People's Democracy

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


No. 26

June 27, 2010


Yechury Addresses IWA Function at Coventry, UK


ON June 16, the Indian Workers’ Association (Great Britain) organised at Coventry a warm welcome to Sitaram Yechury, member of the CPI(M) Polit Bureau. IWA representatives from Scotland and England participated in it.


Yechury made the special visit to Coventry, which is the birth place of the Indian Workers’ Association. The organisation, historically associated with Shaheed Udham Singh, was established in 1938. Since the mid-1950s the IWA (GB) was closely supported and guided by such stalwarts of India’s communist movement as the late Harkishan Singh Surjeet and Jyoti Basu. Yechury paid glowing compliments to the organisation and expressed his willingness to contribute in its task of carrying forward its legacy.


On this occasion, the CPI(M) leader provided an update on the Left campaign in India against the increases in the prices of basic commodities and the plight of workers and peasants back home. This issue was raised in the Indian parliament and, during the spring, it manifested in the biggest rally seen in Delhi since the mid-80s, followed by a national strike.  


Yechury said, “The Left Front, including the CPI(M), is under siege in West Bengal. With the unity between Congress, TNC, Maoists and some NGOs, a situation similar to the anti-fascist terror of 1972-77 is emerging today. The ‘index of unity of opposition’ is now virtually one.” He then gave a detailed analysis of what has given rise to this situation.


Among the contributing factors is the realignment of parties at the centre following the withdrawal of support by the Left to UPA government on the issue of nuclear agreement and strategic alliance with the United States of America.


The projection of a third alternative for the centre during the last elections lacked credibility with the people. This was a combination of regional parties not having a presence outside their states, and lacked long term viability. A number of these parties had been drawn away from the NDA. The people of India wanted and voted for stability. Hence the Congress became the best bet and increased its seats in parliament, leading to the formation of UPA 2 government.


The success of the Left Front in West Bengal during the last 33 years in distribution of 13.1 million acres of land from the rich landed gentry to the poor, equivalent to 18.5 billion pounds sterling, is yet another factor behind the enemy attacks on the Left. The divisions and subdivisions of this land between family members during two generations of the Left Front rule has excited the opposition, who see the removal of the Left as an opportunity to reclaim the land.


In conclusion, Yechury stated, “For us West Bengal is of great importance to the class struggle and a question of life or death.”


IWA vice president Avtar Sadiq thanked Sitaram Yechury for the update and his commitment to take forward the issues of the Indian diaspora.




The IWA representative from Birmingham, Sohan Sandhu, then presented a memorandum to the CPI(M) leader regarding the escalation of disproportionate charges being levied from the people of Indian origin by the Indian Consulate. In particular, the charges for the surrender of Indian passports after gaining British nationality should not have been more than 14 pounds as the miscellaneous handling cost. But 90 pounds were being charged for it and now it has been increased to 102 pounds, which is of serious concern. This charge is currently set at 14 pounds until July 1.


The IWA has also demanded that the requirements for the DC office to verify the Indian origin of the applicants should be referred back to the panchayats concerned.


The restriction of no-return to India within three months being placed on six month visa holders is adding unnecessary difficulties to the people having family members back in India.


The IWA has also condemned the charges introduced by the previous Labour governments on the people holding non-British passports and the introduction of immigration quotas and English language tests being applied by the Tory-Liberal coalition. The Association will take this campaign to the people.


Harsev Bains assured Sitaram Yechury of the IWA’s support for the institution proposed to be built as a permanent memorial of Comrade Harkishan Singh Surjeet in New Delhi. The institution, as designed by leading architects, is to be built on 1.5 acres of prime land. It will provide an education centre with dormitories, research and training faculties.