Left’s Survival Woes

In 2017 ‘Bengal is an anti-Left issue’ while Kashmir means an issue of stone-throwers. In the final analysis leftism as practised by the CPM-led front in India is party dictatorship. However unpleasant it is, they must admit that their leftism is too volatile to take roots even in some left-inclined states, not to speak of the country as a whole. Faced with the worst-ever electoral reverse that Left Front suffered last month in Bengal and that too in Contai south assembly bye poll where CPI candidate lost his security deposit, junior partners in the front are now talking in multiple voices. In truth they are accusing the big brother CPM of making alliance with Congress ignoring the ground reality. Commenting on the humiliating defeat the CPI leadership said the other day 'Left parties have been steadily losing political space and isolated from the masses, primarily because their movements are entirely election-oriented'. That they have realised it is the only positive gain from the Contai bye poll.RSP, another disgruntled member of the front was candid enough to tell the world ‘how the left conviction that they enjoy confidence of the core vote banks has been shattered over the years’ deserves serious scrutiny. But 'marxists' are not listening.

Left political forces developed in Bengal, Kerala and elsewhere by mass mobilisation against the Congress party’s anti-people policies in the years gone. But parliamentary privilege has virtually eaten up their energy to do anything meaningful. They have long been out of imagination. Their political and ideological discourse is too streotyped to be ignored even by their die-hard supporters. As they have abandoned revolution they are bound to embrace counter-revolution. All their political programmes are merely ritualistic, they think populism and gimmicks will do all the time. They produce election manifestos routinely only to forget them after elecions. These days they hardly discuss national issues of substance. Their political vision is so narrow and localised that pellet guns that blind hundreds of thousnads of protesting Kashmiri youth don’t stir their conscience. As for international issues they think they have no moral compulsion to oppose the continuing genocide in the Middle East and America’s limited war that now looks endless. As for India’s foreign policy orientation they are always with the government even if that policy defies logic.

Being the rulers in Kerala, they are interested in investment, not mass movement. As for people’s hardship they have left it to NGOs, albeit many of them are foreign funded. They don’t address people’s cause any more and yet they think people will support them overwhelmingly forever.

Junior partners in the front are doubly embarrased--once by their big brother CPM and second time by voters. They are paying the price for CPM’s authoritarianism and highhandedness. But their murmur against CPM after every poll  debacle cannot really move the Himalayan wall. CPM is a social fascist party and fascism doesn’t honour democratic norms and equality. RSP’s stand that they can’t confront emerging right wing forces, including regional forces without a broader left unity, doesn’t cut ice. To their understanding this broader left unity means extending membership to SUCI which is fanatically sectarian and a few naxalite factions who are themselves eternally plagued by the ‘split within split’ syndrome. The practice of going to the people during polls without caring about their miseries in normal times, can no longer deliver. To most left parties people are just voters; any group or entity that cannot garner vote has no use value to them. Even in that broader left front CPM’s hegemony will remain unchallenged and in the end it will be back to square one. What is needed is to make a break completely with CPM. Unless CPI and RSP do that they have no future. They are sure to get marginalised further and become totally irrelevant to national politics.

Political conviction among new generation Marxist activists is so fragile that even without a big ideological onslaught from their political adversaries they change political colour frequently. So the Left Front chairman admitted in no uncertain terms that the humiliating defeat they suffered in the recently held bye poll, was mainly due to large scale desertion of LF cadres to BJP in the recent past. It was not the case of early years of left consolidation that developed in depth and breadth through arduous mass struggles and sacrifices. Marxists turn into saffronites overnight. What a tragedy! The hard fact is that these Marxists are not trained in communist tradition and principles. As a result people don’t see any basic difference between a Marxist party and a religious-communal outfit that contest elections like any other parliamentary grouping. All are election-oriented parties, periodically going to polls to prove their pro-people credentials.

Theoretically they are not regionalists but in practice all their activities are confined to certain regions. They have been agitating against chit fund scams in Bengal for quite some time without uttering a word or two against Congress party’s corruption in high places. At the national level both Congress and BJP find it convenient not to raise some controversial issues like Birla-Sahara Deal because in that case prime ministers from both parties will be exposed. So they have literally buried them while CPM-led Left is dancing to the tune of local Congress satraps.

Anti-scam stir and that too occasionally cannot create mass base without which the left will soon go into oblivion once and for all. Those who are worried about the rise of political right across the country are actually searching for a myth--left, to remain in the fray. The status-quo-isists as they are have long frofeited their right to be called left. Today the only yardstick to measure a leftist outfit is whether they are ready to take to streets against multinationals. If they are not against multinationals they are with them. There is no chance for survival of the middle-roaders. Indian left never succeeded in general, in conceiving the proper struggle for the equality of the oppressed also as the struggle for the recognition of their right to be different. Unfortunately some groups on the far left too are doing the same mistake--they are trying to refurbish their left image showing soft stance towards CPM. Their strategy won’t succeed because fascists are fascists.

Vol. 49, No.43, April 30 - May 6, 2017