It is a great pleasure to see the oldest communist party of the country hold its 21st Congress here in Patna and I feel honoured to have this opportunity to address the open session of this important event. Thank you for your comradely invitation. On behalf of the Central Committee and the entire membership of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), I extend warm revolutionary greetings to all of you assembled here and convey our best wishes for the success of the Congress.
Let me also take this opportunity to express our solidarity with the international communist and anti-imperialist movement and reiterate our shared commitment to defeat the sinister design of the US-led imperialist camp and the predatory offensive of global capital.
As we meet here today we keenly feel the loss of many of our veteran leaders and dear comrades. Comrade Bhogendra Jha, Comrade Jagannath Sarkar, Comrade Chaturanan Mishra are no more amidst us. We have also lost veteran CPI(ML) leader Comrade Ram Naresh Ram who had begun his communist life in the undivided CPI. I pay homage to all our departed leaders who have guided the communist movement in Bihar all these years.
Comrades, for all the tall claims of record-breaking economic growth, poverty is increasing in Bihar. And contrary to the professed gospel of good governance, the people are witnessing growing attacks on democracy. Communist leaders and activists continue to be targeted by feudal-communal forces and criminals enjoying political patronage. Recently Comrade Surendra Yadav of the CPI(M) was killed in Samastipur. Just two weeks ago, Comrade Bhaiyyaram Yadav, secretary of CPI(ML)’s Rohtas District Committee and a popular leader of people’s struggles was gunned down by JD(U)-backed goons at Nasriganj. Red salute to all our martyrs who have laid down their lives for the cause of the people!
Implicated in false cases and convicted on false charges, many communists are languishing in the prisons of Bihar. Comrade Shah Chand and 13 other CPI(ML) comrades are undergoing life imprisonment under the draconian TADA. I salute all our imprisoned comrades who continue to inspire us from behind the bars.
Comrades, your Congress is taking place in a changing international environment. Capitalism is facing a serious crisis not just in the periphery but at the centre, and this growing crisis has begun to find its echo in the political arena as well. From the Arab Spring to the Occupy movement, we have seen an inspiring upswing in class struggle and popular protests across the world. Quite significantly, this is also energising a renewed quest for socialism, for a systemic alternative to an increasingly decadent and crisis-ridden capitalism.
In our own country, we are witnessing powerful struggles against the ruling neo-liberal policy regime. Under popular pressure, the government has had to withhold the move to allow FDI in multi-brand retail and withdraw large-scale fare hikes announced in the recent rail budget. The response to the February 28 general strike has been quite encouraging as have been results of student union elections in some premier universities. The time is ripe for all of us in the Left to intensify the movement and press for a decisive reversal of the whole gamut of pro-corporate pro-imperialist policies, insisting especially on protection of agricultural and forest land and public control over mineral resources. Simultaneously, the Left must also emerge as the leading current in struggles against corporate loot and state repression across the country. In the face of systematic assaults on democracy and human rights whether under the banner of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act or Operation Greenhunt or UAPA or minority witch-hunt in the name of combating terrorism, the Left must establish itself as the most consistent and courageous defender of democracy.
Results of the recent Assembly elections have once again highlighted the decline of the two big all-India parties of the ruling classes. The coalitions led by the two parties have naturally come under pressure. Yet, we cannot miss the fact that most of the non-Congress non-BJP governments are treading the same neo-liberal policy trajectory and are more interested in bargaining with the central government and bailing it out at critical junctures than offering any sustained opposition on the growing assault on the people and their democratic rights. For any credible third front to take shape, the Left must raise the level of its own assertion on the basis of shared struggles against the neo-liberal assault, imperialist offensive and communal mischief.
The country looks to the Left for a real political alternative. If we can accord the highest priority to the interests of the people and uphold the best traditions and the core vision of the Left movement, we can surely unite and move ahead in this direction. We in the CPI(ML) remain committed to this course and look forward to marching together with the broad spectrum of Left and democratic forces. We hope your Congress will strengthen the political will in the Left camp to forge a broad-based struggle-oriented model of Left unity. Recent electoral reverses have emboldened the forces of right reaction to mount a strident anti-Left ideological campaign and even violent physical attacks on the Left which must be rebuffed with all the strength at our command.
Comrades, in a decade or so from now, the communist movement in India will complete its centenary. As we approach this historic milestone, let us resolve to work tirelessly to bring about a powerful communist resurgence in the country, ensuring greater unity among all communist and Left forces, enlisting greater participation of the youth and spreading the communist message far and wide across the country. Once again, I wish you all a successful Congress and thank you for inviting us to the open session.
Red salute to the glorious legacy of the communist movement in India!
(Dipankar Bhattacharya), General Secretary, CPI(ML)