People's Democracy

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


No. 15

April 10, 2005


  Accepting The Challenge To Move Forward

Rajendra Sharma


THE role of a communist party is to act as a defender of the people’s interests and the 18th congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) opened at the Talkatora Stadium in Delhi, the nation’s capital, on April 6, with the determination to play this role creditably and successfully. This determination of the party was given voice by the inaugural address by veteran communist leader and CPI(M) general secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet; the address was read out to the delegates, observers, media and guests by Polit Bureau member Prakash Karat. The general secretary’s address concluded with the hope that, with the CPI(M) and the Left playing their due role, we would soon enter “a new era of politics in our country --- a politics which keeps at the centre the people’s aspirations for a better life and which opens the way for a secular, democratic India, which is free from class and social oppression.”

This determination and this conviction were evident from the very morning on April 6 when delegates, fraternal delegates, media persons and hundreds of guests assembled in the auditorium, which was aesthetically decorated with huge portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh and the stalwarts of Indian communist movement. And this was natural. For, as senior communist leader Jyoti Basu underlined in his presidential address to the open session of the 18th CPI(M) congress, a party congress is, to communists, an occasion to seriously introspect, review the past decisions and work, and decide the future direction. He said we could have a degree of satisfaction over what we have achieved since our last congress in Hyderabad. It is evident that this determination and conviction emanated from the defeat of the BJP, with all its misrule and communal politics, and its replacement at the centre by a secular government.


But, as was evident from the very opening session of this congress of the biggest Left party in India, this conviction was not based on electoral success alone. On the contrary, this electoral success was itself an outcome of the dedicated work and sacrifices made by the CPI(M). The congress proceedings began with homage to the comrades who courted martyrdom in the last three years for the people’s cause. Between Hyderabad and Delhi congresses, as many as 202 comrades were martyred in Tripura alone, followed by Bengal with 171 martyrs. One will recall that both these states are ruled by the CPI(M) led Left Fronts. Then came Kerala, another Left stronghold, with a list of 26 martyrs; all these comrades were killed by Congress and BJP goons.


Earlier, veteran communist leader Samar Mukherjee hoisted the Red Flag amid tumultuous slogans, after which Harkishan Singh Surjeet, Polit Bureau members Central Committee members, fraternal delegates from abroad, and others paid floral tributes at the martyrs column. The venue of the party congress was named Nayanar Nagar, after late Comrade E K Nayanar who was a popular communist leader in Kerala.


After the house had paid homage to martyrs and other departed comrades, the 18th CPI(M) congress honoured, amid slogans of red salute, some veteran comrades for their long and distinguished record of struggle and sacrifice. The first to be honoured on the occasion was Subodh Roy who was a participant in the glorious Chittagong armoury raid some 75 years ago. Others to be honoured included the following --- veteran INA leader Captain Lakshmi Sehgal who was the only woman member in the provisional Indian government of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose; M P Narayanan, K V Thangappan, Sandhya Chatterjee, Vidya Debbarman, K Krishnamuthy, Parsa Satyanarayan, K R Sundaram, M Pandian and Kitty Menon. Apart from these 11 comrades, the party congress was also to honour P B Rangnekar but the 93 years old comrade could not reach Delhi because of ill health.


Before recalling the struggles waged and sacrifices made by these comrades, Prakash Karat made a sharp attack on the BJP that was observing its 25 anniversary on the same day. He dared the BJP to name one single leader whose career in the struggle against British imperialism could match the record of any one of these 12 comrades. Karat stressed that these fake nationalists and their predecessors were conspicuous by their absence during the freedom struggle.


Apart from the glorious role played by communists during the freedom struggle, the CPI(M) congress also reflected one more element of the glorious communist tradition --- that of proletarian internationalism. The CPI(M) had invited delegations from 32 fraternal parties to its 18th congress and while five parties could not send their representatives because of their pressing preoccupations, delegations from 27 parties had come to greet the CPI(M) congress. All the delegates and others welcomed these fraternal delegations with loud applauses, which became louder when the delegations from Cuba and PLO were introduced. Similar applauses greeted the delegations from neighbouring countries --- Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and one from Burma currently ruled by a military junta. The intensity of clapping again reached a high pitch when Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury introduced the delegates from Communist Party of Portugal, reminding that this party supported the cause of Goa’s liberation from Portuguese rule. This was in a way the toiling people’s reply to the iniquitous imperialist globalisation.      


Presided over by Jyoti Basu, the open session started with reception committee chairman Joginder Sharma reading out his welcome address on behalf of the people of this historic city. CPI general secretary A B Bardhan also greeted the CPI(M) congress on behalf of his party. The Parcham troupe presented revolutionary songs on this occasion.


In the afternoon session, Prakash Karat introduced the draft political resolution to the congress, followed by a report on the amendments received from party comrades before the congress. This became the basis of discussions on the draft political resolution, starting from the next morning.