What it Means to be Leftist

Dialectics is not just for Marxists. A day after CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said his party would decide in January on whether they would form an alliance with the Congress in the coming Assembly Polls, particularly in Bengal, the Congress Party, otherwise buoyant at the moment after their limited success in alliance culture in Bihar didn’t really show much enthusiasm. That CPM has shamelessly been trying to make a thaw with the Congress ever since they withdrew support from the Manmohan Singh Government on the issue of notorious Indo-US nuclear deal is a fact of life. Popular perception is that CPM as it is today, is at best a red Congress with no high objective of social revolution. The revolutionary promise of yester years is now mandated by counter-revolutionary action and thought and by civilian helplessness. They have turned people into voters—just voters—though people are struggling hard in their own way to find a way out of the multi-sided oppression, onslaught by the Corporates and state-sponsored terror against dissenters.

Only vote matters in their every political move. They are still hostage to what is known as ‘Nehruvian Liberalism’. But Congress though a dynastic enterprise of Nehru family, is the chief executor of ‘Washington Consensus’ that has virtually ruined whatever economic sovereignty India enjoyed till the 1970s. Today, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), an open propagator of anti-people economic agenda of the corporates, is just implementing Congress policies. The Marxists are more interested in seeing BJP’s communal face while talking less and less, not to speak of resisting, their pro-rich economic programme. Modi is just defining or re-defining the unfinished Congress agenda in his own saffron mould.

Both CPM and Congress have been in alliance at the national level for long. And not that Trinamul Congress that tempted Yechuri to hawk CPM-Congress poll tie-up in Bengal in advance, is against any alliance with the Congress at the national level. Then CPM is in a bind in Kerala where they are gaining electorally in local bodies by fighting out the Congress. So what may pay them electoral dividends in Bengal is counter-productive in Kerala. This electoral alliance is an opportunistic game in Indian parliamentary politics and politicians of all hues, including Marxists, have perfected the art of manipulative politics over the years. How foes become friends overnight is an eternal puzzle in parliamentary culture where principles don’t matter.

Communists in India continue to believe that Congress is not a reactionary party—it is less communal than BJP, which it is not. So they would like to play the second fiddle to the Congress even by abandoning ideological superiority. But CPM’s attempt to make a poll deal, hopefully next month, with the Congress, may derail their strategic plan to expand broad-based left unity by inducting a few naxalite groups and SUCI(C) into their fold. What is more CPI has already expressed its displeasure about CPM’s fathomless love for Sonia Gandhi’s Congress. For one thing CPI paid the price heavily for their historical blunder in allying with Indira Gandhi’s Congress during the Emergency. They thought they would succeed in expanding their sphere of political influence, particularly in North India by promoting Indira Gandhi and her Congress. In the end the strategy backfired. In truth they were decimated beyond recognition in some states due to their alliance with the Congress. The bitter legacy of supporting Indira Gandhi continues to haunt them. Maybe in CPM’s calculation Sonia Gandhi is not Indira Gandhi.

Both communist parties are no longer interested in their party programmes. Maybe, they have outlived their relevance and utility to their storm-troopers—or cadres. Their one-point programme is now how to form coalition government in states as also at the Centre. But India’s top policy makers in government institutions including central bank—Reserve Bank of India—are supplied by the World Bank-IMF combine, no matter whether Modi rules or Sonia Gandhi opposes. With globali-sation in force, it is next to impossible for any government, left or right, to follow any economic path other than what is prescribed by global players through their international institutions. A Common Minimum Programme with the Congress cannot make any coalition government less dependent on big business, both local and global. In other words supporting a Congress government or participation in its coalition will simply blunt the edge of mass movement. Given the suffocating atmosphere of suppression of political dissent in almost every state and massive unemployment, there is now every possibility of turning mass anger, rather people’s sense of deprivation, into mass upheaval as it happened even in conservative societies in the Middle East.

CPM, having acquired big brother status in previous coalition experiments is unlikely to change its habit of imposing their own brand of narrow sectarian and partisan authority. Its ever growing arrogance stands in the way of broad-based left united front to confront squarely both Congress and BJP—the uncompromising advocates of neo-liberalism.

All things considered position of CPM today is no better than British Labour Party—the party of labour, having no moral compulsion to protect labour’s interests, nationally and internationally. The communist left needs theory—a theory which can generate momentum in people’s struggles within Indian borders, not an action plan that shows them how to spend energy in making correct permutations and combinations in vote. If it is vote, it must be for social change, not just for regime change. The situation is desperate as the population, facing repressive threats from state actors and non-state actors as well all the time, has nowhere to flee.

Vol. 48, No. 24, Dec 20 - 26, 2015