By Dipankar Bhattacharya
Comrade President, Comrade Delegates and observers, leaders of various Left parties in India, leaders of fraternal organisations from abroad, friends from the media, assembled citizens of Patna,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the 11th Congress of the CPI(ML). With more than sixteen hundred delegates and observers attending this Congress from 27 states and Union Territories, this is the biggest Congress in our party history. For this Congress, we have renamed Patna as Vinod Mishra Nagar and the auditorium as Ramnaresh Ram Hall to pay tribute to two of our great leaders. The stage is dedicated to the memory of Comrades DP Bakshi, BB Pandey and NK Natarajan, the three beloved CCMs we lost since our 10th Party Congress held at Mansa, Punjab, in March 2018.
We feel greatly encouraged by the warm support extended to the organisation of this Congress by the justice-loving progressive people of Bihar which was amply reflected in the success of yesterday’s Save Democracy, Save India rally at Gandhi Maidan. We express our deep gratitude to the people of Bihar for their inspiring response.
We are greatly honoured by the presence of leaders of fellow Left parties – Comrade Salim from CPI(M), Comrade Pallab Sengupta from CPI, Comrade Manoj Bhattacharya from RSP, Comrade G Devrajan from All India Forward Bloc, Comrade Haldhar Mahato from Marxist Coordination Committee, Comrade Bhimrao Bansode from Lal Nishan Party, Maharashtra, Comrade Mangatram Pasla from RMPI and Comrade Kishore Dhamle from Satyashodhak Communist Party, Maharashtra – in this inaugural session of the Congress. Your presence means a lot to us and will surely help strengthen our existing spirit of unity and ties of cooperation.
We are inspired by the internationalist solidarity expressed by progressive parties and organisations from our neighbouring countries like Nepal and Bangladesh and also from countries as far as Australia and Venezuela. Comrades from Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Germany could not come because of visa problems, but messages of solidarity have come and are still reaching from all corners of the world. We are greatly thankful to our fraternal guests who have managed to make it to Patna to greet our Congress and to all our comrades who have sent their messages of solidarity. We are committed to strengthening our ties of internationalist solidarity and cooperation to intensify the battle to free the world from the multiple crises inflicted by today’s decaying capitalism – be it the austerity inflicted on the working people, the renewed rise of fascism and authoritarianism, wars of occupation and attacks on sovereignty of smaller and weaker nations or the climate crisis that is endangering the very existence of our planet.
Comrades, even as we hold this inaugural session in Patna, the people are voting in Tripura to elect the next Assembly and government in the state. For the last five years, Tripura has been experiencing daily attacks on democracy, on the offices, activists and supporters of opposition parties and on the people’s right to express their opinions and raise their demands and voices of protest. We hope the people of Tripura are able to cast their votes without any fear and end this reign of terror inflicted by the BJP.
As the fascist character and utter failure and betrayal of the Modi government on all fronts get increasingly exposed, the desperate regime is resorting to more brazen lies and intimidation. The government first invoked Emergency powers under India’s draconian IT Act to block any extracts from the documentaries aired by the BBC on the Modi Question on India’s social media platforms, and then unleashed Income Tax raids on BBC offices in Delhi and Mumbai. The Hindenburg report which accused the Adani group of stock market manipulations, accounting fraud and money laundering and triggered an unprecedented decline in the prices of Adani shares, drastically reducing Adani’s net worth and pulling Adani down from the third richest slot in the global list of billionaires to way below the top ten list, has been met with conspicuous silence and refusal to have any probe into the failure of India’s regulatory system and the Modi-Adani collusive nexus. In Parliament, Modi brazenly avoided answering the Adani question and asked the people to keep quiet because the government allegedly provided cheap food, subsidised gas cylinders, pucca houses and doles to the poor. It is a blatantly mischievous mockery of nationalism to try and portray the BBC documentary as a colonial conspiracy and the Adani expose as an attack on India as the BJP is currently doing.
The latest Oxfam report has once again drawn attention to the mounting economic inequality in India, illustrating the compelling case for the introduction of wealth and inheritance taxes on the super-rich. Yet the government announced further tax cuts for the super-rich in this year’s budget while curtailing the budgetary provision for MNREGA, social security and other public service and welfare expenditure.
While public anger grows against the worsening living conditions of the common people and the monumental failure of the government on the economic front, the Modi government wants to divert the people’s attention and use the social and economic crisis to whip up an ultranationalist fascist frenzy by spreading hate, sharpening communal polarisation and targeting Muslims as a community, progressive intellectuals and all dissenting voices and social groups fighting for justice and transformation as anti-national. Rampaging bulldozers have already replaced all the tall talks of universal housing with assured access to electricity, toilets and drinking water, and calls for genocide are being openly issued from platforms of so-called religious assemblies by toxic hate preachers masquerading as spiritual gurus.
All the institutions of constitutional governance are being systematically subverted with the executive openly coercing the legislature and the judiciary and the Centre reducing the states to glorified municipalities by using the offices of Governors and other appointed institutional heads and various central agencies as instruments of control. The Constitution itself is being hollowed out and undermined from within with changes in citizenship laws, reservation policies and erosion of the existing rights of various sections of people, especially minorities, the working class, farmers, small traders, Dalits, Adivasis, women and youth. This assault on democracy and diversity is being spearheaded to the drumbeats of celebration of India’s assumption of G20 presidency in 2023 and the planned inauguration of Ram Mandir by January 1, 2024 as announced by the Union Home Minister.
To counter this growing fascist frenzy and aggression, we need to strengthen the unity of the fighting people across India. The kind of unity and spirited assertion we saw in the citizenship movement before the Covid19 pandemic and the farmers’ movement that grew defying the harsh conditions of the Covid period and compelled the Modi government to repeal the disastrous farm laws, needs to be carried forward in building multiple powerful struggles against dispossession and privatisation and communal, caste and patriarchal violence, and to secure universal rights to food and housing, education and employment, public health and environmental protection. The popular political will to defeat fascism, save the Constitution and build a progressive and prosperous future for the people of India can only grow and succeed on the foundation of countrywide united assertion of the people.
All of us in the Left have a central role to play in energising and sustaining this popular assertion and advancing the agenda of a secular democratic federal India. Our efforts in 2023 will pave the way for a decisive victory of democracy in 2024. Ending the fascist BJP-RSS reign of communal hate, state terror and extrajudicial violence and corporate loot and plunder is of course a challenge that goes beyond the series of Assembly elections scheduled for 2023 or the Lok Sabha election of 2024 and calls for a sustained and all-out resistance of the people on all fronts. We need closer unity and cooperation among all the forces of the Left and the broader opposition to defeat fascism and win the battle of democracy and we are sure that we will be able to move in this direction.
Our 11th Congress is dedicated entirely to this need of the hour. Apart from deliberations on the political resolution and organisational report, the agenda of our 11th Congress includes two other specific resolutions – one on the perspective, orientation and tasks of anti-fascist resistance and the other on the agenda of environmental protection and climate justice. We sincerely thank all our comrades in the Indian Left movement and the global progressive camp for your support and solidarity and look forward to closer ties of solidarity and cooperation in the coming days. The fascists are drawing their strength not only from the state power in India but the global consolidation of rightwing forces and all the regressive aspects of India’s social structure, cultural customs and political history. We need to build on the progressive legacy of India’s freedom movement and larger battle for justice and equality and international solidarity among the whole range of anti-imperialist and anti-fascist forces to foil this fascist design. We are sure that with your support, the 11th Congress will take us forward in this journey.
More power to the progressive forces of the world!
Let us unite to fight and fight till victory. Inquilab Zindabad!
Long live revolution!