THE political somersault by Nitish Kumar will rank as one of the biggest of its kind in India’s political history which, anyway, is replete with such opportunistic behaviour by bourgeois politicians.
Nitish Kumar, after the success of the mahagathbandhan in the assembly elections in Bihar in 2015, had become the most prominent advocate of a grand anti-BJP alliance at the national level. Even as late as in April this year, he had advocated the unity of opposition parties to take on the BJP. He had also appealed to the Congress party to provide the lead.
In a sudden turn around, Nitish Kumar and the JD(U) have broken their alliance with the RJD and the Congress in Bihar and within hours formed a coalition government with the BJP. It is now clear that Nitish Kumar had utilised the filing of an FIR on corruption charges by the CBI against Lalu Prasad Yadav’s son and deputy chief minister Tejaswi Yadav to enact this elaborate charade.
The collapse of the mahagathbandhan and the defection of Nitish Kumar has caused widespread dismay amongst democratic and secular circles. Many had seen Nitish Kumar as the pacesetter for building a front of all secular parties with the Congress playing a leading role. Now that the architect of the mahagathbandhan himself has crossed over to the BJP camp, the concept of a grand alliance lies in tatters.
The CPI(M) is as much concerned about building the widest unity in the struggle against the Modi government and the BJP. But it has always maintained that this cannot be accomplished by putting together an alliance of a motley bunch of secular parties.
Why such a grand alliance is unworkable is the unreliable character of many of the regional parties. Most of the regional parties have embraced the neo-liberal policies and are prone to make opportunistic alliances. With one or two exceptions, the regional parties have shown their willingness to ally with the BJP depending on when it suits their political interests. The current episode of the defection of Nitish Kumar underlines this character of the regional parties.
The CPI(M) reviewed its long experience of working with the regional parties at its 21st Congress. It concluded that with the regional parties as the main constituents, there can be no credible all-India alliance. However, in the context of the imperative need to forge wider unity for struggles on people’s issues and communalism, the CPI(M) will strive to have joint actions and united platforms with some of the regional parties on issues in the states concerned.
The other reason why an all-in-opposition unity is not feasible is because it has to include the Congress and being the biggest opposition party it would be heading it. The Modi government and the BJP are aggressively pursuing neo-liberal policies and the Hindutva communal agenda. So, to take the struggle forward against the Modi government, there has to be a fight against both the neo-liberal policies and the communal onslaught. The Modi government’s economic policies are attacking the livelihoods and living conditions of the people. So, there has to be a determined struggle against the neo-liberal policies and in defence of the people’s livelihood alongside the struggle against the Hindutva communal offensive. It is by combining these two struggles that the people can be mobilised to fight the BJP-RSS combine.
This key task cannot be accomplished with the Left and democratic forces allying with the Congress. The Congress is primarily responsible for the imposition of neo-liberal policies and continues to advocate them. The Congress stands discredited due to years of misrule and corruption. That the Congress is not seen to be different from the BJP as far as basic policies are concerned is reflected by the fact that there is a steady flow of leaders and activists of the Congress to the BJP.
What is required today is not an opportunistic alliance of all opposition parties but developing the broadest united actions and platforms to take up the issues of the working class, peasantry and other sections of the working people and also to build a broad unity to fight against the communal forces. The recent period has seen the important united struggle of the peasantry in Maharashtra. There is going to be another round of united struggles by the working class. The situation calls for a broad, concerted action by a united platform of all mass organisations, democratic groups and social movements. It should draw in students, youth and women in large numbers. Such movements must be accompanied by the relentless struggle against the Hindutva communal forces at the political and ideological level.
It is necessary to project an alternative programme to the BJP and the Modi government’s policies. It is based on such a Left and democratic programme that we can move forward towards building a credible political alternative.
(August 2, 2017)