The Guardian April 7, 1999


India:
People's March

On March 15, Delhi became a sea of red as more than 100,000 people 
carrying red flags joined the "People's March before Parliament" against 
sky rocketing prices, atrocities on minorities and anti-people policies of 
the BJP-led government. The march, organised by the Communist Party of 
India (CPI) and supported by other left organisations, was the culmination 
of a six-month-long campaign by the Party.

They came in large numbers from all over the country except Kerala where 
the CPI organised district marches.

The majority were from the villages of northern India.

They came on foot, by train or bus, some taking as long as five days to 
make the trip.

Landless farmers, casual workers, old and even disabled people, tribal 
people, unemployed youth, students and a large number of women and children 
from faraway towns and villages converged on the camp behind Red Fort on 
March 14.

"It was a mini India where people from various states of different culture, 
language and region came together against the anti-people policies of the 
ruling BJP Government", the CPI's paper, New Age Weekly reported.

"This was one of the biggest mass actions by CPI in the recent times 
against communal-fascists regime of BJP. It was a splendid response of the 
people to the call of CPI", said Soni Thengamom, writing in New Age 
Weekly.

"The larger section of the people who participated the rally were poorer 
among the poor."

They marched barefoot, braving the hot sun, to express their anger against 
the policies of the Government's anti-people policies and against the 
onslaught of the communal (right-wing anti-secular) forces.

The march took three hours to cross a point. It was led by CPI General 
Secretary A B Bardhan and other Party leaders.

Women volunteers holding a huge banner carrying the message of the People's 
March and its main demand: Anti-People and Communal BJP Government Must 
Go  was at the front.

A lot of tribal people in their traditional dresses took part and other 
comrades from Manipur, Assam, Tamilnadu, and Pondicherry wore their local 
dresses.

Kerala

In the state of Kerala, there were simultaneous marches and rallies to 
central government offices.

Some trekked on foot for two or three days through the countryside carrying 
their own food. As they went they met the people, spreading the message.

Five hundred thousand copies of two pamphlets on communalism and the 
Government's economic policies were sold during a week-long campaign 
leading up to the rallies.

In Thiruvananthapuram, special camps had been organised for marchers 
arriving on March 14 before a huge rally.

There were huge rallies in Trichur, Kollam, Ernakulam, in the Idukki 
district and many other centres.

Government must go

The resolution adopted by the Delhi rally summed up the feelings of those 
taking part in all of the rallies.

"Congress governments which were in power for 46 years had failed to solve 
the basic problems of poverty, unemployment, illiteracy and disease.

"This BJP Government by its misgovernance has aggravated them further 
within one year of its existence. Loud rhetoric and actually little 
provisions of funds such is its commitment to the poor and the needy", said 
the resolution....

"Its continuance can only bring further disaster to the country. It must 
go.

"We pledge to bring together the Left, democratic and secular forces on a 
principled platform to defend the secular democratic polity of our country, 
to protect the life and livelihood and the faith and culture of our 
multicore people, and to take them forward towards development and growth 
with social justice."

The resolution listed priority areas real reforms for land, jobs, 
education, food security health care, shelter, communal harmony, national 
unity, and development.

"For all this we must build and expand the CPI. We must strengthen Left 
Unity and Secular-democratic unity."

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