May 28, 2023
TN: Progressive Voices Unite: Viluppuram Conference against Caste Oppression

V B Ganesan

Despite the existence of various laws aimed at protecting the rights of the Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) in the country, their condition remains precarious. The oppression and atrocities inflicted upon them are on the rise without any respite. In order to bring attention to their demands for a better life, the CPI(M) Tamil Nadu state committee organised a special conference with the slogan, "Let us demolish caste oppression and build a casteless, egalitarian society." This conference took place in Viluppuram on May 16 and saw the mobilisation of thousands of dalit and adivasi people from the surrounding four districts.

The conference held in Viluppuram was presided over by N Subramanian, the CPI(M) Viluppuram district secretary. The gathering was warmly welcomed by R Ramamurthy, a former MLA.

In his address to the big gathering, Sitaram Yechury, CPI(M) general secretary, emphasised the Party's commitment to class struggle as a means to achieve the liberation of humanity, and stressed on the importance of carrying on the fight against economic exploitation and social oppression simultaneously. He recalled Dr Ambedkar’s warning: “We have created a political structure of giving one person one vote and one vote one value, but we have not given one person one value. Until we achieve that by eliminating the social and economic contradictions of our time, this political structure we have created can be blown asunder by inequality. So, we urge Independent India to move towards a society where one person is having one value.”

Yechury further highlighted that Dr Ambedkar emphasized the need to resist Hindu revivalism, as social and caste oppression cannot be eliminated without addressing it. Even after 75 years of India's independence and the efforts of wise leaders who fought for social justice and mobilised millions of people, the realisation of true social justice has remained elusive.

One crucial aspect that requires attention is the demand for the empowerment of socially marginalised sections. Economic empowerment should be pursued comprehensively. Yechury called upon everyone to march together, propelling India into a future brimming with brightness, where every human being is valued solely as a human being, free from the constraints of caste or religion.

The present rulers, BJP and Hindutva forces, aim to regress India into the darkness of the past. This regressive agenda must be fought against and defeated to create a better future for India. This challenge is a fight to uphold the principles of our constitution and strengthen them further, preventing them from being hijacked by the fascistic Hindutva forces. He expressed confidence in the gathering, urging them to play their part in this struggle. As a united brigade, they will continue to stand with everyone in their pursuit of a progressive India, taking the nation forward together.

K Balakrishnan, CPI(M) Tamil Nadu state secretary, acknowledged the significant contributions of leaders like Singaravelar, Periyar, and the Left and Dravidian movements in shaping Tamil Nadu into a unique and progressive state. However, he also noted that despite these struggles, various forms of discrimination still persist. Balakrishnan expressed satisfaction in uniting all forward-looking forces in the state to strive for equality, and he appreciated the presence of every dignitary who joined the event, affirming their commitment to the progress of humanity.

K Ponmudi, deputy general secretary of the DMK and the higher education minister, highlighted the social welfare measures implemented by the government over the past two years. He assured that the secular and democratic forces in Tamil Nadu would triumph over communal forces in the days to come.

KS Alagiri, president of TNCC, reflected on the victory in Karnataka and emphasized the responsibility of the Left and democratic forces in the country to unite under the banner of secularism and defeat the communal forces in the near future.

In addition to the aforementioned leaders, several other prominent figures addressed the gathering and expressed their determination to combat the corporate-communal rule of the BJP in the upcoming 2024 parliament elections. Among them were P Shanmugam, Central Committee member of the CPI(M), K Balabharathi and K Samuelraj, CPI(M) state secretariat members, and D Ravindran, CPI(M) state committee member;  M Veerapandian, CPI deputy state secretary; Balaprajabathi Adigalar from Ayya Vaikunda Sect; D Ravikumar, general secretary of VCK and an MP; M Senthilathibhan from MDMK; T Velmurugan, an MLA from TVK; Durai Chandrasekaran, general secretary of DK; G Jaggaiyan, founder president of ATK, and V P Velmurugan from Immanuel Peravai.