[From Liberation, November 1990.]
Comrades and friends,
On behalf of the Party’s Central Committee I extend my warm greetings to all of you.
The whole country is today engulfed in flames. The so-called champions of national unity and integrity are all busy demolishing the nation. The poetry of unity of hearts is only chanted to perpetrate worse divisions. All talks of political solution to the problems of Punjab, Kashmir and Assam have stopped, while the fascist-communal ‘rath’ sparking off Hindu-Muslim riots is very much on the move. The whole controversy over Hindi has returned to reinforce the North-South divide, and large parts of North and Central India are caught in the throes of a simmering caste war. Amidst this all-pervasive pall of gloom, today’s rally indeed comes as a ray of new hope. Your full-throated slogans and the flutter of red flags all around are all carrying the single message to our beleaguered nation that the real issues are indeed something else. It’s a resolve of a common battle we all have to wage together. A warning to our rulers that while they are busy serving their narrow ends, we too have started arriving to stake our own claims.
Meanwhile, students in different parts of the country are all up in arms against reservation and the Mandal Commission recommendations. Some have even resorted to the extreme step of self-immolation. We are aware that some high priests of Brahmanical reaction are desperately trying to cash in on this popular resentment of the students to take the country back into medieval darkness. We are also aware of the vested political interests of the Congress, the BJP and the Devi Lal faction of the Janata Dal behind this anti-reservation uproar. Still, we believe that it is the students’ widespread indignation against unemployment and worries about their frustrating future which have driven them into the anti-reservation agitation. Till yesterday, these middle class youth were all captivated by the moral appeal of VP Singh, the messiah, but now that they have realised that he too is only another politician in the mould of the shrewd Chanakya, there can be no containing their resentment.
Just as we do not approve of those politicians who want to take revenge on the present-day progeny of Babar, we also reject those theoreticians who would punish the present-day offsprings of Manu for the crimes of their ancestors. We would again say that the government should have first fulfilled its own pre-election commitment of recognising "right to work" as a fundamental right and announced large-scale schemes of employment generation which could have inspired some hope among the students and youth. If the Mandal report were adopted against such a different backdrop, these young people could then have very well been mobilised in the fight for social justice and freed from the clutches of the Brahmanical high priests and the forces of political reaction. But this government failed miserably in inspiring any confidence in its seriousness in tackling the problem of unemployment or in promoting social justice. The Mandal exercise of VP Singh was nothing more than a calculated manoeuvre in his narrow factional game and it was exposed as such.
We would also say that the student-youth agitation has taken a negative turn. They should have spearheaded their movement not against the scheme of 27% reservation for the backwards, but for the recognition of their right to employment. That is why we have organised this rally around the slogan of ‘Kam do’ (give jobs) and we would appeal to the student-youth community to join the struggle for this fundamental right with all their strength.
We are definitely for reservation of jobs for dalits and backward castes. But this support of ours is not a support for VP Singh’s shrewd political moves. Neither is it a support for the Lohiaite theory where the concept of socialism has been degraded to the politics of backwardism.
Our support for reservation does not mean rallying the dalits behind the aggressive backward castes in the latter’s caste war. Neither does it mean subordinating the red flag to the green flag, the hammer-and-sickle to the wheel.
We stand for the independence of the red flag, we subscribe to the dream of hoisting the red flag on top of the Red Fort. We have made all sacrifices for fulfilling this mission and in the future too, we shall be never found wanting in making any number of sacrifices for this great cause of the Indian people. We have a formidable base among the dalits but it is a base developed also through a relentless struggle against the ‘dalitism’ of Kanshi Ram and Co. Our base is growing among the backward castes, but it is growing in struggle against the backwardism of Mulayam Singh and Laloo Yadav. The neo-Brahmins emerging from among the dalits are as much a target of our movement as the forwardised backwards. On the other hand, enlightened segments and poor people from among the upper castes are also joining our movement in large numbers.
We are not at one with those so-called progressives who hold that thanks to Nehru’s reforms our society has already been freed from feudal-casteist divisions and transformed into a modern society and that reservation will simply put the clock back. This is just not the reality of India.
We support reservation because we believe that through a lot of initial tension it will ultimately have a diminishing effect on the existing forward-backward schism, give a blow to the feelings of backwardness and forwardness and will bring about an element of equality among the forwards and backwards in their economic and political life as well as in the bureaucracy. And corresponding to the development of intra-elite cohesion in different castes, there will also grow a matching class solidarity among the people below. Any blow to feudal, obscurantist traditions, any measure of bourgeois-democratic liberalisation, however superficial, will definitely accelerate the process of class polarisation in the society, and as communists, as champions of class struggle, we welcome any such class division in the society.
It is our earnest appeal to all pro-reservation left forces that instead of trailing behind some VP Singh, some Ramvilas Paswan or Sharad Yadav, Mulayam Singh or Laloo Yadav, let us assert ourselves as an independent power; let us make the battle for reservation a part and parcel of our struggle for employment. It is at such critical junctures that we communists, revolutionary-democrats, have always found ourselves defeated in the Hindi belt. Either in the name of practicality we have fallen inactive before Lohiaites or casteists of different hues or just reduced our role to playing second fiddle to these diverse centrist currents. This is the reason why we have still not been able to strengthen the Communist, Left trend in this part of the country. Some of our friends are just repeating this good old mistake. Through IPF the left movement has reached a new height in Bihar and neither the dalitism of Kanshi Rams nor the backwardism of Lok Dals has succeeded in checking this remarkable advance. On the basic foundation of class unity and class struggle we have also started developing a new fighting coalition of dalits and backwards against the traditional Brahmanical hegemony. Let all the left forces make the most of this firm foothold we have secured in Bihar.
Regardless of whatever may be happening in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, in our country the left movement, the communist party, definitely has a very bright future ahead. It is the Left who must also lead the battle for democracy. Once again we would like to reassure our friends in the CPI and CPI(M) that our struggle is not against you. We do have a number of differences on various questions of political line and policies, and we want to carry on healthy polemics on all these issues. In states where you are running state governments, we cannot but oppose and keep opposing your anti-people steps, for, being communists our entire commitment is to the masses and we cannot betray their interests. But when it comes to the questions of communalism, the anti-worker industrial policy of the government, escalating prices of all commodities of mass consumption, repression on your forces in Tripura or anywhere else, opposition to imperialism and the like, we are always in favour of united action with your forces. And we are unable to understand what prevents you from undertaking joint action with our movement. If despite thousands of differences you can have occasional adjustments with the Congress, you can have alliances with the Janata Dal, and even managing to work together with the BJP, why on earth should we -- we, who hold aloft the same red flag with the same inscription of hammer-and-sickle, who are fighting for the poorest of rural and urban toilers and do not fight shy of making any sacrifice in their interest, who are among the most consistent fighters against all political formations of the bourgeois-landlord alliance, be it Congress or the Janata Dal, BJP or the AGP -- be singled out as your principal enemy? We would appeal to the left ranks and their serious and sincere leaders to give a fresh consideration to this whole scheme of things. Many issues of the past have become irrelevant in today’s context. The world around us has undergone a lot of changes over the last twenty years. Let bygones be bygones, let us look forward to the future. In the conditions of today’s national and international environment, it is imperative for the CPI, CPI(M) and CPI(ML) to evolve ways to walk together for as far as possible. Any unity among our three parties will inspire a new hope among the masses, will give rise to a powerful resurgence of the left movement in this crisis-ridden country where the people are gradually getting disillusioned with all varieties of bourgeois alternative. Will Namboodiripad or Indrajit Gupta show the necessary courage to act on this demand of history?
Recently we have joined hands with our fellow forces of the revolutionary Left in West Bengal to unleash a united mass movement. Our movement in West Bengal is not only against the repressive, anti-people policies and measures of the Left Front government, but is, at the same time, trying to erect a solid wall of resistance against the right opposition, particularly against the Congress(I)’s desperate attempts to stage a comeback by cashing in on the growing mass resentment. We understand that this can be the only effective way to prevent East Europe from being repeated in West Bengal.
History has proved that the legacy of the revolutionary communist movement in India is best secured in the hands of our Party. To all comrades who have deserted us out of some abstract ideas, who have made mistaken moves in the vain hope of our disintegration, who have been led astray by their desperate dreams of a quick revolution or who have been pushed to this or that variety of liberal policies by the frustration of setbacks, it is our earnest appeal: face reality, rally under the red flag of our Party, our doors will always remain open for our dear comrades who have left us.
IPF is the other name for the most consistent movement for revolutionary democracy, which has sought to encompass not only the forces and struggles of the traditional Left, the struggles of workers and peasants, but all trends of democracy in India, be it a movement on issues of national minorities, women or environment, be it a campaign for religious reforms or civil liberties. Our Party is committed to this orientation of IPF for the independence of IPF. It is indeed a unique experiment in the history of Indian communist movement. It is our ardent appeal to all the forces of democracy who are not blindly anti-communist: Cooperate with us for the success of this experiment.
We have made a number of mistakes in the past, there may well be some more weaknesses and mistakes in all that we are doing today. We are always prepared to learn from our mistakes and history will always testify that we are not prisoners of any dogma.
When you return from this rally, each one of you will have to carry its message among still larger sections of the people, it is up to each of you to defend the dignity of the red flag, and build a new wave of revolutionary democracy with all your might. A wave which will really unite India, which will unite the will of all sections of the working people in the country, whatever be their language or nationality, caste or religion.
Long live Indian Revolution!
Long live the power of the people!