THE All India People’s Forum (AIPF) held a national convention on the theme “Deepening socio-economic crisis: Way forward for peoples struggles to defend country and democracy“ on 18th April 2016 at the Constitution Club in Delhi.
The AIPF, since its inception a year ago, has been at the forefront of voicing the entire range of peoples’ concerns across many states. The convention was attended by activists from various peoples struggles, including Dr. Binayak Sen, Sunilam (Samajwadi Samagam), Prof. Jagmohan Singh, John Dayal, Himanshu Kumar, Isha Khandelwal (Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group), Roma Mallick (All India Forum of Forest Working People), Dr. Manzoor Alam, Shahid Kamal, Anil Chamadia, Anand Swaroop Verma, Vidyabhushan Rawat, ND Pancholi, Ambarish Rai, Dipankar Bhattacharya (CPI-ML), Bhimrao Bansode (Lal Nishan Party – Leninist), Mangat Ram Pasla (CPM Punjab), as well as student leaders from JNU, FTII and elsewhere.
Addressing the convention, Sunilam, convenor of the Samajwadi Samagam, talked about the massive ongoing repression on the farmers’ movement in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, in the midst of a huge agrarian and economic crisis. Sunilam himself had been jailed before for leading farmer’s protests. John Dayal spoke of the persecution of minorities, “Islamophobia has become state policy under the Modi government”, he said.
Speaking of the ongoing assault on democracy in Chhattisgarh and especially in Bastar, Himanshu Kumar highlighted the fact that the present state of repression has a history, and traces back beyond the present BJP-Modi regime. One would have to think beyond the Congress-BJP binary, he pointed out. Isha Khandelwal, of the Jadgalpur Legal Aid Group, also spoke eloquently and in detail about the ongoing repression of all democratic voices in Bastar: “When we went to meet the Inspector General of Police Kalluri, he told us that they needed to take land away from people to give it to corporations. Clearly, what is underway is a cleansing operation, where people are being thrown out”, she said.
Roma Mallick of the All India Union of the Forest Working People spoke of the land grab and police repression in Uttar Pradesh, when forest people try to defend their legal rights. Dr. Binayak Sen said that he himself had got bail on sedition charges from the Supreme Court, and he was proud and happy that young students today are battling the sedition law and state repression on all dissenting voices He also talked of rampant malnutrition, poverty and deaths, and the various government’s complete disinterest in addressing this horrific situation.
Dipankar Bhattacharya, general secretary of the CPI(ML), talked about the importance of not just resistance, but also of the need to launch a counter offensive: “It is a time of both crisis as well as potential, and students are to be congratulated because they have taken on the task of launching a counter offensive by carrying forward the legacy of Bhagat Singh and Ambedkar”, he said. Bhimrao Bansode, secretary of the Lal Nishan Party – Leninist, said that the Congress governments could not protect activists such as Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and Prof. Kalburgi and neither have they booked their killers and ensure justice. The RSS-BJP is trying desperately to appropriate Ambedkar, but they will never succeed because of their inherent differences between the RSS’ worldview and Ambedkar vision, he said. Mangat Ram Pasla, general secretary of CPM (Punjab) said that in Punjab and all over the country, farmers are suffering from drought and an unprecedented agrarian crisis, while the Modi government is busy protecting the likes of Vijay Mallya.
The conference was also attended by Manzoor Alam of the Milli Council, Rajeev Yadav from the Rihai Manch in Uttar Pradesh, Shahid Kamal from the Rashtra Seva Dal, ND Pancholi, Vijay Pratap of the Samajwadi Samagam, Anand Swaroop Varma, journalist Anil Chamadia and others.
Student leaders who have been battling sedition charges and a brutal crackdown by the ABVP-RSS-BJP were felicitated by the convention. JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar was felicitated by Dr. Binayak Sen. Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya, former JNUSU office bearers Ashutosh Kumar and Anant Prakesh Narayan, current JNUSU general secretary Rama Naga, and GSCASH representative Aishwarya Adhikari, as well Rakesh Shukla from the FTII were felicitated.