People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
January 23, 2005
FOR THE 18TH
The world has witnessed a sharp escalation in the aggressive moves by US
imperialism. On the pretext of a global war on terrorism, the US unleashed a
major war of aggression on Iraq, part of its plan to reorder the middle-east to
suit its global hegemonic plans.
The political resolution of the 17th Congress had correctly
warned that utilizing the September 11, 2001 attacks, the US would seek to
expand the imperialist offensive. The occupation of Iraq followed the attack on
Afghanistan. The US is targeting the two other countries in Bush’s ‘axis of
evil’ – North Korea and Iran. The sanctions and blockade of Cuba have been
tightened; the progressive government of President Chavez in Venezuela has
repeatedly been sought to be destabilized.
Characteristic of this phase of US imperialism is its brazen readiness to
use military force, violating the UN charter, international law and
national sovereignty. The US has set out a doctrine of preemptive war. Under its
direction, the eastern expansion of NATO has taken place. NATO has adopted the
new strategic doctrine of intervention outside Europe.
During this period, the world has seen imperialist war and aggression,
the unilateral flouting of international laws and trampling of national
sovereignty. This has made the world more unsafe, spawned rather than suppressed
terroristic violence and given rise to a host of sectarian and irrational
The war and occupation of Iraq has dramatically exposed the predatory
nature of US imperialism which has no compunctions in trampling upon national
sovereignty and in resorting to brute force to garner a vantage position to
consolidate its hegemony. It has exposed the true nature of the US war on
terrorism. Iraq had no al-Qaeda, nor any weapons of mass destruction. What it
has is the world’s second largest oil reserves and a regime that was not
willing to bow to US diktat.
The decade-long sanctions inflicted a terrible toll on the Iraqi people.
The invasion and occupation regime has led to deaths of over 100,000 Iraqis,
mostly civilians. The brutal torture of prisoners by the Americans was stoutly
exposed in pictures of Abu Ghraib prison. Violence against women is spiraling
and the secular nature of Iraqi society is being seriously undermined.
Iraq highlights the central position of the middle-east in the US global
strategy. The control of the oil resources of the middle-east and Central Asia
is a key factor for the US to maintain the imperialist system and its own
hegemony of the imperialist bloc. Iraq has therefore become the central issue in
the struggle against imperialist hegemony.
American leadership and dominance of the imperialist system was
established after the Second World War in 1945. That remains intact despite some
vicissitudes in the past when the decline of US economic power led to challenges
from the other two centers, Europe and Japan. The US with its vastly superior
military power is playing the role of hegemon and arbiter in the imperialist
bloc. The US alone spends nearly fifty per cent of the total global military
expenditure. It has in the nineties and after September 11 extended its military
reach and established military bases and presence in new areas like Central Asia
and former Soviet republics. It promotes the militarisation of Japan which
prompted the Koizumi government to send troops to Iraq and embark on production
of new weapons.
The United States shares with the advanced capitalist countries of
Western Europe and Japan the common interest of backing global finance
capital and the transnational corporations. Being the strongest power, it acts
as the hegemon of the imperialist system.
But while doing so, the US makes sure its national interests are served
and its preeminent position protected. The US seeks to hegemonise the resources
of the world. The control of oil resources is not confined to the middle-east.
It extends to the Caspian Sea basin and the policing of the oil-pipelines being
laid from the Caucasus and Central Asia. The absence of the Soviet Union and the
ascendancy of the neo-conservative right wing circles in the US have led to the
open advocacy of the imperialist role for America and the efforts to impose an
imperial order by use of force, economic coercion, blockades and illegal
The US has in this period adopted a new strategic doctrine which spells
out how it will seek to retain world domination. For the first time, the
strategy declares that the US will not allow any other foreign power to catch up
with the huge lead the US has established since the fall of the Soviet Union.
Further, the strategy calls for use of force to desist potential adversaries
from surpassing or equalling the United States in military strength. It
advocates preemptive military strikes against countries or terrorist groups who
threaten America’s security interests.
The US withdrew from the anti-ballistic missile treaty of 1972 in order
to build new weapons and missile systems such as the National Missile Defence.
It refused to ratify the biological weapons convention. While reserving the
right to produce new weapons and expanding the use of nuclear weapons, the US
embarked on a counter-proliferation campaign targeting countries such as Iran,
North Korea and Brazil to prevent them developing nuclear technology. In
contrast, Israel, under the special protection of the US, is allowed to keep
The United Nations’ role has been subverted. The United States has
brazenly disregarded the UN Charter. There is no scope for a rule-based
international system which is just and democratic without a United Nations which
is restructured to prevent unilateral US diktats. Democratization of the UN
system assumes importance as a check to imperialist hegemony.
With the reelection of President Bush, the aggressive reactionary
sections of the US ruling classes will continue to espouse the doctrine of a
neo-liberal imperialism which intervenes globally to establish ‘democracy’
and free markets and goes about this business with a big stick in hand.
Fighting this dangerous face of US imperialism, opposition to war
and the imperialist sponsored suppression of movements for national liberation,
defence of national sovereignty and opposition to economic coercion and
blockades are the key tasks of this period.
The current crisis of imperialism is fuelled by the crisis in the world
capitalist system and by the contradictions of world capitalism today.
Programmes of liberalization and structural adjustment are a response to the
present crisis of capitalism. At the same time, the drive to impose programmes
of liberalization and privatisation indiscriminately on the people of the world
has aggravated the crisis of capitalism and just as the offensive of
international finance has increased the instability of the world capitalist
The 17th Congress was held at a time when the global economy
was in a recession. This specific period, which began in 200l, ended by
mid-2003. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the annual rate of
growth Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the world rose to 3.9 per cent in 2003
and was estimated at 5.0 per cent in 2004. This recovery, however, was far from
uniform, and the average figures for the world conceal great unevenness and
variation in the economic growth experienced by different countries and regions.
On the one side, the
annual rate of growth in the United States rose to 3 per cent in 2003 and has
been estimated at 4.3 per cent in 2004. The main reason for the change from
recession to growth in the United States was the increase in military
expenditure, which increased more than 40 per cent in 2003 alone. Another reason
for income growth at the international level was robust growth in China and
growth in some Asian countries. By contrast, increase in national income was
limited or even non-existent in many advanced capitalist countries, and economic
growth bypassed many less-developed countries entirely. In the euro currency
region, the annual rate of growth of GDP was 0.8 per cent in 2002 and 0.5 per
cent in 2003, and an optimistic estimate of growth in 2004 is 2.2 per cent.
Japan has faced recession for a decade, and the annual rate of change of its GDP
was actually negative, - 0.3 per cent, in 2002. Although this figure rose to 2.5
per cent in 2003, by the end of 2004, analysts predicted that Japan’s economy
was slowing down again.
Recent economic growth in the United States has been driven by military
expenditure. This military expenditure was financed by public borrowing, which
led to a decline in the fiscal surplus and the creation of a fiscal deficit. In
2000, the US had a fiscal surplus of 2.0 per cent of the GDP; this was converted
into a fiscal deficit of 3.3 per cent in 2003 and 4 per cent in 2004. As a
result of the fiscal deficit, there was a sharp increase in imports, which, in
turn, widened the balance of payments deficit. This phenomenon of ‘twin
deficits’ - fiscal and balance of payments – in the US is the underlying
cause of the recent decline in the value of the dollar and of fears of a
collapse. The ‘twin deficits’ illustrate the unsustainable nature of the
recent capitalist boom.
The US has been able to finance this deficit because of its position as
the leading imperialist power, which makes the dollar the world’s reserve
currency, and the currency in which the world’s financial wealth is mainly
held. The status of the dollar helps attract capital flows into financial assets
that are denominated in dollars and in the US. This perception by international
capital of the United States being a safe haven is, clearly, not determined by
the economic strength of the US but by its military might, which strengthens the
conviction that it has the brute power to rearrange world economic relations to
sustain its economic growth. The advanced capitalist countries realise that a
decline in the value of the dollar is inevitable; nevertheless, they do not want
a sudden crash in its value. In other words, efforts to ensure a soft landing
rather than a crash are under way.
The current recovery in the world capitalist economy, such as it is, has
been characterised not just by jobless growth, but by ‘job-loss’ growth,
thus showing that capitalism is unable to transfer any of the benefits of growth
to the working people. In the US the unemployment rate rose from 4.0 percent in
2000 to 6.0 per cent in 2003. In the advanced capitalist countries as a whole
the corresponding figures were 5.8 per cent and 6.6 percent.
The fierce onslaught of modern finance-driven capitalism against the
working class and its hard-earned gains continues to characterise the advanced
capitalist countries. In the countries of the European Union, and in Russia and
Eastern Europe, where capitalism has been restored, the public sector is being
privatised, the remuneration of workers reduced, and social security cut back.
Increasing unemployment, tax cuts for the rich and massive reductions in
welfare measures for the poor are among the pernicious features of contemporary
The global power of finance capital and its mobility tends to mute
inter-imperialist contradictions. But this does not prevent conflicts occurring
as during the Iraq war between the US and France and Germany. Cooperation and
conflict now coexist in inter-imperialist relations. The European Union has been
expanded and now has 25 countries. The expanded European Union with the new
draft Constitution is constructed in a manner to serve the interests of big
business and finance capital. Such a set up contains the basis for cooperation
with the US while conflicts remain. The Communists endeavour to shift Europe
away from the grip of transnational capital and the Atlanticist alliance as
against the social democratic stance of integration with transnational capital.
The seamy side of US-style predatory capitalism has repeatedly been
exposed. The exposure of fraud led to the collapse of the Enron Corporation;
subsequently, a series of big corporations were found to be cheating the public
and cooking their books. Thousands of employees lost their jobs when such
companies closed down or had to be merged with others.
The Bush administration’s close links with the oil and arms industry
shapes its anti-environmental outlook. It is not surprising that the U.S., which
promotes wasteful and environmentally harmful policies to fuel the super profits
of big business, has refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol. The drive for profit
and the consumerist nature of contemporary capitalism cause and intensify the
now serious problems of depletion of the ozone layer, climate change and loss of
The morals-free pursuit of wealth is closely linked to the burgeoning of
corruption and crime. The degeneration of human values can be seen in the
pornography industry, now worth billions of dollars, and in the enormous growth
in trafficking in women and children. The drug and narcotics trade generates
funds that are ploughed back into pernicious business activities.
Finance capital dominates current-day capitalism. Its expansion drives
the imperialist assault on the economies of less-developed countries. Its
current offensive involves not just opening the markets of less-developed
countries to commodities and foreign direct investment from the advanced
capitalist countries, but also opening up the financial sector. Large profits
are to be made by speculation in the stock and capital markets. The inflow of
such capital imposes a sharp decline in public expenditure in the recipient
Finance capital is against deficit-financed state spending for a variety
of reasons. The strategies pursued by dominant classes in the Third World
countries have increased their dependence on global finance capital. In order to
appease global finance, Third World governments have had to open their economies
and cut back on state expenditures, especially expenditures on capital formation
and welfare, in order to curtail deficits. Such policies have had the effect
also of reducing national income-growth in the less-developed countries. In
addition to these stresses and strains, the steep rise in oil prices from
mid-2004, fuelled mainly by speculation, has hit the oil-importing developing
countries very hard.
Evidence of the harmful results of such policies is overwhelming. Large
parts of the developing world are characterized by persistence of poverty,
hunger, disease and illiteracy. Of the 4.9 billion people in developing
countries in 2000, around 1.1 billion lived on less than a dollar a day, more
than 950 million were illiterate, 1.2 billion lacked access to an improved water
source and 2.7 billion lacked access to basic sanitation. Nearly 104 million
children of primary-school-going age were out of school. The gap between the
richest strata in the developed world and the developing countries has grown
rapidly. In 2001, the wealth of 497 billionaires was greater than the combined
incomes of the poorest half of humanity. The GDP of the poorest 48 nations (i.e.
a quarter of all nation-states) is less than the wealth of the world’s three
richest people combined. The contradiction between imperialism and the
developing countries has further intensified.
The picture of the imperialist offensive will not be complete without
underlying the intensifying resistance to it. US imperialism has the power to
intervene militarily and politically around the globe, but contrary to its
expectations, it is unable to achieve a smooth conclusion and consolidation. The
centre-piece of the current resistance to the imperialist offensive is the
struggle against the US occupation of Iraq. In the last twenty-one months, the
popular resistance has grown in intensity and scope. It has succeeded in
upsetting the US plan to plant a pliant regime in Iraq which is the first step
towards ‘democratising’ the middle-east.
The other important centre of resistance is the Palestinian movement for
independence and statehood. During the past three years, the US backed Israel in
its military attacks in the occupied territories, subverting the peace accord
and in its efforts to sideline Yasser Arafat. The Israelis committed heinous
crimes through continuous military attacks and by building a security wall
across the West Bank, an act declared illegal by the World Court. Despite the
connivance of the client Arab rulers with the US, the Palestinian struggle has
gone on. The death of Yasser Arafat will not weaken the resolve of the
The struggles in Latin America against imperialist globalisation, the
imposition of neo-liberal reforms and attacks on national sovereignty form an
important part of the world-wide resistance. Important struggles against
privatization of electricity, water and natural resources took place in Bolivia,
Peru, Colombia and of the landless people in Brazil. The defeat of every attempt
by the US-backed opposition forces to topple President Chavez in Venezuela is an
important landmark. Venezuela under the progressive leadership of Chavez is
taking steps to break up the power of the oligarchy, undertake land reforms and
provide health, education, food and housing for the poor. The election of Lula
as President in Brazil on a left platform and the election of a leftwing
candidate in Uruguay for the first time reflects the political impact of these
Working class struggles against the attacks on jobs, social security and
livelihood are taking place in all the major capitalist countries. The trade
union movement and the working class resistance constitutes the core of the
movement against imperialist-driven globalisation.
The mass mobilizations against imperialist globalisation which began in
Seattle in 1999 during the WTO meet, became a regular feature subsequently when
meetings of the Fund-Bank or G-8 took place. With the threat of war looming on
Iraq, this movement became an anti-war movement. Millions of people joined the
anti-war protests of 2002–03 with unprecedented mobilization being seen on
February 15, 2003 in major cities around the world. The World Social Forum and
the regional forums became broad platforms for bringing together the anti-globalisation
and anti-war forces.
In the WTO arena, the advanced capitalist countries sought to impose
onerous conditions in the Doha round of negotiations. The fight against such
imposition met with some success when China, India, Brazil and South Africa
decided to coordinate their stand and were joined by other countries, making the
group of 21 during the Cancun summit. Faced with this setback, the rich
countries sought to regain ground through the recent Framework Agreement arrived
at in Geneva.
China’s rapid economic growth and all-round progress has led to its
emergence as a major power in the international arena. China has been
registering over 9 per cent GDP growth annually in the last decade, making it
the fastest growing economy in the world. The Chinese government and the
Communist Party are engaged in tackling the problems of unemployment, regional
disparities and the rise of corruption which are a product of China’s rapid
growth and engagement with the global capitalist system. Vietnam has maintained
steady progress after adopting measures to reform the economy and its
management. Vietnam achieved 8 per cent annual GDP growth from 1990 to 1997 and
around 7 per cent from 2000 to 2003 making it the world’s second fastest
Cuba has withstood a new spate of hostile measures and sanctions by the
Bush administration. It has steadfastly adhered to the socialist system and has
not allowed the sanctions and blockade to erode its public health and
educational system. The DPRK has refused to be intimidated on the nuclear issue
by the US blackmailing tactics. It is pursuing the line of engaging South Korea
for normalization of relations and creating the atmosphere for progress towards
reunification. The socialist countries have to continue to work in an
international situation which is hostile to the existence of the socialist
system. They have to strengthen their economic base and raise the living
standards of the people while safeguarding the socialist system and its
It is in this international setting that we have to see the developments
in South Asia and India’s neighbourhood.
Imperialism has spread its tentacles further in the countries of South
Asia. The United States has strengthened its grip and influence over Pakistan
after getting the Musharraf regime to cooperate with the war on Afghanistan and
to eliminate the Al Qaeda. In Nepal, in the context of the Maoist insurgency,
the United States is supporting the King and providing military assistance. In
Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, the United States has signed military and security
collaboration agreements and is regularly conducting joint exercises.
In both Pakistan and Bangladesh, the forces of Islamic fundamentalism
have grown in strength. The growing US influence and the Islamic fundamentalist
activity in Bangladesh has repercussions in the region. In Sri Lanka, the end of
hostilities and ceasefire between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the Tamil
tigers have not yet yielded any substantial progress in peace talks. In all
these countries, the conditions of the working people have deteriorated under
the impact of imperialist globalisation and the anti-democratic measures taken
to suppress the struggles of the working people.
Sectarian and divisive trends have been on the rise in the region. The
struggle for democracy and the rights of minorities is an important issue in
many of these countries. It is necessary to strengthen regional cooperation in
South Asia through the SAARC forum and to promote bilateral trade and economic
ties between India and its neighbours. The CPI(M) stands for increased
cooperation between the anti-imperialist and Left forces in South Asia.
Imperialism poses the greatest threat to humanity. US imperialism is the
spearhead of the reactionary offensive. Predatory finance capital and
neo-liberal reforms have intensified the exploitation and poverty of billions of
people. Imperialist war and aggression are a threat to the national sovereignty
of countries. Imperialist oppression and violence spawns terrorism promoted by
fundamentalist and sectarian ideologies. With the dismantling of socialism in
some countries and the entry of imperialist finance capital, ethnic and
sectarian conflicts are the results. Terrorism motivated by religious
fundamentalism which wreaks havoc on innocent people has to be firmly combated.
But the elimination of all forms of terrorism requires an end to imperialist
aggression and violence, state terrorism and the rapacious exploitation and
abject poverty perpetuated by an unjust and hegemonic world order.
The fight against US imperialism cannot be conducted by a fundamentalist jehad, or by relying upon sectarian ideologies. Imperialism can be
fought only by a progressive mobilisation of all the Left, secular and
anti-imperialist nationalist forces. The CPI(M) will support all the currents of
resistance against imperialism – the struggles for national liberation, the
fight against neo-liberal economic policies and for the defence of national
sovereignty, opposition to imperialist aggression and for the defence of the
interests of the developing countries against imperialist capital.
The CPI(M) will actively support and establish relations of solidarity
with the national liberation movements. It will support the socialist countries
and espouse close relations with them. It will cooperate with all the platforms
set up to fight against imperialist globalisation and will actively participate
in the anti-war movements. The anti-globalisation and the anti-war movements
should converge into a broad and powerful anti-imperialist movement.
The CPI(M) will continue to strengthen relations with the communist and
progressive forces in different countries so that experiences are shared and a
common outlook develops. The CPI(M) is committed to building up the worldwide
struggle against US imperialism. Mobilizing the Indian people, who number 1.2
billion, against imperialist hegemonism and in defence of national sovereignty
will be an important contribution to this global movement.
The most significant political development at the national level since
the 17th Congress has been the resounding defeat of the BJP-led NDA
government in the Lok Sabha elections of May 2004. The people of India overthrew
the RSS-controlled regime on account of its anti-people and pro-imperialist
economic policies, its communal and divisive platform, its massive corruption
scandals and its attacks on democratic rights. The simultaneous elections to the
Andhra Pradesh assembly saw the even more decisive defeat of the TDP government,
which had all along acted as the foremost agent of the World Bank. Three months
later, the BJP-Shiv Sena communal combine was humbled in the Maharashtra
The Lok Sabha elections resulted in the formation of the Congress-led
secular UPA government at the Centre, which is dependent for its majority on the
outside support of the Left parties. The CPI(M) and the Left increased their
representation in Parliament to the highest figure so far. All these are welcome
developments, which testify to the correctness of the political line adopted by
the 17th Congress and of the electoral tactics employed in consonance
with that line.
The BJP-led government ruled uninterruptedly for six years from March
1998 to April 2004. The danger posed by the RSS-guided BJP controlling the
levers of power was evident during this period. The 17th Congress
Political Resolution termed it as “the most reactionary government in
independent India.” The policies of the BJP-led government in the economic,
political, social and foreign policy spheres in these six years confirm this
assessment. After the 17th Congress of the Party, the last two years
of BJP rule witnessed the horrific fallout of the Gujarat pogrom. The Modi
government actively worked to cover up all the crimes and refused to punish the
guilty by subverting the police and prosecution machinery. After the victory of
the BJP in the assembly elections the state continues to treat Muslims as second
The Vajpayee government sought to undermine the judicial process on the
Ayodhya dispute and sought to push the VHP agenda for handing over the disputed
site to the Hindus by utilizing intermediaries to persuade the Muslims to give
up their claim. The Vajpayee government continued the work of communalization of
the educational system by introducing anti-secular ideologies in the curriculum
and text books. History books were rewritten on communal lines. Artists, writers
and cultural institutions who refused to accept the sectarian communal outlook
were subjected to intimidation and assaults.
Under the BJP rule, neo-liberal economic policies were pushed with
greater vigour. It was claimed, falsely, that these policies result in higher
growth. Actually, the decade of the nineties had a lower rate of growth in
agriculture and industries than in the eighties. The growth rate in the three
years 2000–01 to 2003–04 was lower than the decade of the nineties. Whatever
output growth that took place was not accompanied by any significant growth in
employment. The annual rate of growth of rural employment was 0.58 per cent
between 1993–94 and 1999–2000 compared to the rural population growth rate
of 1.5 per cent. The unemployment situation in rural India has worsened
dramatically while urban employment growth has come down markedly.
In rural India, worsening unemployment has been caused by the decline in
agricultural growth rates and in particular foodgrains. Foodgrain production has
in fact fallen below the rate of population growth during the nineties leading
to an absolute decline in per capita food output. The average number of days of
work for agricultural workers has sharply declined in most parts of the country.
Rural development expenditure which was 14 per cent of GDP during the 8th
plan period stands at only around 5 per cent currently. This drastic cutback is
the most immediate cause for the acute distress among the rural poor.
Rural distress is not confined to the rural poor alone. Large sections of
the peasantry, caught in a pincer between higher input prices and lower output
prices, are faced with acute crisis. The withdrawal of subsidies on a host of
inputs, the rising costs of electricity, irrigation and the decline in priority
sector lending by banks have forced peasants to go to moneylenders to borrow at
exorbitant interest rates which has resulted in increased costs of production.
Procurement operations by the government that provided some succour to
the peasantry have got progressively whittled down; extension services by the
government that were so important a feature of Indian agriculture have been
virtually withdrawn from large parts of the country leaving the peasantry to the
mercy of MNCs and spurious seed distributors; and lack of investment by the
government has run down the infrastructure that sustained agricultural growth.
Steps to dilute land reforms were taken in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra
Pradesh, Orissa, Assam and Jharkhand, either by raising the ceiling levels or
handing over surplus land to private parties. Such steps would make farming by
large owners and corporate houses a certainty. Such policies would reduce the
extent of land for redistribution, accelerate the loss of land by poor peasants,
and worsen inequalities in the rural areas.
The volume of rural credit declined and the distribution of credit
shifted further in favour of large landholders. Village level data from India
show that the exploitation of the poor in the informal credit market – by
moneylenders, that is – intensified as a result of financial liberalisation.
The new trade regime (and in particular, the removal of quantitative
restrictions on the import of agricultural products) and the emphasis on
export-oriented production intensified the struggle of the poor and middle
peasantry for their very survival. This problem is particularly intense in the
present context of a sharp fall in the prices of primary commodities
internationally. The new trade regime also has very serious implications for
land use, cropping patterns and the future of self-sufficiency in food.
The new trade and patent regime leaves the field of agricultural research
at the mercy of multinational corporations, thus weakening public sector
national agricultural research systems as well as open-access international
research institutions. Further, this regime infringes on the rights of farmers
and indigenous plant breeders and threatens to lead, as has been written,
“from biodiversity to genetic slavery.”
Continuing failure to deal with problems of water management, and to cope
with problems of drought and floods has increased the suffering of the
peasantry. The agenda of privatizing water resources is being pushed through
which will drive the small peasantry who can’t afford the rates, off their
As a result the country is
experiencing the worst agrarian crisis since independence. The entire
agricultural sector is in disarray, and thousands of peasants have committed
suicides. This crisis is the direct result of neo-liberal economic policies:
these policies dictate the withdrawal of the State from all supportive roles
other than the support of international finance capital; and agriculture cannot
survive the withdrawal of the support system of the State.
Impact on Industry
While the agrarian economy has been the most visible victim of the
neo-liberal economic policies, large sections of the urban petty producers and
small capitalists have also been hit by the policies of “trade
liberalization” enforced under the WTO, and by higher input costs (including
for credit and electricity). This has had a direct bearing on urban
unemployment. The BJP-led government accelerated its onslaught on the public
sector in its last years in power. After privatising VSNL, Balco and Maruti, the
government was poised to go ahead with the privatisation of the HPCL and BPCL
oil companies before it was ousted from power. Practically every sphere was
opened up for privatisation and entry of foreign capital. Defence production was
opened up for 100 per cent private enterprise with 26 per cent FDI. Even in the
print media, 26 per cent FDI was allowed.
Government on Same Path
The fiscal policies of the BJP-led government reflected in its successive
budgets, led to India having one of the lowest tax-GDP ratios in the world. Tens
of thousands of crores were gifted as concessions to big business and the rich
while indirect taxes were heaped on the common people. Public expenditure in the
social sector and agriculture was cut to contain the fiscal deficit.
Liberalisation under BJP rule meant a bonanza for the rich and growing
deprivation and unemployment for the common people.
The UPA government is pursuing the same policies of liberalisation and
privatisation. Notwithstanding certain policy measures in the Common Minimum
Programme, the government is unwilling to change course and, in essence, pursues
the same policies as that of the Vajpayee government. Some instances of this
are: the UPA government wants to further liberalise the financial sector by
facilitating the takeover of Indian private banks by foreign banks by
implementing a proposal to allow 74 per cent FDI in Indian private banks
announced by the previous government. It desires to privatise the insurance
sector further. It is going ahead with the privatisation of the Delhi and Mumbai
airports, a step initiated by the BJP-led government. It proposed the raising of
the FDI caps in telecom and insurance in the Union budget of 2004–05 which has
been halted due to opposition of the Left. It seeks to circumvent the commitment
not to privatise profitable PSUs by gradually disinvesting shares in these units
to meet its budgetary deficit.
The UPA government has shown itself eager to fashion policies favourable
to big business and international finance capital while being tardy or negligent
in protecting the interests of the working class and the working people. For
instance, it cut the EPF rate of interest to 8.5 per cent while pushing forward
with the plan to privatise the pension fund of government employees. It has
abolished Press Note 18 which provided some protection for Indian companies
which enter into joint ventures with foreign companies. It’s fiscal policies
seek to curtail expenditure by cutting down subsidies necessary for the common
people, while proposing tax concessions to the corporate sector and the rich. It
has resorted to successive increases in the prices of petroleum products which
are leading to price rise of essential commodities, while being reluctant to
revise the excise and import duty structure which gives undue benefits to the
oil companies. The government seeks to fulfill the CMP commitment to adopt an
Employment Guarantee Act but has prepared a bill which dilutes the provision of
providing minimum 100 days work for one adult in every rural household on
Of The People
The most visible symptom of the agrarian rural distress among the rural
poor is the drastic curtailment of their per capita food availability and
consequently its intake. Per capita foodgrain availability which stood at 180
kgs at the end of the 1980s has seen a drastic decline to an average of 155 kgs
in the three years 2000–01 to 2002–03. This is the result of the
“reforms”, a product of BJP rule. In fact the per capita foodgrain
availability in the country as a whole is now down to the level of what it was
on the eve of the Second World War.
The number of farmers’ suicides has reached levels unheard of since
independence. Such suicides have taken place in major parts of the country, with
Andhra Pradesh topping the number of peasants ending their lives in desperation.
More than 7,000 farmers committed suicide in the state in the space of three
years. Thousands of farmers died in a similar way in other places.
The “targetted” public distribution system actually led to the
dismantling of the existing public distribution system which itself was
inadequate. This dismantling of the public distribution system has hit the poor
the hardest, with the worst affected being the tribal areas where hunger and
starvation deaths have become a regular feature.
Lakhs of families working in traditional industries whether they are in
handloom, beedi, coir, cashew, or artisans have been rendered jobless and are
forced to live in hunger and deprivation. Small scale and tiny sector units have
closed by the thousands and the plight of the unorganized workers worsened.
The urban industrial workers have experienced not only growing
unemployment but also a substantial increase in lockouts, cuts in the social
wage, increase of insecurity and a reduction in their bargaining strength
through attacks on trade unions and through attempts to deny them the right to
strike. Labour laws, which offer limited protection are being undermined.
Contract and casual work is being introduced on a large scale to deprive workers
of legal benefits. Pension funds are sought to be privatised. Minimum wages and
other protections are denied to workers in the unorganised sectors. The plight
of the plantation workers in tea gardens has worsened with thousands jobless and
their families starving.
Children up to 18 years constitute 44 per cent of the population. The
record with regard to children’s welfare is shocking. 47 per cent of children
below three years are malnourished. 40.7 per cent of children enrolled at the
primary school stage drop out. Child labour is rampant with children undertaking
arduous and hazardous work with no rights or protection whatsoever.
Unemployment has become the single largest problem for the people. This
is a result of the liberalisation and privatisation policies pursued over the
years. Rural unemployment, unemployment for the youth, educated unemployment and
unemployment for women have blighted the lives of millions of families. The rate
of growth of employment under BJP rule was a dismal 1.13 per cent. Existing jobs
in the public sector and organised sector are being done away with.
The fiscal crisis of the Centre, which is precipitated by the neo-liberal
reforms through its various tax measures is sought to be passed on to the state
governments. The Centre compounds the problem by charging exorbitant rates of
interest on loans given by it including those given from small savings, loans
raised within the states themselves. When the state governments are reduced to a
mendicant status, the Centre then thrusts upon them neo-liberal policies. During
the nineties, the tax revenue raised by the state governments together as
proportion of GDP did not decline while the tax revenue raised by the Centre
did, and yet at the end of the decade it was the states which faced the fiscal
Accentuation of uneven development has led to the growth of inter-state
and intra-state disparities. This is giving a fillip to the demands for separate
states based on the argument of backwardness, such as Telengana and Vidarbha.
The Party will fight for the development of backward regions while adhering to
the principled position of opposition to the division of linguistic states.
Another aspect of growing concern is the inter-state problem with regard to the
sharing of river waters and water resources. Such conflicts are growing given
the increasing demand for water in agriculture and the unscientific use of water
of National Unity
The situation in the North-East is characterised by the continuing
activities of the armed separatist groups and ethnic conflicts. The situation is
complicated by the fact that the neighbouring country of Bangladesh has become a
sanctuary for most of these extremist groups and imperialism is very much active
in aiding them. Of particular concern is the role of the ISI of Pakistan which
is well-known for its links to the US intelligence agencies. The ULFA leadership
is based in Bangladesh and most of the ULFA cadres who fled Bhutan after the
army operation are sheltering there. The two major extremist groups of Tripura,
the NLFT and the ATTF, and the separatist groups in Manipur have their camps
across the border. The heightened intervention of foreign agencies poses a
serious threat to national unity.
The growth of separatism and extremist activities are also the result of
the wrong policies adopted by the Centre towards the North-East over the
decades. The lack of special attention to develop the region which has unique
characteristics, the reliance on a nexus of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats
to implement developmental work, and the insensitivity to the cultural and
nationality sentiments of the different communities has created the space for
separatism and foreign intervention. Excesses committed by the security forces
have alienated and angered the people. In Manipur, a popular upsurge took place
after the brutal killing of a woman by the para-military forces. The political
process of providing regional autonomy to substantial tribal communities and a
genuinely democratic set-up needs to be taken forward seriously. Steps have to
be taken to protect the identity of the various peoples by stopping illegal
migration from across the border. The North-Eastern region requires priority in
building infrastructure, communications and generating employment for the
The elections in late 2002 saw the formation of the PDP-Congress
coalition government headed by Mufti Mohd. Sayeed. The National Conference was
defeated, being discredited by its joining the BJP alliance at the Centre and
its corrupt misrule. Elections were held in a relatively free manner compared to
the past. But the BJP-led government did not utilise this situation to advance
the political dialogue. Its resolute opposition to autonomy and the RSS backing
the idea of a trifurcation spoilt the chances of a dialogue. The extremists
sought to disrupt the peace by repeated attacks. After the UPA government
assumed office, there has been no notable initiative to revive talks, along with
the Indo-Pakistan dialogue.
The CPI(M) strongly advocates the provision of maximum autonomy for
the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Without assuring the Kashmiri people that their
identity and culture will be fully recognised and their aspirations met in a
democratic set-up within the Indian Union, the feeling of alienation cannot be
removed nor the separatists countered. An autonomous set up should be created,
with the regions of Jammu & Ladakh being given regional autonomy within this
framework. Meanwhile, efforts to restore people-to-people relations between the
two parts divided by the LoC must be encouraged. The steps taken by the
Indo-Pakistan dialogue of a ceasefire on the LoC and reduction of military
forces should be accompanied by suitable political measures. The J&K state
needs serious efforts by the centre to reconstruct its shattered economy
especially in the sphere of employment generation.
The BJP-led government had steered foreign policy on to a
pro-American path. It proclaimed that Indo-US relations were the history of
“fifty wasted years” implying that non-alignment was a mistake. It sought to
subordinate India to the global strategic interests of the US provided India was
given de facto recognition as a nuclear power and a preeminent status in South
Asia. The only result of this was to place India at the same level as Pakistan
as one of the two allies of the US. The Bush administration belied the BJP’s
hopes by relying on Pakistan in its war on terror and giving it the status of a
major non-NATO ally. The Vajpayee government also cultivated strategic ties with
Israel and went to the extent of advocating an India-US-Israel axis.
The UPA government has to adhere to an independent foreign policy as
declared in the Common Minimum Programme. To achieve this, the Manmohan Singh
government must make sure that issues such as the joint missile defence
programme with the US are not pursued as they are not in the country’s
interests. Nor should India make any commitment to join the US proliferation
security initiative or accept continuance of US military forces in Iraq. To
promote multipolarity in international relations, India should have close ties
with Russia, China and Europe and Japan. Special emphasis has to be placed on
ties with major developing countries in Asia, Africa and South America.
India’s ties with its South Asian neighbours have to be strengthened. It is
essential to review and end the strategic military and security cooperation with
Israel, which is one of the most lawless states in the world and which continues
to defend it occupation of Palestinian and Arab lands. The CPI(M) will endeavour
to see that the harmful legacy of the Vajpayee government’s foreign policy is
The one and a half decades of liberalisation have worsened the
conditions of women in terms of access to employment and being marginalized in
the market. The closure of factories and the decline of traditional industries
have led to women losing jobs on a large scale. The female work participation
rate in urban India is extremely low, between 13 and 15 per cent. Women in the
organized sector constitute only 18 per cent. 93 per cent of women workers in
manufacture are in the unorganized sector where there is no protective
legislation. Male domination and traditional prejudices have reinforced gender
discrimination which is revealed in the most glaring form in the declining sex
ratio. The 2001 census has shown that in the juvenile age group there is a
considerable decline with the sex ratio being 927:1000. Discrimination and
prejudice against females is reflected in the elimination of the girl child.
Promotion of market and consumerist values depict women as being sex
objects while traditional feudal attitudes are responsible for vicious violence
against women as witnessed in honour killings which are taking place in states
like Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The atrocities against women whether they are
through dowry murders, sexual assault or domestic violence are on the increase
with the legal machinery unable to promptly punish the perpetrators. The CPI(M)
supports the women’s movement which is fighting against all types of
oppression and violence. It calls for new legislation against domestic violence,
sexual assault and child sexual abuse. Women must be entitled to equal property
rights including in ancestral property and the long delayed one-third
reservation for women in parliament and state legislatures must be passed into
The caste system contains both
social oppression and class exploitation. The dalits suffer from both types of
exploitation in the worst form. 86.25 per cent of the scheduled caste households
are landless and 49 per cent of the scheduled castes in the rural areas are
agricultural workers. Communists who champion an end to caste oppression and
eradication of untouchability have to be in the forefront in launching struggles
against the denial of basic human rights. This struggle has to be combined with
the struggle to end the landlord dominated order which consigns the dalit rural
masses to bondage. The issues of land, wages and employment must be taken up to
unite different sections of the working people and the non-dalit rural poor must
be made conscious of the evils of caste oppression and discrimination by a
powerful democratic campaign. There are some dalit organisations and NGOs who
seek to foster anti-Communist feelings among the dalit masses and to detach them
from the Left movement. Such sectarian and, in certain cases, foreign-funded
activities must be countered and exposed by positively putting forth the
Party’s stand on caste oppression and making special efforts to draw the dalit
masses into common struggles.
The intensification of the caste appeal and fragmentation of the
working people on caste lines is a serious danger to the Left and democratic
movement. Taking up caste oppression, forging the common movement of the
oppressed of all castes and taking up class issues of common concern must be
combined with a bold campaign to highlight the pernicious effects of caste-based
politics. The Party should work out concrete tactics in different areas taking
into account the caste and class configurations. Electoral exigencies should not
come in the way of the Party’s independent campaign against caste-based
politics. Reservation is no panacea for the problems of caste and class
exploitation. But they provide some limited and necessary relief within the
existing order. Reservation should be extended to dalit Christians. In the
context of the privatisation drive and the shrinkage of jobs in the government
and public sector, reservation in the private sector for scheduled castes and
tribes should be worked out after wide consultations.
The 8.43 crore (84.3 million) tribal people are the worst victims of
the new phase of capitalist development under liberalisation. They are subjected
to the predatory exploitation of not only moneylenders and contractors but also
big business and multinational companies who are being given access to the
mineral wealth in tribal areas. Recent years have seen a sharp cutback in the
public distribution system and welfare schemes which have driven tribals to
starvation and hunger deaths. The Forest Act and the bureaucracy deny them
access to the forest and evict them from their traditional habitats. BJP rule
saw the deep penetration by RSS outfits in tribal areas with efforts to
communalise the adivasis and pit them against Christians and Muslims. The
provision of regional autonomy in tribal-majority areas is necessary to protect
tribal interests in land, culture and self-development.
The Party formulated a tribal policy document in 2001. This should be
the basis for work in the tribal areas and for countering the disruptive forces
which seek to foster separatism or communal tendencies among the tribal people.
The UPA government has not scrapped the objectionable tribal policy document of
the NDA, nor the eviction orders of tribals from forests which were issued by
the NDA government. The Party will have to take up these issues. The Party must
take up the issues of land, access to forests, wages and development of the
tribal areas so that tribal people are ensured educational and employment
The Party must identify with the aspirations and assertions of all the
socially and economically oppressed sections. The Party bases itself on the
basic classes, the working class, the semi-proletarian masses in the urban and
rural areas, the poor peasantry and agricultural workers, both men and women. In
order to link the Left with the other socially oppressed sections, the Party
cause of the dalits against caste oppression, making their demand for social
justice a part of the common democratic platform;
rising consciousness and movement of women for equality and gender justice
viewing the women’s question as not only a gender issue but a class issue;
struggle of the adivasis-tribal people for land, access to forests, an end
to the inhuman capitalist and feudal exploitation, and protecting their
identity, cultural and linguistic rights; and
social causes which help fight obscurantism, socially regressive customs and
patriarchal and feudal practices.
The Party has been opposing untouchability, caste discrimination, dowry,
female foeticide and minority baiting. Based on the experience of recent
campaigns against some of these evils, the Party should take the lead in taking
up social issues for campaigns and struggles.
The CPI(M) is for championing the legitimate rights of the minorities
against discrimination and fighting off the attacks by majority communalism. At
the same time, the Party stands for democratic and progressive reforms within
the minorities. It opposes fundamentalism and minority communalism which seeks
to ghettoize and breed intolerance amongst the minorities. The Party is for
special measures to provide education and access to jobs for the Muslim
minorities. Attention has to be paid to the rights and needs of the working
people and the poorer sections amongst the minorities and to bring them into the
common class and mass movements.
The six years of BJP rule were notorious for the determined attempt
to revamp the educational system on communal lines with text books and writing
of history being the focus. Simultaneously, there was a stepped-up drive to
privatise and commercialise education to the detriment of students and the
people at large. The National Curriculum Framework and the Model Act for
universities were drawn up with these twin goals in mind. The BJP-led government
allowed private universities through the back door by providing for deemed
private universities by amending the UGC Act. More than 170 private deemed
universities were set up in the last two years. The Supreme Court judgement in
the TMA Pai [if this is a name, it should be T.M.A.]
case promoted rampant commercialisation with private professional colleges
free to set up their own norms for admissions and fee structure.
The UPA government must bring forward a central legislation to enable
state governments to regulate admissions and fees in private unaided
institutions. While the UPA government announced a 2 per cent cess for
education, it did not take any steps to increase expenditure on higher education
in the Union budget of 2004–05. The promise to spend 6 per cent of the GDP on
education in the CMP needs to be pursued seriously. The provision of free and
compulsory education up to 14 years of age must be also implemented stringently.
The government has taken some steps to detoxify education, set up the Central
Advisory Board of Education and withdraw flawed textbooks. However, much more
needs to be done to undo the damage caused by prolonged BJP-RSS interference in
Neo-liberal economic reforms pursued since 1991 have further weakened
the public health infrastructure in the country. Public expenditure on
healthcare is just 0.9 per cent of GDP, one of the lowest in the world, and
private expenditure is 84 per cent of total health care costs, making the
country’s health infrastructure one of the most privatised in the world. The
present government has promised in its Common Minimum Programme that public
expenditure on health will be increased to 2 to 3 per cent of GDP over the next
five years. However, the first budget of the UPA government did not, in any
manner, reflect this commitment. The government is finalising a Rural Health
Mission, but wider discussions are necessary to ensure that the mission dos not
become a prescription for further privatisation of the country’s health
The ordinance brought in to amend India’s Patent Laws, in order to
make it TRIPS compliant, is deficient in terms of its ability to safeguard
national interests and will lead to an increase in prices of drugs. There are
attempts to reverse the national consensus arrived at in the National Population
Policy, 2000, regarding the eschewing of a target-oriented population control
programme, which is a matter of concern.
2.47 The CPI(M) demands that public expenditure on healthcare be increased to 3 per cent of GDP in the next five years and further to 5 per cent of GDP over a period of time. These resources should be utilised to strengthen the primary health infrastructure at all levels, so that comprehensive healthcare is made available by the government to all sections of the people.
The problems of deforestation, soil erosion, pollution of air and
water resources are all contributing to the degradation of the environment with
resultant adverse effects on the well-being of the people. Government policy on
environment often takes the wrong direction because it is not based on a
people-oriented development framework which integrates environmental concerns.
Instead of targetting the tribal and forest communities, the government has to
act against the contractors and their patrons who are primarily responsible for
the destruction of forest cover. Strict control must be exercised against
industrial units using hazardous technology which affects the health of workers
and the neighbourhood, rather than indiscriminately closing down factories in
cities throwing out lakhs of workers from their jobs. Vehicular pollution can be
checked by developing mass-transit and public transport systems and levying high
taxes on luxury cars. There is an urgent need to check soil and river erosion
which is damaging the lives of millions of people. The draft national policy on
environment of the UPA government does not meet the requirements of a
people-oriented, sustainable development based on environmental concerns.
Developing a secular and democratic culture requires an unremitting
struggle to combat all communal ideologies which seek to distort cultural
values. The Hindutva brigade’s attacks on cultural personalities and cultural
productions serve as a warning not to relax this struggle. The UPA government
must ensure that all the RSS personnel infiltrated into the cultural
institutions are removed. The other threat to a democratic and popular culture
is the onslaught of values of consumerism and commercialisation which are
intrinsic to imperialist-driven globalisation which is being pushed by
imperialist-driven globalisation. The forms of cultural expression rooted in
popular culture are sought to marginalised and coopted with the market-driven,
consumerist values. The globalisation of violence, sex and rampant individualism
is having a pernicious impact on society, particularly the youth.
Culture has to be composite, representing the rich diversity of
India. The efforts to strait-jacket culture according to sectarian-communal
values must be fought back. Similarly, a democratic culture has to incorporate
the ethos of national sovereignty, solidarity with all oppressed sections and an
openness which accommodates dissenting views.
The electronic media is a very powerful medium which influences
popular perceptions and tastes. The expansion of private satellite TV channels
is the most significant feature of the recent period. The privately-owned Indian
and foreign channels have became the most explicit conveyance of the
liberalisation ethos and its cultural values. The rightwing economic policies
find their most aggressive advocates in the big business dominated print and
electronic media. Side by side, the concept of a public broadcasting system and
the development of an autonomous Prasar Bharati was done away with by the
BJP-led government. The UPA government is inclined to adopt the same approach as
its predecessor. It is essential to have a strengthened Prasar Bharati that
becomes a genuine public broadcasting service. Cross-media ownership must be
prohibited to prevent monopolies. The UPA government should not further relax
restrictions on foreign entry in the print media. Foreign ownership in print
media must be disallowed.
The BJP-led government had promulgated POTA through a joint session
of Parliament. As apprehended, this draconian legislation was used one-sidedly
against the minorities in Gujarat and to suppress democracy and to put political
opponents behind bars in states like Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. An assault on
democratic rights came through the higher judiciary following the Supreme Court
endorsing the high courts prohibition of bandhs and “forcible” hartals. A
number of high courts have come out restricting the holding of meetings and
processions which are inherent right of all citizens.
This was followed by the Supreme Court judgement denying the right to
strike for government employees. This glaring attack on the right to strike has
been taken up by high courts which have prohibited general strikes and even
fined political parties for holding demonstrations. The Supreme Court has given
a series of judgements which is against the interests of the working class. This
heralds a new phase of trying to legally restrict or suppress the basic
democratic rights of the people which is in tune with the ethos of the
neo-liberal reforms and the demand of big business and foreign finance capital
that the right to organise and protest be curbed.
The CPI(M) cannot accept any such restrictions or curbs on the basic
right to strike and to organise collective protests. A powerful movement for
these basic democratic rights has to be organised to counter this judicial and
Reforms in the judicial system are necessary to provide speedy relief
to the people at an affordable cost. Corruption in the higher judiciary is a
matter of concern and can no longer be ignored. There is also the trend of
judicial encroachment of the powers of the executive, often due to the failure
of the executive to discharge its responsibilities. There should be a proper
balance in the relations between the legislature, judiciary and the executive
and the exercise of powers in their respective spheres without encroaching into
the legitimate domain of other organs.
The naxalite groups which rely on armed squads are active in certain
pockets of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Bihar. They have a
disruptive stance which targets all the bourgeois parties and the Left parties
without any distinction while covering up their ideological bankruptcy with
revolutionary phraseology. Their activities include suppression of democratic
rights of people and extortion and appropriation of funds meant for rural
development. Their anarchic-terrorist violence provides the State the excuse to
act against all democratic movements and for the police to step up their
repression of the people. The recent merger of the PWG and the MCC to form the
CPI (Maoist) can lead to stepped-up attacks in the states they are operating in
and in the periphery like West Bengal. The CPI(M) will continue to conduct a
political and ideological campaign against these forces to expose their
disruptive and harmful activities.
As for those naxalite groups which have taken to mass political work
and abandoned the adventurist armed struggle tactics, such as the CPI(ML)
Liberation, the Party is prepared to work with them in united platforms in the
fight against communalism, imperialism and on working class issues. However,
unless they change their negative approach to the Left Front in West Bengal and
their anti-CPI(M) stance, there is no scope for a Left platform with them.
The working class put up determined resistance to the BJP-led
government’s offensive to dismantle the public sector and expand the sphere of
privatization to new areas. The Nalco struggle in Orissa became a mass popular
movement with major political parties supporting the Orissa bandh. This
protracted struggle prevented the privatization of the profit-making enterprise.
The period of the last three years saw a series of strike struggles by the coal
mine workers against the threat of privatization, the strikes by state
government employees in Kerala and Tamil Nadu against cuts in their benefits and
the three day strike by employees of the oil companies against the privatization
of HPCL and BPCL.
Two general strikes, the first by public sector workers on 16 April
2002 in defence of the public sector, and the second on 21 May 2003 against the
economic policies of the government, saw millions of workers and employees
joining the strike. Consequent to the Supreme Court judgement denying the right
to strike to government employees, a big campaign was launched in defence of the
right to strike. The general strike of February 24, 2004 in defence of the right
to strike and against the economic policies saw millions of workers and
employees participating in the protest action. Workers of traditional industries
like cashew, coir and beedi have also conducted prolonged struggles in defence
of their rights.
Protests against the WTO terms, against privatization of water,
electricity and struggles for maintaining the public distribution system have
taken place in various parts of the country. There have been struggles to
protect the rights of tribal people for land and access to forests. Land
struggles have taken place in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Assam,
Jharkhand, UP and Bihar. A prolonged and united struggle was waged by the
peasants in Rajasthan in the Ganganagar and Bikaner districts for adequate
supply of water through the Rajasthan canal. This struggle, which stretched over
three months, saw six people being killed by the police and hundreds being
jailed, some under NSA. The Party and the Kisan Sabha played a leading role in
conducting this movement. The Rajasthan struggle shows how by picking up
concrete issues and launching sustained struggles the movement can develop.
The period saw a number of struggles by students against high tuition
fees and arbitrary admission norms of the professional colleges consequent to
the Supreme Court judgement. In Kerala, a bitter struggle was conducted by the
students facing severe police repression and struggle on the same issues took
place in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Karnataka. The
women’s movement have conducted a number of struggles for food, employment and
against sexual and physical violence against women. Intellectuals and artists
mobilized against the communalization of culture and education.
These struggles contributed to creating the atmosphere which led to
the isolation of the BJP led government and the defeat of the BJP in the Lok
Sabha elections. For increasing the Party’s influence and for further advance
it is necessary to take up the concrete issues for sustained struggles and link
up these struggles to the struggle for alternative policies.
The BJP-led government advanced the elections to the 14th
Lok Sabha by six months. After the BJP’s victory in the Madhya Pradesh,
Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh elections, the BJP leadership felt that the situation
was in their favour and decided to hold early elections. They completely misread
and underestimated the mood of the people. In the background of the growing
discontent and widespread protests and struggles of the people, the BJP-led
alliance was ousted from power. The Party formulated an electoral tactical line
which called for the defeat of the BJP and its allies, the formation of an
alternative secular government at the Centre and for strengthening the
representation of the Party and the Left in parliament. The results of the Lok
Sabha elections showed that all the three goals set out by the Party were
The Party’s central task as set out in the 17th Congress
was to isolate and defeat the BJP so that the BJP-led government could be
dislodged from the Centre. The Party and left forces played an important role in
mobilizing the people against the BJP-led government’s policies. It is the
continuous campaign and struggle against the communal platform of the
BJP, its pro-imperialist and anti-people economic policies, its unprecedented
corruption scandals and its attacks on democratic rights that helped to create
the environment for isolating the BJP and its alliance. The struggles of the
working class and other sections of the working people waged by the trade unions
and mass organizations also contributed to this effort.
However, the BJP alliance could be defeated only by the cooperation
of the Left with other secular and democratic forces. It resulted in the
formation of the Congress-led UPA government which required the support of the
Left to get a majority in the Lok Sabha.
to UPA Government
The CPI(M) decided to extend support to the Congress-led alliance, the
UPA, to form a government to ensure that there is a secular government at the
Centre. After the popular verdict rejecting the BJP alliance, it was necessary
to see that the BJP did not get any chance to make a comeback. Given the class
character of the Congress and its commitment to pursue economic policies of
liberalization, the Party was not for joining a government in which the
coalition would be dominated by forces committed to these policies. The Central
Committee therefore was prepared to support the Congress-led government so that
the required numbers for a majority are ensured.
The CPI(M) and the Left parties broadly endorsed the Common Minimum
Programme which was adopted by the UPA for its government. The CMP contains
certain measures which, if implemented, can help protect the secular fabric,
provide relief to the people in areas like agriculture and employment
generation, and meet some needs in education and health. The CMP also provides
correctives to the blatantly pro-American foreign policy of the previous
government. The popular verdict in the elections and people’s aspirations for
a better deal have had some impact, which reflects in some of the pro-people
measures and the promise not to privatize profit-making public sector units. At
the same time, the CPI(M) and the Left parties expressed their differences in
certain areas of the CMP. They pertain to the advocacy of privatisation in
various sectors, the refusal to go in for a universal public distribution system
as against the targeted system and fiscal policies which affect the common
people. The Party will support any step taken by the UPA government to implement
the pro-people measures in the CMP. However, it must be underlined that the CMP
does not change the basic thrust of the policies of liberalization.
The UPA government is moving on the understanding that the core
issues of economic policies, liberalisation and privatisation should be left to
the government to pursue. The Left is expected to raise its concerns about the
impact of such policies on employment, food supply, education and health with a
view to get some minor concessions or relief for the people. Our Party cannot
accept such an approach. The basic content of economic policies, the nature of
investment, mobilisation and allocation of resources and fiscal policies are
very much the Left’s concerns as they have a direct impact on the work and
living conditions of the people.
In the present situation the Party has to play an independent role.
That role implies criticizing and opposing such steps of the government which
are against the people’s interests, or are a departure from the CMP and which
are a continuation of the same type of policies as the previous government’s.
The people should understand that the Party and the Left are not supporting the
government for continuing with the same discredited policies of the previous
communal and right wing government.
This independent role entails that the Party and the Left conduct
political campaigns to project the independent positions of the Left and popular
mobilisations and struggles to defend the rights and livelihood of the people.
The mass organisations have to play an active role in forging the widest
movements both for pressurising the government to implement pro-people measures
included in the CMP and to fight against the ill-effects of the continuing
policies of liberalisation and the effects of imperialist-driven globalisation.
2.71 The independent role of the Party does not mean confining to, or dealing
only with the CMP and government related issues. It means taking up the demands
of the Left and democratic programme set out in the 17th Congress of
the Party. The issues of land, wages, democratic rights of the working people
have to be taken up and struggles conducted. The issues of the basic classes
have to be championed and fought for. Not taking up such issues would mean
undermining the independent role of the Party and weakening the struggle of the
Left and democratic forces.
situation is marked by the following features:
2.72 First, the BJP was dislodged from the Centre in the last Lok Sabha
elections. While this was a significant victory for the left, democratic and
secular forces, it must be noted that the BJP-RSS combine still commands
substantial support. Apart from its 138 members in the Lok Sabha, the BJP has
six state governments in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat,
Jharkhand and Goa. It also has allies in the NDA like the Akali Dal, BJD,
Trinamul, JD(U) and the support of the TDP.
2.73 The rise of the communal forces in the past one and a half decades and
their six-year period in office has enabled the communal ideology and
organizations to strike roots in different sections of society. It will be a
mistake to underestimate their latent strength. Though the electoral setbacks in
the Parliament and Maharashtra assembly elections have put them on the defensive
and their tactics to make a revival on the Hindutva platform have not yielded
popular support, the potential for their comeback exists.
2.74 Second, the bourgeois-landlord combination headed by the Congress which
is secular in character is at present in Government. The UPA has been able to
benefit from the popular discontent against the previous BJP-led government’s
policies. It seeks to respond to the mandate of the people by assuring relief
from the ill-effects of the six years of BJP rule, without making any major
change in the economic policies.
2.75 Given the class character of the Congress and the performance of the UPA
government which pursues policies of liberalization and accedes to the demands
of international finance capital, the impact of such policies on the livelihood
and living conditions of the people is bound to generate discontent. The
experience of the nine months of the Congress-led government confirms this.
2.76 The fight against the communal forces is also conditioned by the
vacillations and lack of ideological firmness of the Congress. It seeks to rely
on electoral tactics and maneouvres to defeat the BJP. While the UPA government
is committed to some steps to restore the secular principle in the State, they
cannot be relied upon to carry out a consistent struggle – political and
ideological – against the communal and divisive forces.
2.77 The Manmohan Singh government and most of the UPA allies are committed to
pursuing the economic policies of liberalization and privatization. The
situation is such that whereas the Congress-led combination can be supported for
following the CMP in any step taken to undo the damage done to secularism in the
past, it cannot be overlooked that the Congress-led government’s policies on
the economic front actually undercut the support for democratic and secular
2.78 The regional parties continue to play an important role in national
politics. Earlier, the BJP was successful in coming to power by winning over
important regional parties as its allies. The Congress too succeeded in the 2004
election by allying with such parties. Given their class basis among the
regional bourgeois-landlord classes, these parties have displayed vacillations
and opportunism that emanated from their political interests in their concerned
states. Their contradiction with the all India bourgeois-landlord classes is
muted given their support for liberalisation. Increasing caste appeal is
determining the mass base of some of these parties which is amongst the reasons
for their opportunistic stances. The Party’s stand of cooperating with secular
regional parties who are prepared to fight the communal forces while opposing
those who join hands with the BJP, was proved correct. In the recent period, it
has led to the weakening of the BJP-led alliance, the NDA, and some of the
regional parties like the DMK have joined the secular forces.
2.79 The intensification of the caste appeal in electoral politics and the
formulation of the political forces on caste lines is a marked feature of the
current situation. Caste based political mobilisation which was a feature of the
Hindi states earlier has spread to other states too. This narrow appeal hampers
the development of the democratic movement and helps perpetuate patronage
politics revolving around caste leaders who switch allegiances without any
ideological or political convictions.
2.80 The Party and the Left have to be vigilant about the role of imperialism,
which the bourgeois parties ignore. But in domestic economic and political
affairs and in foreign policy, the influence of imperialism and particularly the
USA has grown. Here again, except for some shift in emphasis, the strategic
collaboration with the US and its deep inroads remain.
2.81 The third feature is the role of the Left in the current situation. The
role of the Left is significant though its strength is limited. It is in a
crucial position which should be utilized to advance the struggle against
communalism, the pro-big business and foreign capital economic policies, and
2.82 The situation after the 14th Lok Sabha elections is such where
people have heightened expectations from the Party and the Left. Such a
favourable situation should be utilized to develop mass movements on political
issues and to initiate struggles of different sections of the people on their
economic demands. Adopting this course will enable the Party to advance.
Otherwise, if we only cater to the expectations of the people that the Left can
deliver relief through its support to the government, then it will only
discredit the Party and the Left.
2.83 The Party and the Left are engaging the UPA government in discussions on
economic policies and alternatives for development. For the first time, the
Left’s positions on policy matters and alternative policies are being widely
purveyed among the people. The Left has given alternative proposals on FDI caps,
patents, electricity act and foreign policy. The Party should utilize the
situation not only to oppose the bourgeois-landlord policies but to offer
concrete alternatives to government policies.
2.84 There are large sections of the people who are not within the
organizational reach of the Party or mass organizations. They will respond to
calls to defend their rights and to protect their interests. How far we can
reach them and bring into the ambit of the mass organisations and in contact
with the Party’s politics will determine the success we will achieve in
utilizing the current favourable situation.
2.85 The urgency and the importance to reach out to wider sections of people
and build broad platforms around issues have to be grasped. The defeat of the
communal forces in the Lok Sabha elections has provided an opening for the Left
but it does not mean a change in the correlation of political forces. The UPA
coalition headed by the Congress, given its class character, will not introduce
any alternative policies. More people have to be rallied to the Left and
democratic platform and the Left strengthened, if the space gained by the Left
is to be expanded. It is imperative that the Party expand its influence and base
beyond its strongholds in the three states.
2.86 The united platforms with other parties and groups to fight for
people’s issues should be accorded importance. During elections, to fulfill
immediate electoral aims, the Party can enter into adjustments and
understanding, but these are for the specific electoral purpose and should not
be treated as durable alliances. It will be parliamentary opportunism if the
requirements or prospects of an electoral understanding override the independent
role of the Party. The independent role of the Party should not be circumscribed
by such considerations.
above situation, the Party has to play the following role:
2.87 The Party has to build on the success of dislodging the BJP from the
Centre and initiate a broad campaign to roll back the vantage points gained by
the communal forces in different spheres of society, political, educational and
2.88 The Party extends support to the UPA government so that the levers of
State power are not with the combination headed by the BJP. It is up to the UPA
to ensure that its government has a stable tenure by implementing the pro-people
measures in the CMP and by maintaining its political cohesion. The Party and the
Left should continue to press the UPA government to see that the positive
features in the CMP are implemented and carried forward. This can be
accomplished only by bringing into play the pressure of mass movements and
2.89 The Party has no illusions about the basic approach and policies of the
Congress-led coalition government. It should act as the sentinel of the
people’s interests and take appropriate measures in this regard when required.
2.90 The Party has to intervene and develop the struggles which are going to
erupt under the impact of the liberalization process adopted by the
bourgeois-landlord ruling classes and which are reflected in the UPA
government’s economic policies. The Party has to champion the cause of
national sovereignty, protecting the scope for independent decision-making
through the democratic process of economic policies which are based on the
2.91 It is for the CPI(M), the Left forces and organizations of the working
people to mobilize the people and launch struggles to defend the interests of
the working people and to bring about a situation where alternative policies
come onto the national agenda.
2.92 The Party has to take up the issues of foreign policy, oppose the
succumbing to the pressures from imperialist finance capital and to work to
check the imperialist influence penetrating different spheres of society.
2.93 Inside Parliament too, the Party will exercise all the opportunities to
defend the people’s interests, push for measures to strengthen secularism and
check imperialist influence. It will support any step which is in conformity
with these three broad goals and will criticise and oppose specific policy
measures which go against them.
2.94 The projection of the Left positions, the strengthening of the Party and
the building of the left and democratic platform are the key tasks in the coming
period. This entails:
2.95 As against the BJP and the Congress and other bourgeois parties, the
CPI(M) has to project the Left standpoint and alternative policies. They pertain
to the political, economic, social and cultural spheres. At the ideological
level, the Party should counter all the bourgeois and feudal ideologies that
2.96 The Party can be strengthened by taking up the issues of the different
sections of the people, in particular the working people. Conducting struggles
at the local level and linking these struggles to the broader political
mobilization for a left and democratic platform opens the way for the Party’s
expansion. Developing the mass organizations with an independent and democratic
style of functioning constitutes an important link in expanding the mass
2.97 Given the present situation the task is not only to carry forward the
struggle against the communal forces but also to intensify the struggle against
the policies of liberalization and the dictates of international finance
capital. The CPI(M) and the Left therefore must wage a struggle on both fronts
– against communalism and against the renewed push for liberalization. The
struggle against communalism and the economic policies are in fact connected to
the anti-imperialist task, as both the Hindutva forces and the liberalisers are
distinguished by their pro-imperialism.
2.98 The Party reiterates that it is not possible to have a united front or
alliance with the Congress. This is what determined our decision not to join a
Congress-led government and to support it from outside. In the coming days the
Party should have ties with all the secular parties within and outside the UPA
who are not allied to the BJP. The Party is not for the consolidation of two
bourgeois formations headed by the Congress and the BJP. While a third
alternative is not immediately possible, the Party should work for its
realization as the political situation matures for it.
2.99 As the 16th Congress resolution pointed out, the formation of
a third alternative as a stable formation can come about only when the Left gets
further strengthened at the all-India level. Without this, such combinations are
short-term measures. The 17th Congress, summing up the experience of
such third formations, also opined that it must be based on some common
programme. The process of formation of such a third alternative, as distinct
from electoral understandings for specific elections must begin by drawing the
non-Congress secular bourgeois parties and other democratic forces into
campaigns and struggles on common issues.
2.100 The formation of a third alternative will materialize only when there is
a change in the stand of the political parties which are today either with the
Congress or the BJP. As far as economic policies are concerned, most of the
regional parties adhere to liberalisation-privatisation. Without effecting a
change in the outlook of these political parties, it will not be possible to go
towards the formation of an alternative political combination. This requires the
intervention of the Party and the Left. It is possible to bring about a change
in these political parties and the current alignments only by building big
movements and unleashing struggles. It is only through such movements and
struggles that the masses following these parties will be influenced and a shift
will take place. The key to bring about a change in the existing
bourgeois-landlord combinations is for the Party and the Left to build big
movements and united platforms by rallying all democratic and fighting forces
representing the working people.
2.101 The Left-led governments of West Bengal and Tripura are a vital component
of the Left and democratic movement in the country. The Left Front government of
West Bengal is unique in that it is in its twenty-eighth year in office. Some of
the important elements of the Left and democratic platform have been taken up
for implementation by the West Bengal government since 1977, though in a limited
fashion. Whether it be land reforms, decentralised panchayat system, assuring
democratic rights of working people, defence of secularism and communal harmony,
West Bengal under Left Front rule has shown the way. In the three-tier panchayat
elections of 2003, the Left Front won 67.2 per cent of the total seats, as
compared to 58 per cent in 1998. To further economic development, the government
is concentrating on developing the industrial and productive base which can
generate more employment.
2.102 The Tripura Left Front government is in its third term in office since
1993. In the North-East, it stands out for its unique record of maintaining and
strengthening tribal-non tribal unity, in the face of concerted and diabolical
attempts by extremist groups to disrupt the unity of the people. Tripura is a
shining example of how the communist approach protects national unity and
counters the divisive forces. The setting up of the tribal autonomous district
council and the work done by the Left Front government to promote balanced
development have cemented the unity of the working people. The record of service
for the common people and the poor has converted Tripura into a bastion for the
Left and democratic forces.
2.103 Faced with the neo-liberal policies of the Centre, the Left-led
governments have to struggle hard to pursue policies which ensure pro-people and
balanced development. While promoting private investment, the Left Front
governments defend the public sector in key areas, protect and, if possible,
expand public expenditure in the social sector and project alternative policies
to protect the poorer sections who are the worst affected by the policies
pursued by the Central government.
2.104 The progress in Left unity has mirrored the increased Left intervention
in national politics. The Left’s enhanced role in the post-election situation
required increased coordination which is reflected in the regular meetings of
the coordination committee of the Left parties. At the policy level, the Left is
playing an important role in projecting alternative policies to the course
adopted by the UPA government while cooperating with it to restore the secular
principle and further isolating the BJP.
2.105 The CPI(M), as the largest Left party, has to undertake the work of not
only strengthening the current unity of the four Left parties but also to draw
in all the Left-minded groups and individuals on to a common Left platform. Such
a broad unity and united intervention will be the lever for widening the
movements and struggles and expanding the influence of the Left.
2.107 The Left and democratic forces comprise not only political parties, but
movements, groups and individuals who share a common outlook and goals. The
CPI(M) as the largest Left party has to work towards rallying the forces for
forging such a platform. The Left and democratic platform must have the
following features. The concrete demands and alternative policies will flow from
the perspective set out below:
national unity and secularism
principle of separation of religion and politics with necessary legislation;
strengthen secular character of the State and its institutions; remove RSS
infiltration in the State apparatus. Combat communal ideology in society. Ensure
justice for all communal crimes and violence perpetrated especially in Gujarat.
Provide maximum autonomy to Jammu & Kashmir within the ambit of Article 370.
Enforce rule of law and judicial process to resolve disputes such as Ayodhya.
a democratic restructuring of agrarian relations
radical land reforms, distribution of surplus land and cultivable waste land to
the landless. Provision of sufficient public investment for agricultural
development; expansion of irrigation facilities; credit to poorer sections of
peasantry. Ensure procurement at minimum support prices for agricultural
produce. Promote cooperatives run on democratic lines in all spheres. Protect
bio-diversity and seed rights of farmers. Protect land rights of adivasis and
restore land illegally alienated from them.
an economy based on national sovereignty and people’s needs
policies of liberalisation to strengthen self-reliant economic growth;
streamline and strengthen public sector in core and strategic sectors; promote
non-monopolistic industrial growth, encourage medium and small scale industries.
Ensure adequate resource mobilisation by increased direct taxes, recovery of tax
dues and curbing black money. Foreign capital investment to be based on national
priorities and requirements of advanced technology. Regulate capital flows.
For a democratic and federal political
a truly federal system, restructure Centre-state relations with more powers to
the states. Revise concurrent list in the Constitution for this purpose.
Substantial increase in state share in divisible pool. Replace Article 356 with
suitable clauses to be invoked in extraordinary situations with sanction of
parliament. Revamp role of Governors. Expand democratic rights of citizens;
scrap repressive laws like NSA and ESMA. Introduce proportional representation
with partial list system in elections. Electoral reforms to curb money power and
malpractices. Curb corruption by stringent action against corrupt public
servants, businessmen and politicians. Develop public broadcasting system in
electronic media with democratic control.
For the rights of working people
based minimum wages for workers; recognition of trade union on the basis of
secret ballot; statutory provision for workers’ participation in management;
end discrimination of women workers; equal wages for equal work. Comprehensive
legislation for workers in the unorganized sector; ensure minimum wages for
agricultural workers and other rights through Central legislation. Right to work
as a fundamental right in the Constitution. Provide right to strike as a basic
For people’s welfare and balanced
up a universal public distribution system to cover 14 essential commodities;
adequate procurement of food stocks by the State for this purpose. Implant
employment guarantee act and food-for-work programme. Improvement of public
health system and expansion of primary health centres with adequate stocks of
medicines. Housing to be a basic right. Compulsory primary education and
universal elementary education; free education up to the secondary stage.
Revamping educational system on democratic, secular and scientific lines. A
comprehensive sports policy which provides adequate sports facilities for the
For social justice and equal rights for
women, dalits, adivasis and minorities
for women in all spheres by ending all forms of discrimination. Equal rights in
property; joint pattas for women; provision of one-third reservation for women
in legislatures and Parliament; measures to abolish child labour.
untouchability and atrocities against scheduled castes and tribes by stringent
action. Ensure reservation quotas for them are filled. Ensure right to forest
land and protection of the cultural identity of adivasis. Regional autonomy for
contiguous areas with majority adivasi population. Equality of all Indian
languages. Encouragement to Urdu language.
For an independent and anti-imperialist
an independent foreign policy with anti-imperialist orientation, end strategic
military and security cooperation with US and Israel; no nuclear weaponisation;
strive for universal nuclear disarmament; strengthen relations with socialist
countries; support to anti-imperialist struggles and world peace; strengthen
relations with China and promote India-China-Russia cooperation; promote
political dialogue to settle Indo-Pakistan disputes; policy of friendship and
closer ties with neighbouring countries in South Asia.
2.108 The Left and democratic platform presents the real alternative to the
current bourgeois-landlord policies. The Party should conduct all its political
and organisational activities with the aim of building the Left and democratic
front by rallying all the parties, organisations, groups and individuals who
will work together to realise the above platform.
2.109 The Party and the Left are placed in a favourable situation in the
country today. Due to the consistent struggle against communalism and the
pro-imperialist and pro-rich economic policies, defence of national sovereignty
against imperialism, more and more sections of the people are recognizing the
Left as the defender of the people and the country’s interests. Such a
situation has to be utilized to take the Party’s politics and ideology to
wider sections of the people who have not come within the ambit of the influence
of the Left forces.
2.110 This is the time to launch a widespread campaign to take the message of
the Party and the Left to the entire country. The Party should launch
countrywide movements for land, food and employment. The platform of
anti-imperialism, defence of people’s economic interests and the fight against
communal and divisive forces will elicit a big response if the Party reaches out
to new sections of the people and in new areas. Building a powerful Party based
on the communist principles of organisation and creatively applying Marxism to
the living problems of Indian society is a key task.
2.111 The entire Party should go to the people with the message of the 18th
Congress, to mobilize them and organise them, so that the struggle for a
secular, united and sovereign India free from class and social oppression
an all-sided struggle against communalism!
a strong movement against the harmful economic policies of the Central
Government and for alternative policies!
US imperialist aggression globally and imperialist penetration in our
the Left and democratic forces all over the country!