Tag Archives: Left Front defeat

‘End of the Left’ in India? Statement by Leftists after recent election results

Text of statement by Jairus Banaji, Sukumar Muralidharan, Dilip Simeon, Satya Sivaraman and Rohini Hensman endorsed by 224 others.

In a minor replay of 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Indian media have been gloating at the defeat of the Left Front in West Bengal especially and have repeatedly suggested that this signals the ‘end of the Left in India’. Even at the best of times our news channels tend to avoid serious analyses of the underlying trends within the country, since they have transformed the news itself into a form of entertainment on models surpassed only by the U.S. news networks.

For its part the CPI(M) leadership has been at pains to minimise the significance of the defeat (in Bengal especially) and said that it would be wrong to write off the Left. For them ‘the Left’ means the Left Fronts in Bengal and Kerala and of course chiefly the CPI(M) itself.  They stress the fact that they still retain a considerable vote share, just over 40% in West Bengal for example, and there is indeed some truth in this claim.

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Why the Left Front did not Endure: 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.

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