In May-June this year there were intense discussions on whether the JJSS would attract people only as an organisation focusing on implementation of government programmes or whether we would find new saathis who would come to be with us for the larger cause of equality and justice, for building a better world. It was this discussion that became the impetus for organising a path breaking ‘chintan shivir‘ and natak karyashala (theatre workshop), from 30th May to 4th june. About 30-35 of us came together with Shiv Bhai (from Rajasthan). In the first session Shiv Bhai posed a simple question “Why do you spend time in and with the sangathan?” For the next 8 hours we were all saying why and it was so refreshing because none of us said that we were with the sangathan because the sangathan could ensure NREGA wages or settle land disputes or rations- most of us were there because the sangathan gave us an identity, it gave a voice that we lacked, the sangathan taught us to be equals with the rest of the society and above all we got respect!
And from there we started the 5 day workshop which marked the beginning of the cycle yatras. In this workshop all of us together with Shiv Bhai’s able facilitation came up with our own play.
Cycle Yatris during Raniganj Yatra
The post made at this time can be read in its entirety here.
The manthan followed by the Bihar NAPM conference initiated the discussion of going beyond the issue based approach, and it became our basis of intervention in the Bihar elections where the JJSS took a clear stand against divisive politics, reminding ourselves that no matter who comes to power after elections we would prepare ourselves to struggle for our cause.
The first yatras in July and August, invited people to a common district level Jan Sansad (held in Patepur, Vaishali; Mansahi, Katihar and Araria), where people raised issues of development, land,life with dignity, increasing inequality et all. Thousands came for the Jan sansad and raised very pertinent issues. This was refreshing amidst the very divisive political noise which was not throwing up the concerns of people and was concentrated on issues of identity. Post the Jan Sansads a people’s manifesto was brought out. We then started another series of smaller village level meetings to disseminate the manifesto and ask our people to question various contestants on what they planned to do on these issues.
A detailed report on the Jan Sansad can be read here.