Guest Post by RAVI SINHA
…it takes an error to father a sin. ─ J. Robert Oppenheimer
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
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
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
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
Guest post by SATYA SIVARAMAN and MANISHA SETHI
Shri Prakash Karat,
Communist Party of India (Marxist)
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
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
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