The 10th Congress of CPI(ML) began on 23 March, the martyrdom anniversary of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru. To mark the occasion, a procession, decorated with red flags and a tableau celebrating revolutionaries from Punjab and India, wound its way through Mansa’s lanes. The procession reached the Baba Jeevan Singh Shaheedi Park, where the CPI(ML) General Secretary Comrade Dipankar unveiled a statue of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, and Rajguru and dedicated it to the people. With Comrade Dipankar were Bhagat Singh’s nephew and Chairperson of the 10th Congress Reception Committee Professor Jagmohan, leaders of CPI(ML) from all over the country, as well as several other intellectuals and activists from Mansa and Punjab who were part of the reception committee for the 10th Congress, and international guests from Australia, Bangladesh and Britain.
The people of Mansa participated in the inauguration of the statue with great enthusiasm. This was the first statue in Mansa honouring all three martyrs together.
The Mansa MLA, Nazar Singh Manshahia, also spoke on the occasion, welcoming the CPI(ML) delegates to Mansa and stressing the need to harness the legacy of the revolutionary martyrs for the struggle for democracy in India today.
Comrade Dipankar thanked the people of Mansa for the warm welcome and cooperation in making it possible to hold the 10th Congress. He said that the CPI(ML) is committed to working for the goal of ‘Inquilab’ – Revolution’ expressed in Bhagat Singh’s slogan of ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ (Long Live Revolution). He said that this legacy of anti-imperialism, socialism and revolutionary democracy was the biggest resource in combating the fascist forces who rule India today and who had betrayed the anti-colonial freedom struggle in Bhagat Singh’s time. He said that the fascists are breaking statues of Lenin today and asking what Lenin has to do with India; had they had anything whatsoever to do with the freedom struggle, had they read Bhagat Singh, they would not ask this question. Anti-colonial and anti-imperialist fighters all over the world, whether they were communists or not, drew inspiration from Lenin and recognised that Lenin belonged not to Russia but to the whole world.
After the inauguration of the statue, the procession continued and culminated in an Inquilab Rally (Rally for Revolution) at a prominent place in Mansa, near the old Anaj Mandi.
Addressing the rally, Professor Jagmohan explained the significance of the slogan ‘Inquilab Zindabad, Samrajyavad Murdabad’ – ‘Long Live Revolution, Down With Imperialism’ – raised by Bhagat Singh & his comrades, in the anti-colonial context of the 1920s and 1930s, and also its resonance for us today. He talked about how the fascist Sangh Parivar forces are keen to sell the country out to imperialists, destroy the rights of workers and peasants, and replace the secular, democratic Constitution with their own fascist vision. He explained why the fascists were especially keen to erase the word ‘socialism’ from the Indian Constitution.
Addressing the rally, All India Kisan Mahasabha General Secretary Rajaram Singh spoke of the united peasants’ struggles all over the country that were challenging the Modi Government. Sucheta De, President of the All India Students’ Association spoke of the ongoing struggles of students – in schools and in Universities, against the fascist assaults on education and democracy on campuses and in the country. She especially spoke of the struggles against unemployment and the job scams; and the ongoing struggle against sexual harassment by a JNU faculty member who was being protected for his proximity to the ruling party. Mazdoor Mukti Morcha and All India Agricultural and Rural Labourers’ Association leader Bhagwant Singh Samaon spoke of struggles of the rural poor in Punjab and all over India. Central Committee member Mohd. Salim, AIPWA Secretary Kavita Krishnan, Central Committee members Comrade Rajvinder Rana and Kanwaljeet also addressed the rally. Vijay Pratap of the Samajwadi Samagam and All India People’s Forum also attended the rally and graced the dais, along with guests from Bangladesh, Australia and Britain. The rally was conducted by Comrade Sukhdarshan Nat.
Addressing the rally, Comrade Dipankar traced the thread that connected Bhagat Singh and his comrades, the Gadar movement, the Indian communist movement, and the Naxalbari movement. He called upon the people of India to demand an answer from Modi for the complete and utter betrayal of his promises to the people, and for using people’s votes secured by false promises, to push an agenda of fascism and repression. He spoke about Modi’s recent remark that Punjab could not count as a Congress-ruled state because neither its Chief Minister nor the Congress party considered each other their own. He said that this remark is not just a comment on the Congress or the Chief Minister – it is an insult to the people of the state who gave a resounding mandate against the Akali-BJP alliance. It is this mandate of the people that is crucial, not the individual politics of the Chief Minister; even if the CM were to cross the floor as Nitish Kumar did in Bihar, it cannot change the mandate of the people. The Prime Minister and the BJP seem to be trying to hijack the people’s mandate by winning over the Chief Minister, as they did in Bihar. But the people will not allow Bihar’s Mandate Loot to be repeated in Punjab. He also criticised the Aam Aadmi Party leader Kejriwal for begging pardon from Majithia and Jaitley, and said that Punjab had no room for those who betray the struggles against corruption and people’s rights.
Comrade Dipankar called for all fighting forces, all left and democratic movements, across ideological differences, to recognise the urgency to unite against the fascists who were out to annihilate Ambedkar’s Constitution instead of annihilating caste and oppression.
In the evening at the same venue, the people of Mansa enjoyed a cultural festival in which teams from all over the country performed songs and plays. Jan Sanskriti Manch teams from all over the country performed at the festival. One of the highlights of the festival was the play ‘Sher Aur Gadha’ (The Lion And The Donkey) by the People’s Theatre Group of Lehragaga, Punjab, directed by the acclaimed and award winning filmmaker and theatre activist Samuel John. In the play, the Lion represents the ruling class and the donkey, the working class.