Cover Feature
11th Party Congress: The Milestone and the message
by Arindam Sen


Such is the quintessential message or political tagline of the 11th Congress of CPI(ML) Liberation. It is a clarion call to the party ranks, all Left and democratic forces and fighting masses across the country -- one that spells out the most urgent political tasks facing the nation today in a long-term revolutionary perspective.

At a time when the country is inching towards the crucial 2024 elections amidst growing fascist offensive and matching popular resistance, the first and foremost challenge obviously is to build -- from the grassroots up and simultaneously from above down to the village or mahalla -- a concerted political campaign and the broadest possible unity of antifascist forces to pull down the regime. This central thrust was highlighted not only in the Congress documents and deliberations but, in a first, by organizing a very successful “Save Democracy, Save India Convention”. Held in the Congress hall itself, with top opposition leaders from Bihar in attendance, it convincingly showcased the popular urge for extending the Bihar model of keeping the NDA at bay. The animated discussion became particularly stimulating when Nitish Kumar urged the Congress representative Salman Khurshid, in a tone that blended humor with veiled criticism, to come out loud and clear on the issue of opposition unity and Khurshid replied positively with a matching sense of humor. Days later, the Nava Raipur resolution of the AICC spoke categorically in favour of the urgent need for unity of all anti BJP parties.

For the CPI(ML), militant antifascist unity of course means much more than electoral alliances in the forthcoming provincial and national polls. First and foremost is the need to energize and unite the different types of popular movements all over India against all kinds of fascist onslaughts end nasty tricks, with the united Left expected to play a key role in this broader, largely extra-parliamentary, people’s resistance. Also important in this context is the need for greater international solidarity among movements against the growing menace of fascism/authoritarianism around the world. In their spirited speeches and messages, Indian Left leaders and international guests extended full support to this theme. The 11th Congress thus became a grand platform of broad opposition unity with a solid Left alliance at its core, and international Left-democratic solidarity – all three united in a common cause of resistance against fascism.

The second (by no means secondary) call or slogan assumes special significance in the context of the extremely challenging and very protracted nature of the antifascist struggle. To rescue what still remains of our constitutional democracy from the clutches of the fascist beast is certainly the most important immediate goal, but to fancy that mere electoral defeat will spell the death of fascism would be nothing but self-delusion and a fraud on the people of India. The checkered history of the RSS and its sprawling parivaar clearly demonstrates that it has ample experience and expertise to thrive underground (if and when banned) and to expand swiftly, whether in or out of power, by utilizing the multiple deficiencies and fault-lines intrinsic to Indian society and polity to its advantage. Now add to this the immense fascistization (to borrow a term from the Comintern lexicon) of almost all institutions in Indian society and state that has taken place since 2014 and it gets so easy to understand that even if a united opposition defeats the Modi-Shah regime in 2024, the saffron fascists would still have enough leeway to bounce back to the corridors of power with a vengeance, sooner or later.

The only way to pre-empt that alarming prospect is to radically transform the social ground from which the Sangh had sprung up and spread its roots and branches in the first place. In other words, genuine democracy just cannot be established on the “essentially undemocratic Indian soil” -- as Doctor Ambedkar had prophetically commented on the morrow of independence. So the struggle to restore democracy, rule of law, federalism and other ideals enshrined in the constitution, cannot attain final victory just by defeating fascism at the hustings – it must go on without a pause to reconstruct democracy which Ambedkar defined as “a form and method of government whereby revolutionary changes in the social life are brought about…”.

To establish this genuine, sustainable, people’s democracy is a responsibility history has bestowed on our shoulders and the 11th Congress reiterated its pledge to fulfill it in cooperation with all Left and democratic forces. For this, it is absolutely urgent that we rapidly expand the party. The human resources needed for that are being generated everyday everywhere in course of the  multiple protests, agitations and sociopolitical churning our country is witnessing, only we need to pay much more serious attention to overcome certain major weaknesses in our organizational culture and style of work. The delegate session devoted much time and attention to this and reached a clearer, more unified understanding. The crux of the matter emphasized here is that expansion, must go hand in hand with ideological, political and organizational consolidation; both are equally important and complementary to each other within the single task of party building.

All these tasks are extremely challenging, but they can definitely be achieved by relying on the masses, by politically inspiring them to discover and weaponize their enormous revolutionary energy and creativity for building a genuinely democratic, federative, secular, socialist India -- an India lakhs of our compatriots had dreamt of, fought for and made the supreme sacrifice to achieve, during the freedom movement and after, till date.

Luxuriant Palash blossoms, harbingers of a new spring, reddened the fields, roads and parts of sky and greeted the comrades and friends from all parts of the country on the day of arrival. And after conclusion of the Congress, as participants including organizers and volunteers bade one another goodbye, the flaming red flowers seemed to join them: “Lal Salam, comrades! Fir milenge, Hum honge kamyab! Inquilab Zindabad!” Imbued with a new courage of conviction and a heightened sense of political clarity and unity, comrades left for their places of work to spread and act upon the revolutionary messages from VM Nagar across the country.

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