THE Tamil Nadu Platform for People’s Unity (TNPPU) organised an ‘In Conversation’ with eminent human rights activist Teesta Setalvad under the title “Communalism and Casteism – Two Faces of Hindutva’s Coin” in Chennai on January 15, in the backdrop of entrenched communal forces throttling the pillars of democracy.
Deepa of the DYFI welcomed the gathering and senior journalist A Kumaresan conducted the proceedings. Among the speakers were Quaide Milleth Education and Social Trust general secretary Dawood Mia Khan, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi (MMK) president Jawahirullah, senior advocate Xavier Arulraj, and former vice-chancellor of MS University Vasanthi Devi.
At the beginning of the session, the participants paid homage to senior journalist Gnani, who passed away the previous evening. Gnani was an activist for more than 40 years in Tamil Nadu, working for the cause of people and their democratic rights.
G Udayakumar, coordinator of the TNPPU, explained the rationale behind organising such a session with Teesta Setalvad and about the future activities of the platform.
Dawood Mia Khan said that the TNPPU came into being with an idea to build and promote unity among people of all walks of life to thwart the machinations of communal forces active in the state. In that background, such a session with a dedicated activist like Teesta Setalvad will help the platform and its followers understand her experiences in fighting the communal forces in Gujarat for many years.
Prof. Jawahirullah of the MMK said that there were doubts about the sudden death of CBI court judge B H Loya raised earlier by his family members. But when four senior judges of the Supreme Court took up the issue, we saw Loya’s son himself coming forward and saying there is no mystery in his father’s death. A situation has developed in the country wherein those who fight for justice are being threatened and vicitimised.
Arulraj said the country is facing a serious socio-political crisis. The communal threat is not only against the minorities, but the majority will also get affected through their silence. He also said that the BJP is trying hard to find an opening in the state. However, this land ploughed by Periyar will not allow such elements to grow in their soil.
Teesta Setalvad, secretary of the Citizens for Justice and Peace, during her conversation with the audience said that liberalisation and privatisation lead to the usurping of natural resources and the mainstream media too is being controlled by the corporates. In such a situation, the widest possible unity of progressive forces who believe in the rule of law is essential.
In this context, Teesta Setalvad reminded the audience that only during the UPA-I rule under the Common Minimum Programme, the Left was able to extract great concessions from the ruling party such as the Right to Information Act (RTI Act), Forest Rights to the adivasis and assured employment for the rural poor through MGNREGA. Recalling such achievements of the Left, she called for the development of a Common Minimum Programme and develop a People’s Manifesto like the one developed by Kerala and take it forward across the country.