Visiting Marxist Member of Parliament from India has called upon the South Asian Diaspora to uphold secular values of the Ghadar Party. Speaking at a seminar that was held to celebrate the 100 years of the Ghadar Party in Surrey, Comrade Sitaram Yechury, a member of the upper house of the Indian parliament urged everyone to work together to defeat the “nefarious designs’’ of the sectarian and fundamentalist forces that are bent upon dividing people on religious lines.
The Ghadar Party was established in 1913 by the South Asian immigrants on the pacific coast of North America to launch an armed rebellion against the British occupation of India. The party was secular in character and vehemently denounced caste and religious prejudices.
A senior member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Yechury warned that India’s unity and diversity were under threat from the Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party which is indirectly projecting the Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi as a future Prime Minister. Modi government is blamed for the 2002 anti Muslim pogrom. He cautioned that any attempt to turn a pluralist Indian society into a theocracy needs to be challenged.
Yechury recently received threats for questioning the condolence motion that was brought in the Indian parliament following the death of Shiv Sena leader, Bal Thackrey. Shiv Sena is a staunch BJP ally which is accused of bashing Muslims and non Maharashtrians in Mumbai. Interestingly, Yechuri shared the dais with an Akali Dal MP, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa at the event. Akali Dal is another trusted ally of the BJP and supports Modi. The event was organized by the Indo Canadian Workers’ Association- a CPI (M) offshoot in Vancouver. The CPI (M) had fought the last assembly election in Punjab in partnership with People’s Party of Punjab that was formed by an Akali Dal rebel Manpreet Singh Badal. The Indo Canadian Workers’ Association had expressed its support to Badal when he came here before the election.
Yechury was also critical of Sikh fundamentalists who are trying to appropriate the Ghadar history. “The Ghadar Party was not just a party of the Sikhs. It had supporters from other religious communities as well. How can one ignore the participation of the Hindus and Muslims in the Ghadar movement? ’’
He noted that the Ghadarites did not just confine their struggle to the freedom of India from foreign rule, but continued it for a just society even after the country gained its independence. According to him, bigger challenges from Imperial forces still prevail. He observed that the free market economy and liberalization has created a yawning gap between the rich and the poor. “As a fitting tribute to the Ghadarites we must keep this struggle alive.’’
Yechury also released a souvenir dedicated to the Ghadar history. Others who spoke on the occasion were Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, local MPs, Jinny Sims and Jasbir Sandhu. Former MLA Dave Hayer was also present on the occasion. Among other notable speakers were the Counsel General of India, Ravi Shankar Aisola, prominent history researchers and scholars; Sohan Pooni, Dr. Raghbir Singh Sirjana and Naveen Girn, the Indian Workers’ Association leader from UK, Harsev Bains, the Indo Canadian Workers’ Association leaders; Surinder Sangha, Surinder Dhesi and Kuwant Dhesi.