The Group of Six

Intellectual flames lit by the ‘Spring Thunder’ about fortyeight years ago brought regular people, rather apolitical people, out into streets, parks, lanes and by-lanes and semi-urban clusters, discussing revolution and seriously talking of and experiencing new human bondage in a way unseen for decades. But that is history. And those who still hope, not against hope, to see a resurgence of ‘Spring Thunder’ spirit are eagerly waiting to mark the 50th anniversary of that historic event. But things have changed over the years for the worse and most radicals of yester years have mellowed beyond recognition. The net result: official left panorama, otherwise an appendage of the ruling establishment is expanding by accommodating the ex-rebels in their happy family. So now they have six members in their club—left front. Two new entrants—CPI(ML) Liberation and   SUCI(C) have joined the CPM-led group of four. The CPM-led LF comprising four parties has been a declining parliamentary force for long. And after the recent humiliating performance in both parliamentary and assembly polls in some states, they seem to have gone back to the era of late fifties and early sixties when they could think of token presence in parliamentary politics despite their remarkable mass following among peasants and workers in some states.

Perhaps the question of survival has forced the big brother CPM to review their policy about the political untouchables—parliamentary naxalities who are themselves no less bewildered in ideological field, having no idea as to how to confront the prevailing situation, both nationally and internationally. As for ideology of CPM, the less said the better. Only a few weeks back their ideologues divided into two camps—Yechuri and Karat—were debating over the much publicised and yet less elaborated tactical line, in view of the so-called right-wing shift in Indian politics. It was actually a caricature of maximum or polemics as it is understood in communist culture. The majority members in their party were in favour of making alliance with Congress while a minority group would throw their alternative thesis, if it can be so called, to maintain equidistance from Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and explore the possibility of third front. In the end they settled for politics of tailism to Congress as they think it is the only way to keep their red flag flying. They have no faith in basic masses. Nor do they think, radical change, even of their kind is achievable.

As a matter of fact, this new formation—strictly speaking this is not totally new as they marched jointly on sensitive issues on many occasions previously—is not going to offer anything positive other than secular-communal swan song. The Marxist idea of secularism is actually an exercise in escapism to divert public attention as the ruling elites despite their different colours do. They are talking about tackling communal virus in so many voices for so many years and yet communal passion refuses to die down. In other words, it is all about playing with the gallery because they know well communalism cannot be fought without attacking its historic roots and showing no interest in fighting the economic base that generates communal atmosphere all the time. In reality their loud voices about secularism are aimed at wooing minority community voters, albeit minority community people, Muslims to be precise, have been resisting and sometimes aggressively, communal onslaught since the forties without bothering about Left help. They have confidence in their social strength. For the left this too much obsession with secularism is an escape route to bypass basic and pressing issues affecting the lives of toilers coming from both majority and minority communities.

The Group of Six has announced a nine-point charter of demands that includes among other things the attack on MGNREGA by the Modi government, its decision to increase FDI in the insurance sector and its failure despite election promises to take firm steps to unearth black money. But foreign insurance companies in league with Indian big houses are already doing roaring business despite their murmur every now and then. As for black money their political ally Congress is the main culprit—the Swiss bank phenomenon has been there since the days of Nehru.

For all practical purposes they just react to spontaneity; they cannot set agenda, they duel on the agenda set by others. True, their goal is to reach parliament and it appears to be the only goal. But this 9-point charter is no answer to the burning demand of the day. They have no programme of action against multi-nationals, though in today’s global economic management, any anti-imperialist stance makes sense only if movements are organised against multinationals that are destroying environment, looting natural resources and exerting pressure on the host government to enact anti-people laws.

Surprisingly, Modi’s home state Gujarat has stopped field trial of genetically modified crops. The left finds no valid reason to mobilise public opinion against GM crops and multinationals associated with GM business. Hundreds of thousands of indebted farmers took the path of suicide mostly in BT-cotton grown areas. Now the Modi government is trying to stop activities of Green Peace as the Modis see them as a barrier to foreign investment in ecologically sensitive regions.

The Group of Six is at worst a new political platform to fight elections but the moot question is whether they could be a parliamentary force to recon with in the foreseeable future by issuing harmless press statements and organising and that too occasionally, a rally or two, without showing any inclination for a radical change.

Vol. 47, No. 19, Nov 16 - 22, 2014