HYDERABAD, India – At a movie theater turned convention hall, the Communist Party of India – (Marxist) [CPI(M)] held its 17th Congress here, March 19-24. The hall was adorned with banners quoting from Marx, Engels, Lenin and Che Guevara. Outside life-size portraits of CPI(M) leaders welcomed the 750 delegates and guests. The CPI(M) is one of the largest Communist Parties in the non-socialist world with 700,000 members.

The issues discussed by Congress delegates were contained in the main political resolution. After three days of discussion with many amendments the resolution was adopted unanimously, indicating a high level of unity in the Party.

The purpose of the resolution is to assess the current national and international situation and project a political direction for the Party during the next three years.

The CPI(M)’s resolution said, “The terrorist attacks in the USA on Sept. 11, 2001 and the consequent war launched by U.S. imperialism with some of its allies has far-reaching implications on international developments.”

Exposing the real agenda behind the Bush war, the CPI(M) said the Bush administration is “seeking to utilize the situation to further strengthen its hegemony – economically, politically, militarily – worldwide.”

Reflecting not only the situation in India but in many other developing industrial countries as well as developed industrial countries, the resolution said, “Right wing jingoistic forces in many countries are striving to strengthen their reactionary grip.”

Responding to the massacres in Gujarat sparked by Hindu extremists’ attempts to build a temple on the site of a destroyed mosque, the CPI(M), along with the All India Democratic Women’s Association, sent a delegation there to express solidarity and to see first-hand the situation. They released a report, which characterized the attacks that happened in the wake of the inhuman torching of the Sabarmathi Express as “state sponsored carnage against the Muslim community.”

The CPI(M) along with other left forces, including the Communist Party of India (CPI), are projecting a Left Front as an alternative to the right-wing extremist BJP-led government. The Left Front will include all democratic and secular forces that will fight for the national unity and sovereignty of India. The CPI(M) ruled out any formal alliance with the Congress Party but did call it a “secular force.”

The CPI(M) saluted the memory of hundreds of their comrades killed by police, landlord and right-wing terror in the last three and a half years. The Congress also paid homage to the memories of the CPI(M), CPI and fraternal partly leaders, including Gus Hall, the late chairman of the Communist Party USA.

There were 25 international delegates from 18 countries, including China, Cuba, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Viet Nam. The CPI(M) is a strong force in the struggle for the third world’s rights against imperialist globalization. Combining Indian culture with revolutionary internationalism on the opening day the international delegates were welcomed by CPI(M) women comrades volunteering at the Congress. Dressed in red Sarees the comrades chanted welcome to the fraternal delegates.

The Congress passed special resolutions including solidarity with the people of Palestine and calling on the Indian government to give assistance to the Palestinians and condemn Israel’s barbarity. Delegates from the Communist Party of Israel and the PLO received the resolution.

Other resolutions were on the rights of women urging all delegates to initiate and conduct struggles “for social reform in policies and practices degrading to women.”

The Congress also adopted a resolution against privatization of the public sector. They welcomed the Central Trade Union’s and public sector union’s decision to conduct a countywide strike against privatization, April 16. At least 20 million workers will strike that day, trade union leaders said.

The author can be reached at talbano@pww.org

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