People's Democracy

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


No. 15

April 10, 2005

Speech of Jyoti Basu At The Inaugural Session


DEAR comrades, I am very happy to greet you all on the occasion of the 18th congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). I convey my best wishes to the delegates of the fraternal parties from abroad.


For us, the Party congress is an important event. We look back at the work we have done based on the decisions we took in the last congress, we review the effect of the work undertaken and we chalk out the political line and the direction of organisational work for the next three years.


We can look back with a certain degree of satisfaction at what we have accomplished since the 17th congress at Hyderabad. We have succeeded in defeating the BJP-led alliance in the Lok Sabha elections in cooperation with other democratic and secular forces. It was time for the BJP with its misrule and communal politics to go. We were able to put in place a secular government at the centre by extending support to the United Progressive Alliance government headed by Dr Manmohan Singh. We were also able to win recognition from the people for our political line and get the highest number of seats in the Lok Sabha ever.


While these are achievements, a lot more remains to be done and we cannot be complacent. The BJP and its mentor, the RSS, still command substantial influence in the country. For six years, they were able to use the government to penetrate the State apparatus. The BJP has vacated office but its pernicious legacy remains. It is necessary to detoxify the system, so that secularism is firmly established.


The UPA government is led by the Congress. It should introspect. Can it continue with the same economic policies of indiscriminate liberalisation and privatisation. Will there then be any difference between its policies and those of the BJP? The people expect the UPA government to fulfill the commitment that its policies will be for the aam admi. This requires first of all a realisation that liberalisation has only benefited 10 per cent of our people. We must chalk out a path of development which is founded on concern for the vast masses who have not received the benefits of growth which is touted in terms of percentage of the GDP. We must rely primarily on our domestic resources for investment. Foreign direct investment should come in based on our national priorities and on the principle of "mutual interest". The public sector in the strategic and key sectors need to be strengthened.


In West Bengal, where the Left Front government has ruled for 28 years continuously, we have sought to put into practice our alternative path within the given serious constraints in the system. Land reforms have been the cornerstone of our agrarian reforms which opened the way to rapid agricultural development. We have won the three-tier panchayat elections continuously for six times. Decentralisation of powers through the panchayati system has enabled the peasantry and the rural poor to have a say in development and dislodge the dominance of the landlords and the rural rich. These are vital measures which are essential if India’s rural poor who constitute a large part of world’s poor are to be freed from their poverty-stricken lives. In the sphere of industry, despite serious constraints and discrimination by most central governments, we are moving forward and taking rapid strides in industry now.


Our Party is not yet in a position to implement alternative policies all over the country. That requires a qualitative increase in the strength of the Party, its Left and democratic allies.


How to strengthen and expand the Party and the mass organisations all over the country is a subject which must be seriously addressed by this Party congress. I have worked in the communist movement for more than 64 years. I am past 90 now and in bad health. I am hopeful that the Party will analyse our weaknesses and take concrete and bold steps to spread the communist movement to different parts of the country.


I am happy to see that the Delhi state unit of the Party has undertaken this big task of hosting the Party congress and received a good response from the citizens of Delhi.


I thank you all.