Class struggle changed, Left’s behind
Considering that the non-communist institutional Left and the establishmentarian Communist parties have received a major setback in the recently held general elections in the country, one should not lose sight of the fact that the BJP has come to power with less than a third of the voting electorate, supporting them.
But why is it that the CPI (M)-led Left and Communist block failed to see the impending debacle of the regional parties like SP, BSP and JD (U) – the ones, in its calculation, were to be the bulwark against the RSS-BJP storm troopers, especially in states like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Was it that their navel-gazing policies the main cause, away from their own roots of working class-peasant unity? Has it lost its connection to the grass-roots of the Indian society entirely, to even not get the signals from the ground?
Or is its misreading of the changing paradigm of class struggle – an anomaly first witnessed in Bengal – the main cause for their ‘revolutionary’ path being obscured by the highest degree of consolidation in favour of Narendra Modi, of the big bourgeoisie? The CPI (M) knows that it has kow-towed to the same bourgeoisie on various occasions in the name of garnering Capital. Did it think that their version of ‘development,’ practiced in Bengal again, did not need to be differentiated from the ‘development’ discourse of a Manmohan Singh or P Chidambaram?
The leadership of the Left and the Communist parties were aware that the face of the working class and peasantry has changed since early 1990s. While surviving in conditions of extreme deprivation, they are losing patience fast about who could bring deliverance to them materially. However, their essential disenfranchisement also leaves them out of all the ‘development’ talk that swirls around the country today.
The policies of the CPI (M)-led Left block have sought to cater to the needs as it saw fit. But the onus of their ideological and administrative actions have invariably followed that Congress Party’s then chief minister of Madhya Pradesh, Digvijay Singh had articulated first in the 1990s: that the common people of India do not any longer need to worry about ‘roti, kapda, makaan,’ but they need to transcend to ‘bijli, paani aur shiksha.’
How fallacious and dangerously anti-people this line of thought was, got proven when the same Congress Party at the end of its decade-long term in political power in New Delhi brought the ‘Right to Food’ programme that provided eligibility to almost 68 per cent of the population.
Interestingly, in the CPI (M)’s Central Committee meeting held in the wake to the legislative assembly poll disaster in West Bengal and Kerala in 2011, the senior partymen had observed, ‘There were various shortcomings in the performance of the Left Front government in the recent years. Most of these shortcomings were noted during the Lok Sabha election review. They pertain to the public distribution system, health, education, rural electrification and other developmental and welfare measures. Some of the programmes and schemes were not taken up for implementation. The deficiencies in basic services and their delivery caused discontent among the people.’
This situation analysis reeks of bourgeois electoralism. If the CPI (M) were to look at the Chinese model of economic growth since 1979, ushered in by Deng Xiaoping, they would have witnessed a mission mode search for investible Capital to create jobs as the very first step of the transformation. But at no point of time were the foreign investors allowed to dictate terms to the Chinese regime where, how and when they would invest in the nation.
Of course, Deng at the apex of the Chinese leadership had a lot of national instruments to apply to the issue. The biggest sop he offered to the early Western capitalist foray into China was the size of the huge untapped market that China provided.
On the other hand, we see that when the Tatas wanted to set up shop for manufacturing Nano cars, their long wish-list for government’s local tax subsidies, land of choice, and various other demands were given primacy above all. Or when see the West Bengal government’s treatment of the Salim group of Indonesia.
One can still understand that Buddhadeb Bhattacharya shed the baggage of ideology in terms Salim group’s close relations with Suharto, who had been one of the biggest killers of communists in South East Asia. But one could not quite comprehend Bhattacharya’s driving need to give them land for real estate venture that would have barely produced any financial returns for the state, or created direct permanent jobs.
This ideological confusion was born out of an unfinished debate in the CPI (M)’s Central Committee about how to modernise the party, a debate that emerged in the good, old days post-2004 Lok Sabha poll results.
Clearly, the party could not make up its mind about whether to follow on the path of Jyoti Basu and Harkishen Singh Surjeet line of uncomplicated de-ideologisation or whether it should stick to the battle for earning rights for the working class and peasantry of the country through unrelenting struggle. People’s struggles for life and livelihood is far bigger a transformative force than a few hosannas that an unconnected political leadership can earn from the bourgeoisie.
The author is a senior journalist