April 24, 2022

Determined to Fight for the People: 23rd Party Congress at Kannur

V Sivadasan

WHEN the land of people’s movements and struggles played host to the 23rd Party Congress, it scripted a new history. The 23rd Party Congress of CPI(M) at Kannur was made a huge success by the efficient organisation, spirited coordination and hard work with determination. The energetic support offered by the Party workers, sympathisers, fellow travellers and the common people was crucial in achieving this.

Deliberations of the Party Congress have been reported in these columns. This is an attempt to bring to light the events that took place in the run-up to Congress.

On April 5, a day before the Party Congress started, Pinarayi Vijayan had hoisted the red flag at AKG Nagar, which arrived in Kannur in a procession from Vayalar-Punnapara, a place where the historic communist uprising took place in 1946. In his speech, he pointed out that Congress, the BJP and the Muslim League have come together to attack the Left government in Kerala. He added that BJP considers the Left as its biggest ideological enemy and they are trying to strangulate Kerala in every possible manner and the Congress and the Muslim League have joined them to ensure that no developmental activity takes place in the state.  

An exhibition of historical paintings and sculptures entitled 'History A Weapon’ which was open from March 30, 2022, at K Varadarajan Nagar attracted a large number of visitors. The exhibits were acclaimed on social media and among the public for their artistic and educative value.

International Book Festival was inaugurated on April 1, at Nirupam Sen Nagar. More than 80 publishers across the world have participated and book lovers all across joined in the festival. The visitors had the facility to donate books or cash to the libraries started as part of the People’s Mission in Kannur. Books worth more than Rs 2 lakh were collected in this manner.

Seminars with important national and international themes were held as part of the Congress with the participation of experts and the general public. The seminars received great popular attention and witnessed the active participation of the public.

The seminar on federalism inaugurated by Pinarayi Vijayan and attended by M K Stalin, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and K V Thomas, leader of the Congress party, became the venue for an active discussion on the dangers of majoritarianism in the country.M K Stalin strongly criticised the union government’s undemocratic approach. He stated that the central government wants states to be their puppets. Emphasising the diversity of the country, he stated that India is a country with many different languages and diverse cultures. He accused BJP of trying to subvert the   ‘unity in diversity' in their attempt to establish the dangerous notion of one language, one dress, one food, and one religion, which could ultimately lead to only one party and ultimately only one person. He added that the rights of the states must be protected in order to save the nation.

 The seminar received national attention as it tried to present an alternative political vision against the anti-democratic and authoritarian forces. The seminar was seen as a significant milestone in the emergence of alternative politics in India.

April 1, was marked as the Red Flag Day. On this day, from 5 pm to 5.15 pm, people from different walks of life lined up holding a long and single flag of CPI (M) on the 23 kilometres stretch. People from all walks of life including freedom fighters, political leaders, film-makers, artists, literary figures, scholars, environmentalists and social activists participated in this historic event which enlivened the imagery of the symbol of the fighting workers and peasants, the hammer and sickle inscribed in the red background. 

Volleyball and football tournaments were organised at the local level. Thousands took part in volleyball in the tournaments in the memory of Jimmy George, a renowned volleyball player from Kannur.

 The anniversary of the martyrdom of the revolutionaries of Kayyur had been observed as Flag Day of Party Congress in the district. Flags were hoisted at the Party Congress organising committee office in Kannur, Kannur district committee office, 18 area committee offices, 243 local committee offices, 4,247 branches and 61,688 houses of party members and supporters.  

The rallies announcing the Party Congress at Kannur started touring the district on April 1. The cycle rallies and bike rallies of women comrades were arranged in various parts of the district. Youth rallies were also held announcing the Party Congress.

Social media was employed to convey to the people the history of the communist movement and its role in the freedom struggle and the social and cultural development of the country. Titled ‘Kannur Manifesto’, a unique campaign was launched, using short biopics of comrades depicting their lives. Their life histories intertwined with the history of the movement were depicted in the series. The lived experiences of communists and the everyday life of comrades were brought to the screen. The short video series released through the party’s official handles, on Facebook and YouTube, presented local heroes like Paripadi Damu, Pushpan, Jagannathan- a migrant worker from Odisha, and Raveendran. It painted the lives of Party workers at the grassroots level.  It was an enlightening and endearing experience to engage with the lives of Party activists. 

Wall paintings drawn at many places in the district with the help of artist groups illustrating the history of the independence struggle and the communist movement have attracted a lot of visitors. These images created by local artists were imbued with alternative aesthetics and politics.

Delegates also found the reception committee offices by the various Party units with artistic displays conveying political messages very attractive. More than 10,000 programmes were held all across the district by various Party units. Every local committee has conducted a seminar on Kerala development. Open deliberation about alternative development strategies has taken place and seminars have witnessed active participation of common people.

The public meeting and rally were held on April 10, 2022, which turned Kannur into a ‘red sea’. People from all walks of life thronged the venue and the streets nearby.  The music band teams and 2,000 red volunteers marched in front of the procession followed by the delegates who have marched to the stadium from the Nayanar Academy. The entire procession was greeted by people waiting for them all day long. The people from all walks of life have extended wholehearted support to make the conference a roaring success and a historic event.

The Party Congress became a microcosm of struggling India as it brought the working-class heroes and activists of different sections of the people from various parts of India, symbolising the spirit of fighting India.