Padagha, a cluster of many small villages, is near Bhiwandi in Thane district. The population mainly consisting of wage laborers and small farmers, also has a significant number of young men and women who go to work mostly as contract laborers in various small factories in Bhiwandi and Kalyan.
The local committee of Lok Raj Sangathan organised a celebration of the centenary of International Women's Day. A leaflet campaign started more than two weeks before the public meeting. Comrades of Communist Ghadar Party of India and activists of Lok Raj Sangathan started meeting people individually and in groups. They explained the history of IWD, the need for establishing Lok Raj, need for establishing Lok Raj samitis. People of Padagha had not witnessed such an intense political campaign in many years. The campaign became livelier the moment comrades touched the burning issue of ration and price rise. Local school teachers, doctors, young as well as old sympathizers of communism in the area, Mahila Bachat Gat activists and leaders, and many others started extending active cooperation to the campaign.
The venue of the meeting was decorated with banners of organizations Purogami Mahila Sangathan, Lok Raj Sangathan, Communist Ghadar Party of India and Ladaku Garment Mazdoor Sangh, calling for the unity of people. The stage was decorated with banners hailing the centenary of IWD and calling people to build Local Lok Raj samitis.
The meeting began with the PMS song in Marathi, calling women to get ready to fight for women’s emancipation, rendered by eight local women. A young teacher explained the history of IWD.
Purogami Mahila Sangathan speaker highlighted and explained that the struggle for women’s emancipation is closely linked with the struggle to establish socialism in our country. The struggle for socialism today includes the struggle for the renewal of democracy. Women need to be in the forefront of this struggle to establish democracy on new foundations.
While exposing the Women’s Reservation Bill as an attempt of the ruling classes to divert and divide the struggle for women’s emancipation, she explained that the real emancipation of women is possible only when political power of our country will be in the hands of working women and men.
Lok Raj Sangathan speaker explained that the first step in the direction of power in the hands of working people is to organize ourselves in local Lok Raj samitis. He explained that only the people, organised in such samitis, should have a decisive say in finalizing policies which govern our country.
Mahila Bachat Gat leader very succinctly elaborated various problems faced by people of Padagha, especially the problem of price rise and non performing rationing system. Molkarin Sangathan leader and member of Lok Raj Sangathan, from Mumbai, explained how by their united strength their members have achieved the right to obtain supplies from ration shops. She called upon the people to unite and organize and congratulated the Padagha Lok Raj Samiti for the successful meeting.
Ladaku Garment Mazdoor Sangh leader explained briefly various rights of people vis-à-vis the PDS. He also explained various government policies which are rendering it ineffective. The audience responded with slogans and claps to his call that the rationing system should be fully in control of local people’s committees.
A quality cultural program consisting of Powada (Marati folk form of song), drama, and dances was presented by children and youth from local schools. Two local teachers very effectively brought out the various aspects of women’s struggles in the course of compering the programme.
The meeting ended with thunderous slogans hailing IWD.