People's Democracy

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


No. 09

March 02, 2003


 Large Anti-Communal Rallies Lambast Sangh Parivar

Ashok Dhawale

WITH the Gujarat assembly election results giving a boost to the hardline forces of communal fascism in the Sangh Parivar, one of the first targets they selected was Maharashtra, which is due to have its assembly elections next year.

Thus, at the end of December 2002, the VHP held its three-day meet at Pune, where Praveen Togadia, Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore and company spewed rabidly aggressive venom against secularism. “With our victory in Gujarat, we shall now proceed to hang secularism and the secularists throughout the country. Hindu Rashtra shall be established in two years. All those who oppose it will be driven away to Pakistan. And in this fight, Maharashtra will be one of our main battlefields.” Such was the virulent communal propaganda that was unleashed by the VHP at its Pune convention.

The communal campaign was carried another step forward on January 12, 2003, when the BJP organised a mass rally at the Shivaji Park in Mumbai to specially felicitate Narendra Modi, the butcher of Gujarat. Here again, Narendra Modi, Gopinath Munde and others glorified the Gujarat carnage, indulged in unashamed bashing of the ‘pseudo-secularists’ and reiterated the earlier call to replicate the “Gujarat pattern” all over the country, and especially in Maharashtra.

As a matter of fact, there has been a planned effort by the Sangh Parivar to incite communal riots in various parts of Maharashtra over the last few months. The most glaring instance took place last October in the working class city of Solapur, where communal riots claimed over 10 victims and resulted in tremendous loss to property. Earlier, riots had broken out in Jamner, Malegaon, Kalyan and other centres. A few days ago, another attempt was made in the powerloom centre of Bhiwandi. The design behind all this is to create communal polarisation on the eve of the ensuing assembly elections.


In this background, the CPI(M) Maharashtra state committee gave a statewide call to observe January 30, 2003, the martyrdom anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, as a day of defence of secularism against these communal onslaughts. As part of this campaign, the state committee organised a four-day tour programme in major centres of Maharashtra of CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury and CPI(M) central committee member, Jammu & Kashmir state secretary and newly-reelected MLA Mohd. Yusuf  Tarigami, from January 28 to 31.

Earlier, on January 17, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Prakash Karat had addressed another large rally at Pune in connection with the SFI state conference, which was inaugurated by renowned secular lyricist Javed Akhtar. Again, on December 28, CPI(M) central committee member and West Bengal minister Mohd. Salim had addressed yet another large rally at Nasik in connection with the DYFI state conference. The main focus in both these meets was opposition to communal fascism and imperialist globalisation.

Yechury and Tarigami’s tour programme was a resounding success in all the five districts that were covered, viz. Mumbai, Solapur, Nasik, Aurangabad and Usmanabad. Both the leaders together addressed public meetings in Mumbai and Solapur districts. In addition, Yechury addressed meetings in Aurangabad and Usmanabad districts, while Tarigami addressed meetings in Nasik district. In every district, there was also a successful press conference and the tour was excellently covered by the print and electronic media in most places.

Nearly 20,000 people attended the seven large public meetings held during these four days. The two largest meetings were the 10,000-strong peasant rally at Dindori in Nasik district and the 3000-strong working class rally in Solapur city. A 2000-strong meeting was held in the Sonapur area of Bhandup in Mumbai. The other meetings in central Mumbai, Nasik city, Aurangabad city and Vashi in Usmanabad district were also well attended.

The distinguishing feature of this tour was that all the above meetings succeeded in drawing people beyond the Party and mass organisation periphery. This was a result of the special efforts that were put in by the Party district committees in that direction. All the mass organisations – CITU, AIKS, AIAWU, AIDWA, DYFI and SFI – also made commendable efforts to make these programmes a success.


Sitaram Yechury, in his speeches, began by recalling Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination by the communal fanatic Nathuram Godse, who had close links with both the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha. He ridiculed the fact that it is the same forces that killed Gandhiji, and that had kept totally aloof from the freedom struggle against British imperialism, that are today not only masquerading as “patriots”, but are making bold to issue certificates of patriotism to others! It is the same BJP-led central government that, under imperialist dictates, is encouraging foreign and indigenous monopolists to loot and plunder the nation’s wealth in the form of the public sector, that is claiming to be the champion of “swadeshi”!

It is the same RSS-led Sangh Parivar, that organised vicious communal pogroms in Gujarat and elsewhere which massacred thousands of poor and innocent Indian citizens, that has the temerity to call itself the sole repository of “true nationalism”! It is the same Vajpayee government which, through its policies, has led to unprecedented starvation deaths and suicides of peasants and workers, created fear and insecurity in the minorities and has been the architect of the most stinking corruption scandals since Independence, that is claiming to be the “eradicator of Bhay, Bhookh and Bhrashtachar”!      

Yechury said that communalism, fundamentalism and terrorism, be it of the majority or the minority, seeks to divert the attention of the people from the real issues facing them, like drought, unemployment, poverty, hunger and destitution. The LPG policies subscribed to by both the BJP and the Congress are aggravating every single one of these maladies. Hence the need is to fight both globalisation and communalism, by forging a powerful Left and secular alternative through peoples’ struggles, as has been done in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. It is towards this end, he said, that the February 26 nationwide March to Parliament is being organised by the working class and this will give a call for further militant countrywide action. Sitaram Yechury also attacked the aggressive stance of US imperialism towards Iraq, outlined the real reasons behind it and called for building up mass resistance to imperialist arrogance.


Mohd. Yusuf Tarigami, in his speeches, outlined the courageous struggle being waged by the Party and the people in Jammu & Kashmir against the terrorists being sponsored by American imperialism and the Pakistani ruling classes on the one hand, and against the criminal apathy of the BJP-led central government towards the vital questions of autonomy and socio-economic development in J & K on the other. In this struggle, he said, the CPI(M) has had to sacrifice the lives of many valuable comrades who have been killed by the terrorists. But, with the love and support of the people of India, he asserted, the Party and the secular people of Jammu and Kashmir will continue their valiant struggle in defence of secularism and national unity against all odds and will not rest till victory is achieved.

Tarigami outlined the history of Jammu and Kashmir since Independence, recalling the RSS-inspired dubious role of Raja Hari Singh in favour of keeping J & K a separate nation, the abortive attempt of the Pakistani raiders to annex Kashmir by stirring up rebellion in the name of religion, the glorious struggle waged by the Muslim-majority Kashmiri people to drive away the Pakistani raiders even before the Indian Army was brought in, the remarkable resolve of the secular people of Jammu & Kashmir to remain an integral part of secular India, the real significance of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, and the extraordinary phenomenon of the entire state of J & K maintaining complete communal harmony even in the face of the harrowing experience of Partition.

But, he said, it was the successive central governments led by the Congress and now the BJP who betrayed the trust of the people of Jammu & Kashmir, by reneging on their pledges of autonomy and development. It was this that alienated the people and created fertile ground for terrorism to take root. The BJP campaign for repeal of Article 370, the Vajpayee government’s callous role in J & K, the National Conference’s thoroughly opportunistic alliance with the BJP and its corrupt and anti-people rule were the reasons for the well-deserved rout of the NC-BJP combine in the last assembly elections in the state. The results of the last assembly elections have given hope to the people, the new state government has adopted a constructive healing touch policy, but much still remains to be done to uproot terrorism root and branch. It is the central government that must give up its disastrous policies and help the state government in this process.

Attacking both Muslim fundamentalism and Hindu communalism, Tarigami concluded by saying, “ Today the Sangh Parivar is accusing the new state government of being soft on terrorism. But we must ask: who was it that freed dreaded terrorist Azhar Masood ? Whose foreign minister took him in his own plane and handed him to the Taliban at Kandahar? It was none else but the BJP central government itself. Pakistani ruling circles are constantly propagating the world over that Muslims are not safe in India, and that is why Jammu  & Kashmir should become independent. The Sangh Parivar led by Narendra Modi, Praveen Togadia and others, by their reprehensible acts in Gujarat, are actually helping Pakistan in its propaganda drive. No nation can be built on the basis of religion, and the best example of this is Pakistan itself, where neither the nation remained, nor did democracy. That is the fate of all theocratic nations. And that is why the struggle for secularism is also the struggle for democracy, national unity and socio-economic progress.”


This campaign had a salutary effect in Maharashtra. Among the leaders of the Party who also addressed the above meetings along with Sitaram Yechury and Yusuf Tarigami were central committee members Ahilya Rangnekar and Ashok Dhawale, state secretariat members K L Bajaj, Mahendra Singh, Kumar Shiralkar, J P Gavit and D L Karad, state committee members Narsayya Adam Master, Ravindra Mokashi, Chintaman Gavit, Kashiram Gaikwad, Uddhav Bhavalkar and Vitthal More, district party leaders Madan Naik, Adinath Tiwari, Ali Ahmed, Shridhar Deshpande, Kisan Gujar and Sunil Malusare, CPI leader Bhalchandra Kango and PWP leader Sharad Gavhane.

In several other districts like Amravati, Wardha, Thane, Nandurbar, Parbhani, Ahmednagar, etc various meetings and seminars were also held by the Party to commemorate January 30 as Anti-Communal Day.