The world today desperately awaits the emergence of a new, rainbow Left that is liberated from the disastrous hold of the twentieth century. Indeed, attempts to find or forge such platforms are visible in different parts of the world. Falteringly and with setbacks to be sure, but there is no doubt that serious attempts are underway. And many of these attempts are powered by a different kind of imagination that is unencumbered, to a large extent, by the suffocatiing grip of the last century.
One hundred years ago, on 17 October 1920, the emigre Communist Party of India was formed in Tashkent with MN Roy as its chief initiator. This date of the party’s formation is, of course, contested by the current CPI, which dates its formation from 26 December 1925, when the first ‘Indian Communist Conference’ was held in Kanpur. The date became a matter of contention, especially after the split in the CPI and the formation of the CPI(M) in 1964 – and at the core of that contention were two related issues. One opinion at the time of the Kanpur Conference had argued for a home-bred and ‘nationalist’ ‘Indian Communism’, in opposition to which the other section saw itself as a contingent or a chapter of an international movement. The second question became more of an issue in the later years, after Stalin’s death and the revaluation of his role and the manner in which the Comintern came to play a subordinate role to Soviet foreign policy. In between these two lies the phase of the ‘Bolshevization’ of all socialist and communist parties across the world, which ensured that the CPI too, no longer remain an independent party in the sense in which some were arguing at the time of its formation.
While the Indian media goes ballistic over the possibility of a split in the Aam Aadmi Party and ardent supporters stand demoralised, for me this is probably the best news I have heard since the party’s historic win in the recent Delhi assembly elections. I love anything with ‘splittist tendencies’.
The reason is simple. For anyone even vaguely familiar with the nature of living systems, particularly microbial life (and this is a bacterial planet we live on) one of its fundamental characteristics is ‘divide and rule’. Let me explain in more detail, before Markandeya Katju accuses me of being a ‘British agent’.
Basically, anything that possesses life, propagates and spreads its influence only through the process of splitting itself repeatedly till it finds its true balance within the larger ecosystem. All of evolution is possible only because of the constant churning, that results in repeated mutation of basic genetic structures, from which the most durable and relevant ones survive.
Lifeless, inanimate objects on the other hand, by definition, do not possess any internal contradictions and can move around only when pushed by external forces. In political terms it is simple to understand this point – when was the last time the Congress, BJP or for that matter CPI or CPM split anywhere? If there is no opinion at all, there can’t be a ‘difference of opinion’ too. Continue reading AAP’s Divide & Rule: Satya Sagar→
‘कहीं रिहर्सल के लिए जगह दिला दो,’आफ़ताब ने कहा. हमारी मुलाकात लंबे अरसे बाद हो रही थी. मैं जानता था कि आफ़ताब इप्टा के साथ व्यस्त है. इधर कोई नाटक तैयार हो रहा है, यह खबर भी थी. लेकिन मालूम यह भी था कि इप्टा का अभ्यास पार्टी दफ़्तर में चलता रहा है.कई महीने पहले अजय भवन की सबसे ऊपरी मंजिल पर नगीन तनवीर के साथ एक बातचीत में हिस्सा लेने भी गया था.इसलिए मैंने पूछा,‘अजय भवन तो है ही!’ ‘निकाल दिया,’ आफ़ताब ने मुस्कराते हुए कहा, ‘….. का कहना है कि पार्टी का दफ्तर राजनीति जैसे गंभीर काम के लिए है, नाच-गाने की प्रैक्टिस के लिए नहीं.’ ‘औरों ने क्या कहा?’मेरी जिज्ञासा अबोध बालक जैसी थी क्योंकि उत्तर मुझे भी पता था.बहुत शोर होता है, तरह-तरह के लड़के-लड़कियाँ आते हैं जो देखने में ही भरोसे लायक नहीं जान पड़ते.वे नाचते-गाते हैं, एक ही संवाद को बार-बार बोलते जाते हैं. इससे दसियों बरस से पार्टी दफतर में बने मार्क्सवाद के इत्मीनान के माहौल में खलल पड़ता है. दूसरे कॉमरेड ने थोड़ी तसल्ली देने को कहा कि अभी वहाँ पार्टी क्लास चल रहा है. हो सकता है, उसमें डिस्टर्बेंस के चलते ही मना किया हो. मालूम हुआ कि पार्टी क्लास के सामने इप्टा को वह नाटक पेश करना है जो अभी वह तैयार कर रही है.हफ़्तों तक जो विचारधारात्मक बौद्धिक श्रम वे करेंगे, उसके बाद उन्हें विश्राम देने के लिए और उनका मनोरंजन करने के लिए शायद इप्टा के नाटक का इंतजाम किया गया हो!
अक्सर राजनीतिक दल अपने सम्मेलनों के अंत में गीत-संगीत या नाटक का आयोजन चाहते हैं. उनकी समझ है कि मुख्य काम तो वे कर चुके ,अब आनंद या विनोद की बारी है. शुभा मुद्गल ने इसी प्रवृत्ति से खीजकर मुझसे कहा था कि जब तक उनके संगीत की राजनीति को ‘एक्टिविस्ट’नहीं समझेंगे,वे उनके बुलावे पर आना पसंद नहीं करेंगी. Continue reading नचैया,गवैया और पढ़वैया→
चुनाव के अनंतिम चरण के ठीक पहले भारतीय कम्युनिस्ट पार्टी के नेता ए. बी. बर्धन का बयान आया कि उनकी पार्टी नरेंद्र मोदी को सत्तासीन होने से रोकने के लिए ममता बनर्जी का साथ भी दे सकती है.बाद में इसकी कुछ सफाई भी दी गई लेकिन यह बयान अपने आप में बहुत महत्वपूर्ण है.उसके कुछ पहले कांग्रेस पार्टी की ओर से यह इशारा आया था कि चुनाव के बाद,ज़रूरी हुआ तो वह तीसरे मोर्चे की सरकार को समर्थन दे सकती है. बाद में उसके नेता राहुल गांधी ने इसका खंडन कर दिया. इन दोनों ही वक्तव्यों पर कुछ बात करने की आवश्यकता है.उसके पहले बनारस की कुछ बात कर ली जाए. Continue reading बर्धन, ममता और मोदी→
I first became conscious of politics as a student of economics in Kirorimal College, Delhi University in 1969 when I was elected to the students union executive committee. The same year I was persuaded by a senior to stand for the Delhi University Students Union’s Supreme Council. The latter body elected the DUSU office bearers. These were heady days with some of the leading pro- Naxalites students, students like Avdesh Sinha, who later became a highly respected IAS officer, and Rabindra Ray now a sociology professor in Delhi University. Another leading star who has written on his experiences was Dilip Simeon. I also became Left but did not agree with armed struggle. At this stage I watched the mainstream Left parties and along with Marxist texts read some Left Party pamphlets.
However, a deeper and much more expansive debate was snowballing where I joined in JNU in 1972. Prakash Karat who had earlier written a thought provoking book on the nationality and language question in India was widely respected as a political leader of the JNU students and a formidable theorist. In 1973, the Student Federation of India and the All India Students Federation of which I was the unit secretary aligned for the first time after the split in the communist movement in 1964. We called the alliance progressive democratic front. We were also attacked by an extremely erudite Trotskyist Jairus Banaji who considered us revisionist and quoted extensively from Marxist classics as well as literature, philosophy and the social sciences. Because of this challenge all of us had to do our readings. Continue reading Why I joined AAP and Quit the CPI: Kamal Mitra Chenoy→
Guest post by HARTMAN DE SOUZA. The article was written a few days before April 12, the CPI’s day of solidarity with Odisha mine workers.
When the Goa State Committee of the erstwhile Communist Party of India (CPI) and its national secretary, our very own Comrade Christopher Fonseca, tells you that April 12th will be observed all over India as a day of solidarity with the Adivasi people of Odisha struggling for seven years to save more than 4000 acres of their ancestral lands from falling to mining conglomerates as rapacious as their Goan counterparts, ageing leftists in the village bar are not too sure whether they should laugh or just weep.
Perhaps one needs to paint the larger picture to highlight the irony that lurks in the shadows.
There was a time it needs to be said, when the CPI ran a long, hard and lonely battle in Goa, led by Comrade George Vaz who it is hard to believe was once Comrade Fonseca’s mentor. He was a short, somewhat portly, soft-spoken, widely-travelled man fluent in at least four languages. Not many Goans would know that Comrade Vaz ran a free kitchen in his home at Assenora open to anyone in need of a simple, nourishing meal, or that some of us who now want to weep in our glasses have eaten there several times…
Narahari Kaviraj, eminent Marxist historian and an ideoligue of CPI, breathed his last in the wee hours of Wednesday, the 28th of December 2011. He was born on 17 February 1917 and was the last disciple of Bhupendranath Dutta,the youngest brother of Swami Vivekananda, whom Lenin had once requested, in reply to an article (draft), to devote himself to studying and writing on agrarian issues in India. As a scholar, Narahari Kaviraj was also a favourite of Puran Chand Joshi, general secretary of CPI (1935–47). The anecdote goes that when PCJ first heard that Kaviraj’s son, Sudipta ( now a scholar of international repute as a political theorist and department chair of the Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies department at Columbia University) , joined JNU, he asked, ” Is he more brilliant than his father Narahari ?”
Last weekend, I attended a wonderful rally by the Adivasi Mahasabha in Raipur – some 10-15 busloads of people came from Dantewada and Bastar alone, while large numbers came from other parts of Chhattisgarh and even other states like Maharashtra, Orissa and West Bengal. The procession was flagged off by Dhurwa dancers while the rear end was brought up by Marias with their large dhols and bison horns. In between were thousands of militant marchers shouting slogans against militarization, demanding peace talks, the release of their arrested leaders, the implementation of the Supreme Court judgement on Salwa Judum, and all their constitutional rights with respect to land, forest and water. These were men and women who had lost everything to arson and loot by Salwa Judum, who had been interned in camps but managed to return home and pick up their ploughs again, who face the daily threat of arrests, beatings and encounters by the security forces, who have to negotiate with the Maoists everytime they wanted to access panchayat funds, who live a life on the razor edge of survival. And yet here they were, laughing, cheering and vowing to fight till the last breath, fight for their constitutional rights and in a constitutional way.
This remarkable struggle has been waged, not just over one weekend, but over years. Indeed, the Salwa Judum leaders themselves credit the CPI with the destruction of their movement – both through mass actions and through legal means.
[JAGANNATH SARKAR, who passed away in April, was among those who led the spectacular rise of CPI in Bihar in the 1960s and 1970s. He was among a handful of Bihar CPI leaders who envisioned the crisis in CPI in the mid-1970s. Today is his first birthday after he passed away – he was born on 25 September 1919. The piece below is an important document that gives a glimpse of the debate on new caste assertions in the CPI. It was written by Sarkar in 1998, following the National Council meeting of the CPI. It has been translated by Raj Ballabh from Hindi. – AN]
The National Council of the CPI accepted, if belatedly, in its review report of March 1998 that there has been a serious decline in the basic mass base of the party and its class-based mass base has fragmented on the basis of caste. It has accepted that the party could not face the deviation of ‘social justice’ in the form of ‘backward casteism’ in its theatricality, or indeed politically and practically; that the party could not maintain its distinct identity, as a party that was politically and practically different from the Laloo-led Janata Dal Government. What is more, the toxin of casteism began to show its effects within the party as well. Indeed, it is an issue of serious concern which should be analyzed in detail.