The Padgha area Lok Raj Samiti was constituted on 8th August in a meeting held in a hall near the Rice Mill of Padgha village (Thane district, Maharashtra) in the presence of hundreds of members. A 20-member Executive Council was elected, which included women and men, young and old.
Large number of members of Lok Raj Sangathan had come from many neighbouring areas of Padgha as well as from villages. Some had come from as far away as Thane and Ulhasnagar. 80 year old grandmothers, young mothers with babies, young men and women – they all participated actively with great hope and joy.
You may be knowing that from April 2010, the activists of Lok Raj Sangathan had carried out a campaign for the right to ration supplies in Padgha area. In this period hundreds of people joined Lok Raj Sangathan. Through morchas and other activities, they have shaken up the officers who are responsible for the rationing system. Due to this campaign, thousands of people have benefited from the improved ration distribution. In the meeting many people expressed their happiness that due to the untiring efforts of the activists of Lok Raj Sangathan, people have benefited. In the words of an old communist comrade from this area, “People don’t even attend meetings of big political parties in such large numbers!”
At the outset there was a presentation on the ration system from Lok Raj Sangathan. The presenter pointed out that when we learn by attending such a school organized by our LRS, our understanding increases and therefore our strength does as well. With a lot of data he explained that there is no dearth of food with the government. It is actually rotting in its godowns. The Central Government is the largest hoarder and its aim is to safeguard the profits of the biggest corporations. From the presentation it also became clear that distribution of food and other items via the PDS (Public Distribution System) is not some goodwill gesture, but is in fact the government’s duty and the people’s right. Safeguarding the interests of the peasants and safeguarding the interests of the people as consumers are related to each other.
In the end, the presenter reiterated the demands regarding the ration system that LRS has been raising for last several years. Firstly, the present targeted PDS should be withdrawn and a universal PDS should be established. Secondly, people should be provided with sugar, edible oil, kerosene, pulses and all other essential items at affordable prices through the ration shops. Thirdly, private profiteers should be banned from wholesale trade in essential commodities and the government should guarantee remunerative prices to the farmers.
In the second presentation, the difference between Lok Raj Sangathan and other big political parties was explained. Everyone present agreed that concentrating all rights in the hands of a single leader was a part of anti-people, dirty politics. All of us together shall build an alternate to the current capitalist politics. Building Lok Raj Samitis, in which decisions would be taken collectively by everyone, and not by a single individual; in which the samitis will assign responsibilities to individuals and it would hold them accountable, would be an important step in that direction.
The local members present talked about other problems they faced, such as those related to drinking water, public hospitals, mosquitoes, and so on. The executive that was elected has been charged with the task of drawing up a plan of action to solve these problems as well.