There is a very famous ‘sher’ or couplet. ‘Bahut shor sunte the pehlu mein dil ka, Jo cheera to ik katra-e-khoon na nikla!’ (Heard so much noise made by the heart in a side of my chest, When it was cut, not even one drop of blood was found!’) A similar evocative atmosphere was created when on 30 October at Delhi’s Talkatora Maidan a sammelan (conference) of 14 political parties was held in protest against communalism. It was repeated again and again in the sammelan that there are 17 political parties and it was announced right there that 14 political parties were included in it. There was a difference of 3 political parties and that irony/contradiction too coming from the mouths of the organisers could not explain till the end whether there were 14 parties in this sammelan or there were 17 parties.
The main issue of the sammelan was communalism. Everybody present at the sammelan took the ‘sankalp’ (resolution) to oppose communalism, not nobody enunciated what kind of form or nature communalism had today. At the sammelan, the Chief Minister of Bihar Nitish Kumar used a word – ‘fascism’. There is a difference between fascism and communalism. But nobody told the people present there the difference between communalism and fascism, their sense or meaning.
The question also arose that after all, if communalism was to be opposed, how it could be done. Nobody presented their view or thinking on it at the sammelan. Can communalism be opposed only through elections or can communalism be opposed through some other medium too? The great learned leaders who were present there did not say even a word about it. The most important thing, apart from left-wing leaders, nobody mentioned the name of Narendra Modi. When communalism and fascism are being talked about, then who is their symbol, that should also be clear. In mutual dialogue amongst each other, all these leaders take the name of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Narendra Modi, but nobody from the dias took anyone’s name. Mulayam Singh Yadav even said that when nobody is taking a name, why should I. There was this expectation from Mulayam Singhji that he will not make ‘jalebis’, i.e. churn out syrupy stuff, and will directly take the names of the forces and leaders responsible for communalism, but he too shunned doing so and turned away.
From Nitish Kumar the people wanted to hear an answer to the speeches of Narendra Modi, but beyond a light reproach, Nitish Kumar did not give an answer to Narendra Modi. D. P. Tripathi, who is an NCP MP and General Secretary, clearly said that we oppose communalism, even though we may be in the Government, but we will not be a part of any Front. It is obvious that in Maharashtra they are fighting the elections along with the Congress, so how can they include themselves in any Front.
In fact, communalism is not an absolute word but a relative word. Communalism is not abstract, it is tangible. It is necessary to define communalism. But to only talk about communalism and not to discuss what impact it is having is weakening the fight against communalism. What the country can suffer due to communalism and how communalist forces can be controlled was not talked about at the sammelan.
Perhaps all the leaders who had come to the sammelan to give speeches kept thinking that the way they think, the people too think that way, and it is these misconceptions of leaders which have take them far away from the public. Babulal Marandi’s speech was not quoted anywhere in the newspapers, but Babulal Marandi said something very immense. He said that we have nothing to do with communalism. We have poverty, hunger, unemployment. If any strategy can be evolved against these, then it should be welcomed. Can simply debating or arguing on communalism rid us of these difficulties? We believe that Babulal Marandi is correct to some extent, but when Babulal Marandi stood up to speak, there were just 250-300 people, because people opposed to communalism had not come there, but people from parties had come.
The supporters of Mulayam Singh were sitting wearing caps, from which it could be known that Samajwadi party supporters were present in large numbers or it could be said were present in the largest number. That is why when after Shri Deve Gowda, there was talk of inviting another representative to give a speech, Mulayam Singh’s supporters began shouting that first Mulayam Singhji should be asked to give a speech. Mulayam Singh gave a speech. It was a good speech. But that speech too could not create any enthusiasm in the minds of the people. In fact, the reality is that nobody’s speech was able to evoke any enthusiasm amongst the workers present there.
Yes, in between, the supporters of leaders shouted slogans in the name of their leaders and certainly generated verve and enthusiasm. Nitish KumarZindabad, Sharad Yadav-KC Tyagi Zindabad, Mulayam Singh Yadav Zindabad –such slogans were being raised there. The workers of the Leftist parties were the most stable. Their number too was less, but they remained disciplined.
No result from this sammelan came before the country. Actually, in the minds of people there was a desire that all the parties which are of the non-Congress and non-BJP ideology, they will at least give an indication of some kind of coordination between themselves to fight elections together, so that if only in name, somebody could at least be seen uniting against communalism. But right at the outset, Nitish Kumar, by saying that as of now there is no unity which is possible and that efforts should be made towards securing that unity which is possible, conveyed that now there was no one who would come and say that those present here should try and form one morcha (front).
When the remaining leaders, who also included Left leaders, said that from this sammelan no hope should be kept for the formation of a Front, then the question arises, why was this sammelan called to protest against communalism? It would have been good if in protest against communalism, the proposal or resolution in the sammelan could have been given to newspapers after getting it signed from the parties without going in for all the paraphernalia of a sammelan. This proposal too is not one which can give any direction to the people.
A question is persistently bubbling in the mind that why after all did this sammelan take place? It seems that this sammelan too place without any homework, without any firm direction, so that a message goes out to the country that that our parties too have an entity and are existent. From Nitish Kumar the people wanted to hear an answer to the speeches of Narendra Modi, but beyond a light reproach, Nitish Kumar did not give an answer to Narendra Modi. D. P. Tripathi was there who is an NCP MP and General Secretary, who clearly said that we oppose communalism, even though we may be in the Government, but we will not be a part of any Front. It is obvious that in Maharashtra they are fighting the elections along with the Congress, so how can they include themselves in any Front here.
Now when elections are on our heads, such sammelans do not have any meaning. Either there should have been talks with each other earlier. A programme could have been decided upon, the people who believed in this programme could at least have reiterated the ‘sankalp’ (resolution) that in the next in one month, we will prepare some structure or the other, but there was no talk about this. And there was no talk because nobody wanted to talk. If Mulayam Singhji had taken the initiative in this, some picture of the Third Front could certainly have formed, but Mulayam Singh has not yet been able to decide whether to fight the next Lok Sabha elections with the Congress or alone.
The Congress is repeatedly stating that it will not form an agreement with anyone, but there are people who are in the Congress context sending ‘feelers’. Amongst those sending such ‘feelers’ are Nitish Kumar and Mulayam Singh Yadav as well. The Left Parties are not opposing the Congress because its seems to them that in the elections of 2014, if they have to be with the Congress again, then such a situation may cause them some trouble. However, this sammelan exercise was totally useless. It had no meaning. I could not even understand the purpose of this exercise. Those people who oppose communalism will have to decide whether they oppose it in a tangible manner or an abstract manner. This sammelan was supposed to be about tangible opposition. What should be the method of tangible opposition, how should communalism be opposed, why it should be opposed and in the Lok Sabha what should be its real, practical form, when elections come then forces opposing anti-communalism Forces should stand before each other or walk together hand in hand against communalism – these questions were standing with mouth agape even before the 30 October sammelan and are standing with mouth agape even today.