[Speech at the Adhikar rally in New Delhi on 8 March 1996. From Liberation, April 1996.]
As far as I can see, I see only red flags. It is said that people create history and you have indeed done it here.
We had claimed that this rally would break the record, that this will be the largest-ever rally held by the Left, and you have proved it true. Breaking all the earlier records of this decade, you have created a new history here. (applause) Indeed the record set by today’s rally would be broken one day in coming years, but I can confidently assert that it will be broken by none other than the CPI(ML) itself. (applause)
Friends, we had appealed to you to surmount all difficulties to reach Delhi, and we witnessed that our comrades, and even a large number of people from the ranks of other left parties also, reached here in response to our call. For this rally we had a dialogue with left intellectuals, we asked support or help from all the democratic-minded people, and I saw that a great number of Left as well as democratic intellectuals came up with all kinds of help in organising the rally. It is due the contribution from you all that this mammoth rally of today became possible.
We hold that today our country is standing at a specific juncture, at a particular crossroads, from where it is looking for a new path. Perhaps, today is the last day of this Parliament, and on this day, people in their lakhs have come here — workers and peasants from all over the country marching on the streets of Delhi. They have thrown up a big question before this Parliament: what business has this Parliament conducted during the past five years? What have these so-called elected representatives in the Parliament done so far? This is a question to which this Parliament doesn’t have an answer. We have witnessed that during the past five years a minority government became a majority government by means of purchasing MPs from other parties. We also saw that a major section of ministers in this government got entangled in the hawala case; there are chargesheets against them and some of them are even behind the bars at present.
Friends, a question naturally arises: how can a Prime Minister, whose whole cabinet is involved in this corruption scam, be considered an honest person? Consequently, while the investigations are being conducted, our Party raised the demand that investigations by the CBI should be directed against the real ringleader. Well, investigations are being conducted against all others but why was the ringleader of this whole corrupt cabinet left out? The same demand has been raised here in this rally. Of course, I would congratulate Rao Sahib for one thing: when he saw his star going under the clouds, he said, I would get drowned but will take you all along with me too. (applause) Thus we have seen that all the established political parties — ruling class parties — got trapped in it; today it is being said that all are naked in the bath-house (hammam mein sab nange hain). Therefore, a new challenge has come up before our nation: which course will be taken by our country in this situation? I think today our country needs a new path and new forces; we are to shake off the burden of all these old forces from our heads, throw it into the dustbin; the new forces in India have to redouble their initiative to take hold of the reins of the country in their hands. And it is for this purpose that our Party has held this rally. The heightened scale of support we saw towards this rally proves, I must say, that our country desires to march ahead along the new path. Now it is our responsibility, the responsibility of the Left, to provide leadership to the people of the country.
Comrades, talks of many an alternative against this challenge are coming up. In the past few months we saw people saying that some honest bureaucrats would perhaps bring revolution in India. However, as you have seen it yourself, it is not possible. In the history of no country have the bureaucrats brought the revolution. Revolutionary change has always been brought about by defeating these bureaucrats. Then, some people started saying the Supreme Court will probably bring the change in India. The Supreme Court has taken some initiatives in Hawala or in other cases of corruption, and we certainly welcome it. But some questions still remain unanswered. In the recent past this very Supreme Court has given a verdict regarding Hindutva. During his election campaign, the Maharashtra Chief Minister had openly proclaimed that if they come to power Maharashtra will become the first Hindu state. During the court hearings everybody thought Manohar Joshi would lose his seat, and BJP-Shiv Sena even decided on a new chief minister. But, to the surprise of all, the Supreme Court instead came up with newer definitions of Hindutva and did not annul his election. And then in the telecom scam, when the whole session of the parliament had to be adjourned, when a great scandal was coming to surface, we witnessed with great surprise that when this issue was brought to the Supreme Court, a decision was given in a big hurry. Whereas normally such cases are heard there for a considerably longer period, in this hurried judgment, Sukh Ram was fully exonerated from the scam, and many a logic was put forward in favour of the Government’s telecom policy, in favour of privatisation etc. Therefore, I think, the view that revolutionary change in our country can be brought by the Supreme Court judgments is just a middle class dream, it can never be the ground reality. If there are forces which can bring revolutionary change in our country, they are workers and peasants, the teeming millions who have marched today on the streets of Delhi. They are the only forces who can bring revolution in our country (applause).
Comrades, today our ruling classes have got entangled in an acute crisis, and all sorts of issues are being raised in order to get rid of that crisis. BJP has once again decided to highlight the issue of Hindutva. Talks of war against Pakistan are being aired once again, tensions are being built up. I’d like to tell BJP: you have no monopoly over patriotism. We communists love our country and will remain in the forefront of the forces fighting for the freedom of the country, for its sovereignty. We’ll offer sacrifices to this cause more than any other force. (applause) We have known these Janasanghis from the very beginning; it is commonly known that they are American agents. Recently, the CIA has come out with an assessment that India will soon disintegrate. This is what the CIA is dreaming of, the Americans are dreaming of. We hold that if there is a plot to divide India and if there is any party implementing it, it is none other than the BJP. The way it is dividing the hearts of Indians with the slogans of Hindutva, the way it is dividing Hindus and Muslims, will eventually lead, one day, to the division of our country. Therefore I’d say that in the name of patriotism, these forces in reality are trying to divide the country once again under the instructions from the CIA. We must frustrate these attempts.
Friends, on the question of alternatives, there are talks of a third front. We have already said that we would like to forge friendship with all the left and democratic forces. But I must point out here that the Mandalite forces of social justice have reached their limits of progressivism. In recent times, in UP, under the rule of Mulayam Singh, the Uttarakhandi processionists were fired at in Muzaffarnagar, their women were raped. In this regard, Mulayam Singh at first issued the statement that all this was a lie and mere propaganda to bring down the morale of the police. In our country, as it becomes necessary to keep up the morale of the police, they are given the freedom to rape! This is the politics of the ruling classes. Later, when pressure was mounted in this matter, Mulayam Singh said that if the incident was proved he would apologise before the whole nation. The fact has now been proved but Mulayam Singh has not apologised before the nation, he has apologised only before the people of Uttarakhand. We hold that before taking any step of friendship it is imperative that he apologises before the whole nation for what happened at Muzaffarnagar, as it was his promise and our consistent demand as well.
Comrades, as regards the other big force that constitutes this third front, i.e., Laloo Yadav and his Janata Dal, the picture that has been projected before the country through the press, is not the truth of Bihar. If you go to Bihar and see for yourself what has taken place in the name of social justice: the creamy layer of backwards has also become a party to the plunder so far monopolised by the creamy layer of Savarnas. Today the animal husbandry scam is being talked about. The two persons involved in it are Jagannath Mishra and Laloo Yadav, and both are working overtime to protect each other.
Comrades, I want to tell you that there is an MLA belonging to our Party in Bihar, an elected representative of the people, a leader popular among the masses, and he has been incarcerated for the past six months. In Bihar, where numerous cases have been instituted against thousands of our comrades who are in the thick of mass movements fighting against feudal forces, we find that the government administration is invariably in alliance with those very feudal forces. At regular intervals massacres are taking place there, big incidents are taking place, but the administration has turned a blind eye to all this. And thousands of our comrades are either behind the bars, or warrants have been issued against them. They hope that through this repression they will uproot the CPI(ML) from the soil of Bihar. But look at the reality. I have repeatedly said that, and once again I repeat here: so far the bullet has not been manufactured, nor the gun has been assembled with which CPI(ML) can be uprooted from the soil. (applause) Nor have such notes been printed by which CPI(ML) leaders can be purchased. Comrades, we are alive, we are marching ahead! Thousands of our people have been killed, thousands have been put behind the bars, cases have been instituted against several more thousands, but despite all this, our movement and our strength are constantly increasing. And those parties who thought that trailing behind Laloo Yadav and his party would help them in gaining strength have been wiped out at the roots. (applause)
Well, friends, we certainly want the third front to take shape, we want all the progressive and democratic forces to join hands, but for that, first of all, we should look towards the masses, towards the forces of workers and peasants. Strength does not lie with a Mulayam or a Laloo or a Jayalalitha, it lies with the common people, with the workers and peasants; and we can march ahead on the basis of these forces. But first of all we must have the courage, only with that courage can we find out our friends to whom we can provide leadership, we would not have to tail behind them. Comrades, we hold that in politics we are compelled to make various kinds of compromises, we can forge friendship with this or that force here and there on this or that issue or for a short time even on national level we can forge a front with other democratic forces. I would like to proclaim that we do not believe in any kind of permanent front, we do not concur with the concept of a so-called secular alternative, the concept that asks for forging a permanent type of third front for all time, to be led by NF type of forces. We are not for any such permanent front for advancing the forces of left and democracy, for advancing the democratic movements. Surely we can forge front with this or that force for a short time but we cannot bind ourselves to a particular front permanently because this is a revolutionary politics. (applause).
Friends, a great challenge lies before us. We have appealed to our left friends throughout India: come, despite all the differences let us try to march in step. We would like to clarify that the CPI(ML) was born precisely to finish off the opportunism that had cropped up in the Indian left movement, and CPI(ML) can never compromise on this question. It is a basic question and if CPI(ML) compromises on this question, if it compromises with opportunism, it compromises the movement itself and there would be no need for CPI(ML) to exist. If someone thinks that any amount of pressure or big brother’s diktat would work in this regard, would divert our Party from its revolutionary goal and objective, all I can say is that he is living in a fools’ paradise. (applause) Of course, despite all the basic differences, we can work jointly on all the important issues before the country. On the Platform of Mass Organisations we have been working jointly for the past five years, and despite all the differences we can march jointly in the sphere of politics as well by raising political issues at the national level. To this end our Party will consistently endeavour — an effort we have been making for the past eight years and we shall carry on this effort for the coming eight or ten years. We have said that we will forge friendship and work jointly with all the currents of the left: whether they are comrades from CPI or CPI(M), or they are other people who have emerged from the Naxalbari stream, we will fight together on common issues. On this score our Party does not follow any sectarian approach. This has been proved by our participation in the Platform of Mass Organisations.
Of course, there will remain some basic differences. We are told to stop criticising Left Front Government in West Bengal. We would like to tell you all, particularly the enlightened people of Delhi sitting here, that in Bengal during the Congress regime of Siddhartha Sankar Ray, thousands of youth were killed in encounters — in cold blood. Leaders of our party like Comrades Saroj Datta and Charu Majumdar were also murdered in cold blood. Now the Left Front is ruling there for 18 long years, and they say it proudly that they have been ruling for 18 years. Well, you have ruled for 18 years and if you like it you may go on ruling for 88 years, we have no worries on that score. But we have one question. In the decade of the 1970s these massacres took place and your party has also accepted that these massacres did take place, that there was a fascist rule in those days. I just want to know whether during these 18 years of Left Front regime a single person responsible for these massacres has been sentenced for a single day? I want to know why the matter of investigation into the death of Saroj Datta, who was not only a leader of our Party but a distinguished intellectual known throughout Bengal, has been kept in abeyance? Even a memorandum containing signatures of ten thousand Bengali intellectuals was presented to Jyoti Basu, asking him to order the investigation, but till date nothing has been done in this regard. Now we raise these questions, which are not against CPI(M), these questions pertain to the future of democratic movement as a whole because those dark forces of Congress are raising their heads once again in West Bengal, once again Siddhartha Sankar Ray is back to Bengal, Mamata Bannerjee is gaining popularity there among the masses. Therefore we say, you have not punished a single person during 18 years of your rule, and it is the result of this that today these dark forces are once again striving to stage a comeback. So friends, we will keep on raising this demand, because this is in the interest of the left and democratic movement. It is not just for opposing this or that party, nor against this or that government. It is for the sake of democracy; this is why we talk of democratic revolution. The CPI(ML) will never leave aside even a single demand that is there for democracy, any demand on which the issue of democracy can be carried forward. We never care for whether we will get any seats, or our people will win or lose in the elections. (applause)
Comrades, today you have come to the Lal Qila. The dream of hoisting the red flag over the Lal Qila has been the long-cherished dream of Indian communists. This Lal Qila is the historic place from where in 1857 the bugle of the freedom struggle was blown — this is the same Lal Qila. Today, on the one hand, our country is being sold out to the foreign multinational companies and, on the other, within the country all the forces of hawala are selling out the country to moneybags and mafia. Previously we used to talk about MPs selling themselves to Tata and Birla, but today these MPs are selling themselves to any petty thug like Harshad Mehta whom nobody knew of before. Therefore comrades, once again we have to fight a battle for freedom of our country, communists will have to hold high the banner of patriotism. This is our responsibility. The battle that began in 1857 is still unfinished, it is continuing and we are to carry its banner. It is our duty and I would appeal to all the intellectuals, all the progressive intellectuals who are involved in various kinds of movements, that at this hour of crisis before the nation you should not limit yourself to only individual issues or movements. You all are quite worthy and competent and it is the need of the hour that all the honest intellectuals, all the honest people of the country, should join forces, come closer and proclaim: this country doesn’t belong to you moneybags, to you mafia or capitalists, or to you corrupt leaders; this country belongs to the workers, to the peasants, and to the intellectuals; this is our country, and we must have the right over this country. The reins of this country should be in our hands.
Comrades, you will have to fight this battle. You have come from fields and factories and after returning there you will have to plunge into struggles once again. Particularly, I would tell this to the comrades from Bhojpur who have reached here fighting courageously against all odds. Grenades were thrown at them. In Bhojpur, the struggle is very sharp. Within a month or so 12 people have been killed by feudal forces. Returning there you people will have to devote yourselves once again to the struggle, to carry forward mass struggles. But from this rally you must take the oath to rebut these feudal forces, to smash them, to wipe out the Ranvir Sena. (applause) Comrades, I would say that this is the message of the rally for the struggling peasants in Bihar. These feudal forces are a stigma on the whole country, they are posing hurdles in the path of social development, and they massacre common poor and innocent people. You are to stand courageously countering these forces.
And as elections are forthcoming, they may be declared any day. In these elections there is a great opportunity before you. Today most of the political parties stand exposed, their faces have been unmasked before the people, this is an opportunity before you to go to the people and tell them about the whole system, explain to them the character of all political parties and tell them that today our country has to march on a new path. And on that new path no other party than CPI(ML) can lead the people. Comrades, I am fully and firmly confident about it and I would repeat that after a few years we will again meet at this Lal Quila ground at Delhi, once again to break the record set by this rally.
Once again we shall meet here.