People's Democracy

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


No. 13

March 25, 2012

Opportunities for Advance in the Present Situation


Prakash Karat



THE results of the assembly elections in the five states have had an impact on the national political situation. There have been a variety of analyses and views about the nature of the impact on the political situation. It is therefore necessary to set out how the CPI(M) views the situation.


The election results were a setback for both the Congress and the BJP. It is the result in Uttar Pradesh which has been the most significant in this regard. The Congress could win only 28 seats and the BJP 47 seats out of a total of 403. If the Congress was ousted from office in Goa, the BJP lost its government in Uttarakhand, albeit narrowly. The Congress failed to win in Punjab even though there was a strong discontent against the Akali-BJP government. The Congress success in Manipur does not have any wider significance given the special situation obtaining there.


In Uttar Pradesh, the decisive victory of the Samajwadi Party put paid to the hopes of the Congress that it could be in a balancing position and to leverage it to strengthen itself politically at the centre. The fact that the Congress could establish a lead in only one parliamentary constituency and that it lost in the traditional bailiwick of the Gandhi family should be a cause for worry.




The immediate impact of these elections has been to weaken the political authority of the UPA government and to deepen the difficulties of the Congress in running the government.


Prior to the elections, the rift between the Congress and the TMC had surfaced. On a number of issues, the TMC had come out against the positions adopted by the UPA government. These differences have got further aggravated now. The episode of railway minister, Dinesh Trivedi, having to resign after presenting the budget on the demand of Mamata Banerjee, is a stark reminder of how the drift and incoherence within the UPA government has deepened. This was also highlighted in the way the TMC MPs including ministers walked out at the time of the adoption of the motion of thanks to the president’s address in both the houses of parliament. The hypocrisy and double standards of Mamata Banerjee and her Party have been on full display. Much of the drama enacted is being attributed to her demand for a special financial handout for West Bengal from the centre.


The prospects for the UPA government are dismal. It will be forced to live a hand to mouth existence. In the case of the president’s address, the role of the Samajwadi Party and the BSP proved crucial for the passage of the motion. This will become the pattern. Every time the government seeks the passage of an important legislation, it will have to negotiate and barter its way through.




The failure of the Congress and the BJP, the two big bourgeois parties, in the recent assembly polls, is a matter of satisfaction. It will make the pushing ahead of the neo-liberal agenda more difficult.


The Congress leadership is incapable of introspection and to realise that its neo-liberal policies are meeting with greater opposition and resistance. The way Rahul Gandhi campaigned in Uttar Pradesh in favour of opening retail trade to multinational companies shows how far removed the Congress leadership is from the reality. One of the reasons why the Congress could not take advantage of the discontent against the Akali Dal-BJP government in Punjab and the BJP government in Uttarakhand was its own lack of credibility because of the image of the UPA government which is tarnished by corruption and the failure to curb price rise.


The BJP is not much different when it comes to pursuing right-wing economic policies and its nexus with high level corruption. The continuing troubles that the BJP is facing in Karnataka where its former chief minister Yeddyurappa who was forced to quit because of corruption charges is on the warpath, exemplify the same symptom that the Congress suffers from.




For the Left and democratic forces, this is a favourable time to advance the resistance to the neo-liberal policies. The Manmohan Singh government favoured legislations,  for opening up the banks and insurance sector to more FDI, the Pensions Bill, the Foreign Education Institutions Bill etc – all need to be stopped and thrown out. The government should be forced to amend the Food Security Bill, the Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Bill and the Lokpal Bill to make them more effective.


The CPI(M), the Left and other democratic forces should be able to mount a widespread movement against the cut in subsidies for fertilisers announced in the union budget. This is going to increase the prices of fertilisers which are already high and will damage the livelihood of the farmers. The CPI(M) will mount a countrywide movement with other forces, if the government goes ahead with FDI in multibrand retail. The magnificent response to the February 28 General Strike by the central trade unions and national federations should be a precursor to intensify and launch more united struggles of different sections of the working people.




A positive development in the recent period has been the defence of states rights and the assertion of the federal principle by various non-Congress chief ministers. The provisions of the National Counter Terrorism Centre directly intrude into the policing and the powers of the state. The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act had already opened the way for such intrusion. Ten chief ministers have taken a stand opposing these provisions. Similarly, the proposed amendment to the Railway Protection Force Act, the BSF Act – all are meant to transfer police powers of the state to the central paramilitary forces. These have all been opposed by the non-Congress chief ministers including the Tripura chief minister. As the premier party of the big bourgeoisie, the Congress has always been hostile to federalism. It has already introduced legislation in the sphere of education which encroaches on the powers of the states in various ways. The opposition building up to such anti-federal measures is a welcome development. It is necessary to carry forward this opposition to build a broad-based understanding among the democratic forces so that there can be an effective restructuring of centre-state relations.




While the country’s attention has been on the internal political developments, the UPA government has been quietly taking foreign policy positions which are in line with its shift away from an independent foreign policy. The latest instance is the vote in the UN Security Council where India voted against Syria in February along with the US and the western powers. That resolution was vetoed by both Russia and China. If that resolution had been adopted it would have opened the way for military intervention in Syria just as the earlier resolution on Libya. India had abstained on the resolution on Libya and subsequently on a resolution on Syria in October last year. But now, under pressure from the United States and countries like Saudi Arabia, India has done a volte face. The signal which has gone is that India will align itself with the interests of the US and Israel in West Asia.


Despite official pronouncements that India will continue to buy oil from Iran, the US pressure to stop oil imports and trade with Iran seems to be working. India has curtailed its oil imports from Iran and seems unwilling to buck the sanctions threatened by the US and the European Union. With the tensions against Iran being ratcheted up, the international oil prices have now zoomed beyond $ 120 per barrel. India is cutting its own feet by curtailing import of oil from Iran. This is nothing but part of the cravenness shown by India when it abandoned the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline under American pressure. The CPI(M) and the Left parties are the only ones who have consistently raised foreign policy issues and how foreign policy is increasingly becoming vulnerable to American pressures. The CPI(M) will campaign amongst the people against the surrender to imperialist pressures.




The election results of the five states particularly of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab have shown the weakness in the independent strength of the CPI(M) in these two states. The failure to win a seat in either of the two legislatures indicates the weak political base that the Party has.


When caste appeal, rampant money power and use of media power and other resources have become the hallmark of politics under the neo-liberal order, it is only by developing struggles of the rural poor and the urban working people and consolidating them on an organisational basis that the Party can advance.


The Draft Political Resolution which will be discussed in the 20th   Congress stresses the importance of developing the independent role and strength of the Party outside the strong states of West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. Sustained struggles against the impact of the neo-liberal policies on the basic classes and against social oppression have to be conducted by the Party. This has to go along with movements and struggles against the neo-liberal policies pursued by the central and state governments. It is necessary to consolidate the influence gained through these struggles politically and ideologically. Steps have to be taken to strengthen the Party organisation and expand the influence of the mass organisations.


Without expanding the Party and strengthening Left unity by bringing all Left forces onto a common platform, it will not be possible to utilise the opportunities that exist in the present political situation.