I warmly welcome all of you to the 6th Convention of Lok Raj Sangathan. We had our previous Convention more than 2 years back, in November 2009. We have all gathered here to sum up our work during this period, the lessons we have learnt and the successes we have achieved during this period. After assessing this work we have to see what is the most immediate task facing us in the coming period, what should be our next step and where should we focus our work?
We will be 20 years old next year. Lok Raj Sangathan was born in 1993 in the aftermath of the destruction of the Babri Masjid and the resulting crisis in the Indian political arena. We held a historic rally in Ferozeshaw Kotla on Feb 22, 1993 at a time when all political rallies were banned in Delhi and a climate of terror and confusion was prevailing. LRS was first known as the Committee for People’s Empowerment. In Jan 1999, the CPE reconstituted itself as LRS, with a much broader scope and content of work related to the empowerment of the people.
During this period thousands of members have joined this organization. We have spread our wings to several states, cities and towns. We can definitely say that we are an active political force at the national level today, fighting for the political and human rights of the people.
The biggest contribution that LRS has made in these years is on the struggle to vest sovereignty in the people of India and for the democratic renewal of India.
It is said that India is the biggest democracy in the world. This is a blatant lie. Majority of people do not have any say in this system except to vote once in 5 years. Just because we have many parties here it does not mean that there is democracy for the people.
Particularly in the recent period major political developments have taken place in India which are pointing to the necessity to look at the limitations of the present Constitution and the political process. The 2G scam reinforced the fact that the Indian government serves the interests of the big monopolies and business houses. It is the big monopolies who decide which party should form the government, which Ministers should be in the cabinet, and what policies should be pursued. All these scams, including the recent Coalgate scam, also reveal that the Indian and foreign monopolies have been given the unbridled right by the government to loot the natural resources of India. Mobile spectrum, coal mines, oil & gas reserves – all of them have been farmed out to big monopolies for making maximum profits. The people of India have no say in demanding accountability from their political representatives and the government on such issues. They have no say in determining that the natural resources of India are used for improving the well-being of the people and not for fetching maximum profits for monopolies.
All these developments have raised many questions among the people: Can a few amendments to the present Constitution enable it to guarantee the rights of people? Can the present political and electoral process be reformed so that money and muscle power are eliminated during elections? Can the representatives elected by the people be made accountable to them? Is it possible for the people have a direct role in running the day to day affairs of the country?
These are not just rhetorical questions. We have to find answers to these questions immediately. We have to also take important necessary steps to move faster in the direction of vesting sovereignty in the hands of the people – a task that LRS has been pursuing for the past nearly 20 years. This Convention is an important step in making this possible.
India is one of the most ancient cultures in the world. Even today we follow ancient traditions and customs that our ancestors followed many thousand years back. Our ancestors practiced one of the highest levels of statecraft in the world from more than 5000 years back, from the time of the Harappan and RgVedic civilizations. So, when our rulers tell us that people cannot govern themselves, we can only laugh at their ignorance. The Prime Minister claims that Parliament is supreme and will decide everything. The Finance Minister, the governor of RBI and other economic and financial experts keep saying that only they know how to manage the finances of the country. We have to prove them wrong and show that we have the capability to rule.
These are the issues we will be discussing today.
I request all of you to participate in the proceedings of this Convention whole heartedly. You can intervene on the political and organizational report of the Secretary based on your own experience. India is such a vast country. Many of you have come from far away places, from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, from Mumbai to Manipur. Your views will certainly enrich the discussion here and help the organization to move forward.