All India Convention of AILC at Jalandhar
The All India Left Co-ordination (AILC) held at all India Left Convention on 10-11 October, 2011 at the historic Desh Bhakt Yadgar memorial for the martyrs of the Gadar movement at Jalandhar.
Delegates from the four constituent parties of AILC - CPI(ML) Liberation, Lal Nishan Party (Leninist), Left Coordination Committee Kerala and CPM Punjab - had gathered from all over the country to attend the Convention.
The Convention began on the morning of the 10th October with the hoisting of the red flag and floral tributes in memory of the martyrs. The delegates’ session began with the constitution of a Presidium comprising Comrade Harkanwal Singh of CPM Punjab, Comrade Krishna Adhikari of CPI(ML) Liberation, Comrade Uddhav Shinde of LNP(L), and Comrade Chandrashekhar of LCC Kerala. The Presidium welcomed the leaders of the four AILC constituents – Comrades Mangal Ram Pasla, Secretary of CPM Punjab, Bhim Rao Bansod, General Secretary LNP(L), K S Hariharan, Secretary, LCC Kerala, and Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary, CPI(ML) Liberation - on stage, along with Comrade Taramani Rai, General Secretary of Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists (CPRM) of Darjeeling, Comrade Jayanta Gupta Bhaya, General Secretary of Marxbadi Mancha, and Comrade Balvinder Singh Thind, Secretary, CPM Haryana.
A six-member delegation from LCC Kerala attended the Convention, as well as several comrades from CPRM. Among other leaders who participated in the Convention were CPI(ML) PB member Kartick Pal and CPI(ML) CCMs Sanjay Sharma, Prabhat Kumar, Sudhakar Yadav, Rajaram Singh, Bahadur Oraon, and Kavita Krishnan, as well as leaders of All India Kisan Mahasabha, AISA and other mass organizations.
At the very beginning of the session, the house adopted a resolution paying tribute to the recently deceased revolutionary cultural activist Comrade Gursharan Singh. Comrade Mangat Ram Pasla then delivered a welcome address, reflecting on the past year’s experience since the formation of the AILC, and the need to take the experience further. He said that apart from the parties participating in the Convention, some other parties – such as the DCPIM of West Bengal and Godavari Parulekar Manch of Maharashtra – had been unable to participate but had expressed support and good will for the Convention.
Next, Comrade Dipankar Bhattacharya outlined the perspective of the draft resolution which had been placed before the house for discussion. He began by saying that the AILC Convention was being held a year after the launching of the Coordination at the national capital, in the backdrop of the shared urge for a powerful, united intervention of the Left forces in the burning issues facing the country. He spoke of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement which was targeting the very citadel of global capitalism and imperialism. In India, too, people have been on the streets against corruption, rising prices, unemployment, and the UPA Government has certainly emerged as the main target for people’s resentment. He said that at such a time when the popular mood all over the world and in India is one of anger and resistance against the corruption and greed of the ruling classes and capitalists, there is a felt need for a powerful assertion of the fighting Left forces, which should be visible on the streets on the issues and challenges faced by common people today – be it corruption, price rise, land grab, hunger, unemployment, and assaults on democracy. It is in this backdrop that the all India Convention was being held at Jalandhar, to shape an effective response by the AILC to the political challenge of the day.
Comrade Dipankar said that the AILC did not view corruption as an issue of bribery alone; rather corruption today is unquestionably linked with the question of corporate loot of land, minerals and other natural resources and the assaults on people’s movements challenging this loot. Therefore while struggling for an effective Lokpal, the central slogan in these times for Left and progressive forces, is for ‘People’s Rights Over People’s Resources.’ Comrade Dipankar said that the ruling class has tried to silence people’s movements against corruption by trying to pit parliament against people. At the same time, there has also been an attempt by some forces to claim that political parties and political movements are irrelevant and only NGOs are legitimate. The fighting Left forces reject both these arguments firmly, and have called for the urgent need for ‘Left Resurgence Through People’s Resistance.’
Next, Comrade Bhimrao Bansod of LNP(L) addressed the Convention. He stressed that all around, people’s movements were on the rise and the scope for the Left was widening. This was the time for the AILC to reach out to other forces of struggle. Comrade Kumarankutty of LCC Kerala said that the CPI(M)’s bankruptcy and betrayal had led to the loss of its government in two states including its bastion of West Bengal. Unfortunately the entire Left movement was being discredited in the name of the CPI(M). At the same time, the rising tide of people’s struggles has also created a felt need for a consistent, revolutionary Left force. The AILC is an attempt to meet this need, and we will certainly march ahead in this effort, he said.
Comrade Taramani Rai, General Secretary of CPRM, Comrade Jayanta Gupta Bhaya, General Secretary of Marxbadi Mancha, and Comrade Balvinder Singh Thind, Secretary, CPM Haryana also addressed the Convention.
The discussion on the draft resolution followed, with many comrades from various states sharing experiences and lessons of diverse struggles. The draft resolution was then adopted after incorporating various suggestions at the end of the discussion.
On the concluding day (11 October), the delegate session was resumed. Comrade Rajaram Singh, General Secretary of the All India Kisan Mahasabha addressed the gathering. Several resolutions were then placed and adopted. (All resolutions are given in full below.)
The delegate session concluded with summing up by the main leaders of the four AILC constituents. Comrade Hariharan of LCC Kerala said that there was an objective basis for Left assertion today, and the AILC represented an attempt by genuine forces of struggle to put aside their differences and unite in the field of struggle. Comrade Bansod said that in the past year, various progressive left forces were reaching out to the AILC, and the relevance of the AILC as a platform of struggle was even more than before. Comrade Pasla said that the Jalandhar convention had been an opportunity for the AILC constituents and other friendly groups to understand each other better. He stressed the need for AILC to reach out to masses affected by the issues outlined in the resolution and draw them out on the streets and in the Left movement. Comrade Dipankar said that the AILC provided an alternate model of Left unity. The CPI(M)’s Left Front model was mainly a model of running governments, whereas the AILC was a fighting model of unity. He said that the challenge was for this unity to reflect the diverse democratic struggles in our country. Breaking the bounds of our specific geographical location and historical evolution, the AILC constituents had come together to meet the need of history. He stressed the need to learn from the CPI(M)’s defeat. The CPI(M)’s victory in 1977 came in the wake of the issues of land, democracy and resistance to state repression. Even the Naxalbari movement had brought these issues to the fore, and the CPI(M) had reaped the benefit in the elections of 1977. But three decades later, the CPI(M) faced crushing defeat precisely because it betrayed the issues of peasants, land, democracy. We need to remind ourselves that the Left, if it is to advance, must respond to democratic issues and struggles. There is no wall dividing class struggle from the left’s responsibility to champion the democratic aspirations of women, dalits, minorities, and youth. Democracy and land are, for us, not mere ‘issues’ but are the life-spirit of our revolutionary politics. Left politics is at a turning point in India. Some are seeking to write the obituary of the Left and advice the Left to turn social democratic; others are taking it in an anarchist direction, cut off from mass movements. At such a juncture the AILC has taken the challenge of deepening unity and assertion of Left forces of struggle. In this journey, we are certainly moving forward.
The delegate session concluded with rousing slogans. In the afternoon, an open session was held in the shape of a public meeting in the Comrade Jwala Singh memorial hall. The meeting in the packed hall was addressed by Comrades Dipankar Bhattacharya, Bhimrao Bansod, Kumarankutty, and Mangat Ram Pasla as well as Comrade Krishna Adhikari.
People’s Rights Over People’s Resources!
Left Resurgence Through People’s Resistance!
(Resolution adopted at All India Convention of AILC at Jalandhar, 10-11 October 2011)
year ago, in August 2010, we, representatives of CPI(ML) Liberation, CPM Punjab, LNP(L) Maharashtra and LCC, Kerala had met in Delhi in an All India Convention and launched the All India Left Coordination and adopted the Delhi Declaration as a common charter to advance the Left movement in the country. The Coordination was born out of the widely shared urge for a powerful, united intervention of the Left forces in the burning issues that face the country.
As we look back on the past year, we see that indeed, the AILC has moved forward and has been warmly welcomed by forces of resistance and well-wishers of the Left everywhere. We have held People’s Conventions at different centres in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Punjab, Maharashtra and Kerala, which have drawn a warm response. We have held countrywide protests against repression in Kashmir; sent a solidarity team to the struggle against the nuclear plant at Jaitapur.
In March 2011, following an intense countrywide campaign, we held a massive March to Parliament that expressed people’s anger against the UPA Government which is responsible for massive scams, soaring prices, widespread unemployment and relentless assaults on democracy. Recently in the month of August AILC has conducted a renewed countrywide campaign against corruption and for democracy.
We meet again here in Jalandhar at a time when the country has just witnessed a huge outpouring of popular anger and protest against corruption during the fast undertaken by Anna Hazare. While the immediate rallying point for this protest was the demand for a Janlokpal Bill, the protests have been fuelled by all-pervasive instances of massive corporate loot and obnoxious mega scams, the ugly cover-up bids and the arrogant and repressive response of the UPA Government. The scams resulting from the implementation of neoliberal policies of liberalization, privatization and globalization are of course no exclusive hallmark of the UPA government but a common denominator of the entire range of bourgeois governments in the country.
As billions of rupees are being plundered by corporates with politicians sharing the spoils, ordinary people reel under relentless price rise. The Government, far from protecting the poor, is hell bent on promoting price rise, and dismantling any fragile existing protection. Corporate plunder of land and minerals also results in massive eviction of peasants and tribals from their land and livelihood, and endangers the country’s food security. People’s protests against corruption, corporate land grab and loot all over the country are being sought to be suppressed with brute force. The recent defeat of the CPI(M) led governments in West Bengal and Kerala, resulting from the stubborn attempts of these governments to implement the neo-liberal course, has further provided an impetus to the ruling classes to launch an all out ideological offensive against the entire left.
However, the rising tide of protests against the corruption, price rise, joblessness caused by liberalization, vindicates the need for a powerful political assertion of the Left. It is a challenge for fighting Left forces to intervene in this situation and work for a powerful resurgence of the Left as the most consistent and comprehensive stream of democratic movement and discourse in the country.
In this backdrop of an all-out offensive by the ruling classes and Central and State governments of every hue on people’s resources, democratic and civil rights, livelihood and survival, the AILC is meeting again at this Convention at Jalandhar. We believe that at this juncture, a powerful all-India assertion of fighting Left forces is called for to give a consistent democratic direction to the people’s awakening and movemental spirit.
On the burning issues that confront the Indian people today, the AILC calls for heightened initiative and vigorous struggles on the following key points:
Resist Corruption and Corporate Plunder:
In the backdrop of huge scams – CWG, 2G, KG Basin, Adarsh, Bellary – we are witnessing a welcome popular upsurge against corruption. Three chief ministers – two from the BJP and one from the Congress – have already had to resign. Two former central ministers and two more MPs are in jail. The complicity of former finance minister (currently minister of home affairs) P Chidambaram in the 2G scam has been hinted by none other than the current Finance Minister. In the wake of all these disclosures, this government has no moral right or political credibility to remain in power. It should immediately resign and seek fresh mandate from the people.
The BJP is making a shameless attempt to cash in on the anti-corruption anger prevailing in the country and Advani is once again riding on his rath, this time from the birthplace of JP on his birth anniversary, and Nitish Kumar, chief minister of Bihar whose government too stands implicated in several major scams including a mammoth treasury fraud and a major land allotment scam is flagging off Advani’s yatra. This is a mockery of the spirit of both the JP movement of the 1970s and the prevalent anti-corruption upsurge of the Indian people. This convention denounces this crude and farcical BJP/NDA attempt to play the anti-corruption card and calls upon the people to reject both UPA and NDA on the issue of corruption, corporate plunder and anti-people neo-liberal policies.
The UPA Government’s draft Lokpal Bill is a joke, and its arrogant denial of scams and repression on anti-corruption protests proves that it has no intention of combating corruption. This Convention respects the people’s aspirations for a genuine anti-corruption Lokpal that can effectively ensure impartial investigation, exposure and prosecution of scams involving government personnel at every level from the lowest officials to the PM, corporate houses as well as NGOs that indulge in corrupt practices.
At the same time, this Convention holds that the biggest instances of scams – 2G, mining and land scams, KG basin gas scam etc – all are a result of the neo-liberal policies that promote corporate plunder of the country’s precious resources. Policies of privatization hand over the precious resources like land, minerals, forests, water, spectrum etc. along with the huge infrastructure built and developed by the public sector, which belong to India and its people, to plundering, profit-hungry corporations. In the process, the country’s exchequer is looted, environment destroyed, and people robbed of land and livelihood. Every day, more than Rs 250 crore is gifted away to super-rich corporates in the name of tax waivers etc; and the same amount bleeds away daily through black money. Corrupt, pro-corporate policies rob us of these massive funds that could have been spent on public welfare such as education, health and food security that is desperately needed by people.
This Convention calls for an effective anti-corruption legislation that can ensure punitive and deterrent action against the corrupt at all levels; and that can effectively hit at the nexus between corrupt corporations, politicians and bureaucracy! The legislation must cover all posts from the patwari to the PM and all institutions from the army and the judiciary to the bureaucracy and NGOs.
To hit at the root of growing corruption, this Convention calls for a sustained campaign and agitation to reverse the policy regime that promotes corruption and corporate plunder!
Resist Land Grab, Demand Protection of Agricultural and Forest Land and Coastal and Fishing Zones!
All over the country, land is being forcibly acquired in the name of development, robbing peasants and tribals of their means of survival. Very often this land is handed over to private corporations at throwaway prices, while land losers suffer displacement and impoverishment. Protests against land grab have been met with batons and bullets in many places. But land grab and repression have emerged as a major political issue, with parties facing electoral losses as a result, and even courts being compelled to take a note of the injustice being meted out to land losers. These pressures have forced the UPA Government to come up with the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (LARR) Bill 2011 to replace the notorious 1894 Land Acquisition Act.
But the LARR Bill is nothing but a document to legalise land grab. If enacted in its present form, it would be of no use to prevent land grab in Singur, Nandigram, Jaitapur, POSCO or any of the recent or ongoing instances. Not only does it not have any will to prevent forcible land acquisition or protect fertile and forest land; its provisions for compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement are also extremely weak and inadequate.
This Convention calls for a countrywide assertion to reject the LARR Bill 2011, and demand a fresh legislation that will have adequate provisions to impose severe restrictions and safeguards against indiscriminate acquisition or purchase of fertile and forest land; prevent any forcible land grab (whether through acquisition or purchase) by making people’s informed consent mandatory; preventing any land acquisition for private companies; and ensuring adequate compensation and R&R for land holders as well as affected agricultural labour and other toiling people who lose their livelihood, both in cases of land purchased by private companies or land acquired by the government. Agricultural and forest lands, coastal areas and traditional fishing zones must all be declared out of bounds for acquisition by the corporate or the governments.
This Convention extends full support to the ongoing struggle in Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu against the commissioning of the nuclear power plant. The coastal areas in South India have already experienced the devastation of tsunami and no government can be allowed to invite Fukushima-type disasters on any part of India by reckless installation of nuclear power plants in coastal India. We also express our fullest solidarity with the ongoing struggles against nuclear power and land acquisition in different parts of the country, Jaitapur in Maharashtra and Fatehabad in Haryana being two most prominent examples.
Stop Price Rise:
Prices of food, essential commodities and fuel have been constantly on the rise, imposing an unbearable burden on the common man. The UPA Government for the past several years has been making promises to bring down inflation, but it is impossible to recall an occasion in these years when prices have ever dropped. With petroleum companies announcing a hike in petrol/diesel/kerosene prices every couple of months, the UPA Government tries to take refuge in the claim that global factors are responsible for the rise in prices. Nothing could be a bigger lie. The Government has deregulated prices of petroleum products and has given petroleum companies a free hand to hike prices to further enhance the profit margins; and now it pleads helplessness!
Other Resolutions Adopted at the Convention:
This Convention calls for countrywide protests against price rise, and demands that the UPA Government reverse deregulation, undertake nationalisation of wholesale trade in essential agricultural products, control black-marketeering, hoarding, and forward trading in food products, in order to control the prices of fuel, food and other essential commodities.
Along with food grains and essential items of consumption key services and public goods like education, healthcare and electricity are also becoming increasingly expensive thanks to the policy of privatization and commercialisation of these sectors. This convention strongly rejects this privatization drive and calls for an immediate halt to privatization and commercialization of all essential social services and public goods.
Ensure Food Security, Universalise PDS:
India has the shameful distinction of being among the countries of the world with the worst record of malnutrition and hunger. As per the ‘Global Hunger Report’ about 20 thousand people in India die due to hunger and malnutrition every month. With rising prices, the ranks of the vulnerable, needy and hungry keep growing. But the UPA Government plays cynical number games to claim that the poverty is on the decline. Recently, the Planning Commission has insulted the poor by telling the Supreme Court that those who consume above Rs 26 per day in rural areas and Rs 32 per day in urban areas are not poor! The UPA Government’s ‘Food Security Bill’ not only fails to expand the existing rations system; it actually takes away several existing provisions! Further, it paves the way for replacing food rations with cash transfers – a move which can only benefit corporate and MNC retailers and rob farmers of MSP by doing away with procurement.
This Convention demands that the vast majority of India’s population excluding the upper middle class and rich, be entitled to PDS rations. Let us intensify countrywide agitation to demand 50 kg of food grains at subsidised rates, as well as subsidized supply of other essential requirements like dal, cooking oil, vegetables and milk for all such needy households. This convention demands universalisation of PDS and other essential social benefit schemes.
Make Right to Work a Fundamental Right:
Neo-liberalism offered many dreams to India’s youth – but after two decades all these dreams lie shattered, proving to be nothing but a mirage. Liberalised ‘growth’ has proved to be jobless growth, with job cuts and retrenchment galore. Those jobs that have been created are casual, contractual, highly exploitative and insecure and lacking in basic dignity and rights.
This Convention calls upon the country’s students and youth as well as workers to build a sustained movement to demand that the Right to Work be recognized as a fundamental right; that the government put a stop to exploitation of casualised and contract labour and violation of labour laws and ensure equal pay for equal work and fullest democracy at the workplace; and that in case of inability to provide dignified and secure employment, the Government be obligated to pay adequate and reasonable unemployment allowance.
Defend Democracy, Resist Feudal-Mafia Assault and State Repression:
Across the country, we are witnessing a virtual undeclared Emergency. People’s protests against land grab at POSCO, Jaitapur and at several other places in the country are facing severe repression. Activists heading struggles against land grab as well as plundering of forests and minerals; workers leading struggles in factories; agricultural labourers fighting for their genuine demands, dalits opposing social repression, youth agitating for jobs, anti-corruption activists and whistle blowers, human rights defenders – all are being branded as a threat to security, persecuted and put behind bars.
In the name of Operation Green Hunt, hundreds of adivasis are being killed in fake encounters and military operations, in order to facilitate corporate plunder in forest areas. People protesting such repression and plunder are jailed under draconian laws like sedition.
In the North East and Kashmir, draconian laws like AFSPA and PSA amount to virtual army rule. Rapes, massacres and custodial ‘disappearances’ abound in the NE states. Thousands of bodies have recently been unearthed from mass graves in Kashmir – suspected to be victims of custodial killings.
With the ascent of the TMC-Congress combine to power, there is now a growing assault on Left activists and the social base of the Left movement in West Bengal, including systematic eviction of share-croppers and occupiers of ceiling-surplus and other redistributed land.
All over the country leaders and activists of people’s struggles are being systematically harassed and persecuted by the state and also subjected to feudal-mafia assaults, communal-patriarchal violence and organized attacks by the paid hirelings of capital.
The fight for withdrawal of false cases and release of political prisoners and bold mass resistance to every attempt to evict the people from their land and livelihood, in short the defence of democracy and protection of the dignity and rights of the people, has therefore become an urgent task for the Left on all fronts and in all states. This convention fully supports the demands of the working class including the new generation of workers engaged in insecure and low-paid jobs for security, dignity and democracy in the work place and extension of full trade union rights to all sections of workers and employees.
Comrades, we must make sure that we respond promptly and adequately to the challenges of the day. The more we step up our movemental role and initiative for the redressal of people’s problems the more will we be able to reach out to and unite with all genuine and fighting sections of the Left. Intensification of people’s struggle against the ruling classes, their state and the disastrous policies and draconian rule of their governments, and ideological-political struggle against the forces and trends of opportunism, class collaboration and capitulation as well as anarcho-militarism must go hand in hand. The time is absolutely ripe for us to move towards greater mutual cooperation and stronger political intervention. Let the motto of “People’s Rights over People’s Resources!” and Left Resurgence through People’s Resistance!” guide us towards forging closer unity among all fighting Left forces and powerful Left assertion against the ruling class parties of all hues.