People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 10, 2005
Welcome Address by Chairman, Reception Committee
DISTINGUISHED guests, fraternal delegates from abroad, delegates, comrades and friends,
On behalf of the reception committee, I warmly welcome you all on this occasion of the 18th congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). This congress is being held at a time when the Party is playing a very important role at the national level and in the interest of the people at large.
This is the first time that a congress of our Party is being held in a Hindi speaking state. We are happy to have got the opportunity to host this congress. This has generated a lot of enthusiasm within the ranks of the Party, mass organisations and sympathisers in Delhi. The Delhi state committee took up this responsibility as a challenge as well as a great opportunity for the growth of the Party in the state. We believe that the 18th congress is a historic event from which the Party will get benefited in the entire Hindi region.
Delhi is the capital of the country and has a glorious history. It has been the seat of power from the time of the Sultanate and has seen numerous ups and downs. Delhi became the centre of the First War of Independence when its hero General Bakht Khan made Delhi the centre of his operation and declared the setting up of an elected Court of Administration in July 1857. Delhi played an important role in the freedom struggle against the British imperialists. The historical monuments of Delhi like the Red Fort, Jama Masjid, Humayun Tomb, Qutab Minar, Purana Quila etc remind us of successive regimes which ruled from Delhi. These rulers came and went but the names of the working people who constructed these magnificent buildings remain unknown because the ruling elite never wanted them to be known.
The working class movement of Delhi also has a glorious history. Textile workers, hotel workers, municipal workers and employees in newspaper industry, banking and insurance have waged many a long and militant struggles in Delhi. The strike of government employees on September 19, 1968 deserves special mention.
In 1964 when the Party split, hardly any of the leaders and cadres came to the CPI(M). Harkishan Singh Surjeet, A K Gopalan, B T Ranadive, P Ramamurthi, M K Pandhe, Mohd. Ismail, Dinen Bhattacharya etc played an important role in organising the Party in Delhi after the split. It was the tireless efforts of these leaders, which helped lay the foundation for reorganising the Party in Delhi, and challenged the line of class collaboration in the working class movement.
In 1973, the Delhi Regional Committee comprising besides Delhi, Haryana and 10 districts of Western UP was constituted. This committee under the leadership of Comrade Major Jaipal Singh played an important role in the growth of the Party in Delhi, Haryana and Western UP.
The 1970s saw a series of long and militant struggles of the working class in Delhi, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Sonipat. These included the 26-day strike of textile workers in Delhi, police firing on struggling workers in Faridabad in 1979, the firing during the Harig India struggle in Ghaziabad just after the Emergency, the struggle of the textile workers in Modi Nagar etc. There were similar militant struggles in the 1980s as well. The three days and seven days strikes of industrial workers in 1987 and 1988 represent outstanding examples of this. Several comrades laid down their lives in these struggles. Comrade Safdar Hashmi was martyred on January 1, 1989.
Significant struggles were launched on people’s issues and also against communalism, separatism and imperialist globalisation during the last two decades in Delhi. The closure of textile mills and other big and medium size industries has impacted adversely on the working class movements in Delhi. Now only small and cottage industries remain here. A conspiracy is afoot to remove even these in the name of environment protection.
The unplanned and rapid expansion of Delhi since the 1980s has brought about a radical change in its character. The vast majority of Delhi’s population now consists of those who have come here mainly from Hindi speaking states in particular and from all states in general. In this sense Delhi is rightly called "Mini India". This character of the population is a factor which helps in strengthening working class and democratic struggles. This diversity in language and culture is reflective of our plural cultural traditions. We are struggling to discharge the complex task of bringing these diverse streams together for the growth of the Left movement in Delhi. The complexity of this task arises from several factors. A significant section of Delhi’s population consists of temporary residents who keep moving to and fro from Delhi. This section of the population and other migrants to Delhi are deeply influenced by the politics prevailing in their respective home states.
Being the capital, Delhi is dominated by the power-elites – political, bureaucratic and big business. At the same time, Delhi is a city of the democratic, secular and pluralist culture of the working class.
In preparation for the Party Congress, from March 9 to 18, cultural programmes were held in 15 areas of the city through the Safdar Hashmi Jan Sanskritik Pahal campaign. From March 17 to 23, open discussions were organised on economic, social, cultural, educational etc problems of the Hindi region under the Major Jaipal Singh Sangoshti Saptah. Writers, intellectuals, social scientists, teachers, cultural activists, journalists and those associated with people’s movements from all Hindi speaking states and Punjab participated in it. This was a unique programme which created a new hope among participants about the future of the Left movement in this region and inspired many to express their desire to associate themselves with activities of the Party.
An art exhibition entitled "People In Progress" was organised from March 24 to 28. This is the first occasion since 1936 when 86 artists exhibited their works in an exhibition organised under the Party banner.
A three-day seminar series from April 3 to 5, entitled "Imperialism, Sovereignty and Democracy", just got over yesterday.
In the present political situation, the CPI(M) and the Left parties are called upon to play an important role. Barring the Left, all other political parties are quite comfortable with the policies of globalisation, economic reforms and privatisation. Today casteist, communal-fascist and all other kinds of divisive forces are flexing their muscles.
In this situation, we believe that the 18th congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) will become a source of strength and unity for all struggling, peace loving and progressive forces in the country and the world. We are sure that the 18th congress will be a great success.
On our part, despite the limitations of being a small unit of the Party, we have tried to make your stay in Delhi during the Party congress as comfortable as possible. In case of any inconvenience do excuse us and accept my apologies on behalf of the reception committee. I once again welcome you all to the 18th congress of our Party.