Jaipur: On behalf of Popular Front of India, I convey best wishes and thanks to thousands of sisters and brothers who have gathered here from different parts of Rajasthan. In the Name of Allah, the Almighty, the Most Merciful, I declare open this historic event in this historic city of Jaipur.
This conference of Popular Front of India is timely and significant because of the message it carries. The message is contained in the very name of the event – National Unity Conference. Of course, this conference is organised by the Rajasthan state committee of Popular Front. But I am sure, unlike many previous conferences this public ground have witnessed, our programme is conducted not as a show of organisational strength, but to emphasise the need of unity among the people of this country. However, I would like to point out that this mega programme coincides with a national campaign meant for introducing the objectives and activities of Popular Front. Various programmes, big and small, were held throughout the length and breadth of India. This conference happens to mark the conclusion of the one-month long campaign that reached million of people.
You know that national unity is our theme. In fact, it is a national objective. Sixty five years have passed since our forefathers laid the foundations of our nation – a sovereign, secular, socialist, democratic republic. It is great that we have not allowed any foreign forces to disturb the territorial integrity of India. But when we come to ourselves, we Indians, the inhabitants of this land, citizens of this nation, there are tendencies that pose threats to national unity. And in recent times they are on the increase. All four foundation stone of our national edifice – sovereignty, socialism, secularism and democracy – are facing threats more than by foreign hands, by our own hands. These are the four values that unify our nation through its people. Hence it becomes a national responsibility, or responsibility of each citizen to this nation, to identify not only the tendencies that endanger sovereignty, socialism, secularism and democracy, but also those forces that tries to destroy these foundations of our nation.
In principle democracy is the rule by the people. Democracy is also adequate representation to all classes in government. But two basic requirements of democracy are violated in India – Equal Representation and Equal Justice. During these decades, our political system has deeply divided our people into two classes – the ruling class comprising political families, business houses and upper castes. They have in their hands, power as well as wealth. We find another class at the receiving end being oppressed and marginalised. They are the majority constituted by the poor, village and slum dwellers, farmers, labourers. And most of them belong to Tribals, Dalits and Backward Minorities, especially Muslims. All main stream parties, no matter where they claim to stand, left, centre or right, serve the interests of the ruling class and exploit the common masses and down trodden classes. Socialism which was the mantra of economic justice is now abandoned even as a slogan and all parties and governments are completing interests of corporate houses, national and multi-nationals.
You the downtrodden people cannot escape from atrocities, cannot enjoy equal justice from administration, police and even judiciary, unless until your representatives are in power. That is why we are telling that there must be reservation not only in education and employment, but also in assembly, parliament and cabinet to bring representation of each caste and community in proportion to their population. But no government, no political party is willing to fulfill this democratic responsibility. The marginalised and neglected people who have gathered here in large numbers are hereby giving a clear warning to all political masters. Muslims and Dalits, at least in Rajasthan are determined to stop this exploitation and they are getting ready to fight for their democratic rights, to attain their share of power and wealth.
Mr. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister, contributed a beautiful term to our political vocabulary – unity in diversity. You cannot bring unity in any nation, by forcing all citizens and classes to come under one religion, one language and one culture. It will bring only hatred, chaos, disunity and disintegration. Secularism means no favour, no discrimination on the basis of religion. Democracy cannot be built on the graveyard of secularism. But we see around us certain dark forces who misuse democratic institutions to finish whatever secular space remaining in India. Their claim is that they are the only nationalists. They spread the venom of hatred, portraying not only religious minorities, but all those who disagree with them not only as enemies of this nation, even as foreign agents. Their claim is that they are protecting Hindus. But the fact is that their acts are against values of the religion Hinduism. On the contrary they are proponents of Hindutva, a reactionary political ideology built on cast and communal hatred. This politics of hate is harmful to all Indian, Muslims, Hindus and other religious communities. I hope this Conference will be instrumental in bringing together all religious communities hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder to build mutual understanding and complete communal harmony in your state.
Our concern for secularism becomes more serious because different democratic institutions like administration, police and more evidently different security and intelligent agencies are no not free from communal bias against minorities. No doubt, for BJP, it is their policy, declared or undeclared. But Muslims get disappointed when they experience that Congress governments at the Centre and also here in Rajasthan fail to deliver the constitutional responsibility to end religious discrimination. On behalf of all those who have assembled here, I call upon Congress and other parties that are opposed to BJP, to cleanse the administration, police and intelligence from anti-Dalit Castiest elements and anti-Muslim Communal elements.
The menace of corruption in India is as old as our democracy. But in recent years plundering of public money has crossed all limits in crores over crores. Both Congress and BJP are shamelessly naked in this bath room. Those leaders who fight before the public are business partners and mutual promoters as we have seen in recent scams. Hence any attempt, any movement that expose and fight economic corruption deserve our support. But all anti-corruption movements, by non-political Anna Hazare or political Aravind Kejriwal, have failed to address corruption of human mind and human society, which is communalism. Communal corruption has proved to be more harmful than economic corruption. The victims of communalism, more particularly Muslims, can wholeheartedly become part of the newly emerging anti-corruption movements, only at a time when it becomes fight against communalism and corruption together.
I have told that this conference marks the conclusion of our organisational campaign. We are reaching out to people with self introduction, due the situation created by rightist communal forces and some sections in government. Their aim is to black out the real face of Popular Front and to present us in bad light. Hence I think it is necessary to add a few words.
Popular Front of India is a neo-social movement working for empowerment of the marginalised sections, especially Muslims. We had been working for their educational, economic, political and social uplift as state organisations in some parts of South India for nearly two decades. Popular Front has started functioning as a national organisation since 2006 and now it has committees in many states such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Manipur and Delhi.
The organisation is also involved in community development activities. For instance during the last school admission period alone it has distributed around one lakh school kits worth Rs. 20 million in different states in our ‘School Chalo’ project.
Popular Front has no track record of preaching terror or enmity towards other communities. None of the members of Popular Front has been so far linked to any terrorist incidents that rocked the nation in recent times. It has no connection with any foreign outfits, extremist or otherwise. None of our members are presently lodged in any jail in India as a convicted prisoner.
We do support or criticize government policies and actions based on the merit of the issue. Opposing the government is not opposing the nation. It is a national responsibility, not an anti-national act. Popular Front is critical of certain neo-liberal economic policies which we think imperil the interests of the common man. We are also deeply concerned about the human rights violations taking place at different corners of the country. We are engaged in democratic and legal fight against illegal detentions, for the release of innocents, against black laws like UAPA and for rehabilitation of riot victims. We are deeply worried about the growing influence of U. S. and Israel in the internal affairs of our nation because it is violation of the constitutional concept of sovereignty. At the same time, we are in the forefront in familiarising and taking the welfare schemes of government at grass root level.
By way of conclusion, I call upon all who are part of this movement to be to be vanguards of people’s rights and justice. Also I am requesting all brothers and sisters of Rajasthan irrespective of creed, caste and community to be with Popular Front in our mission of empowering people.