reforms may have to provide for representation in different ways. SC ST minorities are provided for. Women’s representation should also be enforced. A percentage of the consituency may also be reseved for poor people whose declared assests is below a threshold value. Criminal accused’s representation has gone high. We can not have constituencies reserved for them, but parties may be imposed a % ceiling of the number of people with pending cases that they can field.

    Narayan

    March 28, 2009 at 11:42 am


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