Braving the heat participants filled the hall on Sunday April 17 to participate in the regional convention of LRS in Delhi.
Following the welcome, by Sucharita Basu, the Convention started with a brief but excellent report presented by Birju Nayak, Secretary, Delhi Regional Council, of the work done by LRS in the region. He pointed out that LRS has always upheld the rights of the people, and stood fast in the struggle for Punishing the Guilty in the case of both 1984 and Babri Masjid. Taking up the slogan “An attack on one is an attack on all”, LRS members have worked hard to build the unity of the people’s in their mohallas and workplace and place of study. Birju Nayak highlighted the two campaigns, taken up and successfully implemented by LRS in the NCR region. The first one being the campaign against communalism, and the second the campaign for the rights of the people, in terms of basic necessities (water, jobs, education, minimum wages, and security of women). In the course of work, the building of samitis was taken up and this has seen positive results, a reflection of which could be seen through popular support and participation at this convention. The report was accepted and passed unanimously.
S. Raghavan, the President of LRS then gave his key note speech. He said: “Today we are faced with a very serious situation. The ruling elite is attacking all sections of people using one or another pretext. It is attacking workers giving the argument that strikes by workers are harming investment and acting as a break on economic growth.
When JNU students fought for right to dissent, the BJP government attacked students saying that their job is to study and not to take part in politics. They accused them of being anti-nationals. They said that the government is spending crores of public money educating them. This is a most backward thought. It should be the duty of the state to provide affordable higher education to the youth and encourage debate and discussion among the new generation so that they can decide the best path for India. Instead of that, a small minority in power want to decide the future course of India, in the interests of the biggest business houses. They want to privatise higher education and make millions and billions. They want the mental and physical labour of the new generation to fetch them maximum profits, not to build a country where people live in safety and security and all kinds of inequality are eliminated.
Day in and day out they organise provocations against minority communities. One day they take up the issue of eating beef, another day they say that everyone should shout “bharat mata ki jai”, next day they say Hindustan is for Hindus. In this way they want to divide and rule over the people, in much the same way as the British colonialists. Communal polarization is deliberately engineered and implemented”
The President further dwelt on how those in power keep dividing us on the basis of caste, and how every day we hear of murder of Dalits, rape of their women, and severe punishment for inter-caste marriages. Talking about the upcoming elections, he stated that all the parties without exception are appealing to the most vile casteist sentiments and mobilising vote banks on the basis of caste.
At the same time fascist forces are being encouraged and there is a state of constant tension in Kashmir and north-east. There is a constant attempt to alienate the people of Kashmir and north-east by saying that they have no right to express their opposition to the army rule in their states and demand that they have an equal say in the Indian Union.
The debate now on who is national and who is anti-national is being fanned by the biggest anti-nationals, those who are dividing the people to further their interests and throwing the country wide open to foreign interference. The President said that what is actually happening is that the US and UK give advice to Indian governments how to be “tolerant” to people. While saying that India and Pakistan should live in peace, they use every opportunity to divide the neighbours and create intrigue and suspicion. “It is said that all this is happening because BJP is communal, BJP is fascist. Is this true? BJP is definitely communal and fascist. But does it mean that other parties of the ruling class are democratic, and progressive? No, a party cannot be fascist and communal without the support and active connivance of all state institutions such as parliament, judiciary, police, security forces, bureaucracy, various audit commissions and others. It cannot be that a party comes to power at the centre and orders the entire state apparatus to become communal and fascist overnight!
The actual fact is that the big business houses who have imperialist aims for India and who want to become world-class monopolies, have put up a party at the centre at this time, which blatantly talks about Hindutva and provokes sections of people so that a rift is driven between sections of the people. By calling everyone who opposes the policies of the government as “anti-national” and using repressive laws such as AFSPA, UAPA and Sedition Act, they want to put the fear into people that if they don’t fall in line, they will be put in jail or even hanged.
In order to confuse the people, the ruling establishment present before them a “communal” alternative and a “secular” alternative. There is only superficial difference between them. Once any of these alternatives come to power, they use the same repressive machinery, laws and legal system to put down struggles of people and ensure that power stays in their hands”.
After tracing in detail the history of our martyrs who fought in the interest of the people and in contrast what has been the colonial legacy, Shri. Raghavan concluded that “While this situation is dangerous, it also holds opportunities for us. It is 150 monopoly houses versus 125 crore people. They cannot keep fooling us and threatening us. One thing is clear. To create a society where there is security and safety for everybody, it is not enough to change one party with another. No doubt BJP should be defeated. It is a communal, fascist, jingoist party. But what will replace BJP?
Today we have a party-dominated system of representative democracy that we have now. In this people are mere voting cattle. Once they vote they hand over all power to their representatives.
We have to replace the existing unrepresentative system and political process by a modern democracy in which the will of the majority prevails. Instead of people voting to place parties in power, political parties must be required to enable the people to exercise power.
The new political process will be characterised by:
- No election without people’s selection of candidates!
- State will fund the electoral process!
- No privilege or public funding to any political party!
- People will have the right to initiate legislation, to approve major public decisions through referendums and the right to recall at any time the one they elected.
We are not alone in this struggle. There are many other organisations and individuals who are fighting for change. Lok Raj Sangathan is building links with all such organisations and conducting joint struggles. It is also building its own samitis and councils in every part of the country to enable people to overcome the divisive tactics of the ruling elite and enable people to take power in their own hands”.
Presentations & discussions
Two presentations were made, following this key note address. The first was on: “Whose state – in whose interest” and the second: “the obstacles in the face of our unity”. Both power point presentations held the attention of the audience, and more than a score came forward to intervene with comments and questions. The lively discussion threw up several important issues and points, such as:
- The Indian capitalists are not only exploiting within our country but also in UK, South Africa and Uganda
- The need to continue our struggle against privatisation and for our basic rights
- Nothing has changed from the time of the British, except those in power have mastered the art that they have learnt from the British
- It is very clear that we cannot do any tinkering within this system and hope for change which will be in the interest of the people; we work and toil and they loot, there can be no saviours from outside, the strength has to come from the people
- Building samitis is most important as we people are the ones who can contribute to a brighter future and fighting for the unity of the people is an equally important task
- The system wants to at all cost break our unity and this is what we have to oppose resolutely
- We have to seize our sovereignty, it will not be handed down to us in a platter
- A samiti will come alive when it is politically educated; our enemy fears this education, and our unity, this what they feared from our ghadaris and the revolutionaries that came after them; we have to take those lessons and translate them in today’s context in clear actions
Concluding the convention, the Convenor of LRS, Shri Prakash Rao congratulated the Delhi Regional Council and all the participants and said that it is quite evident from today’s proceedings that whatever gains have been made in this region has been the result of struggle of the LRS members. The fact that the voice of LRS is listened to everywhere in the movement is tribute to the great struggle waged by its members over so many years in this region for the rights of people.
Like it was rightly pointed out in the presentations, those in power continue to use the bullet and the ballot in turn and they manage to split and divide the people. He emphasized the importance of building and safeguarding the unity and solidarity of our people. It is through constantly fostering divisions, using every possible difference to create divisions that our enemies have successfully ruled over us.
He pointed out that India belongs to its people. Today, 150 capitalist houses are ruling over 125 crore people, depriving us of what rightfully belongs to us. We must take back what belongs to us.
He emphasized the importance of not being taken in by the propaganda of the rulers repeated day in and day out through the media they control. As proposed by some of the speakers, we must organize regular political discussions amongst out peers on various issues. Let different views be expressed. But people will come to what is the correct view through study and discussion.
Let us step by step build and strengthen our unity and increase our numbers and enfold many more in our andolan. I am confident that as in the past, we will overcome every obstacle and go forward unwaveringly towards our goal — to ensure that sovereignty is restored in our people.