People's Democracy

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


No. 16

April 26, 2009


Left Alternative Forges Ahead in Bihar

Rajendra Sharma

"THERE will be sizable representation of the Left from Bihar this time," the claim was made by Vijayakant Thakur, the secretary of the Bihar state committee of the CPI(M) on April 21 in front of the Party office in Patna. In the second phase also 13 of the 40 seats in Bihar will go to poll. Thus the claim was backed by the experience of the campaign for more than half the seats from Bihar. The same confidence was evident in conversation with the state secretary of the Bihar CPI who was talking to this correspondent at Dalsingh Sarai near Samistipur where the CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat was addressing a public meeting. At other places, the claim is supported by the secretary of the CPI(ML) state committee.

What is the basis of this confidence? In the 14th Lok Sabha there was no representative of the Left from Bihar and in the 13th Lok Sabha there was only one representative of the Left – that is Subodh Rai of the CPI(M). The CPI(M) state secretary points out to the combination of two factors.

First, there is a disillusionment among the people with both the ruling party combination of JD(U)-BJP and the opposition parties – the alliance of RJD and LJP, both which are with the UPA at the centre. This disillusionment is deep and is felt more particularly by the working people of the state. And second, the coming together of the CPI(M), CPI and CPI(M-L) which is presenting an alternative to the working people in general and the rural poor in particular.

This alternative is linked to the search for national alternative to the ruling class alliances led by the Congress and the BJP. The CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat underlined this in his meeting in Dalpat Sarai on April 19 for the Ujiarpur Lok Sabha seat. “A larger number of Left MPs in parliament will ensure an alternative government at the centre” and “the success of the Left candidates in Bihar ensures a wave of change in the entire country”. The significance of coming together of the Left parties in Bihar is not confined to the strengthening of an alternative government at the centre, it goes far beyond. It reflects the unity of the forces which are involved in struggle for the rights of the urban and rural poor in the semi feudal situation of Bihar.

The coming together of the Left in Bihar has to be seen in the perspective that thousands of acres of land which was distributed from the feudal landlords is again under threat of being taken over by them. Against this not only the legal struggles are going on in counts, there are fierce field struggles as well. Vijaykant Thakur points out that CPI(M) and its mass fronts among peasants and agricultural workers alone have been involved in the distribution of more than 40 thousand acres of such land. In fact, it was in 1993 that the three communist parties had come together for land struggle and the present effort is a continuation of the same effort to provide a radical alternative.

Is this coming together merely a matter of fighting elections? The CPI(M) general secretary in the press conference on April 19, 2009 unambiguously expressed, “This unity will continue after the elections.” This hope is not mere wishful thinking because it is based on the unity on the ground which has been witnessed during the course of struggle during the last one year. Vijaykant Thakur points out that this unity is based on united action for the relief for the victims of the Kosi floods and the struggle for the rights of the non- gazetted employees, both of which had met severe repression by the Nitish Kumar government. The culmination of the unity was seen in the Bihar bandh called by the three parties.

This is the background of the three parties coming together for fighting the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, according to an agreement among the three parties the CPI(M) is contesting from five seats - Nawadh, West Champaran, Ujiarpur, Supaul and Bhagalpur. The CPI was to contest from eight seats but because the nomination of one of its candidates was rejected, it is now fighting on the seven seats. The CPI(ML) is fighting on 20 seats. The Left parties are there contesting on more than half the seats in Bihar. No doubt the struggle of the Left parties is uneven in these seats but the fact of the coming together of the Left has galvanised the fragmented Left. The issues of the working people are being raised with greater militancy and the discourse has now shifted to raising the issues of the working people.

This has enthused not only the Left but all those as well who have been associated with the left in different struggles. Far outstripping the cadres of the Left and far beyond the organisational reach of the Left all those who had for various reasons lost touch with the Left, were ready to take the Red Flag forward. All those villages that had witnessed militant peasant struggles decades ago have become active all over again. This process is forging the unity among the working people and mounting an attack on the organisations based on caste and religion.

The need for the unity of the Left on the ground in Bihar can no longer be ignored. The weakening of the Left in Bihar is also related to the lack of unity among the Left forces. It was the absence of the Left alternative, that was leaving the people no choice and they had to choose among the various ruling class parties. The renewed struggle of the Left has made the electoral struggle in Bihar three cornered. This has also brought the Left to the centre stage of politics in Bihar. The vote share of the left in the 2009 election is bound to increase and in half a dozen seas, at least the Left is likely to be among the top two places.