Onward with the struggle for a modern democracy that empowers people to set the agenda!
Lok Raj Sangathan (LRS) organized a "Lok Raj Utsav" on 28th April in Thane, Maharashtra, to mark the 20th anniversary of the formation of its precursor, the Preparatory Committee for People’s Empowerment (CPE). A correspondent of Mazdoor Ekta Lehar participated in the celebration and has filed the report below.
As one entered the hall, one could not but stop and admire the breathtaking collage which vividly illustrated the activities of Lok Raj Sangathan in building the political unity of people in defence of their rights. The visuals covered numerous struggles for workers’ rights, peasants’ rights, women’s rights, the right of all households to receive reliable and affordable electricity, water supply and sanitation, as well as mass struggles against privatisation and other anti-people acts and policies of the government.
The air was crackling with enthusiasm as the young members of Lok Raj Sangathan, proudly clad in the t-shirts of their organisation, went about diligently putting finishing touches to the preparations before the meeting started at the appointed time.
People came pouring in from various places in and around Mumbai, Thane and Pune. Workers, peasants, adivasis, intellectuals, students - there were about 300 people from all walks of life. Women and young girls formed a large part of the gathering. A young member from Badlapur welcomed the gathering and invited the Maharashtra Secretary of LRS to conduct the proceedings. The Presidium was chaired by Justice Hosbet Suresh, Honorary Chairperson, and included, Prakash Rao, All-India Secretary.
Comrade Prakash Rao recalled the dark days of the state organized communal massacres in 1992-1993. People who were seeking an end to the criminalization and communalization of politics came together to form CPE on 10th April, 1993. This marked the beginning of a conscious movement for creating a modern Indian democracy to replace the existing political system, with the aim of empowering the people to set the agenda for society.
Addressing the founding conference of CPE, Comrade Lal Singh, General Secretary of Communist Ghadar Party, had pointed out that “what is incomprehensible is that an utterly alien system, such as the British parliamentary system, which was born in definite historical and social conditions, in another country in another epoch, should be considered to be the best form of political rule in modern India!”
After several years of preparatory work to define the principles and clarify the vision of the modern democracy that Indian society needs today, the CPE reconstituted itself as a political organization in 1998, called Lok Raj Sangathan. LRS has been developing its activities since that time, serving as a mechanism in the hands of the people for their own empowerment. LRS has mobilised working people to establish and build elected samitis in their localities and places of work or study, to fight for the common interests and rights of the people. Prakash Rao concluded his address by emphasizing that the key task before us is to build and strengthen these lok raj samitis.
The evergreen Justice Suresh, in a moving address, bemoaned the state of the country and the shattered dreams of our martyrs. The Constitution of India promised a paradise but what we have in reality is just the opposite. Poverty persists on a massive scale. The guilty of the communal massacres of 1984, 1992-93, 2002 and other such crimes have not been punished. What sort of democracy is this, when no single government, either at the Center or in any state, has more than 50% of the votes?
The right to food, right to shelter, right to livelihood - none of these is being defended in this so-called largest democracy of the world. The government criminalizes all dissent. It has been taking away the right to protest. There is army rule in Kashmir and in the North East. Justice Suresh expressed great joy that LRS is going from strength to strength every day.
The Maharashtra Committee of LRS delivered a presentation on the work done against communalism and state terrorism, right from the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992, to the persistent campaign to Punish the Guilty, and activities in many parts of India against the imperialist-sponsored “War on Terror”. The presentation highlighted the success in influencing the movement away from the belief that the Congress party is a “lesser evil” than the BJP.
Another presentation highlighted the essential changes needed to address the flaw in the existing system of democracy, beginning with selection before election; and including the right to recall and the right to initiate legislation.
The cultural program that followed included songs, dances, and skits on various topics including the lack of security for women, the demands of the agitating teachers of Maharashtra and the truth behind man-made droughts.
The meeting ended on a very optimistic note, with all the members resolving to advance the struggle to usher in a modern Indian democracy that would empower the people to set the agenda and direction of society.