People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 48

November 27, 2005

Indian Communists Hold Conference In Great Britain


Harsev Bains


Sitaram Yechury addressing the conference in London


THE Association of Indian Communists (AIC) concluded its conference on October 30, 2005. It was to take place before the CPI(M) congress, but was postponed due to unavoidable reasons.

With red flags flying high in the skies of London, the venue of the conference was named after the recently departed CPI(M) leader, Comrade Biplab Dasgupta. The latter had been a former secretary of the AIC.


The conference had a presidium consisting of Gurbux Sidhu, Joginder Kaur and Joginder Singh and was attended by 57 delegates from various AIC branches in England and Scotland. The proceedings started with expression of solidarity with fighting peoples. A resolution condoled the demise of several comrades, supporters, and those falling victims to imperialist aggression, terrorism and natural calamities.


CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury made a detailed presentation of the situation for the conference delegates, and explained the key decisions of the CPI(M) congress held in Delhi in April 2005. He said the world situation has reached a crucial point, with aggressive imperialist hegemonism on the rise and capitalism having entered the stage of globalisation.


Yechury also explained the discussions and deliberations that took place before an unfortunate division reoccurred in the Indian Workers’ Association, Great Britain (IWA-GB). To enhance the delegates’ understanding further, he outlined the genesis of the CPI(M), and divisions in the communist movement and mass organisations in India. He stressed that the CPI(M)’s position today in the national and international arena underlines its correct strategic line.


Yechury made a direct appeal to the delegates to use their strategic position in Britain in order to strengthen the solidarity between communist and other Left and progressive groups and organisations in Britain.


Providing a considered analysis of the political, economic and social issues affecting the Indian people today, he emphasised the crucial role of the CPI(M) and the Left in today’s context. Delegates applauded with approval when he noted the shift in Indian politics with the advent of the UPA government with Left support. Today, he said, the BJP finds it difficult to mobilise support for its communal agenda or even to play the opposition role. This space has been occupied by the Left, Yechury pointed out.


AIC secretary Avtar Sadiq presented a report on behalf of the executive committee, and several delegates contributed to the deep and constructive discussion on it. The report was then adopted and a new executive committee elected.


The conference resolved that the AIC would develop an action programme for the coming year with verifiable targets, and adapt a disciplined approach to its activities. All branches will provide a feedback in order to strengthen the AIC and IWA. Before concluding, the conference adopted a number of resolutions --- on Britain, imperialist occupation of Iraq, the plight of female fiancés and spouses from the Indian subcontinent in Britain, and on racism.




The conference concluded with an impressive AIC rally at Southall on the same day (October 30) where Nazar Basran welcomed the guests, dignitaries and friends from community institutions. Sitaram Yechury was the chief guest.


Randall “Zuks” Howard, general secretary of the Confederation of South African Trade Unions, thanked the people of India and Britain for their contribution to the liberation of the black majority in South Africa.


Eugene McCartan, general secretary of the Communist Party of Ireland, noted the historic links between the people of India and Ireland in their struggle against British colonialism. He said though no British empire exists today, Ireland remains partitioned because of British imperialism. He said 2006 would mark the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Irish uprising against British imperialism.


Hardip Duhra, secretary of the Friends of CPI, expressed solidarity with the people of India and Pakistan recovering from the recent earthquake, and those hit by the bomb attacks in Delhi. He went on to state that outsourcing from Britain is creating problems for the working class in this country. He provided the background to the Gate Gormet dispute at Heathrow and the ‘bullying and aggressive’ nature of the ‘cowboy’ bosses from Texas. Expressing solidarity with British Airways workers, he said we need to take up working class issues together.


Robert Griffiths, general secretary of the Communist Party of Britain, said two hundred odd students attended the second Communist University when it was re-launched last year after a break of 20 years. He expressed to the AIC and the CPI(M) for sending Yechury to make his contribution to the university. Griffiths detailed the British situation under Tony Blair since 1977 and said the need of the hour was to build greater unity of communists in Britain and to deepen our roots in trade unions.


Avtar Sadiq expressed thanks for to the distinguished guests for their messages of solidarity, and reaffirmed the AIC’s commitment to stand shoulder to shoulder with the British and International working class.


Indian Workers Association general secretary Harsev Bains thanked the Indian workers in Britain and the people of Southall, before introducing the chief guest to an eagerly awaiting audience.


In his address to the rally, Sitaram Yechury began by noting the tradition set by Jyoti Basu and Harkishan Singh Surjeet who used to come to the UK to guide the working class Indians here. He conveyed his solidarity, on behalf of the Indian working class and CPI(M), with the struggle of the British working class, at Gate Gormet and British Airways in particular.


Referring to the terrorist bomb attacks in Delhi that formed the backdrop of the Southall rally, Yechury said that these attacks were sponsored by imperialism and forces opposed to the normalisation of relations between India and her neighbours. The attacks came at a time when points were opened up across the line of control to allow the people of India and Pakistan to meet freely. He said the Left would continue to urge the Indian government to withstand the US pressure, and work for a reversal of India’s position on Iran.


Yechury described the Indian people’s mandate following the 2004 Lok Sabha elections as a rejection of communal sectarian parties, reasserting that India would remain united in its diversity. The people also registered opposition to the neo-liberal economic policies and “India Shining” slogan. When there was an intolerable rise in poverty, deaths due to starvation and suicides among farmers even in states like Punjab, one might well imagine the effects of these neo-liberal policies. Now the people desire a shift in the focus of economic policies from corporate profit to people’s welfare, and the Left would seek to ensure that the UPA government does not deviate from the agreed programme.


The challenge for the Left is to prevent the privatisation of profitable public enterprises. The Left has fought and made the government responsible for providing a job to one person in each family for a minimum of 100 days a year. The Left will continue to press for land redistribution and for an increase in the health and education allocations. The Left is stressing that the government must not lose the opportunity of utilising the energies of India’s youth who account for over 50 per cent of our population and are an asset that needs to be developed.


In response to press reports of the Left’s position on foreign capital, Yechury stated the conditions for this to enter. It must add to India’s productive capacity, upgrade technology and augment the job availability. In a direct reference to the successes achieved in West Bengal, he emphasised the importance of land reforms that not only provided land to the tiller but transformed a food deficit state into the largest producer of rice. With the increase in agricultural productivity has come an increase in the purchasing power of the people, with the expanding market attracting foreign investment to West Bengal.


On the Nanavati report on anti-Sikh pogrom of 1984, Yechury reminded the audience that this report saw the light of day due to direct Left intervention. Our demand is that anyone under suspicion or cited in the report should be probed and the guilty must be punished so as to uphold the law of the land.


On the question of outsourcing of jobs from Britain, posed by earlier speakers, he explained that MNCs are not only in pursuit of superprofits, they are also transferring the unacceptable, environment damaging technologies and methods of production to the developing countries. In the latter, production is taking place in environmentally unsafe conditions and heightening exploitation through low wages. The need of the day is to forge international working class solidarity in order to fight the divisions that imperialism seeks to forge today.


Yechury said the Left in India today needs to consolidate the recent shift of focus in policies in order to further the people’s interests, and that a failure in this regard would only enable the communal forces to stage a comeback.