Report on the first All India Conference of Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF)
The historic first conference of the Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF) was held on 22 and 23 April 2012 in the Sundarayya Vignana Bhavan in Hyderabad. The conference was inaugurated with the hoisting of the RDF flag by Goru Madhava Rao, the veteran fighter of the Srikakulam armed peoples’ uprising, the founding president of All India Peoples’ Resistance Forum (AIPRF) and an untiring revolutionary who recently passed away on 18 July 2012. Slogans hailing ongoing revolutionary movement and condemning the Indian state’s repressive class violence in the form of Operation Green Hunt, Operation Haka and Operation Vijay were raised. The martyr’s memorial was unveiled by Mallamma, the mother of the martyred revolutionary leader G. Shankar, also known as Sheshanna and Shamsher, state committee member of the North Telangana Special Zonal Committee (NTSZC) of the CPI(Maoist). Resistance songs were performed by members of Jharkhand Abhen of Jharkhand and revolutionary cultural activists of Revolutionary Writers’ Association (Virasam) of AP and Revolutionary Cultural Front of Delhi.
In the inaugural session, B. S. Raju, the Secretary of the Reception Committee of the Conference welcomed the delegates and participants, and declared that the RDF stands resolutely in favour of a democratic and separate Telangana state. M T Khan, chairperson of the Reception Committee, condemned the Chhattisgarh government for preventing the 34-member team of delegates from that state coming to attend the conference.
Professor Jagmohan, noted democratic rights activist and the nephew of shaheed Bhagat Singh, inaugurated the 40th issue of Samkaleen Jan Pratirodh, the magazine of RDF, dedicating it to the people of India and the Indian revolutionary struggle. Pankaj Dutt, the renowned people’s intellectual and academic presented the Keynote address on economic crisis and possibility of revolutionary upsurge in the country. He analysed the confluence of imperialism and feudalism in a semi-feudal and semi-colonial reality like India, which then generates what is usually understood as ‘growth’ and ‘development’ which is so disastrous for the vast masses of the country. He noted that it is the poor and landless peasantry – so far denied the power to exercise their labour creatively – who holds the key to the change of property relations and thereby turn the present world economic crisis into a revolutionary upsurge for a complete social transformation.
Arun Ferraira, who was just released after years of incarceration in Nagpur jail for allegedly being a Maoist, unveiled the collected writings of Comrade Anuradha Ghandy titled Scripting the Change. In his short speech Arun noted that in her life as revolutionary, Anuradha has significantly contributed to our understanding of the Dalit question and the womens’ question in the context of semi-feudal semi-colonial India. He dedicated this book to all the martyrs who have given their lives to the cause of the Indian revolution.
One of the main speakers of the conference, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, the Chairperson of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference, Jammu and Kashmir, was welcomed by G N Saibaba, the Deputy Secretary of RDF. Saibaba stated that Kashmir has a continuous liberation struggle of 40 years, and RDF not only supports it but is also a part of it. RDF plays the role of bringing together and uniting all the fighting movements of the subcontinent, including the revolutionary struggle, national liberation movements of Kashmir, Nagalim, Assam, Manipur etc., separate statehood demands of Telangana, Gorkhaland and others, and mass struggles of Dalits, Adivasis, workers, peasants and women.
Syed Ali Shah Geelani in his speech, addressed the audience as his own brothers and sisters, and said that he respects the dedication and commitment of the revolutionaries carrying forward the Indian revolutionary movement. He complimented RDF for raising the voice against the Indian state, against oppression, exploitation and injustice. The highly respected Kashmiri leader said that the people of his nation have been fighting for inquilab (revolution) – an inquilab with the fundamentals of justice, moral values and freedom. A Bhumaiah of the Telangana Praja Front (TPF) said in his speech that Hyderabad, where this conference is taking place, is a part of Telangana. RDF has already recognised Hyderabad as a part of Telangana. For recognition from the Indian government the Telangana struggle will have to be intensified. He thanked RDF for taking the cause of separate Telangana to various parts of the country and mobilising public opinion in its favour in the subcontinent.
Varavara Rao, revolutionary poet and Virasam member, told the audience that on Lenin’s birthday we are having the historic RDF conference. He stated that huge mass movements need to be created and political work among the people has to be intensified for transformative politics to take advantage of the crisis in imperialism and its agents, the Indian ruling classes. He appealed to everyone in RDF to strengthen this struggle.
Shoma Sen of Committee against Violence on Women (CAVOW) said that we have to understand the essence of the Maoist slogan ‘women hold up half the sky’. To solve the problems women in our country, as well as in other countries, the struggle for New Democratic Revolution is the only way forward. To come out of the house and to participate in these struggles is confronting the problem itself – is the only path. She noted that revolution cannot happen without women and women too want revolution. This is the main point on which we work for.
Professor Anand Teltumbde, noted civil rights activist, emphasised the need for the Dalit and revolutionary movement to come together to annihilate caste and to complete the democratic revolution in the country. He was critical of both the parliamentary ‘Left’ like CPI and CPI(M) as well as identity-based parliamentary Dalit political formations, and said that there is a need to carry forward the class struggle with the participation of Dalits and other oppressed masses. He said that Dr. Ambedkar too believed in class-based politics, and therefore the need of the hour therefore is to reinvent Dalit militancy as well as revolutionary resurgence under Maoist leadership.
G Kalyana Rao, the noted revolutionary Telugu author, released a compact disk of Jana Natya Mandali songs on the martyrs of the Maoist party. Kalyana Rao stated that revolutionary culture is the expression of the oppressed, and this culture articulates the blood and sweat of the wretched of the earth, presented in the form of songs, dance, plays and other popular forms, and thereby carry forward the message of class struggle.
Many speakers from different parts of the country including Lenin Kumar, editor of Odiya cultural magazine Nisan, Jharkhand’s Sharmila of Nari Mukti Sangh, and others addressed the delegates of the conference on its first day. Sharmila noted the role of revolutionary culture as an integral and organic part of the lives of the Adivasis, which has traditionally upheld the principles of collective life and production. It is this voice of revolutionary culture and resistance that the fascist Indian states are trying to crush, by perpetrating violence and class hatred. Fraternal organisations and peoples’ movements sent their solidarity messages to the RDF Conference. Atom of National Socialist Council of Nagalim (NSCN) of Nagalim sent the good wishes and political solidarity from the national liberation struggle of the Naga people. Along with speeches and messages, cultural troops from Jharkhand, Delhi, Telangana and Punjab performed revolutionary songs and dance on the first day of the conference.
On the second day of the Conference, Rajkishore, the secretary of RDF presented his report, in which he outlined the seven years of political struggles and programmes taken up by the organisation all across the country – and particularly in the 13 states where its units have been formed. The secretary’s report was passed by voice vote after a few suggested amendments.
M N Ravunni of Porattam, Kerala in his fraternal speech said that people’s revolutionary struggle in India raises hope for toiling masses throughout the world for radical social transformation. The imperialist attempts to plunder all mineral riches with the aid of Indian ruling classes have led to a new polarization in the society. He noted that the unity of fighting forces has to be urgently fulfilled, and this is the demand of the situation. P. A. Sebastain of Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights, Mumbai, noted in his address the devastating impact of Liberalization, Privatsiation and Globaliasation on the working people of the country. In this context the oppressed people are drawn into the revolutionary movement to fight against this injustice. Professor Anand Teltumbde of IIT Kharagpur highlighted the havoc caused by US imperialism to the lives of peoples, nations and countries across the world, and it is this imperialist bourgeoisie that the Indian rulers are trying to emulate. He said that the shamelessness of the corrupt and anti-people nature of the farce called democracy in our country has crossed all limits. So Muslims become ‘terrorists’ while Dalit and Adivasis become ‘Maoists’ for the Indian state. He appealed to fight against this process.
Professor G Haragopal of the Hyderabad Central University condemned Hyderabad police’s refusal to permit the RDF rally which was to be taken out at the end of the conference. He said that the story however does not end with this violation of our democratic right, but the story in fact begins here, which is our resistance to such authoritarian acts by the government. In his speech Professor Jagmohan, stated that the people fighting against imperialist exploitation are usually framed as Maoists. Today the security forces are being deployed to snatch the rights of people. The people who are fighting it are declared seditious. We must understand how the war on the people is continuing, and follow Bhagat Singh who said that our war is against imperialism and all its apologists.
G Kalyana Rao, the revolutionary author, declared in his address that the Maoist party has today emerged as the largest and most acceptable peoples’ party in the whole country, which is a matter of pride and happiness for all democrats and patriots. This has been achieved through the martyrdom of thousands of fallen peoples’ heroes and by fighting the ruthless violation and criminalisation by the ruling elites. Changing governments from NDA to UPA or from CPI(M) to TMC etc., will not end the suffering and backward condition of the people will not end. People must reject all parliamentary parties and move towards a total annihilation of the present exploitative system, because revolution is a democratic right.
Several books were released during the conference proceedings today, including a Hindi translation of the Chinese novel Hurricane which was released by Varavara Rao. A book on the history of the Andhra Pradesh Radical Students’ Union (APRSU) was released by Prof. Seshaiah. Prof. Haragopal released the Telugu translation of Jan Myrdal’s book Red Star over India as well as Jan Myrdal’s CD on revolutionary Telugu songs of the 1970s recorded in Cherabandaraju and Godavari’s voices. CSR Prasad of Revolutionary Writers Association released two volume book titled Jagtiyal to Jangal Mahal, the saga of revolutionary movement from 1980-85. Varavara Rao released a book by Pani of Virasam on alternative revolutionary Janatana Sarkar in Dandakaranya. Ratnamala released a CD by Lingu on separate Telangana and democratic Telangana movement. A book titled The Flames of Narayanpatna was released by Ghanti Prasad. Lenin Kumar released a Hindi collection of short stories titled Prasenbabu Maovadi Nehin Hai edited by Anjani Kumar. Another book on Narayanpatna movement by B D Damayanti in Telugu, one book commemorating Patel Sudhakar and another with his selected writings, a volume of Kishenji’s poetry anthology were also released in the conference. A documentary film on the life of Kishenji was released and screened at the conference.
Several important resolutions were passed by the first conference of RDF today. These included a resolution condemning Operation Green Hunt and Indian state’s war on people, against forced displacement of people by the government and private corporations in the name of ‘development’, resolution demanding the unconditional release of all political prisoners, resolution in solidarity with the national liberation struggles of Kashmir, Nagalim, Manipur, Assam and other oppressed nationalities, resolution condemning imperialist aggression against Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, North Korea and other sovereign countries, condemning the joint military exercise between India and US as well as the stationing of US special forces in India, resolution demanding the creation of separate Telangana state, resolution supporting the peoples’ struggle of Narayanpatna, and many other resolutions.
The first RDF conference unequivocally condemned the Chhattisgarh government for preventing the 34-member team of delegates from that state coming to attend the conference, and demanded their immediate release. It also condemned the framing of false charges by the Chhattisgarh police on RDF office bearers in this connection. In addition, RDF also condemns the Andhra Pradesh government for cancelling the permission to the RDF mass rally scheduled for 23 April 2012. The conference also criticised the rejection by the Hyderabad High Court of the appeal filed by the reception committee challenging the cancellation of the permission for the rally.
A new All-India Executive Committee was elected by the conference consisting of eighteen executive members from 13 states. The members are: R C Prasad (Bihar), Rajkishore (Delhi), G N Saibaba (Delhi), Manas (West Bengal), Jeevan Chandra (Uttarakhand), Dandapani Mohanty (Odisha), Uttpal (Jharkhand), Balwant Makku (Punjab), Ajayan (Kerala), Ajay (Haryana), Srinivas (Seemandhra), Jeetan Marandi (Jharkhand, presently in jail), Raja Sarkhel (West Bengal, presently in jail), Varavara Rao (Telangana), Chandrakala (Uttarakhand), Ganti Prasadam (North Andhra) and Deobolina (West Bengal, in jail). The conference also elected new office-bearers of RDF from among the Executive Committee. Varavara Rao was elected as the President, Ganti Prasadam as the Vice President, Rajkishore as the General Secretary, G N Saibaba and Jiten Marandi as Joint Secretaries and Ajay as treasurer. One post of joint secretary was remained vacant, which is to be filled in by cooption in the first meeting of the EC after the Conference.
Concluding the two-day conference, a public meeting was held which was presided over by the newly elected RDF President Varavara Rao. Bojja Tharakam, senior counsel and President, Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) AP Chapter, Dr. B D Sharma and Govindan Kutty, editor of People’s March were the main speakers.
The first conference of RDF was successfully concluded in spite of the several restrictions and obstacles put forward by the state and other circumstantial constraints. The active participation of the delegates, fraternal delegates, invitees and volunteers from all across the subcontinent as well as an enthusiastic audience cutting across all walks of life made the conference a historic event. The conference concluded with a resolve to carry forward its stated goals of mobilising the vast sections of the people for new democratic revolution in the times to come.