Lead with slogans
Sangtin Kisan Mazdoor Sanghatan (SKMS) has a presence in some 60 to 70 villages in Mishrikh and Pisawa blocks of Sitapur district. There are village level committees which hold regular meetings to discuss issues of concern and chart a course of action. Once a month, sanghatan ke sakriya saathi (active partners of the Sanghatan) represent their village at a kshetriya baithak (regional meeting) where regional issues are discussed and strategies worked out. At these regional meets there are also people who are just becoming active and / or seeking to know what happens at the regional meetings.
During our 6 week stay earlier in the year (Apr-May) we had attended a few village meetings and two rounds of the regional meets. In June capacity building trainings were conducted for the emerging leadership and after getting to know more about the details of the workshop, Sudha and I were looking forward to see the difference during the regional meetings this time around.
The first regional meeting was in the Aant region. The mobilization in the villages here is still picking up steam and the leadership too reflects its nascent stage. The next meeting in Qutubnagar is almost an exact opposite. The Sanghatan is very strong in many villages here and the local activists are real firebrands. At the Qutubnagar meeting earlier in the week, it was decided that each sakriya saathi who turns up late would get a punishment – to lead the group that had already arrived with slogans and songs. The number of slogans and songs that they would have to lead would be dependent on how late they arrive. (Most of the village activists walk or cycle for a few kilometers to get to the meeting place.)
Sunita from Husseinpur was one of the first late comers. It was decided that she had to lead with five slogans before she could sit down. Hesitatingly she lead with two, Ladenge ! Jeetenge !! (We will fight ! We will win!!) and Kamanewala khayega! Lootnewala jaayega!! Naya zamana aayega !!! (workers will eat; looters will go; a new era is coming). As she tried to sit down, Surbala one of the representatives of the Sanghatan and a regional level mobilizer, stopped her and reminded that she still had three more slogans to go. With just this bit of an extra push was sufficient to melt Sunita’s hesitation and soon she was leading with her full voice and fire. One after the other she lead with not just three but five more slogans ! The effects of the training was right there for all to see.