Statement, 1 April 2006 – Lok Raj Sangathan, Delhi
Dear Brothers and Sisters of Delhi’s trading community,
During the last few days, you have together been strongly opposing the recent Supreme Court order on sealing the “commercial activities in (posh) residential areas”. You have given a fitting reply to the Delhi Municipal Corporation, which is enforcing the Supreme Court order. Your unified and intense struggle has created turmoil in the Delhi Government and the ruling circles, and now they are frantically searching for a way to rescue the situation and to calm down your struggle.
The allegation of the courts that your commercial activities lead to unsanitary conditions and overcrowding in posh areas is baseless. Every common citizen of Delhi knows how much we depend on roadside stalls, dhabas, fruit and vegetable shops, small electrical, mechanical and auto repairing stores, grocery and neighbourhood stores. Removing them will destroy our lifestyle; and all the thousands and lakhs of workers will immediately be rendered unemployed.
It is being said that multi-enterprise centres and big fancy shopping malls will replace these small shops. However, finding a place in these fancy commercial complexes will be out of reach for most of the small shopkeepers amongst you. If you have to shift your enterprise elsewhere, one cannot imagine the problems that you will have to face; in addition, you will incur heavy losses with respect to your existing commerce and customers. The roadside vendors were already being continuously threatened with eviction by the police and municipal authorities; now these authorities will extort more.
Therefore, this order to seal all "commercial activities in (posh) residential areas" is an attack on thousands and lakhs of shopkeepers and small entrepreneurs, and those that work at these establishments, and all the residents of Delhi. We are being told that all this is done in accordance with the Delhi Master Plan (MP) 2021. But we have to understand in whose interests this MP is. Is it keeping in mind the interests of Delhi’s toilers, small shopkeepers and entrepreneurs, traders, organized workers, casual labourers, etc.? Or is it in the interests of those super-rich, Indian or foreign corporations, who will expand into these fancy shopping malls and commercial complexes and will make fat profits?
Brothers and Sisters, our rulers and big business houses are dreaming of turning themselves into a world power. Starting with cities like Delhi and Bombay, they want to turn every city into a “world centre”. In these world centres, huge Indian and foreign corporations like Walmart are being given every desired concession, so that they may capture the market and reap massive profits. In the retail sector, all kinds of national and international companies have already begun to receive incentives to invest.
It is to facilitate this that all small shopkeepers, traders and self-employed persons are being targeted. Embarking on this path, the rulers, at various times bulldoze the homes of slum dwellers of Delhi and the residences of the middle strata, destroying the lives of lakhs of people. In various forms, virtually all Delhi residents are being targeted.
Our rulers have no concern for what will happen to the lives and employment of tens of lakhs of toilers and middle strata residents of Delhi. In all of the city’s neighbourhoods and resettlement colonies, tens of lakhs of persons still have no drinking water and sanitation, and all residents of Delhi face a shortage of basic facilities such as electricity, water, transportation, etc., besides reeling under skyrocketing prices of these utilities. The Delhi 2021 Master Plan cannot solve our problems, but only worsen them. Not only will unemployment rise, but common people will pay many more times for commodities. Yes, few big monopolies will establish their facilities and will certainly enrich themselves.
The Congress and the BJP are both parties of the super rich. Both will assist the bourgeoisie in establishing this programme. At the Centre or State level, the governments of these parties have helped national and international corporations by giving them support by turning big cities into `international cities’ and giving the green signal to the globalization programme. The bourgeoisie’s entire programme is run under the cover of the Supreme Court, even as leaders of Congress and BJP are enacting the drama of being `helpless under the law’.
Brothers and Sisters, the city of Delhi belongs to its residents. To determine its future is our right and not that of big corporations. The interest of the tens and lakhs of shopkeepers and entrepreneurs and common citizens should be given primacy, and not the profits of a few national and multi-national corporations.
An assault on one is an assault on all. Come, let us all, together, in our common interest, stand on one platform and form a united people’s front and resist and smash the attacks by the big bourgeoisie.
To contact Lok Raj Sangathan write to :
Lokrajsangathan, Sucharita, P. O. Box 4333, Kalkaji, New Delhi 110 019