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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Verdict 2009: Lessons for the Left [CPI (ML) Liberation- Document]

Posted by
Venu K.M

''...The epicentre of the anti-CPI(M) political earthquake lies
squarely in the Singur-Nandigram seismic zone where the CPI(M) has
been punished for its arrogant and coercive attitude to the peasantry
and the intelligentsia, for its ruthless attempt to implement the same
economic policies that it claims to have been opposing all along.."

Verdict 2009: Lessons for the Left

The results of 2009 elections can be described as a string of
surprises not only for many well-entrenched parties and seasoned
politicians but also for a host of commonsensical notions about
contemporary Indian political reality. Of late, it became rather
customary to look at elections in India through the prism of coalition
politics, caste equations and regional diversities. Verdict 2009 has
given a serious jolt to this facile view and reasserted the underlying
structural dynamics of Indian politics. Conventional wisdom would not
have given the Congress anything more than 150 seats, but the fact
that the Congress managed to notch up as many as 206 seats from across
the country clearly reveal a national verdict which cannot be reduced
to a mere sum total of the poll outcomes in different states and

The NDA had long been expecting the 2009 elections to go its way and
LK Advani had been duly designated its Prime Ministerial candidate.
‘Iron Man’ Advani saw Manmohan Singh as the weakest link of the
Congress chain and hoped the chain would snap if only he could make it
a direct clash between the UPA’s ‘weakest’ and the NDA’s ‘strongest’!
He tried to fight and win the elections in true US Presidential style,
but even before his campaign could take off he found himself
overshadowed by two more self-appointed PMs-in-waiting, the
redoubtable Narendra ‘Nano’ Modi and one Varun ‘venom’ Gandhi!

The results only reveal how miserably the NDA lost the plot in its own
strongholds. Of all the NDA-ruled states, only Chhattisgarh, Karnataka
and Bihar went the NDA way while in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, the
Congress staked almost equal claims defying its obvious organisational
weaknesses. In Bihar, Nitish Kumar’s spectacular showing cannot really
be treated as a typical NDA victory – it had more to do with the
disintegration of the UPA and the continuing public anger in Bihar
against the RJD-LJP brand of politics. Quite understandably, the NDA
emerged as the overwhelming beneficiary of this public anger against
the RJD’s legacy of chaos and misrule.

While the NDA remained confined to its own pockets, the ‘Third Front’
was humbled in its own strongholds. In West Bengal, the CPI(M) got its
worst drubbing in three decades with its own tally getting reduced to
only 9. The overall Left Front tally came down from the high point of
60-plus in the 14th Lok Sabha to mere 24. The grand alliances forged
in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh failed to click, and ‘Mission
Mayawati’ failed to fire the imagination of the BSP’s own base in
Uttar Pradesh. Forged in a hurry, the Third Front had neither cohesion
nor credibility; it thrived primarily on the exuberance of electoral
expectation regarding the fortunes of regional alliances.

The Congress on the other hand sensed the national mood that looked
for some order and stability in an overwhelming situation of crisis
and uncertainty. In the absence of any reliable cohesive alternative,
large parts of India once again turned to the grand old party now led
by the fourth generation of the Nehru-Gandhi family. Various local
factors only facilitated the crystallisation of this national mood,
and the Congress strategy was perfectly in tune with this developing
sentiment. If the Congress decision to shelve the UPA during the
elections and try the party’s own luck in the two most crucial Hindi
belt states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar was a tactical masterstroke,
the suspension of the “Jai Ho” ad campaign and withdrawal of the
candidature of Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar in Delhi reflected a
rare political sensibility.

What lessons do the results hold for the future of the people’s
movement and Left and democratic politics in India?

The Congress establishment would like to portray its revival as a
popular endorsement of its policies built around the pro-corporate
economic agenda and pro-US foreign policy framework. This is far from
the truth. The country is reeling under a massive economic disaster
sponsored by the neo-liberal economic offensive of indiscriminate
liberalisation and globalisation and steady withdrawal of the state
from productive investment and welfare-oriented public expenditure,
and there can be no question of the people endorsing policies that
spelled such disasters. It is also equally clear that the country is
not enamoured of the much-touted strategic spin-offs of a pro-US
foreign policy when the entire neighbourhood is trapped in tremendous
social upheaval and political turbulence and India’s growing
identification with the US only renders it more vulnerable on every
count. Signs of growing US involvement in India’s domestic affairs
have also been quite visible with US officials making it of late a
habit to call on leaders of different parties.
By all accounts, a more confident Congress-led government will now
tend to pursue the pro-corporate pro-imperialist policies with greater
speed and aggression while cleverly deceiving the people with the
rhetoric of secularism, empowerment and ‘inclusive’ growth. Instead of
getting taken in by the deceptive discourse of the emerging ‘new
generation’ Congress, the forces and friends of people’s struggles
must now intensify public debate over the real state of affairs on
different fronts and raise the level of popular mobilisation and
resistance to press for a real change in the policies and priorities
of the government.

Contrary to dominant media explanations, the rout suffered by the
CPI(M) cannot be attributed to its belated oppositional stance
vis-a-vis the UPA’s pro-US policies. The epicentre of the anti-CPI(M)
political earthquake lies squarely in the Singur-Nandigram seismic
zone where the CPI(M) has been punished for its arrogant and coercive
attitude to the peasantry and the intelligentsia, for its ruthless
attempt to implement the same economic policies that it claims to have
been opposing all along. It is ironical that while the architect of
the SEZ policy succeeded in masking its true face behind legislations
like NREGA and forest land rights, the CPI(M) was seen as the brutal
face of corporate land-grab offensive. Even when the CPI(M) quite
correctly questioned and opposed the Indo-US strategic partnership and
nuke deal, the point was allowed to get diluted and lost in the
party’s desperate drive to somehow prop up a Third Front” devoid of
any kind of pro-people, anti-imperialist commitment.

The results have also exposed the limits of the politics of social
engineering and alliance arithmetic. Mayawati’s ‘sarvajanwad’ and Lalu
Prasad’s ‘Mandal magic’ are clearly on the wane. Reports from UP
indicate that while Mayawati failed to sustain her newly discovered
upper caste base, cracks have also started surfacing in her core
support base among dalits. Down south, the TDP-TRS kind of opportunist
bonhomie and the desperate attempt of the PMK-MDMK-AIADMK alliance to
make political capital of the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils have also
been squarely rebuffed by the people. The CPI(M) has only discredited
itself by glorifying and peddling this opportunism in the name of
‘Third Front’ politics.

The Left clearly has a lesson to learn from the Congress. The lesson
is certainly not to seek signs of anti-imperialism or pro-people
concern or commitment in the emerging leadership of the Congress. If
the Congress has retrained its focus on its own revival overcoming the
‘BJP threat’, ‘Mandal magic’ and ‘coalition politics’, the Left must
also rebuild and reposition itself as the core of the people’s
movement for survival, justice and democracy and for the nation’s
quest for a dignified future beyond the strategic umbrella of the US.
A renewal of the communist identity as the most sincere, vibrant and
fighting platform of people’s politics is the need of the hour.

The reverses suffered by the Left in general, and the admittedly poor
showing of the CPI(ML) in Bihar, are bound to generate vibes of
demoralisation and despondency across different sections of the Left.
The noise emanating from dominant quarters of West Bengal CPI(M)
against the ‘dogmatism’ and ‘adventurism’ of the party’s central
leadership seeks to attribute the CPI(M)’s electoral rout to its
belated act of withdrawal of support to the Congress. This is nothing
but an exercise in barking up the wrong tree. If the CPI(M) had not
withdrawn support, the Congress would have anyway subjugated the Left
in national politics, while the TMC would have still monopolised the
public anger in West Bengal. Not ‘dogmatism’ or ‘adventurism’, the
greatest internal enemy of the Left at this juncture is opportunism
and the intoxication of power. Any meaningful introspection must be
aimed at identifying and eradicating the real malady and rejuvenating
the Left movement in closer integration with the people and their real
needs and aspirations.

By rejecting the NDA and rebuffing the cobweb of opportunist alliances
and narrow identity politics, the 2009 verdict has opened up new
possibilities for the entire Left and democratic camp to assert as a
fighting opposition in the national political arena. Revolutionary
communists must take adequate note of the prospects and challenges
unleashed by the verdict and rise wholeheartedly to the occasion.

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always want to defend peace, justice, peoples' right to love each other and live with dignity,struggles against parochial visions and hatred;instinctively a defender of socialist and democratic values