Vol. XLII No. 16 April 22, 2018
Towards the 22nd Congress of the CPI(M)

Sitaram Yechury

INDIAN people are today facing unprecedented challenges.  The only way in which these challenges can be met and defeated is through a mighty people’s movement on the basis of an alternative policy framework that reverses the current disastrous policy direction in our country by ousting the present RSS/BJP government.  In advancing such people’s struggles, this 22nd Congress of the CPI(M) will be a milestone in our Party’s history. This shall be a Congress that must steel our determination to face and defeat the multi-fold challenges before the Indian people and the secular democratic Indian Republic.

Inner-Party Democracy

As is our unique practice, the Draft Political Resolution for the consideration and adoption by the 22nd Congress was adopted by the Central Committee and circulated to the entire Party rank and file two months before the Party Congress convenes, in all languages. All Party members have the right to send their opinions and amendments on this draft. This process ensures that pre-Congress discussions on the draft amongst the entire rank and file of the Party, takes place.  Consequently, the thousands of amendments that Party Centre has received will be processed and a report on these amendments will be placed before the Party Congress.  This report is important in the sense that it reflects the thinking of the Party rank and file on the Party’s future political direction.

Unprecedented Challenges

Amongst the multitude of challenges that we face, there are four that need to be immediately challenged and defeated.  The pursuit of aggressive neo-liberal economic policies has resulted in sharply intensifying the economic exploitation of our people.  During the course of the year 2017, one per cent of Indian people – India’s richest – garnered 73 per cent of the additional wealth generated. This proportion used to be at 49 per cent before the current BJP government assumed office.  This sharp escalation of economic inequalities is in itself is a testimony to intensified economic exploitation.  There is no sector of the Indian economy that this BJP government has not thrown open for foreign direct investment thereby enlarging the avenues for profit maximisation by foreign capital which is desperately seeking newer avenues in the wake of its decade-long global capitalist economic crisis.  Every single public sector unit is sought to be privatised.  The twin assaults of demonetisation and the GST have ruined India’s informal economy that contributes 60 per cent of our GDP and over three-fourth of non-agricultural employment.  The net result of these economic policies has been the deepening of the agrarian distress in the country.  This is leading to continued distress suicides by our farmers. The promises made to the farmers like the minimum support price at one and a half times the production cost has been betrayed.  Likewise, the promises to our youth to create two crore additional jobs every year. On the contrary, even in the organised industry, unemployment is growing sharply.  Combined with the ruination of the informal economy, vast majority of our youth are denied employment and are facing a bleak future. 

While the economic crisis in India deepens, the loot of our country’s economic resources has sharply escalated.  The humongous loans, estimated to the tune of Rs 11.5 lakh crore, taken by the industrialists from our banks is not being returned.  Those who looted our country’s wealth are allowed to get away scotfree by leaving the country’s shores.  Officially, the government has `waived’ off nearly Rs 3 lakh crores of these loans, while it refuses to implement a one-time loan waiver for the distressed Indian farmer.

Growing Struggles

The past three years have seen a big growth in the struggles of our working class, which went on two all-India industrial strikes in 2015 and 2016 followed by a mahapadav before the parliament in Delhi in 2017. The longstanding gains made by the working class of India with the legislation of the existing labour laws and the consequent benefits are being eroded with threats to scrap them.  Clearly, the offensive against the people’s livelihood is mounting in various ways which is facilitating the maximisation of profits for corporate houses.  This has to be resisted and can only be done through the strengthening of people’s struggles on an alternative policy direction, a direction where the country’s wealth and resources, instead of being looted and enriching the rich must be channelised for huge public investments to build our much needed infrastructure.  This, in turn, will create a large number of new jobs providing much needed employment for our youth.  The wages earned by these newly employed when spent will generate the much needed demand in the economy which will boost the manufacturing and the industrial sector.  This will lead to a trajectory of sustainable growth which is more people inclusive. 

Thus, such alternative policy direction must be the basis for mobilising vast sections of our people to strengthen the struggles for its implementation.

The growing struggles of the peasantry, the highlight of which was the recent Long March to Mumbai, has also shown the possibilities to provide relief to our beleaguered farmers. Such struggles need to be intensified in the future.

Such a policy alternative will have to be projected by forging the unity of Left and democratic forces in struggles.  During the past three years, unity amongst the dalit movement, that is rising in revolt against social oppression, and the Left forces has strengthened. The broad platform of mass organisations and people’s movements has been formed - Jan Ekta, Jan Adhikar Andolan.  Such activities need to be further strengthened and the 22nd Congress will surely take the appropriate decisions in order to advance such struggles.

Sharpening Communal Polarisation

The other challenge before the people in the country is the relentless sharpening of communal polarisation by the current central government whose reins are controlled by the fascistic RSS.  In the name of cow protection, dalits and Muslims are being targetted for murderous assaults. In the name of moral policing, our youth are being told what type of clothes to wear; what food to eat; whom to befriend etc etc.  The depth of the dehumanisation of our society can be gauged by the horrific rapes of minor girls like what we are seeing recently in Kathua and Unnao. Rape is being used as a political weapon to sharpen communal polarisation that tears asunder the unity of our social fabric. The education system is under relentless attack, particularly the institutions of higher education and research. The effort is to convert the study of Indian history into the study of Hindu mythology and the study of rich Indian philosophy into the study of Hindu theology.

Such efforts are being met with popular resistance as well.  Across various campuses, the RSS student wing – ABVP – was defeated in the student union elections, especially in universities that are specifically targeted by the RSS like JNU, HCU etc.  These struggles, however, have to be strengthened significantly to resist and reverse such attacks by communal forces.

Authoritarian Assaults

At another level, a serious challenge has been mounted against the sanctity of constitutional authorities.  The recent development in the country’s apex court is a pointer in the direction of the interference of the government in the process of delivery of justice.  Serious questions have been raised over the impartiality of the Election Commission.  The certification of the Film Censor Board is violated with impunity by private armies unleashed by the RSS like against the film Padmavat etc.  This is a direct assault on the democratic rights of our people and on civil liberties.  These will have to be resisted through a powerful people’s movement. 

Finally, serious challenges emerge challenging our country’s sovereignty with this BJP government succumbing to US pressures and to willingly becoming a junior partner of imperialism in global matters.  As a consequence, India’s foreign policy has undergone a sea-change and a US-Israel-India nexus is emerging in dealing with global affairs. 

Strengthen CPI(M)

Clearly, the growing people’s struggles have to be further consolidated and how this is to be done is a major issue before the 22nd Congress.  This can only be done when the Party’s independent strength is consolidated in a big way.  The Party’s political intervention capacities will have to be strengthened further in order to provide before the people a policy alternative that can liberate them from the current assaults.  The growth in the independent strength of the Party must be accompanied by strengthening Left unity and, on that basis, forging the unity in struggle with Left and democratic forces. 

Soon after the 21st Congress, the Party convened an organisational Plenum and gave the call to strengthen the CPI(M) as a revolutionary party with a mass line. Various decisions were taken to achieve this objective.  The 22nd Congress will have the important task to review the extent to which we have been able to implement these decisions. 

In the current conjuncture, the Party has to strengthen itself to meet these tasks at hand and defeat the challenges being posed by the Indian ruling classes and its current BJP government. The strengthening of the alternative policy direction needs to be made, while, at the same time, strengthening the struggles against the efforts of the RSS/BJP to convert the secular democratic Republican character of India into the RSS version of a rabidly intolerant fascistic `Hindu Rashtra’. 

The Party goes into the 22nd Congress with the confidence of meeting and defeating the current challenges and, on that basis, advancing the struggles of the Indian people towards creating a better India by defeating the agenda of the Indian ruling classes with the eventual aim of replacing this class rule and forging ahead towards the establishment of a people’s democratic India.