People's Democracy

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


No. 16

April 27, 2008




Prakash Karat's Reply To Discussion On 'The Role And Experience Of

Left-led Governments'

N S Arjun

AFTER a thorough and wide-ranging discussion spread over two days (April 2 and 3) in which 33 comrades participated, general secretary Prakash Karat replied to the discussion on Part II of the political-organisational (Polorg) report in the afternoon of April 3, the concluding day of the 19th congress. He said the discussion has confirmed the central committee's view that this document is very necessary for the Party at this juncture. The comrades who spoke expressed their views, voiced concerns and reaffirmed their confidence in the running of the Left-led governments. He acknowledged that the discussions were grounded on the perspective of Party programme even while being aware of these governments grappling with the changed situation.

Karat said the central point of what alternative policies or measures that the Left-led governments can take within the existing limitations was touched by most comrades participating in the discussion. They are also clear that these governments cannot implement People's Democratic programme as envisaged in Party programme because they are functioning in bourgeoisie-landlord system and where State power resides in centre. In every congress, Party sets out a Left and Democratic programme as an interim step to People's Democratic programme. Karat noted that these governments cannot implement even the Left and Democratic programme in full. Only certain elements can be taken up for implementation, that too in a partial manner. He cited how the Left-led governments took up land reforms because the state governments had powers to do it. How far these governments succeed in taking it to radical land reforms is dependent on the strength of the Left and democratic forces. He underlined that these governments are part of the struggle to implement the Left and Democratic programme and the governments would keep this in mind.

However this does not mean that all aspects of this programme can be implemented. As an example Karat cited how it is not possible for Bengal and Kerala governments to implement the 18th congress formulation of promoting non-monopolistic industrial growth as part of its all India platform of Left and Democratic programme. He said this will be campaigned for in these states along with the rest of the country. Similarly from time to time the Party opposes government of India policies and also proposes concrete alternatives. However, since these policies fall under central government, it may not be possible to ensure implementation of these alternatives in the Left-ruled states. Still it must not be seen as pursuing one line for all India and another for the three Left-ruled states.

Despite these limitations, our quest for alternative policies and their implementation must not be given up, exhorted Karat. He cited how Kerala LDF government is trying to use the central health insurance scheme – primarily meant to promote private health – to strengthen public health in that state. Similarly the Left-led governments can see what best can be done to strengthen public distribution system in those states. Such measures would make these governments stand out from the bourgeoisie governments. On the question of education, the 18th congress discussed about the growing privatisation of education. Taking into account the growing reality of expanded role of private education, the demand for social control over these institutes has been framed and Kerala is witnessing the struggle to ensure such control. He asserted that the Party will not end up accepting the TINA (there is no alternative) factor within the existing set-up and would continue its quest for alternative policies.

Regarding Kerala, Karat said the key link to Kerala's development today is increasing material production in agriculture and industrialisation. The so-called Kerala model of focussing only on social sector is unsustainable. However industrialisation in Kerala will not follow the same pattern as in Bengal due to varying conditions. As for Bengal, he said running of Left-led government for 30 years has sharpened the class struggle and if some chink in our armour is exposed, the enemy uses it. The recent state conference of the Bengal unit of the Party adopted a document on balanced development wherein it talked of building on the successes achieved in agriculture. He noted how comrades who spoke from Bengal in the discussion underlined that the scope for further development of agriculture in the state would not be neglected. He spoke of efforts by both Bengal and Kerala governments to raise revenue.

Karat felt that the discussion on this document has underlined the need to base functioning of the Left-led governments on the Party programme. He called for strengthening of our movement in these three states and elsewhere through the work of these governments. Saying that the comrades in these three states have a heavy responsibility and a big burden on their shoulders in this task, he accepted that at times there can be misjudgements or errors. The need to always take people into confidence by honestly telling them about the situation and limitations was stressed. “Such long stints of working in governments without actual State power and strengthening our movement is unprecedented for the entire communist movement. It is a unique experience. We have to take this forward by doing justice to the experience we have gained and the glorious sacrifices Party has made.” With this resounding call, Prakash Karat concluded his reply to the discussion on Part II of the political-organisational report on “The Role and Experience of Left-led Governments”. The document was adopted by the 19th congress with the proviso that it will be finalised after taking into account the suggestions/points made during the discussion.


An overwhelming majority of comrades who participated in the discussion on Part II of the political-organisational report regarding “The Role and Experience of Left-led Governments” expressed the opinion that the document helps in evolving a unified and clearer understanding within the Party on this issue. They were also confident that it would equip the entire Party in countering the malicious propaganda against the Left-led governments. The fact that the three Left-ruled states account for the maximum number of martyrs in our movement is a testimony to their being the advanced outposts of class struggle.

The comrades who spoke from the states of Bengal, Kerala and Tripura underlined the successes achieved by the governments despite all limitations and constraints. Land reforms, employment generation, decentralisation of power, sharecropper rights, literacy, education, empowerment of women, maintaining communal harmony etc were mentioned as noteworthy achievements. In a vast country as ours, situation and conditions vary from state to state and even within the states. So the needs and priorities for development would differ from each state. But one thing faced in common by all these states were the problems brought in by liberalisation. The governments’ efforts to overcome these problems were recounted.

In Kerala, the key point before the government is that until and unless rapid industrialisation is done, it would be difficult to sustain social welfare activities. Agrarian reforms, social welfare advancement measures administrative measures – all of which came to be known as 'Kerala model' – resulted in rapid progress in the social sector of the state. It was shown that it is possible for governments to ensure decent living for people without waiting endlessly for the so-called 'trickle-down effect'. However, Kerala model by itself is unsustainable. Comrade EMS had stressed that industrialisation was a key necessity. The recent state conference of Kerala unit of the Party identified three key challenges for the LDF government: 1) improving the quality of services in social sector; 2) protecting agriculture from crisis and 3) accelerating industrialisation. The solutions proposed respectively were: 1) increasing community participation in social services; 2) participatory model of development through further democratic decentralisation, agrarian reforms, strengthening people’s plan campaign etc; 3) creating environment for investment and creating infrastructure. Since FRBM Act is a limiting factor for state governments in terms of increasing capital expenditure, it was advocated that the Left-led governments must take up as a key political task the increasing government revenue. The need to discuss more thoroughly within the Party about the financial strategies of the Left-led governments was stressed. Different avenues for borrowing must be explored. Within all existing limitations, seeking Left alternatives in every aspect of governance was stressed.

In Bengal, it was pointed out in the discussion, the key aspect for the Left Front government is reducing the pressure on land by generating employment. And industrialisation is a key necessity to achieve this. Bengal has turned into an attractive destination for investment due to various factors. However, care is being taken to see that mostly non-agricultural land is given for industries. Although there is improvement in human development indicators in the state, much more needs to be done. It was pointed out that unevenness of growth of Party in the country is creating certain disadvantages for the Left-led governments. That the weaknesses or mistakes committed by our governments would have an all India impact is being kept in mind. However, Nandigram must be viewed as a symbol of conspiracy by the ultra Left to ultra Right with expelled members of our Party, so-called civil society activists and others jumping into the fray.

Another aspect which was stressed by most of the participants in the discussion was the need to build a broad platform of regional parties and democratic forces for the struggle to reorient centre-state relations. This issue must be taken up in a big manner and achieving progress on this front would help our governments in taking our agenda forward. Some cautioned about the dangers of corporate sector entering farm sector in Left-ruled states due to the nonviability of small holdings of land post-land reforms. It was suggested that cooperative farming must be explored. It was pointed out that there are weaknesses in terms of highlighting the achievements of the Left-led governments and these must be overcome in order to meet the virulent misinformation campaign by the corporate media.

Some comrades expressed apprehensions about leaving policy-making decisions to states and suggested organisational mechanism for ensuring PB guidance. Some felt that Nandigram issue had a negative impact affected in other states. Caution was also sounded about guarding against the adverse impact on the people of these states by whatever liberalisation policies the Left-led governments are forced to undertake in the present context. All possible means of industrialisation must be explored.

Those who participated in the discussion were: Arun Mishra (Bihar), Jaswinder Singh (MP), Thomas Isaac (Kerala), Gurnail Singh (Punjab), Manoranjan Talukdar (Assam), Tapasi Preharaj (Orissa), Thalman Pereria (Goa) K G Das (Andaman & Nicobar), Bayya Reddy (Karnataka), Jitender Chaudhury (Tripura), Subodh Mehta (Gujarat) Jigesh Sarkar (Bengal), Prasenjit Bose (CC Units) Sesha Reddy, Mahendra Singh (Maharashtra), Premnath Rai (UP), Vijender Sharma (Delhi), A Sounder Rajan (TN), Balram Adhikary (Sikkim), N K Shukla (CC Units), S Veeraiah (AP) Ardhendu Dakshi (CC Units), Rama Das (Tripura), Balbir Singh (Haryana), Mohd Yakub (J&K), Phool Chand (Rajasthan)Surender Singh (Uttarakhand), Mohd Iqbal (Jharkhand), J S Sodhi (Chhattisgarh), Biren (Manipur) and Shridip Bhattacharya (Bengal).