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Last Speech by Comrade Vinod Mishra

(Excerpts from Comrade VM's address on the occasion of Secular March, Patna, 6 December, 1998)


Our party had isssued a call last August -- "Oust Saffron, Save the Nation". We launched a countrywide campaign under this slogan and today, the 6th of December, marks the conclusion of our campaign. We are delighted that in the four State Assembly elections held during this campaign, saffron forces have been given a serious drubbing by the people of those states. And now the BJP's seat of power at the centre has started shaking. ...

The demolition of the Babri Masjid six years ago was a big blow to the feelings of all Indian Muslims. But we have been repeatedly emphasising the fact that the issue of Babri Masjid is a question of struggle between the forces of fascism and democracy in our country. We have always looked at it from this point of view. Our Muslim brothers will stand in this struggle with the forces of democracy. We do not raise this issue to appease the Muslim opinion or secure Muslim votes. For us the issue of Babri Masjid is not just a Muslim concern, it is a concern for all the forces of democracy and progress, it is an issue for all the forces ranged against fascism. Because the demolition of the Babri Masjid marked a vile attempt to rewrite the history of our country.

We all know that the era of colonial bondage began with the advent of the British. Our country was being ruled by the foreign rulers from London. And when the country became independent all these rulers had to return to their own land. But there are also forces in our country according to whom the era of bondage began with the arrival of the Muslims. The struggle for freedom for them, therefore, begins not with the first war of independece in 1857 but much earlier.They say that the struggle had begun much earlier when the Mughal rulers were in power. ...

All progressive forces, on the other hand, firmly believe that India's struggle for independence begins with the rise of anti-British resistance. The so-called mutiny of 1857 was our first war of independence and it is from this point onward that India begins to march ahead as a country, as a nation. But the historians of Sangh Parivar will not agree to it. They see the war of 1857 as merely an attempt to reinstate a Muslim ruler. This is why they want to distort our history, carry our freedom struggle back in time and cover up the dark chapter of British rule in India.

It is no accident that among all the veteran leaders and members of Sangh Parivar, you will not find a single freedom fighter. Sometime ago when Advani had started felicitating freedom fighters during his "Bharat Yatra", he would not find a single name in his own Sangh Parivar. He went to Kerala and had to honour late communist AK Gopalan as a freedom fighter. Wherever you find a freedom fighter, you will see they are either from the socialist tradition or from the communist stream. You will find not a single freedom fighter in the entire Sangh Parivar. ...

Even today they are trying hard to cover up the faces of white domination. They want to befriend the colonial and imperialist powers of the day. We all remember this statement of Atal Bihari Vajpayee in which he identified Pakistan and China as India's arch enemies and the US, the biggest imperialist and colonial power in today's world, as our "natural ally". Doesn't this clearly reveal their mental frame, their outlook?

This is why we say that the struggle of December 6 is not just around any Muslim question, not on the issue of Babri Masjid alone. This is the battle for democracy against fascism, for progress and against reaction. And this is why we have always wanted that all left, progressive and democratic people should come together in this "Secular March" of December 6. ...

These fascist forces have always blamed communists. They say communists do not accept freedom of ideas and expression. They accuse us of being believers in dictatorship. But just take a look at today's India. Some time ago these fascists attacked Ghulam Ali in Bombay, they stopped that famous exponent of ghazal from singing. It did not evoke that much protest then. People were told that Ghulam Ali was from Pakistan and the protest of the saffron fascists was actually against Pakistan. We had said that it was not an issue between India and Pakistan. These forces are in fact bent upon curbing every progressive expression. Today you see they have targetted a film being shown in Bombay and Delhi. This film has certain views and these views may be debated and discussed. If somebody wants to protest, there are also forms of protesting in a decent democratic way. There are no Pakistanis in this film, but they have still made it into a target, they are vandalising cinema halls, they are forcibly stopping the screening of the film. Every idea that challenges their obscurantist and reactionary views, every idea that defends the freedom of expression -- they would try to silence it with brute force. Any play, any book, any idea that would dare challnge these fascists will invite their barbaric wrath.

They have all along accused communists of being against freedom of expression. But today everybody knows who stands where. They are determined to stop every idea that does not match with theirs. They are desperate to deny every right to the minorities.

And what is the social base of these fascists? In Bihar we can all see for ourselves it comprises the feudal forces, all those dominant forces who suck the poor's blood and seek to keep them in chains, who oppress the dalits and impoverish the toiling masses. These are the forces of reaction, of feudal domination and decadence, the barbaric forces like the Ranbir Sena that have shot into infamous prominence by butchering children and women alike.

This is why the struggle against fascism is the struggle of the rural poor, the struggle of all the oppresed and toiling masses. This is the struggle of all enlightened citizens who stand for freedom of expression. Whether you are a Gandhian, a socialist or a Marxist, it is your struggle. It is our common struggle.

We may have our differences and debates. But at least on this one day, every 6th of December, let every resident of Patna who believes in democracy and progress, let us join hands and march shoulder to shoulder. This is crucial for Bihar, this is crucial for India.

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