[Below we reproduce the text of the speech of (ML) General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, delivered on March 25, 2015 at Puducherry at the 22nd Congress of the CPI]

Dear comrades,

I feel really happy and honoured to have been invited here to greet the 22nd Congress of the Communist Party of India. On behalf of the entire membership of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) I convey our warm wishes to all of you for the success of this Congress and for great victories in your future struggles. I would also specialy congratulate Puducherry comrades for hosting the Congress in this historic centre of working class movement and bringing alive the great legacy of Comrade V Subbiah.

As I stand here to greet you I am also keenly aware of the great losses you have suffered in the run-up to this Congress, most notably the pain of losing Comrade Govind Pansare to the bullets of the coward assassin. We bow our heads in fond remembrance of our great martyrs and departed leaders and resolve to carry forward their unfinished mission.

Let me also take this opportunity to extend our best wishes to other communist and progressive organisations present here and also to express our profound solidarity with the international communist and progressive movement and all the ongoing struggles for freedom, peace, justice and equality in different parts of the world.

Comrades, your Congress is being held against a very challenging political backdrop. The Lok Sabha elections held last summer have changed the electoral-political landscape in a big way. The implications of the BJP winning a majority and forming a government on its own terms have been unfolding quite rapidly over the last ten months. The dream of achchhe din peddled by Modi in speech after speech in his poll campaign have given way to the nightmare of a concerted assault on the country and the people, on our resources and rights, unleashed simultaneously by big corporate interests on the one hand and the rabid communal hate mongers of the Sangh brigade on the other. And there can be no mistaking the fact that it is the Modi government which is facilitating and sponsoring both these dimensions.

The talk of the communal campaign being a mischievous aside by some fringe elements is pure fiction. Just as corporate interests would like to make the most of Modi’s majority with an accelerated and intensified drive for privatization and liberalization, the RSS and the Sangh brigade would also like to make as much hay as possible while the sun shines. Both these aspects are thus built into the present conjuncture and far from the presumed dichotomy of corporate-driven development versus communalism, the Modi government epitomises the aggressive convergence of the two.

There is of course also a silver lining in the present situation. The alertness and determination with which the people have begun to fight back is quite reassuring and inspiring. We saw it against the Sangh brigade’s campaign of communal hate, vandalism and violence; we saw it against the government’s ordinances, especially against the land-grab design; and sure enough, we also saw it in the electoral arena – in the by-elections, in the elections to the Jharkhand Assembly, and most spectacularly, in the Delhi Assembly elections. The awakened democratic opinion has also succeeded in wresting some encouraging judicial victories defying the adamant and arrogant attitude of the government. Yesterday’s Supreme Court verdict striking down Sec 66A of IT Act is a reassuring case in point. The government must nowbe be pushed backto withdraw every other draconian law – from UAPA to AFSPA – and every case of corporate appeasement at the cost of the basic rights and interests of the people.

It is in the midst of this growing popular discontent and determined mass protest and agitation that we communists will have to discharge our responsibilities as the most consistent contingent of people’s resistance to the corporate-communal offensive. Admittedly, the Left presence in the parliamentary arena has suffered some major erosion in recent elections in almost all states. But we must never forget that the primary source and expression of the strength of the Left lies in the depth of people’s struggles and in the unwavering commitment to the cause of revolutionary social transformation and if we nurture and strengthen this primary identity of the Left movement, we will surely succeed in overcoming our present weaknesses.

Even as we confront the corporate-communal offensive spearheaded by the Modi government, we realise that the rise of the BJP reflects a major political churning and a growing vacuum resulting from the people’s anger against most established parties of the ruling classes – the Congress as well as the increasingly discredited regional parties. The most credible and reassuring answer to the rise of the BJP will therefore have to come from a resurgent Left ready to learn from its own mistakes and restore the primacy of people’s movement as the unshakable foundation of Left politics.

We hope the 22nd Congress of the CPI will uphold this direction and strengthen Left unity to realise the dream of the Left ranks and the fighting people of India. All for the unity, assertion and resurgence of the Left movement!

Wish you a very successful 22nd Congress.

Inquilab zindabad!