The Convention of the Western Region of Lok Raj Sangathan (LRS) was held in Thane on 28 Oct 2012. The members from Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Padgha, Badlapur, Ulhasnagar attended in large numbers. The meeting began with the inspiring song, “’gar ho sakein”. Kamlesh Pal, Convener, Badlapur committee welcomed the participants and invited Prof. Sanjeewani Jain, Vice President, LRS and Girish Bhave, Secretary, Western Regional Council, to conduct the Convention.
While once again welcoming the members, Sanjeewani spoke of the sad demise of the three respected members of LRS, Justice Daud, Prof Dalip Singh and Educationist Baburao Taware since the last Regional Convention. Justice Daud was Vice President of LRS till his last day. Prof Dalip Singh had been appointed Honorary Chairperson at the last All India Convention of LRS. Shri Taware too was a member of the All India Council of LRS since its inception. All three of them had been actively associated with the organization since its inception and were ardent supporter of struggles against injustice and for empowerment of people. Sanjeewani recounted the major contributions made by them and their active participation in various activities of LRS. All the participants paid their homage to them by standing in silence for two minutes.
For the benefit of many of the new members, Sanjeewani outlined the genesis of the Committee for People’s Empowerment (CPE) and its later transformation into LRS. The demolition of Babri Masjid and subsequent killing of thousands of people had made people realize they were helpless to stop the mass killings unless the political power rests in their hands. A summary of the paper discussed at the Pune Conference of CPE was presented to bring out what LRS stands and fights for. The analysis of LRS about the political process presented in 1998 has been proved right by the subsequent events. The marginalization of people from power and its concentration in the hands of a small executive consisting of a handful of cabinet members has been again demonstrated by the way major policy decisions affecting people were taken by the executive in the past one month, bypassing even the parliament. The key renewal required in the political process – the selection of candidates supervised by the constituency committee was emphasized.
Girish Bhave presented the report of the work in the Region since the last Regional Convention. He began by laying out the international and national context of our work. The unprecedented crisis in the present political and economic system is making the ruling elite pass on more and more burden of the crisis on people. While the attacks are growing on people, the opposition too is intensifying within the country as well as outside. The political system and the politicians are getting exposed. The time is ripe to take LRS programme of political renewal to as many people as possible.
He then presented the report of the work of the Region under nine heads – participation in elections, participation in gram sabhas, role played by us in the anti-corruption movement, activities and involvement with the movement opposing nuclear plants imposed on people against their expressed wishes, work done to build opposition to MESMA, work done amongst organized workers, campaign for food security through PDS, fight for rights under MNREGA, and opposition to state terrorism and communalism. The report was heard with the rapt attention by the members and was made captivating by showing the photographs of relevant activities and cartoons conveying the political message. Each activity report highlighted the political contribution of LRS to the movement and was concluded by presenting the lessons learnt for guiding our future work. After every few reports, the members were invited to present their views and comments. The report generated lively discussion and the members appreciated the way the report of the work was presented.
The Secretary presented the proposal for the plan of work in the coming period, and this was agreed upon. The meeting concluded with the election of the new Western Regional Council. Before the election, Sanjeewani reminded the members of the need to strengthen the Council as well as each of our Samitis, what their roles and responsibilities were and what was expected from the members of the Council and the Samitis. She exhorted the members to work hard to organize more people into LRS and strengthen the work of the Council.
It is significant that the newly formed Thane Youth Committee had taken up the responsibility of organizing the Convention and it fulfilled the task very admirably.