Lok Raj Sangathan organised a meeting in Delhi on 17th April 2022, on the theme ‘Building the Future’. The occasion was the 29th anniversary of the founding of the Preparatory Committee for People’s Empowerment –  which subsequently evolved into Lok Raj Sangathan.

In the wake of the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, several organisations and individuals working for people’s rights realised that people are  totally disempowered in the current system and that there is an urgent need  to come together, to work towards a political system in which people would be truly empowered. At a meeting held in April 1993 at the Constitution Club in Delhi, the participants vowed to take up this task, and formed the Preparatory Committee for People’s Empowerment (CPE) for this purpose. CPE subsequently got reorganised and renamed as Lok Raj Sangathan at a plenary meeting held in Pune in 1999.

The 29th anniversary meeting was held in an atmosphere of solemn enthusiasm, with participants realising that though the situation facing us is grave, our unity in thought and action and organisation can help us move forward to a better future for all toiling Indian people.

Shri S Raghavan, President of Lok Raj Sangathan, opened the discussion with his views on the topic, especially on the questions of democracy, Constitutional guarantees and fundamental rights of people. No section of the people has been spared in attacks that occur, now on one, then on the other section. People are suffering from the effects of high price rise, joblessness and are subjected to hate propaganda and communal riots, like the one yesterday at Jahangirpuri in Delhi. Today all around us we see chaos, depression, treachery and lies. The rulers want us to remain hopeless, try to survive within the system, and pin our hopes on political parties which are considered lesser evils than the ruling BJP. They organise one diversion after another.  We all rally together to defend ourselves. Then they organise one more and one more.

He continued that the rulers want us to remain embroiled in one issue after another. Their purpose is to break our unity and prevent us from thinking about people’s empowerment. They don’t want us to think about a real alternative. They are offering solutions within these rotten conditions. But we want to build a future where people play a central role in running the country, where communal violence has no place, where human rights are made universal and inviolable. We are gathered here to look at what are the major roadblocks in front of the movement for empowerment of people and towards building such a future. Let’s look at a fundamental change, a total transformation of the current political process and system. It is for everyone to see that today’s democracy serves only the minority of rich. We do not have Constitutional guarantees to enforce right to conscience and various other fundamental rights. Elected representatives are not accountable to the people. Sovereignty lies in the hands of a select few. Therefore the immediate necessity is to take steps towards bringing the people to the centre-stage of political discussion and entrust sovereignty in their hands.

Com Sheomangal Siddhankar of CPI ML (New Proletarian) spoke of the need to make the movement to bring about change more active. Changes in so-called democratic institutions and empowerment of people cannot come through discussions – there has to be a movement. Farmers protests at Delhi’s border troubled the imperialist agents who have been looting countries through globalisation for the last 500 years. Today US imperialism wants to dominate the world, as is evident from the war in Ukraine as well. Our work has become more difficult, but we need to go on the offensive, not remain defensive.

Master Brijpal of Haryana Jan Chetna Manch said we need to work out a strategy for people’s empowerment. We need to go to every village to make people aware. We need a system that will guarantee people’s rights. Mere change of government will not work. Communal violence being unleashed time and again creates a dangerous situation. In order to ensure a better future, we need to secure our present first. Humanity is the greatest religion; if we fight communalism the future will be bright.

Com R S Dagar of Revolutionary Youth Front said that the great martyrs such as Bhagat Singh fought for revolutionary change, as opposed to the politics of compromise with colonialists who did not want Indian people to be united. Some political parties praise Bhagat Singh now but do not follow his principles. Today the Public Sector, built with people’s money is being sold out to capitalists cheaply. Indian people respect each other’s religions, but the executive, judiciary and political parties conspired on matters like Ram Mandir. The present government keeps repeating lies – with slogans such as “sabka sath, sabka vikas” but keep spreading poison and trying to generate divisions among the people.  We need to take among people the consciousness that our enemy is one, our exploiters are one, and that we should not get divided on communal basis. Empowerment of people is the only way ahead.

Prof Salim Engineer of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind said that communal violence was a serious matter. Indian Constitution is one which respects diversity and plurality. Secularism as understood in India is different from the way it is conceived in the West – it does not oppose religion but says that the State will not discriminate against any religion. Today this vision is under attack. The present regime is practising majoritarianism to force its cultural and religious and linguistic vision on all – and labels those who don’t accept this vision as anti-national and terrorists. We elect “representatives” but elevate them to “rulers”. Instead, we should insist that our elected representatives should work for our interests. Political parties have played a big role in compromising on Constitutional ideas. Secular parties need to stay firm on principles of inclusiveness and diversity, even if they lose in the short term. The nation belongs to all of us, hence it is the responsibility of all of us to work together, to expose the repressive plans of our rulers and forge our unity.

Advocate Shahid Ali said that LRS fights for the rights of all. We have had many demonstrations together at Jantar Mantar and elsewhere, but we haven’t been able to achieve our aims. Those in power are continuing to spread hatred amongst people. .He called upon LRS to take the initiative to unite all organisations committed to people’s rights and try to come to power. The days of those in power are numbered – but if we don’t seize the opportunity then those who spread sweet poison will come to power in their place. Those spreading hatred openly and those spreading sweet poison will keep alternating. Lack of political power in our hands is the root cause of all our problems. Political power in our hands is the solution to all the problems. Why not unite with everyone except Congress, BJP and AAP? If we unite, we will be a big force, and only then can we fulfil the aspirations of the people. He also spoke of the lies and slander being spread against Muslims by the present regime and condemned it. He concluded saying that we need to bring everyone on a common platform.

Com Santosh of Mazdoor Ekta Committee pointed out that the criminal politics of today is very much sanctioned by the Constitution – such as, spreading hatred between Hindus and Muslims, selling of public enterprises to greatly benefit big capitalists. The Constitution permits the rulers to introduce legislation and pass laws affecting millions of people without bothering to consult them – recent Farm Laws for example. Our farmer brothers fought for over a year to get them repealed, and during the course of this struggle, over 700 people died. Likewise, the Constitution permits them to pass anti-worker labour codes to enslave them and even promulgate an Emergency in which all rights of the people are suspended. We have been voting for almost 8 decades – but nothing has changed for us. The criminals of the 1984 genocide of Sikhs have not been punished. Power is concentrated in  the Cabinet, not even with the Parliament. People do not have the right to decide who is allowed to contest elections in their constituency or initiate legislation or recall representatives. It is the duty of all of us to continue to fight for genuine empowerment of people.

Advocate Sharfuddin of SDPI and All India Lawyers Committee recounted the history of the BJP and its predecessor organisations. He pointed out that from the time of independence, the so called secular parties had worked to give legitimacy to the BJP and were responsible for the present situation. He expressed his full support for the slogan popularised by Lok Raj Sangathan – “An attack on one is an attack on all!” He emphasised the need to form a common agenda and take everyone together forward in the struggle to ensure wellbeing of all.

Dr S Q R Ilyas of the Welfare Party of India congratulated Lok Raj Sangathan for boldly raising the question of “Building the Future”, at a time when there is darkness and despair all around. He pointed out that no hope for defence of people’s rights could be seen from the executive, legislature, judiciary or even media. When India became independent, the Constitution spoke of what people desired, namely justice, equality, and fraternity. Democracy is not merely the right to vote once in five years. BJP and RSS are on the decline, they can only present a negative agenda, an agenda of hate. All the political parties have assisted in bringing BJP to power. We need to make such an India, that is multicultural, multilingual, inclusive, and equitable, by taking everyone together with us.

Advocate Aslam felt that rather than speaking of people’s empowerment, we should speak of “disempowering the state”. Without breaking the power of the state, people cannot be empowered. He condemned the attacks on people of the Muslim faith. Personal laws of Muslims are under attack, he said, referring to the current ban on women students wearing the hijab. But these laws do not hurt any other community, so how are they a threat to law and order, he questioned. He proposed that all states should have equal representation in the Rajya Sabha so that there is no discrimination among states. He also suggested that if the time interval between elections is reduced, the electorate may have greater control over their elected representatives.

Ms.Bobby of Purogami Mahila Sangathan said that PMS was proud to be associated with the LRS since its inception. The problems in the present political system – such as people not being able to choose candidates, political parties foisting their candidates on the electorate, lack of accountability of representatives to the people, political parties all seeking to serve only the rich – ensure that it does not work for the welfare of the people. PMS will continue to work with LRS to build a better and brighter future for both women and men.

K Sujoy of the Communist League said so-called “democracy” and fascism are indeed two sides of the same coin. Gandhi and Nehru represented the interests of the capitalists and zamindars. “Participatory democracy” today is a sham because only rich can participate, not working people. “Democracy” in India today is the rule of exploiters. We need to oppose the system in which exploitation of man by man is permitted. We need to fight together with the exploited people of all lands.

Munna Prasad of Inquilabi Mazdoor Kendra pointed out that the present government is openly selling out the public sector, built with people’s money, to the capitalists at throwaway prices. . During the Covid pandemic, the profits of companies like Reliance grew manifold. They are using movies like Kashmir Files to attack Muslims. We should have no illusions on who is ruling India – it is the big corporates who control major political parties. He also pointed out that the Soviet revolution had shown to the workers of the world an alternative social system. To prevent workers of other countries of Europe from taking the path of revolution, the capitalist states established the so called “welfare state”. Now, the situation is different. We must be clear that capitalism can never ensure welfare for the working class. For this, we have to put an end to the rule of the corporate houses.

Virendra Singh Sirohi, veteran trade union leader of HMS from Ghaziabad, gave his good wishes to LRS and all the others present to take up the task of working for a bright future for all.

Arun Singh of PEACE, pointed out that the Constituent Assembly was called 75 years ago to chalk out plans for a bright future for the Indian people – yet the future is so uncertain! What weakness in the Constitution allowed this to happen? Problems such as unemployment, communal violence, etc. are symptoms of the disease, not the disease itself. The problem is inherent in the present economic and political system and its Constitution. We need to unite and work for an alternative.

Advocate Rajendra Pathak said that LRS needs to make a time bound program and give various people responsibilities. The present regime keeps telling lies. We need to draw in good people, inspire them to work together, and we must do this on an urgent basis.

Rajendra Prasad of HMS said that political parties of the rich promise a lot to the people like free health, education, electricity etc. Yet there is joblessness and strife. They want to end fraternity and thus violate the spirit of the Constitution. If youth have jobs, this would solve a lot of problems. We need to strengthen our unity on all issues of concern to the people.

Sucharita summed up the proceedings. She pointed out that all speakers agreed that in the existing political process people are completely disempowered. The big monopoly capitalist houses decide which party can best fulfil their agenda at any time and fool the people. They spend crores of rupees to ensure that such parties come to power. If we want to build a bright future for our people, then political power should be entrusted in the hands of people. LRS will continue to build a common platform with other organisations to work for a bright future for all.

By admin