On November 18, 2007, a public meeting was organised in the Rajendra Bhavan Auditorium, Delhi with the theme "Building the Future — Organising for Peoples Power". This followed the successful conclusion of the 4th All India Convention of the Lok Raj Sangathan the previous evening.
Participating in the public meeting were delegates and observers who had come from different regions of our vast country to attend the Convention. Also participating were comrades and friends from other organistions with whom we have fought shoulder to shoulder over the years, in the long, ongoing struggle in defence of rights of the people and for people’s power.
Participants had come from far away places, after completing arduos journeys. From the desert region of Rajasthan, the plains of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, from the heights of Uttarakhand and Himachal, from Manipur, West Bengal, Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Maharashtra, as well as from Delhi, all had come to learn from each others experiences.
For nearly six hours, over twenty activists from different fronts of work addressed the public meeting on the theme of organising for peoples power. The political unity amongst all present was evident as they spoke with one voice on the current political situation and the necessity for organizing people to take political power. The atmosphere was extremely serious, befitting the theme being discussed.
The Public Meeting was chaired by Justice Hosbet Suresh.
The Convener of LRS, Prakash Rao gave a rousing political speech that drew similar spirited interventions from others who followed. Speakers from the Bangladesh-Bharat-Pakistan People’s Forum, Committee for Human Rights – Manipur, Hind Naujwan Ekta Sabha , Jamaat e Islami Hind, Manipur Students Association of Delhi, People’s Democratic Forum from Karnataka,, Rajasthan Shikshak Sangh, Teesra Swadhinata Sangram, National Coordinating Committee of Unorganised Workers Union, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, and Uttarakhand Lok Vahini addressed the participants. Other prominent individuals – fighters for human and democratic rights, communists, worker, peasant, youth and women activists also addressed the meeting.
In his speech, Prakash Rao analysed the present situation and called upon all to build Lok Raj Sangathan as the vehicle for peoples power. He pointed out that the future we want to build for our people is one where peace, progress and prosperity is guaranteed for all. We must re-orient the economy and put in place a political system which will guarantee right to livelihood and all other human rights, as well as democratic rights and national rights.
The Convenor of Lok Raj Sangathan called for forging the anti imperialist unity of Indian people against the strategic alliance of India with the US. US imperialism is the greatest eney of mankind, of peace and freedom of the peoples. It is unacceptable that our government dares to embrace the US. We must rouse the people against this strategic alliance. We must campaign that all international treaties like the 123 agreement must be placed before the people and a vote taken in a referendum.
The Convenor elaborated in his speech that parliamentarism and state terrorism were twin weapons deployed by the rulers to deprive the people of power. The work of LRS has contributed to exposing how the present political system and process actually keeps the people in the margins. LRS stands for active intervention in the political process, by showcasing and acting according to an alternative process. More and more people must be drawn into the organising work to build Lok Raj Samitis and Councils. In these samitis and Councils, people must take up for solution all problems that confront them, and they must also actively intervene in the elections. We must prepare for active participation in the parliamentary elections of 2009, and we are willing to work closely with other forces who are committed to the empowerment of the people. Prakash Rao called for a united campaign in defence of human rights against state terrorism. Let us mark December 10, International Human Rights Day, with rallies and protests, affirming our resolve to punish those guilty of crimes against the people, to get rid of black laws and to build a society where human rights are guaranteed.
Justice Hosbet Suresh moved the gathering with his deep conviction in the correctness of the program of LRS and his pledge of continued support for its mission, notwithstanding that he had just relinquished his official post as President to a "more youthful and energetic" activist. He recounted a couple of the numerous struggles for human rights that he has actively participated in and led. Condemning the Indian state for its genocide in Kashmir and the North-east for the sake of territory, he pointed out that 1947 was only transfer of power from one set of rulers to another and not a guarantee of freedom or justice for the people. Describing LRS as “a unique organisation, that relies completely on its own strength and resources”, he said that he had worked with numerous organisations, but in the course of his long association with LRS he had come to realize that LRS is “unique” in its single-minded commitment to organising for people’s power.
The interventions began with the representative from Jamaat e Islami Hind – Rafeeq Ahmad. He pointed out that this country is for all and as per the Constitution; whatever religion, whatever language, whatever class we belong to, we all have equal rights,. Condemning the selfish rulers who are "selling everything in this country even down to the basic need like water", the speaker called for the majority of people to come together and defeat the minority elite in the interests of the empowerment of the people.
Guruji Hanuman Prasad, President of the Rajasthan Shikshak Manch, observed that the current day rulers are truly following the Machiavallian theory – "the ruler should be strong like a lion and cunning like a fox, reward in public and hang in private." He condemned their criminal principle of "divide and rule" and called for political power in the hands of the people as the only way forward. We have to attack this system, uniting with all fighting forces, mobilising and organising people towards real democracy, he said and concluded with a confident "hum honge kamyab"
Malem Ningthouja from the Manipur Student Association of Delhi, a long standing activist in the struggle of the Manipuri people against state terrorism for national rights, pointed out that imperialism and state terrorism are different faces of the same coin. Opposing them are the people who are fighting for Lok Raj, for national liberation. He condemned the conspiracy of silence in the country about the atrocities against the people of Manipur and concluded that the silence will end when the people of Manipur achieve Lok Raj.
Manik Samajdar from the Bangladesh Bharat Pakistan Peoples Forum recalled the brave Titu Mir, the legendary peasant rebel leader who had fought a hit and run war in Bengal in 1831 against the British taxation policy and compared it with the contemporary struggle for Lok Raj. He reminded the audience that long before the British came, Indian society had a basis of political rule, which was concerned with the well-being of Lok, the people. He pointed out that US imperialism is planning to take over the whole world by 2020, but the people must fight to defeat US imperialism. He warned that the fight for rights is not easy and we will face bullets, but we are confident that we will win.
Gopal Rai from the Teesra Swadhinata Sangram spoke with passion on the necessity of taking up the struggle for Lok Raj with the same chetna of 1857, the legacy we have inherited from Bhagat Singh and from the Hindustani Ghadar Party. He declared that "our dreams and aspirations today are the same as those that impelled the fighters from centuries ago to fight against the selfish domination of a minority".
Prashant Bhushan, noted advocate, active in defence of the people’s rights, observed that the state is anti people, no matter which government is in power. This is reflected in the role of the media and the judiciary, partisan to the big moneyed and powerful interests. He emphasised the necessity for people to come forward in defence of their rights, as LRS is organising people to do. He urged the participants to oppose representative democracy and work towards a model of direct democracy.
Dr. Shamsher Singh Bisht from the Uttarakhand Lok Vahini gave a touching account of the struggles of the hill people, deprived of even the most basic amenities. He hailed LRS for its work of organising for people’s power and called on all present to " feel from inside that we are all one and stand up for rights of people wherever we are”.
Maruti spoke on behalf of the delegation of the People’s Democratic Forum of Karnataka. He pointed out how the enemies of the people were deliberately whipping up communal passions in Karnataka, while the state was targeting all those who opposed its anti people policies as Naxalites. He pointed out that his organisation had colloaborated with LRS in organising public programs in Karnataka. Elaborating on the work for human rights by the Peoples Democratic Forum, he hailed the work of LRS and expressed his happiness at being able to attend the Convention and the meeting.
Hansraj Sharma, peasant leader from the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Rajasthan, gave a call to all present that "we must all together demand, in one voice, that those who rule today should relinquish their power. When we face them together and with one voice, they will not dare to touch us”.
Ramapati, a veteran of the workers and peasant movement from Uttar Pradesh, militantly hailed Lok Raj Sangathan’s work and the Convention.
Subhash Bhatnagar of the National Coordinating Committee of Unorganised Workers Union elaborated on the persistent struggle for the rights of the workers in the unorganised sector and how it is a part of the struggle for empowerment of the people.
Dr K. S. Subramanian, a retired police officer and human rights activist, who has been actively working on police reforms, congratulated LRS on its Convention and remarked on the difference in quality of the discussions, at this Convention and elsewhere among many sections of the elite who pretend to be concerned about the people. He said that this is because each one participating in this Convention is dedicated to seriously addressing the problems of the people.
Comrade Santosh Kumar from the Hind Naujwan Ekta Sabha Santosh spoke spiritedly on the collaboration between HNES and LRS, and how much the youth have learnt from working with LRS, on crucial issues like state terrorism and the electoral system. Hailing Bhagat Singh and the martyrs of the anti-colonial struggle, he said that in place of the East India Company and colonial rulers, we now have hundreds of corporates looting our natural resources and youth power, blessed by the rulers of today. He elaborated on the experience gained by HNES in working with LRS for selection of people’s candidates for the Municipal Corporation elections in Delhi and endorsed the theme of this meeting – "only when people have political power in their hands can we talk of people’s needs being satisfied"
Dr. Sanjeewani from Mumbai, Dr. Pradip from Pune, Dr. L.P Singh from Committee on Human Rights – Manipur, Kumanavel from Chennai, Gulab Singh from Punjab – all activists of Lok Raj Sangathan, addressed the necessity to oppose the narrow and self-serving vision of the present rulers with the vision for empowerment of the people. They emphasized the necessity of building the lokraj samitis, so critical for the empowerment of the people.
Raghavan, the newly elected President, closed the formal proceedings with the optimism that LRS will advance its work in the next two years. The ruling class is bringing about tremendous changes that are impacting the people in a very severe way, intensifying the crisis, but LRS has the vision and theory to take them on. He said that the big task is to build this Sangathan and take it forward further for the big battles to come.
The meeting came to a close with songs and poems rendered by young and old activists and a resounding bhangra performance by the youth of the Rang Bhoomi Natya Samooh, a fitting finale to a successful Convention and Meeting.