People's Democracy

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


No. 20 

May 24, 2009



Party Shall Draw Correct

Lessons And Move Forward


AS we go to press, the Congress-led UPA has staked claim to form the government  submitting a list of 274 newly elected members of the Lok Sabha.  Additionally, a list of 48 MPs has been received by the president of India assuring outside support to the government.  This includes such parties who, many thought, would never be on the same side. Both the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party, bitter rivals in Uttar Pradesh, have given outside support to this government.  Both the BSP, which declared pre-elections that it would be with a non-Congress, non-BJP combination, and the JD(S), which hosted the first public rally announcing the non-Congress, non-BJP combination in Karnataka, have decided to support the UPA.  Even before the results were announced, the TRS which was part of a non-Congress, non-BJP front in Andhra Pradesh, had joined the NDA.  These developments have only confirmed the assessment made by the CPI(M) Polit Bureau in its statement on May 19, 2009 that “these alliances forged in some states on the eve of the elections were not seen by the people as a credible and viable alternative at the national level.”


The CPI(M) had all along, in the Political Resolutions of successive Party Congresses articulated the need  for the creation of a third political alternative that can effect a progressive shift in the policy trajectory of the country. Such an alternative cannot, obviously, be a cut and paste arrangement on the eve of elections. This can only emerge through sustained popular struggles. There are no short cuts. 


These election results, however, constitute the worst electoral debacle for the CPI(M).   In the first elections that the CPI(M) contested, in 1967, after the battle against revisionism in the Indian communist movement and the formation of the Party in 1964, it had won 19 seats.  In these elections, we have won only 16.  All the four Left parties together have won only 24 seats. This requires a serious self-critical introspection and review in order to identify the mistakes and shortcomings and to draw proper lessons. This is absolutely necessary to regain the support and confidence of those sections of the people who have been alienated from the Left and to further consolidate and expand its influence in the future.  This process has begun.


The run-up to these elections saw the joining together of all anti-Communist forces who made a determined bid to dent the Left electorally in its strong bastions.  During the course of the Singur and Nandigram developments in West Bengal, we had detailed these efforts in these columns. Clearly, such a grand alliance had unleashed  all weapons at their command  to target and weaken the Left, particularly the CPI(M).  A total of 31 people have died so far in the immediate pre and post poll clashes in West Bengal.  Elsewhere in the issue, the details of these continuing attacks against the Left, particularly the CPI(M), are given. 


Such an anti-Communist gang-up against the CPI(M) has happened on earlier occasions as well. Soon after the formation of the CPI(M), there was a nationwide repression let loose on a false charge that the CPI(M) was `pro-Chinese'. Many of our leaders had contested elections from jail and won. During the decade of the 1970s,  following the undemocratic dismissal of duly elected United Front governments in West Bengal of 1967 and 1969, the Congress unleashed a rein of semi-fascist terror claiming the lives of thousands of our comrades. Braving all such repression, the CPI(M) fought back to emerge as the major Left force in the country which could neither be ignored nor marginalised by the country's polity. (During the last two decades, since the V P Singh government in 1989, no secular government came to be formed at the centre in India without the active involvement of the CPI(M) and the Left.) So shall it do so this time drawing the correct lessons after an honest self-critical review of this election debacle. 


As we reach our readers, the UPA government led by Dr Manmohan Singh  would have assumed office for the second time.  Around the same corresponding time in 2004, hectic discussions were taking place for a Common Minimum Programme (CMP) that would be implemented by the then government.  It was on the basis of this CMP that the Left had extended its outside support in 2004.  This time around, there is a total silence of any CMP for this edition of the UPA government.  This is not surprising because of the absence of the Left's support this time  appears to have motivated  the Congress and the UPA partners to ignore the pro-people approach which the Left brought to centre stage in 2004. Ironically, as the CPI(M) Polit Bureau statement says: “What stood the Congress in good stead (in 2009 elections) were some of the measures adopted by the UPA government like the NREGA, the Forest Tribal Act and other social welfare measures which were pushed through under Left pressure.”


It is precisely this absence of concern for pro-people policies that defines the role of the Left in the future. Given the growing burdens on the people due to the global economic recession and relentless price rise of essential commodities, it is clear that popular struggles forcing the government to adopt a pro-people policy direction will have to be mounted in the interests of our people. The CPI(M) shall, with determination, champion the interests of the people by strengthening popular struggles for better livelihood  while, at the same time, it shall safeguard and further strengthen the secular democratic foundations of modern India.


May 20, 2009