As the delegates and other activists started arriving in the city of Ballia for the Third National Conference of AIALA, the city suddenly shook itself awake in surprise at the red wave in town. It was clear that Ballia was witnessing an assertion of the politics of the working classes indeed after a very long time, and many individuals and forces friendly to the Left, including the local leadership of CPI and CPI(M) came to express solidarity. Comrade Dharmdev Lal of CPI, veteran of the freedom struggle and of the historic peasant and agricultural labourer struggles at Kudwa Manikpur (Ballia) in 1948-50, on seeing the AIALA gathering went to the CPI(ML) office and offered a contribution for the Mazdoor-Kisan Adhikar rally and joined the rally. He participated as a guest in the conference and later accepted the shawl offered to him in honour of his communist spirit by CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya at the end of the two-day Conference.
The city was decorated with red flags, posters, wall writing and festoons for the occasion and wall writing in different languages could also be seen at the TD college ground. The Reception Committee of the Conference was led by senior advocate Ajay Kumar, who was a leading figure from the area in the 1974 movement and also played an important role in the formation of IPF. He said that it was a proud moment for Ballia residents that their historic but severely neglected district was chosen as the venue for the Conference. He expressed enthusiasm and hope from the movement that AIALA represented as against the current dominant political discourse.
Addressing the rally on 7 November 2008, Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya congratulated the growing strength of the organization. He said that India’s ruling class was intent on shackling the country to the crisis-ridden US imperialism. AIALA represented the growing assertion of the rural poor – the main force of struggle against these pro-imperialist policies.
AIALA General Secretary Dhirendra Jha while addressing the rally said that the AIALA would head for further expansion in membership and in the coming Lok Sabha elections it would reach out with the slogan of “Votes of the poor, rule of the rich, won’t do”.
The other speakers at the rally included AIALA President Rameshwar Prasad, Uttar Pradesh State Secretary of CPIML Sudhakar Yadav, Kisan Sabha leader Ishwari Kushwaha, AIALA Bihar Secretary Satyadev Ram, RYA National President Mohammed Salim. Comrade Krishna Adhikari chaired the meeting which was convened by Comrade Shriram Chaudhary. Comrade Rajesh Sahni presented the seven-point political resolution that was passed.
The delegate session commenced in the evening of 7 November 2008 at the TD college campus in a grand pandal constructed for the occasion. A condolence resolution was read out at the beginning of the delegate session to pay homage to comrades who have lost their lives since the last Conference at Rajamundri. Tributes were paid to the martyrs Comrade Langtu Phangchuk, Comrade Ashok Sah, Comrade Ram Baran, Comrade Rajeshwar Das, and Comrade Kameshwar Yadav who were killed for leading struggles of the rural poor. A minute’s silence was kept for comrades who passed away in this period: Comrade Jeeta Kaur, Comrade Ajanta Lohit, Comrade Ram Nageena Ram and others. The assembly of delegates mourned those who have lost their lives in the assaults by communal and fascist forces. The house grieved the loss of life and property in the floods and condemned the neglect by the government of hunger related deaths.
A 15-member presiding body and a 7-member technical team was constituted for conducting the delegate session. Several fraternal organizations addressed the opening session: Comrade Swapan Mukharjee of AICCTU, Comrade Meena Tiwari of AIPWA, Comrade Raja Ram Singh of Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Sanghrash Samiti and JNUSU President Sandeep Singh.