Delegates to the 22nd Congress of the CPI(M), comrades and friends,

It gives me great pleasure to extend my warm revolutionary greetings to all of you!

Thank you for inviting us to the inauguration of the CPI(M) Congress and thank you for accepting our invitation and sending Comrade Salim to greet the recently concluded 10th Congress of the CPI(ML) in Mansa, Punjab. I am really happy to be here amidst you in Hyderabad, a place that inspires me not only with the glorious and protracted history of the communist movement since the great Telangana upsurge days through the Naxalbari-Srikakulam period right up to the present phase but also with the martyrdom of Rohith Vemula which triggered the present round of student upsurge in the country. On behalf of the CPI(ML) I wish this Hyderabad Congress of the CPI(M) every success. I am aware your Congress will be followed shortly by the Congress of the CPI in Kerala. Let me take this opportunity to extend my best wishes to our CPI comrades for the success of their Congress as well.

Comrades, we all are keenly aware of the challenging situation we are facing today. At perhaps no previous point in our post-1947 history have we experienced such a sustained and simultaneous assault on every aspect of our existence as a modern constitutional republic. The recently concluded Tenth Congress of our Party has identified the present juncture as an unmistakable rise of fascism in India and called for unleashing a determined resistance of the people to halt and defeat it as urgently and decisively as we can.

We know that when we are talking of defeating fascism we are not talking of merely defeating the fascist forces electorally in the next election in this or that state or at the Centre. We are talking of pushing them back on the ground; we are talking of relegating the saffron brigade back from the centre to the periphery. And this can only be achieved with a powerful resurgence of the Left. A strong and assertive Left leading a powerful anti-fascist counter-offensive is the need of the hour, and let me assure you that the CPI(ML) is committed to doing all it can to foster ever growing unity and cooperation among the entire range of Left forces in India to effect a Leftward shift to the political balance in the country.

Fascism thrives on aggressive extra-parliamentary mobilization and reactionary social frenzy which in our country revolves primarily around an anti-Muslim anti-Dalit axis. To resist and defeat fascism, the focus of the Left must also be on extra-parliamentary struggles. We are glad that the unity of the Left has once again begun to be strengthened through shared struggles and joint marches on the streets. Let me tell you that while I have seen very little demoralization among the Left ranks and Left-minded people for the electoral losses in West Bengal and Tripura, I have seen tremendous appreciation and pride for the peasant marches and demonstrations in Maharashtra and Rajasthan, Punjab and Bihar and Delhi, for the student resistance in universities from Hyderabad to JNU and JNU to Jadavpur, for the trade union strikes in 2016 and the Delhi Maha Padao of November 2017.

We all know that we need a broader unity of democratic forces to resist and defeat fascism. For too long, the discourse on united fronts has however revolved around electoral seat-sharing arrangements with this or that party and so-called common minimum programmes to run this or that government. What we need today most urgently is a vibrant united front of struggles and initiatives, an alliance of movements. And the biggest ally for the Left today is perhaps the Dalit movement. From protests against Rohith Vemula’s institutional murder to the Una floggings, against the repression let loose on the Bhim Army by the UP government to the anti-Dalit violence at Bhima-Koregaon in Maharashtra, and most recently the April 2 Bharat Bandh against the dilution of SC/ST Atrocities Act, Dalits are waging a powerful resistance against the Manuwadi agenda and aggression of the Sangh brigade. Strong ties of Dalit-Left solidarity hold the key to building a powerful anti-fascist resistance across the country.

Indeed, waves after waves of people’s protests are today stirring up the political scene. From Gauri Lankesh and Govind Pansare to Junaid and Asifa, we have witnessed endless hate crimes. From the demonetization of November 2016 to the current cash crunch in ATMs, the country has suffered enough even as crooks like Vijay Mallya and Nirav Modi have robbed our banks with impunity. Today the battle lines are drawn and the people are demanding justice for every victim of hate crimes, accountability for every jumla be it repatriation of black money, creation of two crore jobs per year, Swachh Bharat or Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao!

It is our job to draw strength and inspiration from all these struggles and march on to victory with all our might. This is the way forward. I hope our two parties and other forces in the Left will be able to work closely together in this direction.

All for a united, assertive and dynamic Left!

All for a secular, democratic and diverse India!

Inquilab Zindabad!