The Communist Ghadar Party of India organised a meeting in New Delhi on February 18 to mark the 25th anniversary of an important milestone in the history of our Party and in the history of the class struggle in our country. Members and activists of the Party, some of whom had actively participated in organising and leading the rally 25 years ago, as well as a large number of young women and men, who have joined the ranks of the party since that time, enthusiastically participated in the meeting.
Twenty five years ago, on February 22, 1993, a historic protest rally took place at Ferozeshah Kotla in Delhi, at the initiative of the Communist Ghadar Party of India.
Two and a half months before that, on December 6, 1992, the Congress Party and the BJP had collaborated in organising the destruction of Babri Masjid. Over the following weeks, the Congress and BJP had incited communal hatred and engulfed the country in a communal bloodbath.
Braving the prohibitory orders imposed in New Delhi at that time, members and activists of our Party, along with activists of the workers and women’s movement and human rights movement, took a sacred pledge at the very spot where Shaheed Bhagat Singh and his comrades had formed the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association, with the aim of freeing our country from colonial rule and all forms of exploitation. We pledged
“to carry forward the struggle for an India where every citizen shall be ensured the right to live, to work and to enjoy the fruits of labour, the right to be educated and receive health care, the right to follow and act according to the morals and beliefs of his or her choice, an India without any discrimination on the basis of caste, sex, religion or class, an India where those who rule shall be duty-bound to safeguard the lives and well-being of all citizens;
To strengthen the unity and resolve among the Indian people to oppose and eliminate those forces that are poisoning and destroying our society for the sake of their narrow self-serving interests;
To continue the struggle until the aspirations of our forefathers are fulfilled.”
The meeting began with a presentation by Comrade Prakash Rao, spokesperson of the Communist Ghadar Party, on the significance of that historic event and the challenges facing us today.
Expressing pride in the fact that our Party has remained loyal to that pledge, Comrade Prakash Rao said that the problems facing our people and society remain unresolved. In fact they have gone from bad to worse. But the way forward, which we emphasised at that rally, remains the only way to build an India where Sukh and raksha will be guaranteed to all and the rulers will be duty bound to safeguard the lives and wellbeing of all citizens.
Elaborating on the situation at that time, Comrade Prakash Rao recalled that the budget session of parliament was to begin on February 22, 1993. With the blood of thousands of innocent people on their hands, the Congress and BJP were preparing to forge ahead with the anti-worker, anti-peasant, anti-national and anti-social program of liberalisation and globalisation, which had been launched in 1991. On the world scale, a major change had taken place with the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the end of the bipolar division of the world. The imperialist powers, headed by the US, arrogantly declared that there is no alternative to capitalism, no alternative to a “market oriented economy”, no alternative to multi-party representative democracy. They demanded that every country must submit to these prescriptions or else face dire consequences. This anti-social offensive of the international capitalist class was accompanied by fascist methods of rule and unjust wars.
Both the Congress Party and the BJP supported the ban on all political gatherings at that time. In that tense situation our Party initiated the bold united political action of 22 February 1993. We issued an ‘appeal to all men and women of conscience’, demanding an immediate halt to the unpopular economic measures being pushed through in the parliament. The appeal demanded the conviction and severe punishment of those guilty of destroying Babri Masjid and of organising communal violence, no matter how high a position they may occupy.
Comrade Prakash Rao read out certain sections from the Appeal, which elaborated the steps the Party put forward, towards people’s empowerment:
“All organs and levels of the administration, judiciary and security forces should be accountable first and foremost to the people, and not to any political party or their superiors. The people should have the right to call to book any of their elected representatives as well as the State officials.
“The Constitution of India should be rewritten to define the inalienable rights and the duties of the citizens. These inalienable rights include the right to life and liberty, the right to conscience, the right to equality, the right to livelihood, school education and health care. Every citizen should have the right to demand that the state enforce these rights. The state itself should ensure that every citizen, irrespective of social or economic status, can exercise this right in practice.
“The Constitution of India should recognise the democratic rights of the nationalities and tribal people inhabiting India to administer their own affairs, including their inalienable political, economic and cultural rights. The Union of India should be reconstituted on a voluntary basis, with the willing consent of all the peoples.
“The entire people must necessarily be involved in .the drafting of the new and democratic Constitution.This will ensure both the democratic form and content of the Constitution and state structure. - elected representatives of the people and their organisations should constitute a new Constituent Assembly to debate and decide these matters.”
“The rally and the Appeal shook the conscience of India”, comrade Prakash Rao said. A large number of political personalities, scholars, retired judges and civil servants signed the Appeal issued on that day 25 years ago. On April 11, 1993, the Committee for Peoples Empowerment was established at a Public meeting held in New Delhi.
The Committee for Peoples Empowerment deepened the analysis made in the Joint appeal, and mobilised a wide cross section of people all over India and internationally. In May 1998, at a public meeting in Pune University, it was decided that the time had come to establish a political organisation of the Indian people to mobilise and organise the people of our country to establish Lok Raj. Thus Lok Raj Sangathan came into being.
Comrade Prakash Rao took up two key questions. The first was – what is the source of the problem of communal violence and state terrorism which continues even today, with ever increasing frequency and ferocity? The second was -- what should be the response of the communists and progressive forces, i.e. what is the alternative around which we must unite the people?
Citing examples from the entire period of the 1980s and 90s – the Army assault on the Golden Temple in Amritsar in June 1984, state terrorism in Punjab in the name of defending “national unity and territorial integrity”, the assassination of Indira Gandhi followed by state-organised genocide of Sikhs in November 1984, the Congress Party’s campaign in the 1985 Lok Sabha elections with the communal chauvinist slogan of "Hindu, Hindi, Hindustan!", the collaboration of the Congress Party and the BJP in unleashing a movement to build a Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, their covert support for the movements for and against reservation for OBCs, etc. – comrade Prakash Rao showed how the entire country was engulfed in sectarian movements, to enable the ruling monopoly capitalist class to unleash its program of globalisation through liberalisation and privatisation. From all this he concluded that state terrorism, including communal violence, is the preferred method for the big bourgeoisie to impose its dictate, divert and divide the people and suppress all forms of resistance by force. People are not communal, he said. The source of communal and fascist terror is the ruling class and its State. Both the BJP and the Congress Party are part of this State, as are the judiciary and other organs of rule of the capitalist class, headed by the monopoly houses. It is this correct analysis of the source of the problem that has armed our Party to boldly lead the struggle against state-organised communal violence and state terrorism, in the most non-sectarian and non-partisan manner, to build political unity in defence of the rights of all, cutting across ideological differences.
Taking up the second question, i.e. the alternative around which we communists must unite the people, Comrade Prakash Rao showed how the existing system and political process enable an exploiting minority to impose its will on society. People are completely marginalised from political power in the present political system and process, he said, explaining how people have no mechanisms for selecting candidates for election, for holding the elected representatives to account or removing them from their posts if they violate the people’s mandate. People have no mechanisms by which they can initiate legislation in defence of their interests. It is therefore futile to think that communal and fascist terror can be fought through the existing political process. Pointing to the danger of the line prevalent in the communist movement, of defending the “secular Indian constitution”, of allying with the “lesser evil” Congress Party to defeat “BJP’s fascism”, etc., he said that not only has this not reduced the communal onslaught, but on the contrary, it has spread harmful illusions among the people about the existing state, its constitution and the political process of representative democracy.
Since the source of the problem is the rule of the capitalist class and the oppressive communal nature of the State, the only real alternative is a new State and political process which vests sovereignty in the people. This is the conclusion we drew 25 years ago. Life experience has only further confirmed this conclusion. Lok Raj is the only real alternative. With political power in our hands, we can then reorient the economy to ensure prosperity and security for all, he said.
He concluded with the inspiring call that people have to become the maalik of India. This is the goal which has inspired countless martyrs in our country, ever since 1857. The task we face today is to carry forward the struggle to achieve that goal.
Following the presentation by comrade Prakash Rao, the participants broke up into groups and continued the discussion on the issues raised in the presentation. For many of the youth members of the party, the description and analysis of the political situation 25 years ago as well as the developments since then were a great source of political education. The main issue around which the discussion in the various groups took place was that BJP and Congress are both servants of the same monopoly capitalist ruling class, managers of their state, and so one cannot rely on either of them to put an end to communal violence or to ensure happiness and prosperity for our people. The young women and men came up examples from their own experiences to show that people are not communal, that communal tensions and violence are organised by the rulers. The participants also discussed the alternative, Lok Raj, and various strategies to mobilise people around the program of establishing Lok Raj.
Following the group discussion, a member of each group came up to the podium to render a summation of the issues discussed in her/his group. The youth spoke of the denial of basic rights and civic amenities, of the miserable state of the government schools and public hospitals. They spoke against unemployment, the exploitation they face at work and about the loot of the wealth of the people by the big monopoly capitalist houses. They expressed their anger against state organised communal violence and state terror and against the attacks on women. Many of them spoke proudly of the heroic stand our Party took 25 years ago and how they were inspired to take the struggle forward.
The meeting ended with the youth enthusiastically taking up the challenge of exposing the present system and mobilising their classmates, colleagues, family members and friends around the alternative of establishing Lok Raj, as the solution to the problems we face in the society today.