Tag Archives: CPI(M)

50 Years Later, Shadow of Keezhvenmani Continues to Hover Over our Republic

December 25, 1968, termed as ‘Black Thursday’, saw the first mass crime against Dalits in independent India, who were fighting for respectable wages under the leadership of the Communist Party.

50 Years Later, the Shadow Keezhvenmani Continues to Hover Over our Republic

Image for representational use only; Image Courtesy : Socialist India

P Srinivasan, a veteran village functionary who cremates the dead had, in an interview done few years ago, described the darkening early morning on December 26, 1968, when the bodies began arriving from Keezhvenmani, a non-descript village in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu.

The village functionary, called Vettiyan, who is nearing 60 now, still remembered the number: “There were 42 corpses in all, horribly burnt and mangled. The stench was awful,” Pointing towards the plot of land where they were cremated, he said “All of them were Dalits, burnt to death in a caste clash. I cremated them on these very grounds.”

Srinivasan, then 23-year-old, shared vivid details of that ‘Black Thursday’ in 1968, a day that has remained etched in his mind.

December 25, 2018, completes 50 years of that ‘Black Thursday in 1968’, which is remembered as the first massacre of Dalits in independent India. The Dalits were martyred while fighting for respectable wages under the leadership of the Communist Party. All of these landless peasants had started to organise themselves into a campaign for higher wages following the increase in agricultural production in the area.

(https://www.newsclick.in/50-years-later-shadow-keezhvenmani-continues-hover-over-our-republic)

On the Ongoing Debate in CPI(M): Dheeresh Saini

Guest Post by DHEERESH SAINI

“In India today, neither has fascism been established, nor are the conditions present — in political, economic and class terms — for a fascist regime to be established. There is no crisis that threatens a collapse of the capitalist system; the ruling classes of India face no threat to their class rule. No section of the ruling class is currently working for the overthrow of the bourgeois parliamentary system. What the ruling classes seek to do is to use forms of authoritarianism to serve their class interests,”

-Prakash Karat

When CPI(M) was under the stewardship of now deceased, voluntarily or forcefully retired leaders, young leaders-workers would say that when young leaders (who were actually middle aged then) like Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury take over, the party would zoom on to its real revolutionary track. Karat was always considered more principled and genuine between the two. Yechury has now succeeded Karat as the topmost leader. Meanwhile, the situation of the party that prided itself in waging nationwide struggle against the fascist forces went from bad to worse in West Bengal considered as its fort. In the present scenario, any party considered as progressive or secular, would be bound to face such situation. But it is disappointing to see CPI(M) hog the headlines, in such tough times, on account of constant tussle between its two stars considered most resplendent. Continue reading On the Ongoing Debate in CPI(M): Dheeresh Saini

The Left Non-debate on Fascism or How Not to Fight the Hindu Right

History never repeats itself. Neither as tragedy, nor as farce. Every historical situation is a singularity, a product of its conjuncture and the opening out of different possibilities – thus irreducible to any other. What becomes farcical is the attempt of historical actors to borrow their slogans, icons and ideas from specific pasts and their attempt to reenact them in conjunctures that are radically different. Indian communists, of course, have long had a penchant for re-enacting (or believing they are re-enacting) other histories and other revolutions. And yet, more often than not, they have simply operated on the margins, engaging in violent and heated debates, as if the course of history depended on how these debates were resolved – while other historical actors took centre-stage, actually steering the course of history.

For decades Indian communists debated the ‘class character of the Indian state’ and even though their descriptions of its effects often differed little (except for an emphasis here or an emphasis there), they themselves split many times over in trying to name the beast. They became one another’s bitterest enemies, throwing about labels like “revisionist”, “neo-revisionist”, “sectarian”, “adventurist” and so on. Ask the CPI, CPI(M) or CPI(ML) Liberation, who fought the 2015 Bihar elections together and are trying to come together on issues of common concern today, how invested they are in those characterizations and how relevant they find them for their joint activity today? The really honest answer would have to be that it is of no relevance, whatsoever,  whether the state is described as that of the national bourgeoisie, the bourgeois-landlord alliance or as a semi-feudal and semi-colonial one – especially where it concerns joint or common struggles. Indeed, many communists might cringe today if reminded of these characterizations over which not just barrels of ink but precious blood has been spilt in the past. And so it happened, that while communists occupied themselves with all this bloodletting, history passed them by. Not once or twice but repeatedly.

There is a sense of deja vu therefore, when the official Left (at least the CPI(M) and CPI) and many left intellectuals suddenly seem bent upon tearing each other to bits in simply trying to name the Modi/RSS/BJP phenomenon (hereafter referred to as Sanghism – a term I have explained elsewhere). It seems it is necessary to first “correctly” characterize the phenomenon before any fight can even be conceived – even though, I suspect, there will be little difference in the way the different protagonists actually describe it.

Kick-starting this great non-debate, former CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat wrote in The Indian Express, a piece so befuddling that it left many people gasping: The Sanghist/ Modi dispensation, according to him, is “right -wing authoritarian” but not “fascist” and hence there is no need for broader resistance against it (my paraphrase of what is in fact a simple question of whether or not to have an electoral alliance with the Congress!) What was worse, he referred to what he called the “classic definition” (yes, definition!) of fascism, in order to make his point. What was simply a formulation made by Georgi Dimitrov and the Comintern in a specific context, is turned into a definition. Here is Karat’s “definition”: Fascism in power is “the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic and most imperialist elements of finance capital.” From this definition, he then proceeds to make his deductions about present day India:

In India today, neither has fascism been established, nor are the conditions present — in political, economic and class terms — for a fascist regime to be established. There is no crisis that threatens a collapse of the capitalist system; the ruling classes of India face no threat to their class rule.

Every bit of this statement is an instance of formulaic thinking. As Jairus Banaji pointed out in a sharp riposte, calling Dimitrov’s formulation a “classic definition” is merely a way of suggesting that it was a code graven in stone, and therefore, not open to any critical scrutiny or examination. After all, how can you debate a definition? Banaji, in fact, made an important point in his response: fascism is not merely a conspiracy of finance capital but as later Marxists like Arthur Rosenberg and Wilhelm Reich repeatedly insisted, it was, above all, a mass movement. If one seriously ponders the implications of this claim, fascism’s relationship to capital – finance or otherwise – can hardly be seen as simple and straightforward any more. We will return to this point later. Continue reading The Left Non-debate on Fascism or How Not to Fight the Hindu Right

The Singur Judgement, End of Neoliberalism and the CPI(M) Comedy Show

The Supreme Court verdict on Singur land acquisition that eventually signaled the beginning of the end of CPI(M)-led Left Front’s 34 year long rule in West Bengal, has come as a breath of fresh air. It is especially so, because the advent of the Modi government at the Centre had succeeded in reinstating the logic of corporate development, brushing aside all concerns regarding environmental clearances to land acquisition, despite its attempts to undo the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act 2013 (LARR 2013), being effectively rebuffed. The implications of the Singur judgement go far beyond West Bengal, for the argument made by Justices V. Gopala Gowda and Arun Mishra underlines one thing starkly: the “brunt of development” should not be borne by the “weakest sections of the society, more so, poor agricultural workers who have no means of raising a voice against the action of the mighty State government.” While the 204 page still waits to be read more closely, it is clear that the break that the Singur-Nandigram moment had already initiated in the neoliberal consensus among the political and state elite in 2006-7, continues to acquire legitimacy. Even the 2013 Act was a consequence of that break. The SC verdict recognizes that ‘growth’ and industrialization’ do not come without costs and who pays for those costs remains a key question at the end of the day.

Continue reading The Singur Judgement, End of Neoliberalism and the CPI(M) Comedy Show

Democratic Centralism – Public Issue, Private Debate: Rajinder Chaudhary

Guest post by RAJINDER CHAUDHARY

Recent expulsion/resignation of Jagmati Sangwan from CPI(M) is reflective of organizational structure and functioning of the left. It has implications beyond the immediate specific issue of whether alignment of Party with the Congress in recently held Vidhan Sabha elections in Bengal was right or not, or for CPI(M) itself. At stake is principle of ‘democratic centralism’.  Jagmati Sangwan episode has reminded me of an episode of my student days in Panjab University in early 80’s. I was convener of ‘Democratic Students’ Forum’ an independent left leaning student group on the campus (with no link with any political party as such). I was convener but found that my opinion was most often than not a minority opinion. So, effectively I was doing things, implementing decisions that I did not agree with. After many months of very intense work, I expressed my desire to be relieved of the responsibility. This was not accepted. Friends tried to persuade me to change my mind and continue with the responsibility as I ‘was making very valuable contribution’. Organisational colleagues were also personal friends, rather the only personal friends. One had no life beyond the organization. So, there was both organizational as well personal/emotional appeal to continue with the post but I found it was too much to carry out decisions with which one personally differed on grounds of principle. I requested at least a break, a breather from hectic schedule for some time. But rather than accepting my request/resignation from the post of convener, I was “expelled” from the organisation.  And this was just a small, independent left leaning student group that called itself ‘democratic students’ forum’ rather than a unit of a communist party, which goes on to indicate that the problem is rather deep rooted and wide ranging. (I have cross checked my memory of this episode with some other key participants of this incident.) Continue reading Democratic Centralism – Public Issue, Private Debate: Rajinder Chaudhary

The ‘Congress Question’ in the CPI(M) and the Problem of Historical Relevance

The CPI(M) is currently being rocked by an internal ‘debate’ over what has emerged, to put it in somewhat old-style communist speak, the ‘Congress Question’. I put the word ‘debate’ in quotation marks because, there is a touch of innocence to the way positions in support of a possible alliance with the Congress are being expounded by respected, senior intellectuals like Irfan and Sayera Habib in their letter to the party politbureau or Badri Raina in his article in a leading newspaper. These statements follow the dramatic exit of another widely respected Central Committee (CC) member, Jagmati Sangwan, from the party for precisely the opposite reason – of the CC going soft on the Bengal CPM for having gone against the commonly arrived at understanding in allying with the Congress. There is undoubtedly a potential debate here but since the common reference point in both – the Habibs’ letter as well as in Raina’s article – happens to be the recent election in West Bengal, one cannot help feeling that it is either a  ‘debate’ over a non-problem or is, at best, a question badly posed.

I say this for two reasons. First, the West Bengal CPI(M) [henceforth CPM-WB] is not really fighting any principled battle – all its exertions in West Bengal, contra Irfan and Sayera Habib, are directed, not against the proto-fascist Modi regime but against the Trinamool Congress whose local party apparatus is substantially what it has inherited from the CPM-WB itself. In the present context of West Bengal, what is urgently required is a different Left platform (with different faces that speak a different language) that can take the place vacated by the CPM-WB. In the absence of any such alternative, nothing can prevent the BJP from emerging as the main opposition party – and if that happens, that will be the end of any kind of Left politics for a very long time to come. A ramshackle CPM-Congress alliance as the opposition to the TMC is the surest way of making the Left (even in name) irrelevant in the state’s politics. The CPM-WB’s desire for an alliance with the Congress is motivated not by the need to defeat the Modi regime’s incursions but rather to return to power any which way. This seemed such a distant dream before the elections that the latter was prepared to go into an alliance with the Congress and entertain the possibility of a joint Congress-CPM-WB ministry, even as junior partner, were electoral fortunes to be reversed by the coming into being of the alliance. Thankfully, this possibility seems ever so remote now, following the election results, despite the alliance that we need not worry about it anymore. Continue reading The ‘Congress Question’ in the CPI(M) and the Problem of Historical Relevance

CPI(M)’s 21st Congress – A Schizophrenic Outcome: Prasenjit Bose

Guest post by PRASENJIT BOSE

Lost on the high seas?,
Lost on the high seas? Image courtesy CPI(M) 21st Congress site

Far from transparently and decisively resolving the issues which plague the Party and the Left movement in India, the twenty first Congress of the CPI(M) has yielded a schizophrenic outcome. The purported ‘political line’ adopted by the Party Congress and the ‘unanimous’ choice of the new general secretary are quite contradictory, which will only perpetuate the ideological-political incoherence that has gripped the CPI(M) and may further contribute to its organizational disarray.

When the central committee of the CPI(M) met in October 2014 to discuss a medium term ‘review of the political tactical line’ (PTL) in the light of the electoral reverses suffered by the Party, a politbureau (PB) member had moved a dissent note on the document presented by the PB. That note had argued against the very need to review the PTL and had instead held faulty implementation of the political line driven by ‘subjectivism’ of the leadership mainly responsible for the setbacks suffered by the CPI(M), alongside persistent organizational deficiencies. The elevation of the dissident voice within the outgoing politbureau as the new general secretary of the party raises the question whether the ‘review of the political tactical line’ and ‘political resolution’ adopted in the Congress have the support of the majority within the party? Or will the ‘political line’ adopted in the Party Congress give way over time to political opportunism in the name of ‘flexible tactics’, with the CPI(M) joining hands with the discredited, anti-people Congress in the name of fighting the communal, big corporate-backed, reactionary Modi regime? Continue reading CPI(M)’s 21st Congress – A Schizophrenic Outcome: Prasenjit Bose

The Sin and the Error : Ravi Sinha

Guest Post by RAVI SINHA

…it takes an error to father a sin. ─ J. Robert Oppenheimer[1]

Future historians of India may well describe the past year as a year of political sin. This was the year in which the man who had earlier presided over the Gujarat Carnage was awarded the ultimate prize. The year saw an election that touched a new low marked by shallowness, vulgarities and lies – in no small measure by the labors of the man himself. Equally appalling have been the exertions of a large class of literati and glitterati to portray philistinism and inanities spouted by the most powerful mouth as wisdom of a visionary leader.

An entire country seems to have gone blind – unable to see that the emperor has no clothes. In this age of incessant television it should be obvious to anyone that the supreme leader does not carry conviction even when enunciating relatively higher banalities. He is at his natural best only when he mocks someone as a shehzada or slanders and vilifies an entire community through phrases such as ame paanch, amara pachees. It is an irony of history that the republic which had Nehru as its first prime minister has one now for whom even common mythology is too cerebral. He must vulgarize Pushpak Viman and Ganesha and reduce them to quackeries of aviation and surgery.

Misfortune of the nation goes beyond the man. Forces of the diabolic housed in the hydra-headed Parivaar can now accomplish the impossible. They can now occupy the political center stage without leaving off the lunatic fringe. They can adopt Gandhi without renouncing Godse; erect world’s tallest statue of a leader who had punished their forefathers for assassinating Gandhi; even co-opt Bhagat Singh without batting an eyelid about what he stood for and what he had to say about ideologies like theirs. They can further refine the art of doublespeak. Their “statesmen” can pave the way for corporate plunder and call it sab ka vikas (development for all). Their “ideologues” can advocate sab ka saath (inclusion of all) by exhorting Hindu women to give birth to a minimum of four children each, lest Hindus are reduced to a minority “in their own country”. Continue reading The Sin and the Error : Ravi Sinha

Last Opportunity for CPI(M): Prasenjit Bose

Guest post by PRASENJIT BOSE

The CPI(M) is going to have its party congress next year in the backdrop of its worst ever electoral performance in the general elections. A four day meeting of its central committee held recently to discuss the review report and political resolution for the party congress, however, ended without adopting any worthwhile political decision. The only decision was to have another central committee meeting in January next year. When meetings of the topmost committee of a national political party end only with fixing the next meeting, something must be going wrong somewhere. It reflects lack of political direction and disarray at the top.

At the heart of the dilemma faced by the CPI(M) today is the political-tactical line to be adopted in the backdrop of BJP’s ascendancy across the country and the rightwing offensive unleashed by the Modi regime at the centre alongside the threat of political marginalization faced by the CPI(M) in what was once its citadel, West Bengal. The options apparently being debated within the CPI(M) – either align with the Congress against BJP or maintain the status quo – are both inadequate for its own revival or to take on the resurgent rightwing in India. Unless the Left mobilizes forces from below and seeks to build alliances based on struggles with like-minded progressive and democratic forces, the “political line” debate will be fruitless, abstract and of no yield. Continue reading Last Opportunity for CPI(M): Prasenjit Bose

Beyond the Elections – Need for a Vibrant and Credible Left

The Peaceful Counter-revolution

It may not be an exaggeration to say that what has just transpired is nothing short of a peaceful counter-revolution. Counter-revolution, not because there was an imminent threat of revolution that has been put down, but because the big bourgeoisie has finally put an end to the challenge from mass struggles that corporate interests had been facing. Struggles around land acquisition, the pressures for environmental clearance that held-up corporate projects, social welfare programmes that came in the way of the most unbridled pursuit of profit, and subsidies that supposedly introduced market distortions – all these had been greatly troubling the corporate sector and their ideologues. A campaign was built up, gradually over the past few years, to install a strong leader with a solid majority, who would give the bourgeoisie a free hand. And it must be admitted today that most of us failed to see where and how that threat was building up. We failed to see that for at least three, perhaps four years, the idea of the ‘Gujarat model’ was being put in place as a shorthand for an unrestrained play to private big capital.

Even when we realized that Modi was being pushed seriously, our eyes were still fixed on the older question of Modi’s culpability or otherwise in the 2002 carnage in Gujarat. The dream of the Gujarat model was sold over the years in many different ways, among precisely those sections whose support the Left (in its broadest sense) would have liked to enlist. The UPA government, of course, left no stone unturned in alienating itself from its popular support. Thus while important social welfare programmes, formulated under pressure from popular and social movements lagged behind in implementation, the neoliberal axis of Manmohan Singh, Chidambaram and Montek Singh Ahluwalia pushed relentlessly on matters like abolishing subsidy on cooking gas and direct cash transfers. The UPA government’s experience, in fact, showed that you cannot be all things to all people; that the interests of the big bourgeoisie and those of common people stand in irreconcilable contradiction. The balancing act cannot really go on for very long. Continue reading Beyond the Elections – Need for a Vibrant and Credible Left

Barasat Rape, Murder and the Culture of Rape in West Bengal: Soma Marik

Guest post by SOMA MARIK. [We are publishing below two articles by Soma Marik, Visiting Professor, School of Women’s Studies, Jadavpur University. The first deals with the recent case of the rape and murder of a young girl in North 24 Parganas while the second one below was written in 2003 when the Left Front was in power and documents the widespread culture of rape in the state. Between them, the two pieces alert us to the way we tend to respond selectively to such matters. This is particularly so in the case of political parties in power.]

The Barasat Rape and Murder: Some Reflections

On 8th June, a young woman, a second year college student, was returning home, Kamduni, a remote village of Barasat in the district of North 24 Parganas. She was waylaid by some criminals, who took her to a godown, where they gang raped and then proceeded to murder her. Six hours after she was seen alighting from a bus, her body was found by her brothers and other villagers. The police were forced into some action, after the family and people of the locality refused to even let them shift her body without action first. They accused a number of people, including some connected to the ruling Trinamul Congress, of being rapists. The young woman was well known, as she used to help many children of the locality in their study.

The first response from the police was to play it down, till local anger made that an impossible proposition. The first response from the government was to declare it a stray incident, and also to offer jobs and cash compensation to the family. This was angrily turned down, with the family members turning up in Kolkata, meeting Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and demanding the death penalty for the rapists and murderers. Continue reading Barasat Rape, Murder and the Culture of Rape in West Bengal: Soma Marik

Some questions for comrade Karat on the killing of Afzal Guru: Satya Sivaraman and Manisha Sethi

Guest post by SATYA SIVARAMAN and MANISHA SETHI

Shri Prakash Karat,

General Secretary,

Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Dear Comrade,

Afzal Guru was hanged yesterday in utter secrecy, denied in his last moments the right to meet his wife and children one final time. Denied to him also was the ultimate judicial resort, due to every condemned convict after his/her mercy petition has been rejected.

The entire legal proceedings against Afzal were shot through with contradictions, fabrications and travesties of legal procedure. The Supreme Court bench that finally sentenced him to death did so to ‘appease the national conscience’ despite inadequate evidence of his role in the Parliament attack case.    Continue reading Some questions for comrade Karat on the killing of Afzal Guru: Satya Sivaraman and Manisha Sethi

CPI(M)’s ‘July Crisis’ and Challenges for Rebuilding the Left

In an unprecedented move ,  the JNU unit of the SFI (SFI-JNU) has been dissolved by the ‘Delhi State Committee of the Students’ Federation of India’ [SFI is the CPI(M) student wing]. What is interesting about the press statement issued by the ‘Delhi State Committee’ following this momentous decision, is that it is signed by the Acting President and the Acting Secretary. The state secretary Robert Rahman Raman has since resigned in protest against the decision and the state president, according to him happens to be among those expelled. The state secretary in his statement has protested against the SFI Delhi state committee’s decision, ‘taken with just 12 members present and without adequate consultation or effort to retain the unit.’  The matter then, is far bigger than that of an errant SFI unit.

Clearly, leading state functionaries of the organization too are involved in the heresy that has called forth this action by the high priests of the CPI(M). Anyone who knows the command structure of the CPI(M) and how it works, can see immediately that a decision as important and unprecedented as this cannot have been taken by something as inconsequential as the Delhi state committee of the SFI. Indeed, even the Delhi state committee of the CPI(M) could not have taken this decision without the concurrence of the highest leadership – in this case Prakash Karat, the general secretary, himself. Continue reading CPI(M)’s ‘July Crisis’ and Challenges for Rebuilding the Left

A Tribute to Narahari Kaviraj (1917-2011): Sankar Ray

Guest post by SANKAR RAY

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 ?”

Continue reading A Tribute to Narahari Kaviraj (1917-2011): Sankar Ray

CPI(M)’s Rectification Campaign and a Bit of History: Sankar Ray

Guest post by SANKAR RAY

The Rectification campaign (RC) in CPI(M) is in practice a PR exercise, vying with top corporate communicators. Take the judgment of killings on 27 July 2000 at Suchpur under Nanoor PS of Birbhum district of West Bengal. Forty-four members and sympathisers, including district committee member Ramprasad Ghosh and zonal committee members Nityanarayan Chattopadhyay, Golam Saror, Golam Mustafa and Badiujjaman were convicted for involvement in the ghastly killings of 11 landless agricultural labourers. None of them has even been suspended, let alone expelling them from the party. Party biggies from the general secretary Prakash Karat to the WB state secretary and polit bureau member Biman Bose often say they have reverence towards the judiciary, although their perception that in a class-divided society, justice is to be ‘class justice’ is judicious. But why should proven criminals be on the party roll, when the mandarins of A K Gopalan Bhavan, party’s national headquarters, boastfully talk of a continuous RC. WB party leaders assured months before the last Assembly polls in WB that hundreds of ‘corrupt’ members be thrown out out of the party. All this is remains on paper.

Continue reading CPI(M)’s Rectification Campaign and a Bit of History: Sankar Ray

Why the Left Front did not Endure: Sharib Ali and Shazia Nigar

Guest post by SHARIB ALI and SHAZIA NIGAR

“But it is unlikely that such a review exercise will to lead to the kind of “reformed” Left that its critics are rooting for — a Left tamed by its defeat into accepting the set of economic policies that, in the name of growth, intensify and create new inequalities; a Left subdued… The relentless pressure being put on the Left today is precisely to give up its class approach, to adapt itself to neo-liberal realities represented by the set of policies popularly referred to by workers as LPG — liberalization, privatization, globalization”

– Brinda Karat in The Indian Express

The op-ed piece by Brinda Karat is a brave effort at self defense after almost 5 days of uncomfortable silence following one of the most humiliating defeats in the history of the left movement in India. The article, defensively titled ‘The Left will endure’, is revealing in a number of ways. One that the CPI (M) has nothing much left to say, and two, that most of what it says is an expression of many of the beliefs that the Left Front  continues to hold, or at least professes to hold – even with all evidence against the same –  in review of its performance in West Bengal.

But, before an analysis, it is necessary to point out that Karat’s use of the term ‘The left’ is also a little problematic as it cannot be said with certainty that all people or parties associated with the color red are willing to call the CPI(M) brand of politics their own, and, definitely, not all of them are necessarily in position at the moment to feel the need to say that ‘ the left will endure’.

What the article attempts is to argue:

  1. That the defeat of the Left Front in Bengal was somehow a defeat because of the values that the Left Front professes to hold – equal and sustainable growth, labor rights, class approach to issues, and its refusal to accept foreign capital, etc.
  2. That the critics have written the Left Front off, and are attempting to browbeat them into neo-liberal submission.
  3. That the Left Front record in Bengal has been most applaudable in terms of its commitment to people, secularism, growth, and maintaining a thriving democratic culture in Bengal inspite of the lack of a strong opposition.

Most of the above are only ‘theoretically’ true, and meet reality only at a tangent.

Continue reading Why the Left Front did not Endure: Sharib Ali and Shazia Nigar

वाम मोर्चे की करुण विदाई: ईश्वर दोस्त

Guest post by ISHWAR DOST

ममता की संघर्ष गाथा जीत का जश्न बन कर कोलकाता की जिस राइटर्स बिल्डिंग में प्रवेश कर रही है, उसके गलियारों में कुछ वक्त के लिए ही सही, सन्नाटा-सा तैर गया होगा। यादें उभर आई होंगी। चौंतीस साल का साथ पत्थरों तक के लिए कम नहीं होता। वे मूक दीवारें एक इतिहास की गवाह हैं। एक अपराजेय-से लगते लंबे दौर की; जिसने चुनावों के सात समंदर पार किए; अभेद्य लाल दुर्ग के तिलिस्म को खड़ा किया। अब लोकतंत्र में सबसे लंबे शासन का एक अंतर्राष्ट्रीय कीर्तिमान विदा हो गया। विदाई इतनी करुण और क्रूर कि पिछले मुख्यमंत्री विधानसभा की ड्योढ़ी तक नहीं पहुंच पाए। तैंतीस में से पच्चीस मंत्री विधानसभा से बेदखल हो गए। माकपा बंगाल विधानसभा में कांग्रेस से भी छोटी पार्टी हो गई।

2008 से एक के बाद एक पंचायत, संसद, नगरपालिका चुनाव हारने के कारण इस नतीजे में आश्चर्य की कोई बात नहीं बची थी। सड़क चलते राहगीर तक को पता था क्या होने वाला है। मगर व्यापक वाम से जुड़े बुद्धिजीवियों और पार्टी के भीतर के ही बौद्धिकों तक के आलोचनात्मक विश्लेषण माकपा की आंखें नहीं खोल सके। वाम मोर्चे को बंगाल में अपनी अपरिहार्यता के तर्क पर इतना यकीन था कि उसने अपने लिए आश्चर्य और धक्के का सृजन कर लिया। उसके लिए यह ‘अभूतपूर्व उलटफेर’ हो गया। आलोचकों को मुंहतोड़ जवाब देने की फितरत माकपा को आखिरकार जिस आश्चर्यलोक और रंजो-गम के गढ़हे में ले गई, उससे सावधान रहने की चेतावनी देते हजारों लेख अखबारों, पत्रिकाओं, ब्लॉगों में कदम-कदम पर बिछे थे।

Continue reading वाम मोर्चे की करुण विदाई: ईश्वर दोस्त

We Are Where We Know Not What Befalls Us… in Bengal!

Kahan le Chale ho... (image courtesy Small Strokes)
Kahan le Chale ho... (image courtesy Small Strokes)

Ham wahaan hain jahaan se hamko bhee
kuchch hamaaree khabar naheen aatee

Roughly translated literally, this famous couplet of Ghalib’s would mean: “We are at that place from where we do not get any news about ourselves”. A somewhat surreal place to be in! It is not just that you are holed in, a place where you are cut off from the world and no longer get any news of the outside – say Plato’s Cave. This descent is into a Cave from where you get no news about yourself! You are in a state of incommunicability with your own self. Clearly, a Self that is deeply at odds with itself.

This is clearly the place where the Bengal communists have descended. Else, who could not have seen the avalanche coming? Even when they lost the 2009 parliamentary elections, they thought that they lost because those sitting in Delhi’s AK Gopalan Bhawan chased the chimera of the Third Front (and they have been repeating this till yesterday, everyone from Buddhadeb to Gautam Deb)! Of course that was a chimera but to delude yourselves that your defeat had nothing to do with your own doings, that ‘the people’ oh love you soo – that is only possible when you have descended into that surreal space.  The interesting thing is that apart from the self deluding communists of the CPM brand, even the ordinary person on the street knew what was coming. Continue reading We Are Where We Know Not What Befalls Us… in Bengal!

Did You Say ‘US Imperialism’, Prakash Karat? Sankar Ray

Guest post by SANKAR RAY

The CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat and the Left Front chairman Biman Bose deserve thanks for referring to the WikiLeaks revelation about the US enthusiasm in seeing a change of guard at the Writers’ Buildings, the seat of the Government of West Bengal.

Prakash Karat, CPM general secretary
Prakash Karat, CPM general secretary, courtesy rediff.com

Quoting the cable no 230353 10/20/2009, Mr Karat conveyed the gist of it as follows: “Since the May 2009 parliamentary elections elevated West Bengal’s regional party, All India Trinamool Congress, from obscurity to the second largest constituent party in the United Progressive Alliance, its leader, Mamata Banerjee, has conscientiously sought to re-brand herself as West Bengal’s Chief Minister-in-Waiting. She is using the considerable administrative resources at her disposal as Railway’s Minister, political resources as leader of the state opposition party, and personal resources to initiate this transformation. Supporters and critics acknowledge the new image, but question whether it is indeed a new product, or simply new packaging. Backed by a large parliamentary constituency and allied with the ruling Congress party, Banerjee’s Trinamool is well placed to win the 2011 state assembly elections if she can continue along her current path of self-restraint and avoid making any mistakes along the way.” For details, the reader has to visit http://pragoti.org, even though it’s unabashedly pro-CPI(M).

The CPI(M) supremo observed that the AITC brass “is very much within private outreach. I’m in no position unfortunately to investigate and tell you what they are doing to fulfill this general direction they’ve given in the cable”.

Continue reading Did You Say ‘US Imperialism’, Prakash Karat? Sankar Ray

The ‘Whore of Babylon’ – Or, Misogyny, Sexism, CPM Style

It has to be seen and heard to be believed! Former Arambagh CPM(M) MP Anil Basu , addressing an election rally in his home turf likened Mamata Banerjee to a ‘whore of Sonagachi’, who is now getting rich clients from the US to give money for her election campaign! I draw attention to this with the greatest of respect for the women  he is referring to, sex workers who work hard to make a living. When Basu refers to them, however, it nothing but a statement of  misogynist contempt for women in public and reveals, once again the mindset of the Left leadership that rules West Bengal.

Some extracts from today’s Indian Express report:

 “Addressing a rally yesterday, Basu made references to Sonagachi — Kolkata’s red-light area. “Where is she getting the money from?” he asked. “From which bhatar (Bengali derogatory slang for a woman’s “illicit male partner”) did she get Rs 24 crore to fund the Trinamool Congress’s poll expenses?”

Saying that prostitutes in Sonagachi “do not even look at smaller clients” when they get a “big client”, Basu said now that the Trinamool has got a “big client” — the USA — to fund its poll expenses, it is not interested in the “smaller clients” from Chennai, Andhra Pradesh and other places in the country.”

Continue reading The ‘Whore of Babylon’ – Or, Misogyny, Sexism, CPM Style

Corruption, CPI(M) and Neoliberalism: Sankar Ray

Guest post by SANKAR RAY

Prasenjit Bose, chief of research cell, central committee of CPI(M) deserves kudos for his article Corruption and Forbearance under Neoliberalism, published in the journal of The Centre for Policy Analysis, and reproduced in pragoti.org. However, corruption is not an exclusive phenomenon under the capitalist system. Socialist countries – I mean the social orders encouraged by the Third International – were also afflicted by corruption, not to speak of People’s Republic of China (both in Mao and post-Mao years). Even the CPI(M)-led governments in Kerala and West Bengal never waged a principled war against corruption.  Hence Bose’s inference that “the state under the neoliberal regime has increasingly become a vehicle for capital accumulation and also a site for primitive accumulation, by the established corporate players as well as new entrants to the big business club” – is only half the truth. Continue reading Corruption, CPI(M) and Neoliberalism: Sankar Ray