About 50 political activists, trade union leaders, intellectuals, workers and students took active part in a round table conference organised by Lok Raj Sangahthan (Makkalatchi Iyakkam) in Chennai on the 25th August.
Representatives from UTUC (Lenin-Sarani), Socialist Workers Union, AICCTU, Kanyakumari Rubber Plantation Workers Union, Communist Ghadar Party of India, Press Workers Union, Law College, Stella Maris, Presidency College, FORCES, Dalits, nationalities, minorities and women’s organisations vigorously condemned the anti-people activities of the Indian state under the name of economic reforms and proposed that an alternative is possible under the leadership of a united people’s front.
The LRS representative, in his open speech, pointed out that the anti-people activities under the name of globalisation, privatisation and liberalisation cannot be opposed effectively and stopped without simultaneously opposing and putting an end to the state organised communal violence and war mongering and imperialist interference in the region. He explained that the Indian state and the political parties of the Indian rulers, which have been in power at one time or another and organised massacres in 1984 and again in 1992 and 2002, have used them precisely to quell the opposition of the people to their economic policies. The entire war that US imperialists organised against the people of Afghanistan in the name of "war against terrorism" has been impelled by the greed of imperialism to redivide the world’s markets and resources and step up their exploitation further. In the same way, the war mongering of the Indian state, with the tacit support of US imperialism, has at its base the wish of the Indian rulers to grow into the biggest regional power and earn a place in the league of super powers.
Speaker after speaker opposed the fascist steps being initiated by the Tamil Nadu government under Jayalalitha to bludgeon any opposition to its policies and any voice of dissent among its opponents. It was clearly reiterated that only the united front of progressive forces and people’s organisations can oppose fascist laws and anti-people policies consistently and on a principled basis. It was pointed out that many of those who have now been thrown into prison under POTA raised their hands vigorously in parliament when it came up for approval with the justification that it has enough safeguards against misuse by any political party in its own interests. Such apologists are now reaping what they sowed.
Several participants also pointed out that the biggest roadblock to the advance of the movement for people’s empowerment are those parliamentary communists who do not accept that communal violence, war and fascism are inevitable consequences of the present orientation of Indian society and economy where a handful of rich exploit the vast majority of people.
A doyen of the trade union movement, Fenn Walter, succinctly summed up the views expressed in the conference with the comments that "let us go back to our homes, dust the books written by Marx and Lenin and read them. They contain answers to many of the problems that the Indian people face today. Whether it is workers organisations or nationalities or minorities or women, their problems can be taken up for solution only when the various movements unite and there is a united people’s front. Considering that we have very few differences among ourselves why should we all not unite and come up with an alternative plan that is based on the empowerment of the people and a worker-peasant alliance".
The suggestion was well received and an organising committee was formed at the end of the conference to work on a draft plan of action against the present economic policies, state-organised communal violence, national and social oppression and war and fascism and take the task of building a people’s united front forward.