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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.

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