Left Will Overcome
SOME mainstream newspapers have carried editorials announcing the demise of the CPI(M) and the Left. They have pronounced judgement that the “Left is over” or that the Left is in terminal decline.
Such obituaries have come in the wake of the severe defeat of the CPI(M) and the Left in the Lok Sabha election. The editorial verdicts have come on the basis that the CPI(M) and the Left have got no seats in West Bengal and Tripura and only one seat in Kerala.
To write an epitaph to the CPI(M) and the Left is plain wrong and stems from a profound misunderstanding of what characterises the Left. It is true that the 2019 Lok Sabha election has been the worst electoral performance of the CPI(M) and the Communists in parliamentary history. But to discern the future of the Left only on the basis of this electoral performance is erroneous.
The Tripura election result is the product of falsifying the election. It does not represent the actual strength of the Left Front. Since the 2018 assembly election when the BJP government came to power, there has been a reign of terror and violence against the CPI(M) in the state. Normal political activities were not possible for the past one year. Of the two parliamentary seats in the state, there was large-scale rigging and voter intimidation in the Tripura West constituency. The extent of this rigging finally forced the Election Commission to order a re-poll in nearly 10 per cent of the booths, which was, however, only a small portion of the affected booths. In the second phase of the election, in Tripura East constituency, poll was postponed for a week. But even in this constituency, around 400 booths were affected by intimidation of voters, driving out of polling agents and other irregularities. The post-poll violence against the CPI(M) and the Left Front cadres shows how the BJP and its goons are holding the state and democracy to ransom.
In West Bengal, the eight year period of terror, violence and thuggery unleashed by the Trinamool Congress and the Mamata Banerjee government was designed to suppress the Left Front and dismantle the organisation of the CPI(M). The corporate media has been studiously ignoring the fascistic-type attacks which led to the killing of 213 members and supporters of the CPI(M) and the Left Front, the displacement of thousands of Party members and supporters from their villages and homes and capture of hundreds of Party and mass organisation offices. It is in these circumstances that the BJP, backed by the RSS, was able to make their presence felt in the state. While the Left was under continuous attack, the RSS and its outfits were given a free run in the state. Faced with the communal offensive of the sangh brigade, the TMC and Mamata Banerjee sought to opportunistically meet them on the same terrain and helped to polarise the situation. If anyone has to be blamed for the rise of the BJP and its electoral success, it is Mamata Banerjee and the TMC, its lumpenised politics and systematic suppression of democracy.
In the last few years, the CPI(M) and the Left Front have conducted many campaigns in defence of democracy, against the communal forces and led many struggles of the working people. The drastic fall in the vote share of the CPI(M) and the Left Front is a matter of grave concern. But after a careful examination of the election results, the necessary political and organisational lessons will be drawn, so that the arduous and protracted fight back can be undertaken.
Both in West Bengal and Tripura, the battle in defence of the Left and its future cannot be determined only in the electoral field. It requires a protracted struggle to defend the movement, its cadres and supporters, fighting the State-backed terror and violence and building the popular struggles and movements.
In Kerala, there is a history of the voting pattern being different for the parliament and the state assembly elections. There have been more defeats for the LDF in the Lok Sabha elections compared to the state assembly polls. In fact, the CPI(M) got no seat in the Lok Sabha election in 1977 at a time when the Congress was routed in the North, but in Kerala it won a sweeping victory. However, in the subsequent 1980 assembly election, the LDF won and formed the state government. Similarly, in the 1984 Lok Sabha election, the CPI(M) won only one seat, but in the 1987 assembly polls, the LDF won a famous victory.
The CPI(M) and the LDF in Kerala have a large mass base, a strong network of cadres and an LDF government whose socio-economic policies have evoked a positive response from the people. Learning from the experience of these elections, the Party will take immediate measures to regain the support of people who went away from us.
The CPI(M) and the Left in India are working in an environment which is intrinsically hostile. The neoliberal regime of the ruling classes and international finance capital is determined to target the Left and eliminate its political influence. It utilises the reactionary communal Hindutva forces for this purpose.
The Left has been consistently fighting against these forces – both neoliberalism and communalism. The mass organisations led by the Left have been in the lead in organising and participating in the struggles of the working class, peasantry and other sections of the rural and urban poor. This extra parliamentary role of the Left assumes greater importance today. It is only the Left, which has the ideological weapons to fight against the right wing offensive.
Overall, the severe electoral setback requires a serious self-critical examination by the leadership – the Polit Bureau and the Central Committee. This will be undertaken and the political and organisational tasks arrived at to revive and build the independent strength of the Party should be taken up for implementation in a specific time period.
(May 29, 2019)