The fourth all-India convention of Lok Raj Sangathan successfully concluded on 17th November, 2007, at New Delhi.
Held under the theme Building the Future — Organising for People’s Power, the convention adopted the Report of Work since October 2005, unanimously adopted the Constitution of LRS and re-elected the All-India Council (AIC), with a new President. The convention also adopted several resolutions, including political positions and practical decisions to be implemented by the newly elected AIC. (Resolutions of the convention will be published shortly).
The Convention was attended by members from all over India, from Tamilnadu to Punjab and from Maharashtra to Manipur. They came from diverse sections of society – workers, professionals, farmers and peasants, women and youth.
The AIC elected by the Third All-India Convention in 2005 was declared as dissolved, and a Presidium, headed by Justice Hosbet Suresh was elected to take charge of the proceedings.
Report of Work
The Report of Work was presented by the Convener, Prakash Rao, on behalf of the outgoing All-India Council. The report highlighted the numerous struggles in defence of people’s rights, in which LRS had played a significant role. It forcefully and convincingly presented the principles positions that LRS had taken on major political issues and economic controversies in the country. It was clear that LRS had taken bold stands and contributed practically to strengthen the varied movements in defence of rights. It had emerged as a unifying factor in the people’s movement for deepening of democracy and opening the door to all-round social progress.
The report presented by Prakash Rao covered a broad spectrum of struggles and movements, including the resistance to land acquisition and corporate domination of trade, demolition of slums and sealing of shops in cities, the demand to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act and other black laws, to punish the guilty parties behind communal genocide and all forms of state terrorism, as well as the resistance to the Indo-US strategic alliance and demand for changing the Constitution to require people’s approval prior to signing international treaties.
The report highlighted one very important lesson from the practical experience of varied struggles for rights. This lesson is that the necessary condition for actualising rights is for the people to become the rulers, the decision makers. Without political power, without decisive control over public policy decisions, there is no way for the people to stop the violation of their rights.
The past two years have witnessed very active participation of LRS in the political process, including elections to state assemblies, to rural and urban local bodies. The report summed up this experience positively, showing how LRS has cleaved a new path, a new way to participate in elections in order to change the system and political process altogether. Based on its conviction that the people are capable of governing themselves, without a political caste acting as intermediaries, LRS has carried out mass campaigns to encourage people to select candidates from among their peers and neighbours, to contest the stranglehold of so-called recognized parties over the political process.
The report highlighted the enthusiastic participation of LRS in the Ghadar Jari Hai Abhiyan. In the context of the dominance of Eurocentric thought and systems on India’s polity and society, LRS has decided to pay serious attention to the development of Indian political theory in close connection with the practical struggle to build organs of people’s power.
The report concluded by reiterating the central importance of building lok raj samitis in as many local areas as possible – as organs of unity and struggle of the people and as the potential base of people’s power in the future.
Discussion and adoption of the Report
Several activists, members and office bearers of LRS intervened in the discussion that followed the presentation of the report by the convenor.
Justice Ajit Singh Bains, retired judge and renowned fighter in defence of human rights, expressed his appreciation of the work for democratic renewal, including the reconstitution of India as a voluntary union. He exposed the colonial foundations of the existing Indian Union and the unprincipled nature of centre-state relations, in violation of the right to self-determination of nations and peoples.
Just Hosbet Suresh, member of many commissions of enquiry into rights violations and the outgoing President of LRS, spoke at length on the atrocities against the people and violation of their rights. He concluded that “we must first involve ourselves in every struggle for empowerment – right to food, right to shelter, right to education. LRS must help people to strengthen themselves, and once we achieve that, then we can bring people to power. We have to build this organization”.
S. Raghavan, founding member and among the leading activists of LRS, spoke of the successes achieved in implementing the decisions of the previous convention – namely, the campaign to punish the guilty and for renewal of the political process. In this context, he reported on the enthusiastic response among Indians resident abroad to the award winning film Amu, which has served to break the conspiracy of silence about the communal genocide targeted at Sikhs in November 1984.
Sucharita, Bijju Nayak, Dr. Sanjeewani, Prof. Bharat, Shivanand, Guruji Hanuman Prasad, BB Taware, Dr Kamala Sankaran, Lokesh, Tripti, Vimala and Renu contributed to the discussion of the report. The interventions highlighted the role of the LRS in the struggle against state terrorism, in the struggle in defence for human, democratic and national rights. They highlighted the work of the LRS in uniting the Indian people against US imperialism and its striving for world domination. The undemocratic nature of centre-state relations and the necessity for the reconstitution of Indian Union on a voluntary basis was also elaborated upon. Many of the interventions emphasised the need to build and strengthen Lok Raj Samitis among all sections of the people.
Constitution of Lok Raj Sangathan
The draft Constitution of LRS had been made available to all members on the organization’s website. The draft Constitution had been translated into Hindi as well to make it accessible to more members. The draft was read out and unanimously adopted with a minor amendment. The document reflected the spirit of the organization – empowering its members to affirm their rights, and to fulfill their duties. It affirmed the principle that only an empowered membership can fight for people’s empowerment.
Elections to the AIC
Elections to the All-India Council were conducted by the Presidium, after which the All-India Council unanimously elected S.Raghavan as the President of LRS. Prakash Rao was re-elected Convener. The Vice-Presidents and the Secretariat of AIC were also elected. The results of the election were announced by the erstwhile President, Just Suresh, who lauded LRS for its efforts and wished it all success in its struggle for empowerment. He pledged his continued support to the organization, even as he handed over charge to his younger successor.
The newly-elected President, S.Raghavan, concluded the meeting with a call to build lok raj samitis and to strengthen the organization at all levels.