TAMIL NADU

Surjeet call for joint fight against BJP

KANNUR, FEB. 15. The CPI(M)'s State conference ahead of the 17th Party Congress in Hyderabad got under way here today with its general secretary, Harkishan Singh Surjeet, calling for a joint struggle against the BJP and its policies detrimental to the federal structure and secular traditions of the country.

There was profusion of red in the entire town as huge arches, gates, festoons and portraits of the figures in the party pantheon had already adorned all the roads leading to the venue of the conference - G.K. Panikkar Memorial Auditorium, now christened Chadayan Nagar in memory of the late party secretary, Chadayan Govindan.

The conference being the first State meet of the party after the demise of E.M.S. Namboodiripad, the party stalwart was the first to be remembered in the condolence resolution adopted at the conference. Other prominent party leaders remembered included the late State secretary, Chadyan Govindan, and the late party leader, Suseela Gopalan.

In his opening speech, Mr. Surjeet called upon party workers to take the initiative to strengthen the third alternative to fight the BJP, which was opposed to federalism and secularism. ``The BJP has openly advocated communalisation of education and distortion of history,'' he said. The BJP-led Government had initiated the steps to demolish the public sector and dismantle the independent foreign policy of the country. ``They (the NDA Government) have put India in the pocket of America and their economic policies are reactionary as they are selling the country to the U.S.''

Touching on a range of subjects, including the collapse of the Communist movement in the erstwhile Soviet Union and East Europe, the 1964 split in the Communist Party in the country, the CPI(M)'s political line that ensured its ability to survive all these crises and the U.S. imperialism, Mr. Surjeet singled out the BJP for attack in his speech.

Referring to the attempts by some Sangh Parivar outfits to start construction of the Ram Temple at the disputed site at Ayodhya, he said the temple issue was now being raised for political gains. The secular parties that formed part of the NDA were all keeping quiet as moves were on to hand over 67 acres of land surrounding the disputed site to the temple construction committee.

Mr. Surjeet said the Assembly elections in four States, especially in Uttar Pradesh, would deal a heavy blow to the BJP and its allies. The party general secretary concluded his speech with an apparently casual criticism of the Chief Minister, A.K. Antony's refusal to hold talks with the striking Government employees in the State.

The opening session of the conference began with the senior party figure and CITU leader, C. Kannan, hoisting the party flag. Now largely sidelined in the party, Mr. Kannan in his brief speech made a veiled plea for unity in the party to continue its struggle.

The organisation report of the State unit of the CPI(M) was presented in the afternoon by the party State secretary, Pinarayi Vijayan, for group-level and general discussions by the conference delegates. The most keenly-watched event of the State conference-election of office-bearers of the party-would be held on the final day of the conference after expectedly heated discussions on the organisation report in the course of the event.

Among the prominent leaders who were participating in the conference were the politburo members Prakash Karat, P. Ramachandran, E.K. Nayanar, E. Balanandan, V.S. Achuthanandan and S. Ramachandra Pillai and the party leaders, M.A. Baby, P.K. Sreemthy, P.K. Gurudasan, T.K. Ramakrishnan, Paloli Mohammadkutty, T. Sivadasa Menon, S. Sarma and P. Karunanakaran.

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