People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 02

January 09, 2005

Twofold Task For The Left Today

Harkishan Singh Surjeet


NOW that three of the Indian states, that is Bihar, Jharkhand and Haryana, are to go to assembly polls next month, political observers are once again trying to figure out what the shape of Indian politics would be after the poll results are out. A brief look at the configuration of political parties in these states may be of help in this regard.



LET us take the case of Haryana first. Here, we see that the ruling Indian National Lok Dal of Om Prakash Chautala has badly lost its credibility during the last five years and also that the BJP, which was allied to the INLD for some time, has now severed its relations with the latter. It is thus clear that the committed votes of these two parties are not going to help each other; if anything the two parties are set to cause grievous harms to each other. On the other hand, the Congress has definitely gained some credibility in the state, and will be the main beneficiary of the anti-incumbency factor, as it happened in Lok Sabha polls in May 2004. Moreover, the return of Bansilal to the Congress fold has further boosted the prospects of the party.


As the Left and parties other than the above-mentioned ones do not have any significant presence in the state, the poll results will be determined by the relative strengths of the Congress and INLD, and the former has a definite advantage in the state. As for the BJP, it is in no position to benefit from the anti-INLD discontent. Rather it is all set to heavily lose here.


The likely result in Jharkhand too is equally clear. This state as if fell into the BJP’s lap after the bifurcation of Bihar. But, in the last three years, the BJP has so badly managed the affairs that it has lost all credibility here. Moreover, while the state was created on the plea of defending the tribal interests, the BJP only cheated the tribals in order to rush benefits to certain big bourgeois houses and other vested interests. The party went so far as to conspire for dismantling of the Santhal Pargana tenancy act and Chhotanagpur tenancy act that offered a degree of protection to tribals against the rapacious elements active in the state. The realisation is thus clear: if the BJP comes back to power here, there will only be more troubles in store for the people. This explains why the various gimmicks the BJP is forced to resort to have failed to click. There was no one to offer even verbal sympathy to the BJP when the Election Commission took a firm stand on the party’s gimmick involving ration cards. On the other hand, as the Congress, JMM, RJD and some other parties are likely to come together, the BJP and allies are set to face an utter rout here.


As for Bihar, the BJP is in a dire strait and its aim at present is to somehow escape imminent ignominy. Two months ago the party was forced to expel Ms Uma Bharti for six years, but had had to eat humble pie and readmit her in the hope that she may attract some backward class votes in Bihar. Yet no one is sure if Ms Bharti can deliver the goods, more so because she is an outsider with no base in Bihar. The other trick the BJP is trying, so far in vain, is to somehow rope in Ram Vilas Paswan for an anti-Laloo alliance, and the open secret is that Nitish Kumar of JD(U) is making such attempts at the BJP president’s instance. Yet, as Paswan has already burnt his fingers once by allying with the BJP and is afraid of losing whatever support he has among Muslims, he says he is ready to form an anti-Laloo front provided the JD(U) breaks ties with the BJP. But precisely this cannot be expected. Not very long ago, JD(U) leaders put up a show of fulminating when the BJP said it would go back to its communal roots, but yet they simply demonstrated how spineless they were, lacking courage to stand firm in defence of secularism. In all, the alliance of the RJD, Congress and Left parties may well give a thorough beating to the BJP and allies in Bihar. And if that happens, it would be yet another morale breaker for the BJP because even after bifurcation Bihar is the third most populous state in India and it is also one of the two JD(U) strongholds.   




HOWEVER, if we try to look beyond the assembly polls that are imminent in Bihar, Jharkhand and Haryana, we have to perforce realise that the situation is extremely fluid and nobody can say with certainty what will take place in the long term. There is no doubt that communal forces are at the moment demoralised, are facing severe internal dissensions, and all their attempts to regroup have so far come to nought. But this must not be taken to mean that there has been any big excretion of strength to the Congress. The latter has definitely gained ground in the states where the Left and democratic forces were not so strong as to channelise the anti-communal sentiments of the masses during the elections. But it must not mean that, on its own, the Congress can take the communal forces head on.


At the same time, there are in certain states parties that have secular credentials but are not united among themselves. (Here we exclude from reckoning the parties that professed to stand by secularism but aligned with the BJP for narrow electoral gains and ministerial chairs.) As a matter of fact, most of these parties have a natural leaning towards the Left parties and are in more or less regular contact with us. Yet there are also differences between them and us on several issues, including the issues of current tactic, and these differences cannot be wished away. However, there is ground to hope that such differences will get narrowed down sooner or later.


Apart from them, there are also parties that keep changing their stand in accordance with immediate exigencies and whose fortunes keep on changing from time to time. A typical example is the AIADMK, led by Ms Jayalalithaa. This lady was a part of the BJP led government at the centre in 1998-99 but quit the alliance when the BJP tried to woo her allies, and she was instrumental in bringing down that government in April 1999. Her archrival M Karunanidhi of DMK then joined hands with the BJP and also its government. But then came a time when the DMK quit the NDA and joined the UPA while Ms Jayalalithaa found herself in wilderness. Then she also took a few questionable steps to woo the BJP, like passing an anti-conversion law in Tamilnadu. Yet, the developing situation in the state forced her to arrest the Shankaracharya of Kanchi and thus antagonise the same BJP she was trying hard to woo. The net result is that while the DMK and certain other parties are with the Congress, the BJP is forced to oppose the AIADMK which it was trying to rope in.   




AS for the Left parties, the fact is that they enjoy a lot of prestige and goodwill among the people of this country. But the sad part of the story is that the strength of these parties is not commensurate with the prestige they enjoy and the powerful role they are playing at the national level.  


The Left is facing a peculiar situation today. First of all, as said earlier, the secular parties are not united among themselves and this has its own difficulties in regard to the defence of our secular political system, composite culture and national unity. At the same time, the Left parties are virtually alone on the question of economic policies as most of the non-Congress, non-BJP parties are not averse to the LPG policies as such. This poses further problems for the Left parties. To take just one example, even a British national like Lord Meghnad Desai had had the temerity to suggest that the Congress and BJP should form a “grand alliance” on the question of (so-called) reforms. Now, irrespective of whether such an alliance materialises or not, the very fact that such a suggestion was made shows the pressures international finance capital is seeking to bring on Indian parties and political system.  


Thus, the Left parties are called upon to discharge a two-fold task in the situation prevailing today. On the one hand, they have to mobilise other parties and forces in defence of our secularism and national unity. At the same time, they have to defend the vital interests and living standards of Indian masses vis-à-vis the policies of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation that are emanating from the Bretton Woods institutions and serving the cause of imperialist countries.


The fight becomes all the more difficult in view of the tissues of lies the pro-bourgeois and pro-imperialist media are weaving in favour of the LPG policies and against the Left.


Here we quote just one example of the lies these media propagate. For the whole of 2004, the media propagated that while the expiry of the multi-fibre agreement (MFA) on December 31, 2004 would end the quotas allotted to India, Pakistan and some other countries in the developed countries’ markets, it would also give the Indian companies a big advantage in competition and boost the Indian textile exports. But not even a week has expired since the MFA’s expiry and reports have come in that Americans are planning to regularly inspect Indian factories in order to restrict textile imports from India on the plea of labour standards. This shows the utter myopia of our mediamen, more so because the so-called labour standards are by no means a new issue; earlier too the US had tried to impose sanctions upon Indian exports on the same plea.


Now that the government of India has already issued an ordinance to end the process patent regime and have, in its stead, the product patent regime, the day is not far off when the rosy pictures painted by the media on this issue would get faded.




IT is in such a situation that the people of this country have come to have great expectations from the Left parties, which are perfectly natural and justified, and the Left parties have to ponder as to how such expectations can best be fulfilled. Nay, we have also to warn ourselves that such expectations are going to further multiply in the days to come. The way the UPA government is going ahead with the LPG policies, it is certain that the people’s real incomes, purchasing power and life standards will get eroded, and the Left parties have to brace themselves for the situation. They have to go to the people and mobilise them against LPG policies, and in favour of alternative policies. This is all the more essential because if the Left parties fail to mould the resultant mass discontent into democratic channels, the communal forces will exploit the same discontent to capture power even though they too stand for the same pro-imperialist policies. It is simply futile to expect that their comeback will protect the people from the onslaught of LPG policies.


But this requires that the Left parties unleash determined, and not just symbolic, struggles in order to gain strength for still bigger struggles. The accrual of strength to the Left parties is required not only to fight and defeat the anti-people policies but also to overcome the vacillations of other secular and democratic parties. At the same time, while we are committed to support a secular combine at the centre, we have to constantly keep in view the long-term interests of the country, so that a genuine alternative may be presented before the mass of our people.