• National Convention in Lucknow for Safe-Guarding the Constitution

    Newsclick Report

    May 17, 2017

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    A national convention for safe-guarding the Constitution for our rights and justice was held in Lucknowon 10th May, 2017. Many social and political activists from across the country were present. Here is a press release which was brought out after the convention.

    Press Release

    National Convention for Safe-guarding the Constitution for our Rights and Justice

    10th of May, 2017 was an important day for many reasons. Marking the 160th anniversary of the 1857 mutiny, it also happened to be Budhha-Purnima, the birthday of Budhha, who is considered a champion of human rights in ancient India. The national convention for safeguarding the constitution, a coming together of social movements across the country against what is an attack on constitutional rights and the travesty of justice sees plenty of symbolic value in it. The initiative is a collective response to numerous instances of abuse of power, and the fascist, right-wing policies of the BJP-led central and state governments. It was agreed that the victory of the BJP in the UP elections and the events that have followed require immediate notice and attention as well as a dialogue amongst progressive forces in the country.

    The convention saw the coming together of various people's movements, both pan-indian as well as regional grassroots initiatives, along with representatives from political parties. The first session was chaired by Rakesh, renowned theatre artist at IPTA. Other speakers included noted social activists Teesta Setalvad, Harsh Mandar, Sanjay Garg, an activist from Saharanpur, Deepak Mallick (Varanasi), Ramkaran, a  student leader from Allahbad University, and Lal Bahadur Singh and Rooprekhaji from Sanjhi Duniya. The participation of youth in politics was also an important issue that was addressed. Young SP leader Richa Singh spoke at length about the single-minded attack on public run higher institutions in the country, such as DU, JNU and HCU, amongst others. She also spoke about the new UGC guideline that cuts upto 85% of seats at Mphil and Phd levels. Ramkaran, a student leader and activist pursuing law at Allahabad University threw light on the systematic targeting of Dalit and marginalised students. The speakers in different ways, though unanimously, agreed on the unprecedented attack on the constitutional rights by the BJP and condemned it. The communally divisive agenda of the BJP, blatant saffronisation, autocratic, non-democratic methods of working, abuse of power, and anti-poor and pro corporate economic policies were among the issues discussed and condemned. In addition, the right-wing’s stoking of communal tensions, and its hypocrisy and u-turns along many lines since its victory in 2014 and more recently in 2017, were criticised. Last but not the least, the rise of cow vigilantism and the "depoliticisation" of the youth in the country was criticised. The need for political education at a mass level or re-education of the youth and the rural population on principles of constitutionalism, rule of law, and the historical learning experiences of the national movement was stressed by one and all.

    While the Prime Minister’s silence on most of the issues was questioned, activists also questioned and reflected on the silence of the people on issues such as demonetisation, land reforms, and train ticket price hikes, which has come at huge costs to the people in the way of health and employment opportunities. Notably, retired IAS officer and activist Harsh Mandar said that while one can fight against the anti-people discriminatory policies of the government, the silence of the people and fellow citizens against injustices such as mob attacks is harder to accept. The "India Exclusion Report" for the current year, published by Mr. Mandar's organisation on was released on 12th May. BJP's strategy of "social engineering'" was carefully scrutinised. It was compared to the divide and rule policy of the British. The speakers suggested that the BJP is clever to pitch Hindus against Muslims, which helps it elude deeper questions about inequality and wealth distribution.

    Members from the Congress, BSP, SP and CPI(M) were also present at the convention. Party representatives such as Shri Arvind of the Samajwadi Party, Surendra Rajput from Congress, Manoj Jha of the RJD, and Lal Bahadur Singh of the UP Jan Manch extended their support in creating a combined resistance against the BJP. They welcomed the effort of creating a common platform. The need and willingness to form a joint front against the politics of the BJP and its ideological parent the RSS, along more democratic and secular lines was emphasised by activists as well as party representatives. Mr. D.P Tripathi of the NCPS, P. Kashyap of the CPI(M), Ashish Mittal of the CPI(ML), Javed Raza of JDU, Manoj Jha from RJD and Asha Mishra of the CPI also addressed the gathering. The session was chaired by Shri Ramesh Dixit.

    Published here with the permission of Newsclick, and with minor edits.

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