On 10 February, a public meeting was organised by the CPI(ML) in GPF Auditorium in Delhi, on ‘Political Challenges, New Possibilities, and Role of People’s Movements.’ The meeting was addressed and attended by a range of intellectuals and activists.
Introducing the meeting, Kavita Krishnan, Politburo member of the CPI(ML), spoke of the communal-corporate fascist agenda represented by Modi, that was benefiting from people’s rightful urge to punish the Congress, UPA and other discredited forces for their regime of corruption, corporate plunder and repression. The crisis of credibility of the ruling class and people’s anger against two decades of neoliberal policies were factors that have produced the phenomenon of the AAP. For the revolutionary Left and for democratic forces and people’s movements, there is immense potential to shape people’s imagination for change, in the direction of reversal of the pro-corporate policy regime that had produced corruption, assertion of the rights of women, rejection of khap panchayats and moral policing, justice in communal and caste massacres and fake encounters like Batla House, Pathribal and Manorama’s rape and murder. This agenda of change should be asserted spiritedly, contending with those who wish to take ‘change’ in a fascist direction, and those who wish to confine the language of political change to mere modernisation of governance alone, avoiding the question of social and economic transformation.
Addressing the meeting, Sunilam of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti spoke of his experiences during the Janlokpal struggle led by Anna Hazare, and his discomfort with the virtual merging of people’s movements with a political party, the AAP. Urmilesh, senior journalist, called to explore new ways for the Left in building mass support for its struggles and movements. Manindra Thakur of JNU stressed people’s urge for democratic political participation, especially the need for internal democracy in the functioning of people’s movements and political parties. Prof Manoranjan Mohanty critiqued any notion of ‘ideology-free’ change. The worst 2-G scam, he said, citing the example of Odisha, was that of corporate-driven ‘Growth’ and ‘Governance’, and true Swaraj could only be socialism. Albeena Shakil of Left Collective spoke of people’s disappointment with the AAP over its defence of racist vigilantism and its refusal to present even an outline of its social and economic vision. She stressed that it was self-defeating for the Left to join hands with thoroughly discredited forces like the SP, JD(U), Jayalalitha etc who have a shabby and shameful track record even on the question of combating communalism. Journalist Anand Pradhan said that the moment was ripe with potential for revolutionary Left forces to forge new slogans and build movements of workers and common people. AISA President Sucheta De spoke of students’ campaign in Delhi University to assert students’ right to affordable rent, transport, and roll back of the disastrous FYUP. She also spoke of the experience of intervention against the incident of racism at Khirki by a Delhi Minister. Shankaran of the AICCTU spoke of workers’ campaign for their rights, pointing out that the AAP Government in Delhi spoke of direct action and democracy in many things but when it came to keeping its promise to make contract workers permanent and enforce minimum wage laws, it resorted to delaying tactics like committees. Columnist Praful Bidwai pointed out that the AAP had avoided taking a consistent anti-communal stand, and did not speak of Modi’s communal character, because a large part of its support base coincided with Modi’s, and in Delhi it had gained mainly at the expense of Congress and BSP.
CPI(ML) Politburo member Swapan Mukherjee commented on the fact that CPI(M) GS Prakash Karat, at a rally the previous day, had remained silent on the Congress. He said that such tactics of defending indefensible forces in order to forge opportunist alliances was a proven recipe for disaster. While genuine participatory democracy was no doubt needed, he warned against the AAP’s model of governance through RWAs and mohalla sabhas, pointing out the possibility of majoritarian communal and regressive dominance. He called for the revolutionary Left to assert its agenda of people’s rights and democracy boldly with its identity and strength.