Welcome Address by Pinarayi Vijayan
Chairman, Reception Committee
Comrade S. Ramachandran Pillai, Chairman of the Inaugural Session,
Comrade Prakash Karat, General Secretary of the CPI(M),
Comrade A. B. Bardhan, veteran leader of the CPI,
Comrade delegates, observers, guests and friends,
On behalf of the Organising Committee of the 20th Congress of Communist Party of India (Marxist), I welcome you all to this historic city of Kozhikode. It was here that in 1937, Comrade EMS, P. Krishna Pillai, K. Damodaran and N C Sekhar, in the presence of Comrade S V Ghate, formed the first Communist cell in Kerala. It was Comrade P Sundarayya who had taken initiative for this development. In 1939, the most prominent national leaders of Malabar including Comrade A K Gopalan assembled at Pinarayi, Parappuram to form Communist Party in the state. In fact, the entire Kerala unit of the Congress Socialist Party transformed itself as the Kerala unit of the Communist Party. In the struggle for national freedom, for land to the tiller, better wages and living conditions of the workers and democratic rights to the people, hundreds of comrades have laid down their lives. This number does not include the martyrs of Punnapra Vayalar uprising where hundreds were massacred by the military and henchmen of Travancore rulers in alliance with British imperialists. I pay homage to their memory.
We, in Kerala, were privileged to host the 4th Congress of the Communist Party in 1956, on the eve of the ascendancy of first ministry headed by EMS Namboodiripad in the newly formed state of Kerala. After the formation of the CPI(M), the 8thParty Congress was held in Kochi in 1968 and the 13th Party Congress in Thiruvananthapuram in 1989. I am certain that the 20th Congress of the Party now being held at Kozhikode will herald a new era of struggle and growth of the Communist movement, not only in our state but in the country as a whole.
This Party Congress is being held at a time when very important changes are taking place internationally, nationally and within this state.
The city of Kozhikode has a long history of communal amity and progressive orientation. For centuries, Arab traders lived and traded at this inter-port in safety and peace until the Portuguese colonialists came to our shore. Five centuries back, Vasco da Gama landed on a beach near the city. The colonial predators were resisted and fought by Kunjali Marakkar, the naval captain of the King of Calicut until his martyrdom. Then came the British. Calicut was the headquarters of the Malabar district. Pazhassy Raja and his tribal forces fought a protracted war of resistance against the British in the Wayanad hills north of the city. In the south, the Mappila peasants rose in incessant revolts from the latter half of the 19th century. In 1921, once again, the Mappila peasants rose in revolt under the leadership of Variam Kunnath Kunjahammed Haji and Ali Muslair. The Khilafat agitation and Non-cooperation movement formed the background to this popular revolt. The Congress leadership in Malabar vacillated and majority from their top betrayed the rebels and cooperated with the British to isolate and crush the revolt. The Left, on the other hand, have always underlined the nationalist and agrarian nature of the rebellion and also warned against potential communal degeneration. The approach adopted by the Left, led to the cooperation between them and the nationalist Muslims led by Mohammed Abdul Rahman Sahib. It was in this process that EMS, Krishna Pillai and A K Gopalan became the office-bearers of KPCC in the early 1930s.
By then, the weaving and tile factories of Basel Mission and others had come up in the city and suburbs. Kallai became the largest timber mart of Asia. A modern working class developed. Calicut became the nerve centre of not only the national movement but also of the working class movement.
The Communists also played an important role in the eradication of the worst forms of caste discrimination and superstitious and decadent customs. They were active in the various social reform movements while being engaged in building up of the class and mass organizations. Thus the Communist Party was able to carry forward the rich legacy of the social reform movement.
The post-war revolutionary upsurge and the heroic peasant struggles in Malabar at Kayyur, Karivallur, Kavumbayi, Korom, Muniyankunnu, Thillankeri, Pazhassy and Onchiyam and Punnapra Vayalar uprising in the south, brought the Communists to the leadership of the national movement and laid the basis for rapid advance during the 1950s. Since the formation of the First Communist Ministry in 1957, the Left has come to government five times in the state. For a total period of twenty years in different decades, these Left-led governments have been nodal points in the introduction of important pro-people structural changes such as land reforms, democratization of education and democratic decentralization and also welfare measures such as social security pensions, effective public distribution and public health system. All these have contributed to improve the lives of the ordinary citizens and ensure them a better life of dignity.
Communist Party led democratic struggles and the governments formed as a result of these movements helped the emergence of a different Keralam, which has many creditable achievements. However, the present UDF government in the state is subverting most of the positive initiatives implemented by the Left-led governments.
In preparation to the Party Congress, we have attempted to draw upon the heroic traditions and achievements of our people. Family gatherings of Party members and sympathizers were held by each of the 2500 branches in the district. It was followed up with mass family gatherings and public rallies by clusters of two or three branches. Already around two lakh people have visited the History exhibition held as part of this Congress. 25,000 red volunteers and five lakh people are expected to participate in the mass rally at the conclusion of the Congress. Sixty area and regional level seminars were organized in which around 50,000 people participated. Besides mass gatherings of different sections of the masses and classes, victims of emergency repression and veterans have been organized.
Hundreds of artists, musicians and theatre persons have been working in the last couple of months whose paintings, sculptors, installations, music and theatre performances have lent a special cultural flavor to the Congress. Sports festivals and competitions are organised. The Organising Committee has received help and support from all sections, especially from working class, peasants, toiling masses etc. The Left has continuously been in the leadership of the city corporation for the last 35 years in Kozhikode and it has extended the wholehearted cooperation. I wish to thank them all.
We have attempted to provide the best possible arrangements for the successful conduct of the Congress. I am sure you will bear with us for any inconveniences that are perhaps beyond our control. For example, this hall where the Congress is meeting cannot accommodate more than the delegates and the press. I regret that many dignitaries and well-wishers therefore are not able to attend this inaugural session. I hope they will appreciate this situation and bear with us.
I once again welcome the Polit Bureau and Central Committee members, special invitees, delegates, observers, veterans and all those who participate in this inaugural session. I also welcome the media persons who have come from all over the country to report the proceedings.
Welcome and greetings to all.
Thank you very much.