People's Democracy

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

Vol. XXX

No. 30

July 23, 2006



Convention Resolves To Meet Communal Challenge Head On


THAT the people of Madhya Pradesh and the country have to keep a constant vigil against the forces of majority communalism who want to convert the state into another Gujarat, was the warning issued recently by Sitaram Yechury, member of the CPI(M) Polit Bureau. He was speaking at a convention against communalism, attended by more than a thousand people and held in the historic auditorium of the Old Assembly building in Bhopal. 


Yechury said all the patriotic individuals and organisations have to join hands and meet the challenge of communal forces head on in order to save the country from the trauma of another Gujarat.
Addressing the inaugural session of the state level convention against communalism, Yechury said the communal forces are striving hard to end the unique unity in diversity of this country in order to create a theocratic state here. Dubbing the use of religion for political purposes as the biggest challenge before the country today, the CPI(M) leader said the issue should not be reduced to one of only security of minorities at the time of communal tensions. It has to be viewed in all its aspects that concern the very unity and integrity of this country. The real strength of India lies in its diversity --- religious, linguistic, cultural --- and the country wonít remain what it is if this diversity is allowed to be eliminated. Citing many examples of several forms of one and the same religion, Yechury said the holy texts present religion as a relationship between the soul and the creator, and it has nothing to do with the political system of a country.


The CPI(M) leader said that we are determined to safeguard our secularism even though we are called atheists. He said the word hum (we) is formed by h of the Hindu and m of the Muslim, and this needs to be preserved at all cost. Detailing the background of communalism in India, he said the British embarked upon the tactic of dividing the Indian people on religion and other parochial grounds immediately after our people rose against them in 1857, under the leadership of the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar. The ideological debate that started in the country in the 1920s is still on. It was centred on what should be the shape of the country after independence. The Congress wanted to have a secular democratic republic here while the Left stressed on socio-economic equality also along with secularism. On the other hand, the communal RSS and Muslim League wanted to have theocratic states of their own likings. This very game of the communal forces led to the countryís partition and the country is since then suffering from the venom of communalism. Expressing concern over the growing communal tensions in Madhya Pradesh, Yechury urged the party cadres to go to the people and mobilise all forces in the struggle against communalism. 


Concluding the convention, CPI leader and member of parliament, Aziz Pasha, dubbed communalism as the biggest threat before the country today. Referring to the propaganda campaign of communal forces, he said the latter deliberately seek to mislead the people, spread baseless rumours and distribute leaflets carrying false information as an integral part of their tactic. Secular forces and the Left in particular will have to rebut their propaganda point by point. He suggested the holding of similar anti-communal conventions down to the grassroots level in order to isolate the anti-national forces from the masses. 


CPI(M) state secretary Bahadur Singh Dhakar denounced in strong terms the multiplying instances of communal drive in the state and the state administrationís complicity in the same. He also moved the declaration of the convention that highlighted the need of refuting the motivated communal propaganda, mobilisation against communal events, holding of anti-communal conventions at the district and division levels, observance of a week against communalism, and organising a state level rally against the menace. CPI state secretary Mahendra Bajpeyi seconded the declaration. 
While expressing anguish over the role of the conspiratorial RSS and its outfits in fomenting communal feelings in the state, the declaration also regretted the attitude of the Congress party and its erstwhile government in the state to communalism, and their unfortunate and self-destructive move to meet the challenge of Hindutva with their own, so-called Soft Hindutva. This ill-considered move only added to the strength of communal forces, the declaration noted. 


Another point highlighted by the declaration was how the BJP government of the state has failed on all fronts and is even unable to maintain its unity, leading to installation of three chief ministers in two and a half years. While it has failed to fulfil its election promises and give any relief to the people of Madhya Pradesh, its ministers are neck deep in the filth of corruption. It is in its anxiety to divert peopleís attention away from its failures and its inefficient and corrupt government that the BJP is seeking to further intensify its communal drive. It even announced in the assembly that the latter would have to remain in the RSS control for five years, and the governmentís complicity in the events at Dhar is only one instance of its communal drive. 


However, the declaration noted, the split in the BJP and formation of the Bharatiya Janshakti Party by Ms Uma Bharti does not mean any setback to the communal drive in itself. The reason is that the new outfit is no fighter against communalism; it only wants to compete with the BJP for the communal space. Both are now vying with each other in raising the communal issues, multiplying the threat in the process. The fact that the opposition Congress party has been unable to grasp the severity of the threat and is not prepared to take up the challenge, makes the situation all the more serious. 


The declaration highlighted, as a contrast, the situation in the Left-ruled West Bengal where perfect communal harmony has been maintained during the last three decades. It is a matter of significance that the minorities too are beginning to realise the role of the Left in defending secularism. In the recent assembly elections in Kerala, for example, Muslims at many places rejected the Muslim League, the self-appointed defender of their interests, and voted for the Left en masse. 


While the presidium of the convention was based on Nusrat Bano Ruhi, Habib, Jaswinder Singh and Pramod Pradhan, renowned theatre personality Habib Tanvir, Progressive Writers Association general secretary Kamla Prasad, and Janwadi Lekhak Sanghís national vice president and its MP unitís president Professor Afaq Ahmed also addressed the convention. Others to speak included Shailendra Kumar Shaili and Anand Pandey of the CPI and Badal aroj and Sandhya Shaili of the CPI(M). 
Highlighting some aspects of communalism, theatre veteran Habib Tanvir said there is an intimate connection between globalisation and communalism. The way particular industries and areas of employment were targeted in Gujarat in 2002 highlights this connection. Thus communalism cannot be viewed in isolation from the imperialist drive for hegemony. This also has something to do with the division of haves and have-nots, and thus cannot be viewed in isolation from the question of inequalities. He also said communalism in education results in a mental paralysis. The welcome thing is that the Left parties are giving a determined fight to the forces of communalism, he added. 


While Dr Kamla Prasad dwelt on the relations of communalism with the notorious Huntington thesis of clash of civilisations, Professor Afaq Ahmed described how communalism is like a cobra with many hoods, which all need to be crushed in order to bury the menace. 


The agenda put forward by the conventionís declaration had the following main points, among many:

m There must be a wide campaign to alert the people of Madhya Pradesh against the nefarious designs of the Sangh Parivar. All the latterís misleading propaganda must be refuted by an ideological campaign based on solid facts and arguments.

m There should be wide popular mobilisation and action against whatever communal events take place in the state.
m The message of the convention must be taken to as many people as possible. Division and district level conventions with broadest possible participation must be organised for the purpose. 
m There must be a specific anti-communal campaign from August 9 to 15. 
m Challenging the state governmentís complicity in the fratricidal BJP-RSS drive, there must be organised a state level rally against the menace.