[Inaugural address to the Sixth Party Congress in Varanasi. From Liberation, November 1997.]
Comrades and friends,
The Sixth Congress of CPI(ML) is being held at the close of the 20th century, the century which witnessed major upheavals of world-historic significance: the rise of imperialism, two successive world wars, the rise of socialism and the end of the colonial era, and finally the collapse of Soviet system and the advent of globalisation. The century is marked by tremendous advances in science and technology, with humankind developing weapons of self-destruction on the earth while at the same time embarking on colonising the outer space; and so also there have been rapid strides in exchange of information and goods that have made the world look like a global village.
The ongoing processes of gigantic socio-economic transformation were reflected in the best of human brains and consequently this century witnessed great clashes of ideas and ideologies and also the emergence of titanic personalities.
The imperialism that arose in the early years of the century, became discredited by the middle of it and now, in the closing years, is seeking to redeem its prestige in the guise of globalisation. If the old imperialism gave rise to a class of ‘coupon clippers’ who thrived on speculation in the stock markets, globalisation has led to the emergence of a whole class of currency speculators who find a respectable representation on the IMF board. The enormous growth in currency trading has created a huge mass of ‘world money’, aptly described as the ‘virtual money’. As an economist noted, "It fits in none of the traditional definitions of money, whether standard of measure, storage of value, or medium of exchange. It is totally anonymous. But its power is real." This money has total mobility, because it serves no economic function. The volume of this money is so gigantic that its movements in and out of a country have far greater import than the normal flows of finance, trade or investment. Once a national economy, like that of India, gets fully integrated into the global economy, years of hard-won economic gains can be wiped out by just a few weeks run on its currency.
The domination of this ‘virtual money’ symbolises complete detachment of capital from its productive functioning. It further reinforces the parasitic nature of present-day global capitalism. And hence, even though the 20th century closes with setbacks for world socialism, the coming century is sure to open with the resurgence of new ideas, new forces and new movements for a better world order, for a new edition of socialism.
Passing on the unfulfilled dreams and unfinished projects to the next millennium, the 20th century is coming to a close. Let us resolve to enter the 21st century, via this Congress, as a united, confident and strong party of international communism.
The Sixth Congress of our Party is taking place in the year 1997, when our country is celebrating the golden jubilee of its freedom from the yoke of colonial rule. For the masses of Indian people, this historic moment has hardly been a moment of spontaneous rejoicing. By the 50th year of its independence, India’s very political sovereignty stands threatened under the powerful onslaught of global sharks, and internally, freedom has turned into an exclusive privilege of a whole class of ruling elite — it is their freedom for loot, plunder, corruption and criminalisation.
Institutions of bourgeois hegemony are pitted against each other: judiciary against the political class, political class against the bureaucracy, bureaucracy against the political authority, parliament against the judiciary, Election Commission against the government etc. All the institutions are competing against each other for enlarging their respective autonomous space and the end result is loss of credibility of each.
The golden jubilee of India’s freedom was celebrated in this environment of all-pervading chaos. Intellectuals, nationwide, engaged themselves in wide-ranging discussions and the national parliament organised an unprecedented four-day session to decide the national agenda. There were frantic calls for a second freedom struggle, even for a war against criminalisation, corruption and illiteracy. But all this proved to be a ritualistic exercise and the nation remains as directionless as ever.
Indian rulers have developed a national consensus on liberalisation and globalisation, which Chidambaram, the Union Finance Minister, justifies on the plea that Indian people desire a high quality of living and the right to choose. According to him, "Earlier, the choice was limited between Ambassador and Ambassador, and between Indian Airlines and Indian Airlines." This makes it obvious what kind of people he is talking about and, moreover, exposes the whole class essence of liberalisation and globalisation of the Indian variety.
Responding to the debate over ‘computer chips Vs. potato chips’, Mr.Chidambaram replied: "As long as it (foreign investment in any form and in any sector) brings jobs, creates income and generates wealth, it is okay."
Chidambaram, the foremost darling of the multinationals and Indian bourgeoisie alike, reflects the economic philosophy of the current UF government that has emerged as a major votary of liberalisation far surpassing the earlier Rao regime, and its Common Minimum Programme is nothing but across-the-board consensus among ruling elite of all hues.
This craze for a right-wing solution to India’s mounting problems has only bolstered the morale of fundamentalist forces and a real saffron threat, for the first time, is looming large over India. Here in Uttar Pradesh, the nerve centre of India and the most populous of Indian states, Kalyan Singh’s return to power in UP has also meant the return of Ayodhya on the national agenda. Moreover, the phoney issue of Chitrakoot has been added to it and clear anti-dalit signals have been issued.
BJP’s ascendance to power twice in U.P. has clearly demonstrated that if somehow this party manages to wrest the central power, it will pose the biggest threat to whatever is left of India’s secular polity, to democratic institutions, to progressive movements, to intellectual, aesthetic and academic freedom, to struggles of the rural poor, to social equality of dalits and women as well as religious and national minorities and to friendly relations with neighbouring countries. We have before us the all-important agenda of forging a militant solidarity of all democratic-secular forces to thwart the communal-fascist takeover of India.
Let us resolve to emerge, through this Congress, as a united, confident and strong party of national liberation and people’s democracy.
This Congress is taking place in the thirtieth year of the great Naxalbari uprising, the uprising which symbolised a decisive rupture with deeply entrenched opportunism in the Indian communist movement and which, for the first time in 40 years of the communist movement in India by then, brought agrarian revolution on the immediate agenda. In the face of brutal state repression, several times the movement appeared almost finished, but every time it rose like the proverbial phoenix.
The social change that was pioneered by Naxalbari got a fillip in the decade of 90s leading to new social and political equations. Amidst the process of great social churning and consequent political instability, old slogans are fast losing their relevance and the heroes are in no time turning into villains.
An all-round crisis is developing before our very eyes and the nation is crying for a new, radical and unconventional solution. With the opportunist wing of the communist movement becoming part and parcel of the ruling central establishment, the responsibility to lead the left movement exclusively falls on the shoulders of the revolutionary Left. This, at the same time, provides us with the best opportunity that has ever come our way to dislodge the official Marxists from the driving seat of Indian left movement.
The new invariably replaces the old — this is the inexorable law of history. Let us resolve, through this Congress, to emerge as a united, confident and strong party of social justice and revolutionary change.
The period after the last Party Congress has been the bloodiest in our Party history since the reorganisation. In a spate of killings perpetrated by the state, the state-sponsored private armies of landlords, as well as the thoroughly degenerate gangs of anarchists, we lost more than two hundred Party cadres and sympathisers. Infants were butchered, women raped and killed, and men, old and young alike, murdered in worst possible medieval fashion. Promising young comrades were shot dead while making speeches or leading agitations, grenades were hurled on mass gatherings, Party offices were attacked and thousands were put behind bars - all in a desperate bid to stop the march of CPI(ML).
We have forgotten neither the memory of our heroic martyrs, nor the identity of the killers. Nothing, absolutely nothing can stop the onward march of CPI(ML). Let us resolve to build, through this Congress, a united, confident and strong party of martyrs’ dreams and enemies’ nightmare!