National Convention of Socialist Party
(17-18 May 2013 at Trivandrum, Kerala)
The biennial national convention of the Socialist Party was held at Trivandrum, Kerala, on 17-18 May 2013. 500 delegates from 20 states participated in the convention. Bhai Vaidya, national president, hoisted the party flag at Mrinal Gore Nagar, the venue for the convention, 17 May morning, followed by the National Anthem.
Comrade S. Rajshekhakhran Nayar, chairman, reception committee, welcomed the delegates, special guests and press persons. Justice Rajindar Sachar inaugurated the convention and Bhai Vaidya presided over the inaugural session. In his inaugural speech Justice Sachar congratulated the party cadres for holding the convention in Kerala where the first Socialist Party government was formed in 1954 with Thanu Pillai as its chief minister. He reminded the audience about the incident of police firing on peaceful protesters in which 8 people were killed. Dr. Lohia had asked for the resignation of his own party’s government saying that police firing on peaceful protesters would not be allowed in democratic and free India. There was a split in the party on that issue but Lohia did not change his stand. Justice Sachar, drawing the contrast, cautioned the gathering that the present day rulers are bent upon converting the country into a police state. He further stated that the UPA government is pursuing neo-liberal policies, crushing the protests of vulnerable sections. The communal forces are becoming stronger. In such a grave situation Socialist Party should emerge as an alternative to meet this serious challenge at the national level. We should come out to fight these anti-constitutional and anti-democratic policies of the ruling establishment.
He asked the cadres to establish a connect with the downtrodden masses in order to seek their positive response and expressed faith in the present leadership of the party saying that they are competent enough to take and fulfill the responsibility. Justice Sachar expressed hope that some representatives of the party would be able to reach the Parliament in the next general elections. He emphasized that it is a must in order to undo the damage done to the Constitution and the parliamentary system by neo-liberal forces.
Pannalal Surana, chairman, parliamentary board, announced that the party will field candidates in all states in the coming general elections. However, he stressed upon the need to work collectively and consistently to strengthen the party organization. He emphasized that study camps should be held on regular basis for the ideological training of the cadres.
Veteran socialist leader and former MP P. Vishwambharan, who attended the inaugural session as a special guest reminded the audience that the last national convention of the Socialist Party was held in Calicut 37 years ago. He happened to be the president of the Kerala Socialist Party during those days. He stated that it was an occasion of great happiness for him that the national convention of the Socialist Party was taking place again in Kerala on such a large scale to which he is a witness. He declared that he was with the Socialist Party (India); although there are several outfits and leaders who claim to be socialists, but they are not in the true sense and spirit. SPI is the only party which is committed to take the socialist legacy ahead. Based on a sound socialist foundation and completely opposed to neo-liberalism, Socialist Party can build India of the dreams of JP and Lohia.
Former MLA, M.K. Premnath, Kerala Janata Dal (Secular) vice president Prof. Ramchandra Kurup, and senior leader of Samata Kranti Dal, Prashant Mishra, while addressing the inaugural session, expressed their best wishes for a strong Socialist Party. Speaking on the occasion, Prof. B. Vivekanandan, said that the present regime is promoting inequality in a systematic manner. This should be checked and replaced by a socialistic order. Only the Socialist Party can do this. N.K. Gangadharan advocated unity among socialists who are opposed to corporate capitalism.
Messages were received from several intellectuals, writers, artists, advocates, journalists and grass root activists for the success of the convention. These include Justice Krishna Aiyar, Prof. Anil Sadgopal, Prof. Kamal Nayan Kabra, PUCL president Prof. Prabhakar Sinha, PUCL vice president Ravi Kiran Jain, Gandhi Peace Foundation Secreatary Surendra Kumar, theatre director Ramgopal Bajaj, ‘Janata’ weekly editor GG Parikh, socialist comrades Dr. Sunilam, Rakesh Kumar and Sanjiv Sane, UK’s Green Party leader Janet Alty, Socialist Party (Lohia) general secretary Sandeep Marodia, HMS leader comrade Harbhajan Singh Sidhu. Dr. Prem Singh read the message sent by Justice Aiyar.
In his presidential remarks Bhai Vaidya said that equality (samata) is the foundation of socialism. But equality has become casualty during this neo-liberal era. We have to fight it collectively and decisively. Capitalism and Communism both have failed in the first decade of the 21st century. That is why the Socialist Party has been revived in Hyderabad two years ago. This party is the need of the hour. From 1995 onwards, around 3 lakhs farmers have committed suicide. Who is responsible for their death? It has become a crime to ask such simple questions. The ruling and opposition parties both are serving capitalism under the dictate of WB, IMF, WTO and corporate houses. There are 60 percent farmers in India. How can the western model of capitalist development be successful in India? Why do the mainstream political parties not confront such basic questions? Marxist parties too do not have a favourable attitude towards tribals and farmers. They are for the capitalist mode (technology) of production. The Socialist Party advocates a socialist model of development based on the thoughts of Gandhi, Lohia and JP. This model, based on decentralisation and small machine, will be able to provide job to all job seekers. Bhai Vaidya said that the Socialist Party has raised several genuine demands like full employment, free, equal and quality education to all, preference to agro-based industries, participatory democracy and caste annihilation. He congratulated the Kerala unit for organizing the convention in an effective and fine manner facing the odds posed by the state government.
Dr. Prem Singh conducted the proceedings of the inaugural session. He stated that the task of forming party units in remaining states will be completed in the next 6 months. He congratulated the Kerala Socialist Party comrades for constituting a strong unit in the state and expressed hope for the same in other states. Comrade E.V. Philip gave the vote of thanks.
Meeting of the national council was held in the afternoon session. The party’s national treasurer Jayanti Panchal placed the party accounts before the national council for its approval. The national council approved the accounts. Two constitutional amendments passed by the national executive committee were also accepted in the national council. As per the first amendment, active members of the party will pay 1%, in place of 5%, of their income or Rs. one thousand - which ever is more - in the party fund. As per the second amendment, there will be 4 national general secretaries in place of the existing 3.
An elaborate resolution related to politics, economic policy, education policy, health policy, foreign policy, internal security policy, environment policy etc. was place by Dr. Abhjit Vaidya and seconded by Onkar Singh. The resolution deliberated upon and adopted in the convention included the following main points : adoption of socialist model of development in place of capitalist model, free, equal and quality education to all from KG to PG, no to FDI and WTO, immediate removal AFSPA, rethinking relations with China. Bhupendra Pal placed a special resolution that in view of the increasing disparity in incomes, the seventh pay commission should not be formed for the next 5 years. The resolution was supported by Jayanti Panchal. Socialist Mahila Sabha’s resolution demanding Bharat Ratna for Savitri Bai Phule, the first women teacher of modern India, was also accepted by applauded voice. Dr. Prem Singh and Nurul Ameen conducted the proceedings of the session. Classical Kathakali dance performance was presented in the evening.
Sessions of Socialist Yuvjan Sabha (SYS) and Socialist Mahila Sabha (SMS) were held on 18 May with Dr. Abhijit Vaidya and Varsha Gupte, respectively, in chair. Progress reports were presented by Niranjan Mahto, national general secretary of SYS and Varsha Gupte, national president of SMS. State presidents/conveners of both the forums presented reports of their states. The resolutions were placed, discussed and adopted.
Elections for the national office bearers and national executive members for the year 2013-2015 were held in the national council. Election officer N.K. Gangadharan announced the names of the office bearers and executive members. Senior leader Balwant Singh Kheda from Punjab and prominent human right activist Mohammad Shoib from Lucknow were elected national vice presidents of the party. (The list of office bearers is attached). Comrade George Jacob introduced the party comrades who had worked very hard in organizing the convention and made it a big success. Kerala Socialist Party general secretary E.K. Sreeniwasan presented the vote of thanks at the end.
A meeting of the new national executive committee was held as the national convention concluded. Bhai Vaidya chaired the meeting. He congratulated the new team expressing his faith in its commitments and competence. It was decided that the next meeting of the national executive will be held in Delhi at Gandhi Peace Foundation on 11 August 2013 at 11 am.
A well-attended public meeting was held at the Gandhi Chowk of the town in the evening. Justice Rajindar Sachar and Bhai Vaidya addressed the gathering. A cultural program of Malayalam folk songs was performed by Nandan Pattu Team from Kottayam.
Dr. Prem Singh