Desh Ki Samsyaon Ka Ek Hi Ilaj – Lok Raj! Lok Raj!
On 28th April’13, the Lok Raj Sangathan organized a Lok Raj Utsav in Thane, Maharashtra, to mark the 20th Anniversary of the founding of the Preparatory Committee for Peoples Empowerment (CPE). The meeting was attended by more than 250 members and supporters of Lok Raj Sangathan. The participants were from different age groups, from school and college-going students to adults, and from different strata of society – adivasis, peasants, workers, and also intellectuals.
They had come from different areas of Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan, Bhiwandi, Padagha, Navi Mumbai etc. A large number of women activists participated enthusiastically in the program. Young members of Lok Raj Sangathan played a key role in organizing the function, from decorating the hall to sitting and eating arrangements. They also contributed to making the function a real celebration with plays, songs and dances. The hall was well decorated with the main slogan of the meeting adorning the dais. An excellent collage showing glimpses of the work of Lok Raj Sangathan and its predecessor organization, the CPE, was put up right at the entrance of the hall.
The Honorary Chairperson of Lok Raj Sangathan, Retired Justice Hosbet Suresh, the Secretary of Lok Raj Sangathan, Prakash Rao, and National Vice Presidents, Shivanand and Dr. Sanjeewani presided over the meeting.
In his opening remarks, Shri. Prakash Rao recalled the history of founding of Lok Raj Sangathan as the Committee for People’s Empowerment way back in 1993. He explained how in the dark days of 1992-93, when the entire nation was reeling under the aftermath of communal massacres post Babri Masjid demolition, men and women from various strata like professionals, lawyers, communists, trade unionists, human rights activists, activists of women’s movement, etc., gathered together in Delhi and started giving shape to a conscious and organized movement for people’s empowerment. He explained how since then, the serious theoretical work carried out first by the CPE and subsequently by the Lok Raj Sangathan, along with the practical experience gained by organizing the people for their empowerment, has helped Lok Raj Sangathan to develop the program for empowerment of people. He recalled the outstanding contributions of Justice V.R.Krishna Iyer, Prof Rajni Kothari, TS Sankaran, Justice Hosbet Suresh, Comrade Hardial Bains, Justice SM Daud, Justice AS Bains, Prof. Dalip Singh, and many other personalities. He pointed out that the Communist Ghadar Party of India and its leadership had all through steadfastly worked to build and strengthen the LRS as a political organization that would organize the people for political power.
Prakash Rao explained that the untiring, principled work done by Lok Raj Sangathan has influenced an increasingly large number of people who have to come to a conclusion that at the root of all the major problems confronting the Indian people today is the fact the people are not empowered. He gave many examples explaining that there is no real democracy for the huge majority of Indian people. Workers, peasants, women, youth, the peoples of various nationalities, the tribal peoples, all face discrimination and denial of rights. The vast masses of our people have no way to set the agenda for society, to ensure that their rights are guaranteed and enforceable, and to chart the course for society. He pointed out that democracy cannot be reduced to mere casting of the vote every few years. He explained that a thoroughgoing renewal of the political system and process is necessary right from selection of candidates to complete control of people over the executive and the legislature. He further pointed out how the party dominated system of government was a roadblock to the empowerment of the people, as in this system, the parties and coalitions that came to power acted as gatekeepers to keep the people away from power. Elaborating further, Prakash Rao explained how the present electoral system actively discriminated against smaller parties, as well as candidates selected by the people, while it favoured a handful of so-called recognized parties. As part of the struggle to empower the people, LRS has put forth various proposals and is working to unite various parties that are organising different sections of the people for their rights, around a program of reform of the electoral system. He concluded his address by expressing confidence that the Lok Raj Utsav that the Maharashtra Council of LRS has contributed so much to organizing is clear proof that the people of our country, particularly the youth, see that the solution to all the problems plaguing our society is in establishing Lok Raj. He called upon all gathered to step up the work of building the samitis of LRS wherever people live or work.
Justice Suresh, in his emotion charged speech, remembered 15th August 1947 when he along with lakhs of youth danced all through the night rejoicing that India had become independent from British rule and hoping that the misery of our people would end. He regretted that even after 65 years of independence from British rule, the huge majority of people still live a life of misery and want, whereas a handful of super-rich live a luxurious life. He gave many examples and highlighted that the Indian Constitution which was established in 1950 gives many rights in words, but there are no mechanisms to ensure that the Indian State is responsible to implement those rights in practice. There is the right to live anywhere in India, but there is no law which forces the government to guarantee a dignified shelter for all. Various agencies of the government in fact actively work to demolish the shelters of people. There is right of free expression. Hence if you are hungry you can cry, but there is no law which makes the government responsible to ensure that nobody dies due to hunger. There is freedom to express your opinion and hold your political beliefs. But there is no law which prevents the government from clamping draconian anti-democratic, anti-people laws like AFSPA in whole regions of India like the North East, Kashmir and many other parts. He expressed happiness that Lok Raj Sangathan is steadfastly working and giving hope to the Indian people that there is way out, and that is by establishing Lok Raj.
This was followed by a presentation on the work done by LRS against Communalism and State terrorism. The presentation gave a nice Jhalak right from the Babri Masjid demolition in 1992, to the Punish the Guilty campaign over the years, and activities in many parts of India against the Anglo-American imperialist sponsored “War on Terror”. The presentation highlighted the work carried out in unifying the movement against communalism and state terrorism, as also the success in influencing the movement away from the belief that the Congress party is a “lesser evil” than the BJP.
In another presentation the essential changes needed to renew democracy beginning with selection before election; and including the right to recall and the right to initiate legislation, were highlighted. The importance of building Lok Raj Samitis and Constituency committees was also highlighted.
A lively song making mockery of the present electoral process was presented and applauded by all. This was followed by a quick Jhalak showing how Lok Raj Sangathan has participated in elections in many parts of India and another Jhalak showing the lead taken by Lok Raj Sangathan in various parts of India in the Right to Food agitation, agitation against attacks on women, agitation against the privatization and liberalization program, activities in support of organized section of workers like doctors, nurses, engine drivers, government servants, pilots, postal workers, etc.
Young boys and girls from a Mumbai college presented a play highlighting the manner in which women in our country are a constant target of harassment and how police are indifferent to this situation. The play ended with a call that we need to organize ourselves for our defense and only Lok Raj can ensure safety and security of women. Students of another college in their skit highlighted the just demands of agitating teachers of Maharashtra. Youth from Badlapur highlighted in their skit that one of the main reasons for increasing food prices is complete government apathy towards food security of Indian people and also the forward trading in food grains. A group of youth from NSS put up a small skit. A young poetess from the adivasi area of Padagha, in her own inimitable manner, presented a nice poem penned by her, calling upon people to teach the irresponsible government a good lesson. She was enthusiastically applauded by all. Another group from Ulhasnagar performed a very lively dance.
The cultural team of youths of Lok Raj Sangathan presented many songs with guitar accompaniment. They also received an enthusiastic applause from the audience. The meeting ended on a very positive and optimistic note.
The wide cross section of people who attended the meeting, the active participation, and the political content of the meeting reflected the work of the LRS committees as well as the clear political direction and line of the organization. The celebration also reflected the resolve of the organization to stick unwaveringly to the goal and vision of Lok Raj.