On the 20th anniversary of the historic Ferozeshah Kotla Rally that called for fundamental change in the political system!

On 22nd February, 1993, the opening day of the budget session of Parliament 20 years ago, organisations of workers, women and human rights activists jointly staged a bold protest rally at Ferozeshah Kotla, condemning the criminal deeds of the principal parties in Parliament.  They appealed to all men and women of conscience to take joint action for bringing about a fund

On 22nd February, 1993, the opening day of the budget session of Parliament 20 years ago, organisations of workers, women and human rights activists jointly staged a bold protest rally at Ferozeshah Kotla, condemning the criminal deeds of the principal parties in Parliament.  They appealed to all men and women of conscience to take joint action for bringing about a fundamental change in the political system to empower the people.

Ferozshah Kotla Rally, 22 February 1993, Mazdoor Ekta CommitteeIt was a time when the capitalists and imperialists of the world had launched an unprecedented offensive against the working class and against all democratic rights, accompanied by the deafening propaganda that socialism has failed, that there is no alternative to capitalism and everyone better fend for oneself in a globalised market dominated by the monopolies. 

Taking advantage of the global situation, the monopoly capitalists in our country had decided to launch India on an imperialist course, under the banner of globalisation through liberalisation and privatisation.  The Congress Party-led minority government of Narasimha Rao and its technocrat Finance Minister Manmohan Singh unveiled this so-called economic reform program in 1991, attacking the livelihood and rights of the toiling majority to fulfil the imperialist aims of monopoly capitalists.  The decade of the nineties began with mayhem and chaos being created by rival parties of the monopoly bourgeoisie, polarising people on the basis of religion and caste, and between so-called communal and secular camps.  The two principal parties in Parliament collaborated in the destruction of Babri Masjid in December 1992.  Over the following several weeks, they incited communal hatred and engulfed the country in communal bloodbaths in numerous places. 

With the blood of thousands of innocent people on their hands, the leaders of Congress Party and BJP were gearing up for the budget session of Parliament, to further advance the anti-people big bourgeois agenda as if nothing untoward had happened and it was “business as usual”.  The Narasimha Rao government imposed a ban on all forms of street protests in February 1993, in the name of preventing the BJP from creating trouble, but in fact to prevent any kind of resistance to the liberalisation and privatisation program.  An atmosphere of high tension and police terror prevailed in the capital city.  In such conditions, the rally at Ferozeshah Kotla was like a bright ray of light piercing the dark clouds.

The First Congress of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, held in December 1990, had taken note of the major changes taking place on the world scale.  Resisting the pressure on communists to either openly abandon their goal or become underground terrorists, CGPI decided to work out afresh the tactics and methods of struggle for the proletarian revolution in this new period, in collaboration with the Marxist-Leninist parties of other countries. 

The First Congress of CGPI set the task of building the broadest possible political unity of the people against the economic offensive and against state terrorism and communal violence, irrespective of ideological differences.  It set the task of elaborating the most advanced theory and vision of democracy fit for the 21st century, contesting the assertion that “there is no alternative” to the existing system. 

Following the First Congress, all party organisations plunged into the work to implement its call to develop revolutionary theory in the course of building political unity against the offensive of the bourgeoisie.  This work led the Party to conclude that supreme power must not be vested in the hands of a few ‘representatives’.  It must be vested in the hands of the people, who should delegate only a part of that power to those they elect.  In other words, parties must not rule in the people’s name.  A modern political party must play the role of enabling the people to rule.  Only if this is achieved can the working class, in alliance with the peasants and progressive intelligentsia, set the agenda and ensure that the economy fulfils the claims of all working families in a planned way. 

It is in the interest of our Party to fight for the empowerment of the people because the liberation of the working class is tied up with the liberation of society from all forms of exploitation and oppression.  The capitalist class is dead opposed to people’s empowerment because its interest is diametrically opposed to the interests of the vast majority of people.

The Ferozeshah Kotla rally was a product of the untiring efforts of the Communist Ghadar Party to develop the theory and program for the empowerment of the people, and in turn further contributed to that work. 

Undeterred by the hordes of armed policemen who outnumbered them, the protestors boldly raised slogans demanding that the guilty parties be punished and not allowed to misgovern the country.  They took a solemn pledge to carry forward the cause of our martyrs and defeat those forces that are poisoning and destroying our society.  They submitted a written appeal to men and women of conscience in Parliament, signed by hundreds of concerned citizens, including former judges of the Supreme Court and High Court, professors and lecturers, journalists, communist party leaders, trade union leaders, leading members of women’s organisations, artists, poets and film personalities.  {The Pledge and the Appeal are being reproduced in this issue for the benefit of our readers – Ed.}

The past 20 years have further reinforced the necessity for a fundamental change in the political system.  The movement for people’s empowerment has grown in strength.  Its influence is spreading among all those who are opposed to the present course.

Today, the principal parties in Parliament are once again resorting to diabolical diversions and monstrous crimes to divert and divide the people, in order to push ahead with the anti-people and imperialist agenda of the bourgeoisie.  Times are calling on all women and men of conscience to rally around the program of Navnirman, of fundamental change in the political system, so that the workers, peasants, women and youth can become the masters and save our country from the disasters that the capitalist class has in store.

An appeal to men and women of conscience

An Initiative by Mazdoor Ekta Committee and Others

By way of introduction

This pamphlet is an appeal to all men and women of conscience, who have been horrified by the mayhem and violence unleashed by the major political parties of our country. It is addressed to all men and women who are deeply concerned about the direction being taken for the economic renewal of the country. !t is an appeal for action to all those who seek a lasting solution to the outstanding problems confronting India, in a direction favourable to her people.

This is the appeal that was submitted by Mazdoor Ekta Committee, Purogami Mahila Sanghatana, Saheli, Punjab Human Rights Organisation and other organisations and individuals on February 22, 1993, the opening day of the Budget session of parliament, to the men and women of conscience in Parliament. The pledge taken by those who participated in a Rally on that same day is also included in this pamphlet.

The initiative of February 22 and the appeal has won the support of many people from different walks of life in India and abroad. The events since February 22, including the tragic bomb blasts in Bombay and Calcutta which claimed so many precious lives, underline the most urgent need for affirmative action by the people themselves in order to put an end to the anarchy and violence that has been unleashed against them.

We are producing and widely disseminating this pamphlet in the conviction that a wide ranging discussion on the substantive issues raised in the appeal is necessary for finding solutions to the problems we face as a country and as a people. It is also our belief that this will ultimately lead to solutions which are not only in the interest of the people, but equally importantly, they will be solutions emerging from the people themselves.

We wish to emphasize that this is a non-partisan initiative, and we appeal to all the men and women of our country, irrespective of their political affiliation or faith to take this initiative forward and make their valuable contribution towards the empowerment of our people.

March 30, 1993 New Delhi

T.M. Nagarajan (President, MEC)

Prakash Rao

(Gen. Secretary, MEC)

The Appeal

We, the undersigned, note that this Budget session of the Lok Sabha is being convened at a critical moment in the history of India. The blood of thousands of innocent victims of organised violence has not yet dried on the streets of Bombay, Surat, Delhi and other places, while lakhs have fled their homes, and returned penniless and destitute to the far corners of the country. The people of India have been horrified and angered by these crimes in which the leaders and members of three political parties, the Congress(I), BJP and Shiv Sena, along with senior police and other officials, have been directly implicated.

We note with grave concern that these parties, far from owning responsibility for their crimes, continue to threaten more violence and terror. No action has been taken against those who have participated in this violence. They are seeking to impose their own agenda on the Indian people, in pursuit of their political ambitions. In Parliament the ruling party is trying to push through a series of economic reforms that hit at the very livelihood and security of vast masses of our people. At the same time, along with the BJP and Shiv Sena, it is trying to raise numerous issues to divert the attention of the people from these attacks and other serious problems facing our country.

We demand that the following measures be taken to prevent these parties from imposing their agenda and to protect the well-being and interests of the Indian people:

  1. The economic reforms programme and other measures that hit at the livelihood of our workers, peasants, tribal people, women and other sections of our people must not be passed in Parliament. No such measure or policy should be passed until they are discussed and debated amongst all sections of our people. The people should have the right to determine the policies and course of the economy which will protect their interests.
  2. Those guilty of organising and participating in the murders and in violence against the people, no matter how high an office they hold In the government, administration or security forces, should be arrested, tried and punished and their crimes should be made known to the entire people.
  3. Leaders and members of the Congress(l), BJP and Shiv Sena who organised and participated in violence against the people should be similarly tried and punished.
  4. The leaders of the Central government should be prosecuted for failing to protect, and actually assisting in the demolition of a cultural monument belonging to the entire Indian people.
  5. The leaders of the Shiv Sena, who have openly acknowledged that this party destroyed the Babri Masjid, and those of the BJP who have supported the demolition, should be similarly prosecuted.
  6. The Congress(I), BJP and Shiv Sena, having organised and participated in all these horrible crimes, have no right to participate in a democratic Parliament, which expresses the interest and will of the people. They have no right to function in a democratic polity. In particular, the Congress(l) has a consistent and long history of organising violence against the people, including the massacre of Sikhs in 1984. These parties, being parties which organise on the basis of violence and terror, should be deprived of the right to organise.
  7. The tragedies that have befallen our people since December 6, 1992, and many more instances earlier are the making of political parties who are in pursuit of power. This reflects a fundamental problem in the political process, whereby a political party which garners the highest number of seats in Parliament – and not even the majority of votes – is able to dictate all policies, organise any crime, and usurp the right of the people to govern themselves. The ruling party becomes the supreme authority, while the people are marginalised.
  8. No political party should be allowed to hold power. It is the people who should hold power and who should decide and administer their own affairs. This requires fundamental changes in the political system, from the system of elections and representation, to the administration and judiciary. Mechanisms have to be worked out whereby people can themselves exercise political power. The role of political parties in this new system has to be redefined.
  9. All organs and levels of the administration, judiciary and security forces should be accountable first and foremost to the people, and not to any political party or their superiors. The people should have the right to call to book any of their elected representatives as well as the state officials.
  10. The Constitution of India should be rewritten to define the inalienable rights and the duties of the citizens. These inalienable rights include the right to life and liberty, the right to conscience, the right to equality, the right to livelihood, school education and health care. Every citizen should have the right to demand that the state enforce these rights. The state itself should ensure that every citizen, irrespective of social or economic status, can exercise this right in practice.
  11. The Constitution of India should recognise the democratic rights of the nationalities and tribal people inhabiting India to administer their own affairs, including their inalienable political, economic and cultural rights. The Union of India should be reconstituted on a voluntary basis, with the willing consent of all the peoples.
  12. The entire people must necessarily be involved in .the drafting of the new and democratic Constitution. This will ensure both the democratic form and content of the Constitution and state structure. – elected representatives of the people and their organisations should constitute a new Constituent Assembly to debate and decide these matters.

Pledge to fulfill the aspiration of our martyrs


the descendants of Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev,

the descendants of Azad, Bismil and Bharati,

the descendants of Mangal Pande and Jhansi ki Rani,

the descendants of all those who laid down their lives

for the cause of an India where there shall be no oppression of any kind and where justice shall prevail,

have assembled today,

on this

22nd day of February, 1993, at Ferozeshah Kotla,

to pledge

  • to carry forward the struggle for an India where every citizen shall be ensured the right to live, to work and to enjoy the fruits of labour, the right to be educated and receive health care, the right to follow and act according to the morals and beliefs of his or her choice, an India without any discrimination on the basis of caste, sex, religion or class, an India where those who rule shall be duty-bound to safeguard the lives and well-being of all citizens;
  • To strengthen the unity and resolve among the Indian people to oppose and eliminate those forces that are poisoning and destroying our society for the sake of their narrow self-serving interests;
  • to continue the struggle until the aspirations of our forefathers are fulfilled.

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One comment

  1. I realise that the call given

    I realise that the call given by protestors 20 years back at Ferozesha Kotla was a historic call and their action tremendous and timely. It is so clear from the description that they boldly condemned the criminalisation of politics by the big parties of the bourgeoisie at a time when it was so difficult to raise one's voice in the confusion and din created by the bourgeoisie and their media. The economic reforms since then and the further criminalisation of politics have proved that the call given by the party in the first Congress to build politcal unity and work for a fundamental overhaul of the political system in our country was absolutely justified and timely. I think that though the protestors were few their call has made a profound impact on the political discourse in India and beyond.

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