Indian Marxist Party Congress meets
The formal raising of the Red Flag, with the Party's hammer and sickle emblem, marked the opening in the historic central Indian city of Hyderabad of the 17th Congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist). Harkishan Singh Surjeet, the Party's revered General Secretary, raised the flag surrounded by several hundred Party members giving the clenched-fist salute and chanting, "Red salute the Red Flag". Seven hundred and fifty delegates, from all of Indian's 26 states, took part in the Congress, which ran from March 19-24. Almost 30 foreign guests attended from 16 Communist and Workers parties. The CPA was represented by Central Committee member, Rob Gowland. Other delegations came from North and South America, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. Only Africa was unrepresented. The Congress was held at a time of unprecedented communal violence in India which Surjeet likened to a pogrom. Delegates described how the murderous attacks on minorities were condoned (at least) by the extreme right-wing BJP-led central government. The Congress set the defeat of the BJP Government as the main task of the Party in the coming period. The Congress was told that unless the BJP, its fascist-like Hindu fundamentalist wing the RSS, and all other communalist forces were defeated, India's existence as a federal, secular and democratic state was under threat. The adverse effects of globalisation on India's economy, and the BJP Government's eager support for US imperialism — even while the US is seeking to establish bases in countries bordering India (Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan) — was the other main theme of the Congress. Privatisation, joblessness, cuts to government services, removal of subsidies and guaranteed purchases from farmers, have produced a crisis for urban and rural workers, farmers, small business people, etc. The CPI (M) Congress set the building of a left democratic alliance of all secular forces as the urgent task if the BJP and the communalist forces are to be defeated. The Congress rejected the idea that fascism is "on India's doorstep", pointing to the declining support for the BJP and its recent regional election defeats, but it recognised that the danger was very real. The draft Political Resolution, for which almost 5000 pre-Congress amendments were received, was, after amendment, adopted unanimously. The Congress also adopted resolutions of solidarity with the people of Palestine and on the need for the whole of the Party — men as well as women — to fight against all forms of discrimination and abuse of women.