Jagmati Sangwan: The CPM comrade from Haryana who stood up to party and walked out

In 1985, Sangwan formed the All India Democratic Women’s Association, an outfit loosely attached to the CPM. On Monday, she said she wants to continue as AIDWA’s national general secretary.

Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi | Published: June 21, 2016 12:22 am
agmati Sangwan, Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M), congress, cpim, cpim congress, AIDWA, congress west bengal, cpim west bengal, congress alliance, cpim alliance, india news, india politics She said the decision to walk out of the central committee was taken on the spur of the moment. She said she did not even consult her husband before taking the decision.

Jagmati Sangwan, 56, the central committee member who quit the CPM Monday and was subsequently expelled, is no stranger to battle. She has represented India in volleyball and recalls being part of a team that won bronze at the Asian Volleyball Championships, has taken on khap panchayats in Haryana and been fighting for enactment of a law against honour killings.

In 1985, Sangwan formed the All India Democratic Women’s Association, an outfit loosely attached to the CPM. On Monday, she said she wants to continue as AIDWA’s national general secretary.

Hours after she walked out of a central committee meeting that held that the understanding with the Congress in West Bengal had not violated the party line, Sangwan insisted it was so. She told The Indian Express the party was forced to drop the word ‘violation’ from its report because of a threat of resignation by senior leaders from Bengal.

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She said the political tactical line is the “lifeline” of any communist party. And the CPM’s political tactical line, revised in 2015, forbids an electoral alliance or understanding with the Congress.

“I felt it was a violation of the political tactical line of our party… They were not ready to accept that… I wanted action… whatever according to the constitution and the programme,” she said.

Sangwan said the politburo’s report at the beginning of the three-day meeting of the central committee had been different. The central committee discussion was based on the politburo’s report and that of the West Bengal unit.

“This meeting started on June 18. And on the 18th the note presented by the politburo… it had this term that it was a violation of the political tactical line by the Bengal committee. And a huge majority said it was a violation,” she said. “But today, when it concluded on the basis of the discussion… they said we will be deleting this violation word because Bengal secretary Surjya Kanta Misra and senior leaders like Bimanda [Bose] said we will resign if you keep this term. Even the general secretary [Sitaram Yechury] was against it. I said no, it is not acceptable, at least to me. I said I resign from the central committee and party membership and I walked out,” Sangwan said.

Sangwan got involved in politics during her college days in the Haryana Agricultural University in Hisar. But her worldview changed after she travelled abroad as a member of the Indian volleyball team. “While I was playing and I went abroad I got a different vision about women’s lives and concerns. After completing my studies we decided to form a women’s organisation. Haryana is such a patriarchal society and women are subjugated. We formed this organisation and started working for women’s equality,” she said.

She hails from Butana village in Sonepat. A Bachelor of Sports Humanities and Physical Education from Sports College in Haryana, she did her Masters in rural sociology from the same university. She is a recipient of a Bhim Award for achievement in sports. An activist of the SFI, she is married to Inderjit Singh who was state secretary of the party for decades.

She joined Maharshi Dayanand University as assistant director of sports and went on to help raise a women’s studies centre in the university and became it director. She quit in 2012. “I was doing need-based work because of family commitments. I thought I will leave my job and do the work of my interest,” she said.

She said the decision to walk out of the central committee was taken on the spur of the moment. She said she did not even consult her husband before taking the decision.

“If things are not going according to our wish… then what is the use of continuing,” she said.

“Because the earlier politburo document was OK, I also participated in the discussion,” she said. “When they concluded, they said the term ‘violation’ will be appropriately worded and deleted because the Bengal secretary, leaders like Bimanda and the general secretary were against it. But what about the huge majority, their feelings and concerns and their investment for the cause?”

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    callingspadeaspade
    Jun 22, 2016 at 5:04 am
    commies need more voices like her's. simply because just like CON-gless it has become moribund with few geriatric leaders with outdated ideology (cannot even call that infact) and enjoying fruits of occupying high posts in party. if commies like AK49 keep throwing out people who dare to stand up to dictatorial leadership then the day is not far when they will be history and dead like a dodo.
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    1. Anil Bharali
      Jun 21, 2016 at 1:22 am
      A good players know how to engage in a game with wining spirit.It seems Ms Jagmati understand it. Dr Surya Kanta Mishra and Biman Bose have already proved that they do not know how to fight and win against Mamatadi who survive in politics through corruption and criminalily driven politics.
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        Rajesh
        Jun 21, 2016 at 4:14 am
        Lol, commie talking about principles? Ha ha! lefties have no principles. The primary reason the UPA was so useless was because it wasnt a real coalition of like minded parties, it was an ociation of thieves who hate the BJP and love to loot the taxpayer. These people will ally with ISIS if they could win an election
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          nagarajabillur
          Jun 21, 2016 at 1:12 am
          Communists are opportunists. They have no principles. Take 2004. BJP and Vajpayee lost. No doubts. Sonia and Congress never won. But in an opportunistic alliance all the communists who defeated Congress and bitter opponents of Congress at Tripura, West Bengal and Kerala used secularism as an excuse to enjoy power and slept with Congress quite comfortably. Anti congressism was conveniently forgotten for greed of power. Now that they have TMC as a common enemy they officially sacrificed their party principles for electoral gains.lt;br/gt;Unscrupulous and opportunistic.
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            N.S.Rajan
            Jun 21, 2016 at 1:37 pm
            India's Left abandoned ideologies and principles by the wayside long ago. They tasted 'power without responsibility' from 2004, thanks to Sonia's desperate move to form a Congress Government 'at any cost'. If they recently allied with Congress in WB to try and wrest WB from Mamata, it was hardly a compromise on 'principles', as they have neither principles nor scruples, exactly like the Congress. It was simply a marriage of convenience, with hopes of a synergy leading to 'POWER'. Of course, it came a cropper. But, having tasted power and liking the experience, Comrade Yechuri wants power again. He could only choose Congress and Congress could only choose him, as no other party wants to go along with Congress any more. Which is precisely why both are at the bottom of the points table with no hopes of climbing up.
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