December 20, 2015

CPI(M) State Committee Reviews Bihar Assembly Election Results, Thanks People for Defeating BJP

Arun Kumar Mishra

THE two-day meeting of CPI(M) Bihar state committee, held in Patna from December 2 to December 3, reviewed in detail the outcome of the assembly election, its impact, and the performance of the Party as well as the newly-formed Left bloc.

The October-November assembly election attracted the nation’s attention and everybody was anxiously awaiting the results. The results came as a big relief to the Left, secular and democratic masses of the country that are locked in a fierce battle of preserving the syncretic culture and the secular Constitution of the country that have come under severe attack during the 17-month Modi regime. There were genuine apprehensions in certain secular and Left circles that the Left block will pave the way for the BJP and its allies, cutting into the vote bank of the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ of the JD(U), RJD and the Congress. The results have belied this apprehension completely and underlined the need of such Left unity, which has been forged after a bitter lesson learnt in the past 25 years. I need not elaborate this point as the ‘Thinking Together’ column in People’s Democracy has covered this point convincingly.

The state committee thanked the electorate of Bihar for giving a crushing defeat to the BJP-led communal and pro-corporate combine. It is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal defeat as he, along with BJP president Amit Shah, did everything to communalise the election campaign and harvest the votes through polarisation. Even caste mobilisation in its worst forms were practised and history was written in a new way by branding Maurya king Ashoka the Great as the decedent of Kushwaha clan, a middle peasant caste of Bihar. Even the caste identity of Modi was used to influence the voters.

It is to be noted here that the 17-month Modi rule at the Centre has come as a rude shock to the common people as they believed that their bank accounts will bulge with Rs 15 lakh as promised by Modi in the run up to the 2014 general election, the unemployed will get employment, the corrupt will be brought to the book, prices of essential commodities will be brought down, Pakistan will be tamed and there will be happiness all-around. Instead, the Modi govt miserably failed on every count. Soaring prices of essential commodities like pulses and onions made the lives of the common men and women unbearable. The daily hate speeches by so-called saints and Sadhvis created a nationwide outrage against growing intolerance in the background of killings of Govind Pansare and M M Kalburgi, and lynching of Akhlaq Ahmed in Dadri following rumour that he stored and consumed beef. For the first time in independent India, writers, historians, poets, cultural activists, artists and film-makers returned their awards in protest against the government’s response to all such ghastly happenings.

For the ruling BJP, it was all “manufactured” protest. The peasants, agricultural workers, the common voters of Bihar gave a befitting reply to finance minister Arun Jaitley and his colleagues for their vituperation. Some of the analysts had given undue importance to the caste arithmetic in favour of the ‘Mahagathbandhan’. They failed to see that in Bihar, the high castes completely sided with BJP and the statement issued by the RSS chief to review the reservation policy, practically sealed the fate of BJP which had cobbled a rainbow coalition of high castes dalits and most backwards caste allying with Ram Vilas Paswan, Upendra Kushwaha and Jeetan Ram Manjhi. After the election, Paswan, Manjhi and Kushwaha are facing existential crisis. The so-called Third Front forged by notorious Pappu Yadav, NCP and sundry outfits were completely wiped out.

It was the Left block consisting of CPI(M), CPI, CPI(ML), SUCI(C), RSP, Forward Bloc that stood the ground and got three seats defeating both the combinations. The CPI(M) candidate came second in Bibhutipur with increased votes. The Left block constituents came third in more than 50 seats and got around 14 lakh votes that add up to four per cent of popular votes. In no constituency, the Left’s presence gave advantage to BJP and its combination. The Left played a big role in creating  a political atmosphere against BJP and its anti-people, pro-corporate policies and communal ideology. From the very beginning, the Left gave a call to defeat BJP and reject the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ by putting before the people, an alternative trajectory of development.

The party also took note that Nitish Kumar enjoyed the popular support of broad spectrum of voters in Bihar. Though Kumar in his 10-year rule has done nothing to weaken the feudal structure that still dominates the socio-economic foundation of the state but some of the popular measures like distribution of bicycles, school uniforms and scholarships to girl students, 50 per cent reservation for women in local bodies, reservation for OBCs, recognition of some castes as SC and some last-time announcements of awarding pay scales for the struggling contract teachers fetched handsome votes for the ‘Mahagathbandhan’.

The Left parties in Bihar came together on the issue of amendments in land acquisition bill proposed by BJP and later on imposing it through ordinance on the country. The State Kisan Sabha took initiative and took on board all the Left-led peasant organisations and series of agitations were launched. The unity forged during this agitation culminated in successful Bihar bandh on July 21, 2015. Later on the September 2 all-India strike called by trade unions further cemented this unity. After the announcement of Bihar election, it was logical that the Left parties decided to fight the election together. But there were some difficulties in forging this unity initially as CPI wanted to have some adjustment with the ‘Mahagathbandhan’ and CPI(ML) was of the opinion that Jeetan Ram Manjhi should be roped in as Left block constituents.

But as the situation unfolded, the Left parties came to the conclusion that we should have no truck with the regional bourgeois formation and chart out our own path. Basing our understanding on the Political-Tactical Line adopted at the 21st Party Congress, CPI(M) took consistent stand all through the negotiation and tried its best to have complete understanding among the Left allies. The Left parties fought unitedly in 222 constituencies out of 243. There were friendly fights in 29 constituencies among the Left parties. The initial positivity could not be sustained.

After the September 7 joint convention and joint appeal at Patna where Party general secretary Sitaram Yechury and other national Left leaders addressed the cadres, it could not be taken to the district and constituency level. The unity at the state level did not percolate down to the grassroots level and the votes of different Left constituents were not transferred fully.

In the sharply polarised atmosphere and the pumping of unprecedented money and flow of liquor have raised serious concern about the democratic election process in the country. By pointing this phenomenon, we don’t cast aspersion on the wisdom of common voters of Bihar. They have rebuffed the money power of BJP and have shown their maturity. We also salute those poor and downtrodden people who in three constituencies chose the CPI(ML)  candidates and defeated both the combinations.

CPI(M) got enhanced support in Bibhutipur, Manjhi, Ujiarpur, Mohiuddin Nagar and in some new places too. CPI also got good number of votes in Begusarai and other areas. The Party took serious note of continuously dwindling support in Bhagalpur, Purnea, East Champaran, Begusarai, which are our old bases.

Darbhanga has a different tale to tell. We organise large number of poor and downtrodden people in different agitations and movements but we fail to convert them into votes. These are the serious organisational issues that need serious introspection and remedial measures. One whole day was devoted on discussing the organisational draft circulated by the Central Committee ahead of the Organisational Plenum to be held in Kolkata.

After reviewing the election results, the Party came to the conclusion that the organisational issues brook no delay and if we want to come out of the stagnation as pointed out by the Central Committee draft and embark on the path of all-round growth, we must be visible by espousing the cause of the different sections of the exploited people and make ourselves worthy of the loftiest ideals of the mankind represented by Marxism-Leninism.

Polit Bureau member Hannan Mollah was present in the meeting and listened to the state committee members and reported the salient point raised in the organisational draft.