Together in solidarity

Print edition : October 24, 1998

The CPI(M) congress was attended by representatives of Communist parties from 22 countries.

THE presence of fraternal delegates from as many as 22 countries at the 16th congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) was testimony to the party's stature on the international Communist firmament. Significantly, this congress had the largest representation of international Communist parties compared to all earlier congresses of the party.

The foreign delegates were greeted with applause whenever they approached the microphone to speak; the Russian, Chinese and Cuban representatives received the longest ovation. CPI(M) general secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet presented them with bouquets and souvenirs.

Nikolai Bindikov, secretary of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, arrived at Nazrul Manch, the venue of the congress, straight from the airport. He could not attend the first two days of the congress since he was organising a protest demonstration at Red Square in Moscow as part of a nationwide agitation against the Boris Yeltsin Government.

ADDRESSING a special session that commemorated the 150th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto, representatives of international Communist parties said that the treatise, written by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels in 1848, was just as relevant today as it was at that time. They said that at a time when imperialist forces had become more aggresive and right-wing forces were on the ascendant, revolutionary parties and the masses were waging a new struggle, after having overcome temporary setbacks. As long as reactionary forces tried to suppress the independence of the masses, a fight against them was inevitable: it was the law of development history that the cause of socialism emerged victorious through such a struggle, it was stated. "The Communist Manifesto urges Communists to fight capitalism through prolonged class struggle since it will not end automatically."

Bindikov said that Communists in Russia were confident of regaining power as the people were disenchanted with the Boris Yeltsin regime. The Communist Party's efforts were directed at organising mass movements to overthrow the present establishment, he said. The common people, said Bindikov, still subscribed to the ideology of the Communist Party; the party was gaining in strength among the poor, the middle class and the intelligentsia, who had suffered the most under the present regime, he added. Bindikov said that Yeltsin's economic policies had ruined the country and that businessmen and the bourgeoisie formed Yeltsin's main domestic support base. "We will overthrow the Yeltsin Government not by taking up arms but by waging a political battle as the Communist Party has firm faith in political and democratic institutions."

On the decline of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, the Communist leader said: "We were victims of an imperialist conspiracy. The concepts of perestroika and glasnost went out of control."

Bindikov said that Russian Communists were happy that a Left Front led by a Marxist party had been ruling West Bengal for the last 21 years.

THE representative of the Communist Party of China, Liu Jingqin, appreciated the "profound" and "time-tested" friendship between the CPC and the CPI(M). He made a veiled, critical reference to the BJP-led Government's tirade against China ahead of the nuclear tests at Pokhran in May. Jingqin's remarks echoed the CPI(M)'s criticism of the BJP for having raised the China bogey in an attempt to justify the nuclear tests.

Jingqin said: "China is consistently engaged in safeguarding the friendly Sino-Indian relationship. President Jiang Zemin expounded China's friendly foreign policy towards India during his visit to India in November 1996." The "historical trend" towards developing friendly Sino-Indian relations could not be halted, Jingqin said.

Delineating on China's foreign policy, the representative from China said that his country pursued an independent foreign policy, opposed hegemony and worked towards safeguarding world peace. In order to carry out its socialist modernisation programme as planned, China needed a peaceful international environment, especially in its neighbourhood, he said. China's development, he added, would not constitute a threat to any country. China, asserted Jingqin, had never sought and would never seek hegemony.

He also assured the delegates that the Chinese people were ready to join hands with the people of India to promote the "lofty cause of peace and development".

CPI(M) general secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet receives the Cuban delegation. Jorge L. Perez, representative of the Communist Party of Cuba, is in the centre.-SUSHANTA PATRONOBISH

In a message to the CPI(M), the Central Committee of the CPC said that the CPI(M) was an influential political party and appreciated the fact that "adhering to Marxism and the orientation of socialism", it had been "exploring through its practice and struggle the road to development that conforms to the native reality of India." The CPI(M), the message said, had made positive efforts to safeguard friendly relations between China and India, promote the development of bilateral relations, and maintain regional and world peace and stability. The message added that the CPC was ready to develop friendly relations with the CPI(M) further "on the basis of the four principles of independence, complete equality, mutual respect and non-interference in each other's internal affairs, and enhance understanding and friendship between our two countries and the two peoples."

The representative of the Communist Party of Cuba, Jorge L. Perez, recalled the support extended by the CPI(M) to the Cuban people in their struggle against the U.S. economic blockade. He said that the CPI(M) had stood by the Cuban people in their struggle against colonialism, and later during the struggle to build their nation. In word and deed the CPI(M) had always stood for independence and the cause of the oppressed, he said. The CPI(M) had always expressed solidarity with the Cuban revolution, he added.

Representatives of Communist parties from countries in which they are not in power blamed the neo-liberalisation policies for the ills of the economies of their countries.

Public disaffection in Japan had risen to such a level that the foundations of the Liberal Democratic Party Government had been shaken, claimed the delegate from Japan. The LDP Government increased the cost of medicare and is planning to use the taxpayers' money to rescue big banks. The move had alienated from the party even its long-time supporters, he said. In comparison, the Communist Party of Japan had made significant gains in the recent elections to the House of Councillors, and was now working to establish a democratic coalition government, the delegate said.

A significant representation from international Communist organisations.-SUSHANTA PATRONOBISH

The representative of the Communist Party of Australia said that unemployment in his country had risen to over 8 per cent, living standards were deteriorating, social welfare services were being "savagely cut" and public enterprises and government departments were being privatised. All these, he said, were the consequences of neo-liberalist policies. There was widespread disillusionment with the major political parties, and the possibility of building a progressive, alternative political force was emerging, the delegate said.

The representative of the Communist Party of Britain, Kenny Coyel, said that in his country, as part of an economic restructuring programme, public spending was being cut and the privatisation process initiated by the Margaret Thatcher Government in 1979 was being pursued to its completion.

Andrej Reder of the Party of Democratic Socialism of Germany exuded enthusiasm over Chancellor Helmut Kohl's defeat in the recent elections, which he said had confirmed the failure of the neo-liberal policies of his government and the "neo-colonial accession" of East Germany by West Germany.

Emphasising the need for interaction among the Communist parties of the countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, Immadullah Kazi, deputy secretary of the Communist Mazdoor Kisan Party of Pakistan, said that until 1988 the Communist movement had been banned in Pakistan. In 1994, the Communist Party of Pakistan, which had split in 1964, reunited. In a country where fundamentalists dictated the political agenda, the working class had been consolidating itself in the cause of socialism with firm faith in what the Communist Manifesto had stated 150 years ago, he said.

The special session to commemorate the 150th year of the Communist Manifesto was addressed by, among others, representatives of the Communist Party of Vietnam, the Communist Refoundation of Italy, the Workers' Party of North Korea, the Communist Party of Greece, the Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist-Leninist), the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist), the Workers' Party of Bangladesh, the Portuguese Communist Party, the Communist Party of Sri Lanka, the Progressive Party of the Working People of Cyprus and the Lao People's Revolutionary Party.

A number of seminars were organised during the congress on various themes, such as Imperalism and Mass Media, Globalisation and its Impact on the Third World, the Nuclear Blasts and their Political Impact, Tradition of Indian Unity and Problems of Religious Fundamentalism and the Role of the Working Class, and the Fall of British Raj in India. Among the participants in these seminars were N.Ram, Malini Bhatta-charya, Amiya Bagchi, Prabhat Patnaik, Ashok Mitra, Biplab Dasgupta, Barun Dey, Gautam Chattopadhaya, Ashim Dasgupta, V.K. Ramachandran and Jayanta Basu.

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