(Mavalankar Auditorium, Constitution Club, New Delhi, June 26, 2002)
The country is passing through a very critical juncture. Gujarat has been reduced to a graveyard. More than 2,000 people are already feared killed in the state in the continuing genocide. Thousands of Muslim families have been ravaged. Yet the saffron killers are still at large and the intensity of the anti-Muslim hate campaign remains undiminished. And defying cries of condemnation from all corners of the country and even from the international community, the NDA government at the Centre is bent upon protecting the monstrous Modi regime in Gujarat.
While Gujarat burns, Kashmir continues to bleed. On the eve of the Assembly elections due in October, terror and repression continue to stalk the valley. A war-like situation is again building up across the LoC. With India and Pakistan moving increasingly away from the negotiating table, the situation is tailor-made for growing American intervention in the region. US troops are already there in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Of late, Nepal too has become a key country on the US map of so-called global war on terror. And now the other day, we saw the armed forces of India and the US conduct joint military exercises on the Indian soil for the first time in forty years since the 1962 India-China war. Meanwhile, the mischief-mongers of the Sangh Parivar are busy plotting their next move on Ayodhya.
The overwhelming majority of the Indian people have repeatedly expressed their strong disapproval of this disastrous direction in which the BJP and its allies are relentlessly pushing the country. In election after election, the people have voted against the BJP and its allies. True to its fascist character, the saffron brigade is however playing with the peoples mandate by subverting the parliamentary system. POTA was passed by convening an extraordinary joint session of Parliament. And in UP, the BJP has managed to retain its hold on power by forging yet another opportunist alliance with the BSP. The BJPs task has of course been made easier by the ideological and political bankruptcy of many non-BJP parties. While the likes of George Fernandes amd Mamata Banerjee have shown how low they can stoop for the sake of a few cabinet berths, regional parties like the TDP, DMK and AIADMK have once again exposed the true colours of their so-called secular politics.
In spite of their current majority in Parliament, the BJP and its allies are of course mortally afraid of the secular democratic politics of the Indian people. In Gujarat we have seen their ugly attempts to silence the voice of peace, secularism and democracy. They have targetted the media, they have targetted activists like Medha Patkar. On 10-11 May, the BSP-BJP government of UP banned a peaceful commemoration of the 145th anniversary of Indias First War of Independence at Faizabad. Hundreds of students, youths, cultural activists, women and children were beaten up and jailed for 14 days for daring to remember the martyrs of 1857 and invoking Awadhs glorious legacy of Hindu-Muslim unity and militant anti-imperialism.
Twenty-seven years ago, Indira Gandhi had sought to curb democracy in India by imposing a state of Emergency. In less than two years, the Emergency was overthrown by the people of India. Today, democracy faces a still more serious threat as the BJP tries to divide the country on communal lines and mortgage its hard-earned independence and national dignity to the US imperialists. While the economic policies of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation make a mockery of the peoples basic right to livelihood, the dangerous drive to redefine Indian nationalism on the narrow and divisive basis of so-called Hindutva threatens to disenfranchise all but the members and lackeys of the Sangh Parivar.
We cannot let this happen. India is not a piece of real estate for the Sangh Parivar to play with. It is the common land of a billion people who celebrate their unity in diversity and democracy. It is the shared legacy of our great martyrs who laid down their precious lives for the country and the people.
We must save and reclaim India. And to do this we need a massive democratic resurgence of the people. We need a shared resolve, a new vision, and a powerful, united resistance.
To this end, we have decided to hold a National Convention against Communal Fascism in New Delhi (Mavalankar Auditorium) on 26 June. It is our earnest desire that this convention should provide a common platform for the broadest spectrum of Left organisations, social movements and committed citizens who are determined to work for the triumph of peoples democracy over communal fascism. We therefore solicit your fullest cooperation and participation in making the convention a success.