THE three-day 22nd Assam state conference of the CPI(M) concluded at Silpagram in Guwahati on February 6, with a clarion call to intensify the struggle against neo-liberal economic policies and the politics of communal divide being pursued by the present ruling dispensation both at the centre and in the state, and to build up a Left-democratic alternative. The conference started with a huge public rally on February 4 at Sonaram H S School ground. More than 15,000 people belonging to different religious, linguistic and ethnic groups attended the rally. At a time when the state has been witnessing proliferating polarisations along religious, linguistic and ethnic lines engineered by the ruling BJP-RSS and the divisive forces patronised by them, the rally demonstrated that it is the Red Flag and the CPI(M) that alone can unite all sections of the people. This strong unity has been forged on the basis of the struggles to defend and improve the lives and livings of the working people and to preserve the secular-democratic fabrics of our society. The presence of a large number of young volunteers, both boys and girls, and the march past by a uniformed Red Guard brigade added colour and spirit to the rally, which was presided over by CPI(M) Central Committee member Uddhab Barman.
Addressing the rally, Polit Bureau member S Ramachandran Pillai said that unlike the bourgeoisie parties whose high command decides everything, the CPI(M) frames its policies by engaging all its units and members right from the grassroots to the apex level and elects its leadership at all levels democratically through conferences held at regular intervals. Conferences of the Party at different levels are therefore not simply a constitutional obligation but the hallmarks of the internal democracy of the Party. This distinguishes the CPI(M) from all other parties. Lashing out at the policies being pursued by the Modi government, Pillai said that it was the worst government the country had ever seen. This government went back on all the promises they made to the people at the time of election and had been pursuing aggressively the same neo-liberal economic policies pursued by the previous regime led by the Congress, he said. Consequently, good days or ‘achhe din’ have come only for the big corporates, both domestic and foreign, and sufferings of the working people have multiplied. He said that reckless steps of the Modi government such as demonetisation and GST dealt a body blow to the economy subjecting not only the common people but also small traders, small and medium enterprises to great difficulties. Economic inequality reached an unprecedented level and jobs had been massacred, he added. The promise of creating two crore jobs every year has vanished in thin air. Job creation under Modi regime has been the lowest in last seven-eight years. Pillai also held out a grim picture of rural distress which has assumed an unprecedented dimension. The incidents of peasant suicides have alarmingly increased. All these have compounded the crisis in the economy. Pillai derided the politics of communal divide pursued by the present government to divide the people and distract their attention from the basic issues of their lives and livelihood. The unity and integrity of the country as well as its secular-democratic fabrics has today come under serious attack.
Polit Bureau member Biman Basu also addressed the rally. He said that presently the country had been passing through a very bad situation and that the worse was yet to come. He lambasted the anti-people economic policies and the politics of communal polarisation pursued by the BJP government both in the state and at the centre. Basu said that the very idea of India had been facing serious onslaughts at the hands of the rightwing forces today. He called for uniting all secular and democratic forces to resist these onslaughts.
The delegates session of the conference commenced at Silpagram in the afternoon with the hoisting of the Party flag by Hemen Das. Led by S Ramachandran Pillai, floral wreaths were placed on the Martyrs’ Column by the delegates. Inaugurating the session, Biman Basu explained the situation prevailing at the international and national arena vis-à-vis the challenges facing the Communist and Left movement in the country. He said that the situation is fraught with dangers but at the same time full of big possibilities also. Pointing out that the neo-liberal globalisation has failed everywhere and has led to severe economic inequality, he said that the growing discontent of the people generated by the situation is being utilised by the extreme rightwing forces to gain legitimacy and capture power in the absence of a strong working class and Left movement. This happened in the US as well as in India. Referring to Latin American experiences, he said that in many countries of Latin America, however, Left forces could channelise the discontent of the people in proper direction to put forward a pro-people Left alternative to neo-liberalism. In such a context he stressed upon the need of streamlining the organisation on the basis of guidelines issued by Kolkata Plenum of the Party.
After the conclusion of the inaugural session, Deben Bhattacharjee placed the draft political resolution, organisational and work report on behalf of the state committee in the delegates session which was presided over by a presidium consisting of Hemen Das, Rejamond Ali Barbhuyan, Purna Boro and Satyabati Bhuyan. The draft political resolution, while analysed the socio-economic and political situation in the state, pointed out that the main direction of the Party’s struggle would be against the BJP which is now in power both at the centre and in the state. The resolution, however, ruled out any alliance with the Congress as it also continues to be a strong votary of neo-liberal economic policies. The draft resolution stressed on the need of uniting the Left and democratic forces on an alternative programme and at the same time forge a broad platform against communalism. It identified fourteen issues based on the concrete situation in the state and charted out a programme to mobilise people of the state in struggles on these issues in the days to come with a view to hold out an effective alternative. The draft organisational and work-report subjected the organisation to through scrutiny particularly in the light of the decisions taken at the Kolkata Plenum of the Party and reviewed the struggles and organisational activities undertaken by the state unit in the last three years. It also charted out future organisational tasks to strengthen the Party and mass organisations both quantitatively and qualitatively.
Representing 12,472 Party members in the state, 350 delegates out of the elected 363 attended the conference. The number of women delegates was 59. Sixty-three delegates took part in the discussions on the political resolution and other reports placed before the conference. Most of the delegates who participated in the discussion concentrated on the issue of streamlining and strengthening the Party organisation further to meet the challenges of the situation and suggested various ways and means to arrest the decline faced by the Party by increasing mass activity and movement.
As Deben Bhattacharjee fell ill in the midst of the conference and had to be hospitalised, Uddhab Barman summed up the discussion and replied to the points raised by the delegates. Later, the draft political resolution and reports were adopted unanimously with some amendments and additions.
The conference adopted several resolutions that included resolutions against communal and fundamentalist forces, on agrarian problems in Assam, on employment generation, against rollback of public sector, against atrocities on women, on the problems of tea garden workers, on educational scenario and problems facing teachers and students in the state, on health scenario in the state, against price rise, against attack on democracy, demanding withdrawal of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, on expeditious publication of error-free NRC with March 24, 1971 as the base year, on expansion and development of railway communication in the state, on the proposed industrial corridor, and demanding early panchayat election.
The conference unanimously elected a 50-member state committee. Besides, two special invitees and five permanent invitees to the state committee were also elected. The newly-elected state committee met and unanimously re-elected Deben Bhattacharjee as the secretary. The conference also elected a three-member State Control Commission of the Party. A 16-member delegation and two observers to the ensuing Party Congress were also elected by the conference.
The credential report shows that out of 350 delegates, 50 joined the Party between 1964-1976, 166 joined between 1977-1991, 115 joined between 1992-2012 and 19 after 2012. The class compositions of the delegates are as follows: working class – 59, agricultural labour – 4, poor peasants – 70, middle peasant – 28, middle class – 135, bourgeoisie – 1 and whole timer – 86. The oldest delegate was Hemen Das (86 years, 11 months) and the youngest Amarjyoti Kalita (21 years).
S Ramachandran Pillai delivered the concluding speech. He underlined that the present situation though very challenging was yet full of possibilities. Masses are increasingly getting disillusioned about the policies of the BJP government. Anger and discontent of the people is swelling every day. Workers, peasants, students, women, intellectuals are coming out in unified protest actions increasingly against the policies of the Modi government. In such a context what is urgently required is the effective intervention of the CPI(M) and the Left. He said that rising discontent of the masses has to be channelised into intensified struggles for reversal of these anti-people policies and for building up a Left-democratic alternative.