Tripura elections results have come and the obituaries of left in general and the CPI (M) in particular are being written. BJP, in alliance with a secessionist outfit IPFT is going to form the next government in the state. BJP has, apart from other factors, utilized massive deployment of money and other resources to influence the elections. The BJP was able to consolidate all the anti-Left votes virtually appropriating the erstwhile main opposition party, the Congress. CPI (M) and the left front continue to have a massive support among the people of Tripura with close to 45% of voters standing with the red flag in spite of all the machinations of RSS-BJP. As the Polit Bureau of the CPI (M) in its statement of 3rd March has underlined “The Party will carefully examine the reasons for this electoral setback and take necessary remedial measures.”
The political implications of these results are surely going to have an impact over the national politics. The results have only led to intensification of the cacophony of voices which want ‘an all-out unity of all anti-BJP political forces’ as the only antidote to the political march of the RSS-BJP. All this assumes significance particularly when CPI (M) –the largest contingent of the left- is moving towards its 22nd Party Congress next month in which the Political resolution and the Political-tactical line over the next 3 years will be finalized (this political-tactical line will direct the Party’s line in 2019 Lok Sabha elections). The draft political resolution finalized by the Central Committee of the Party in its Kolkata meeting held in January has clearly underlined that “the main task is to defeat the BJP and its allies by rallying all the secular and democratic forces. However, this has to be done without having an understanding or electoral alliance with the Congress party.”
The liberal noise, given their utter inability to see the contemporary political reality in class terms is quite understood; however what is really perplexing is the desperation of those within the CPI (M) who have started arguing for ‘reversal of the political line finalized by the CC’. In a statement to the news agency PTI, Hannan Mollah, a CPI (M) Polit Bureau member has said the party is facing one of the toughest situations “forcing us to rethink in a new way”. “We, in our draft resolution, have said we don’t want any understanding with the Congress. But now, after the defeat in Tripura, it is a completely new situation where we have to rethink our strategies and political line.” Comrade Mollah is not isolation. He represents the section within the CPI (M) which wants to make the Party an appendage of the Congress Party in the name of ‘all-out unity against RSS-BJP’. The fact that the highest decision making body of the Party (between two Party congresses) has thrashed out these debates and arrived at a conclusion hasn’t stopped this section to stoop to the level of using the bourgeois media to further its defeated line. What do the Tripura results show and what is the ‘completely new situation’ which Comrade Mollah is talking about?
First, an argument is being given that ‘left-congress alliance’ in Tripura would have stopped BJP-IPFT from winning these many seats. What is the reality? Congress Party which has been the traditional anti-left force in the state has been decimated. Its vote share has slumped from 36.9% in 2013 assembly elections to just 1.8% in 2018 assembly elections. On the other hand, BJP’s vote share has increased from 1.7% in 2013 assembly elections to just 43% in 2018. Now, what has really transpired in these 5 years? The entire organizational structure of Congress transformed first into TMC and later BJP, which was able to channelize far greater electoral gains through a massive influx of financial and other resources. It’s clear that facts don’t really justify the argument put forth in favour of alliance. In fact, in a bizarre way pre-conceived political position is being juxtaposed over non-confirming facts.
Second, this section of the Party had gone and implemented this line of ‘left-congress alliance’ in the 2016 West Bengal assembly elections, betraying the decision of the Party CC which has underlined that ‘no such alliance or understanding should happen’. What was the outcome of this grand experiment then? While the CPI (M) and left’s vote shifted in favour of Congress candidates; the Congress’ votes didn’t shift in favour of the left candidates; and the eventual outcome was that while the Congress became the 2nd biggest party in the assembly, CPI (M) was relegated to 3rd position. Why did this happen? This happened because Congress Party in West Bengal continues to be comprised of anti-left base; hence the slogan of ‘defeating the authoritarian TMC’ didn’t appeal to this base, which chose to vote for TMC (and also BJP in some seats), instead of voting for the left. The Party CC in its review of the assembly elections clearly found the line of class-collaboration and opportunism pursued in the state of West Bengal ‘not to be in consonance’ with the political line of the Party. Despite the bitter experiences this section isn’t ready to learn any lesson and now wants to extend this class collaborationist line at the national level.
Third, it’s a known fact that CPI (M) and the left have uneven political presence in the country. In all the left bases traditionally the Congress has been the principal anti-left force. In fact, the CPI (M) was able to build and consolidate its political base through principled and uncompromising struggle of the peasantry, agricultural labour and the working class against the policies of the congress-led governments. The class aspect remained central to the consolidation of these bases even when left-led governments were formed in these states. Hence, while the anti-left base might have shifted away from the Congress party to TMC in West Bengal or BJP in Tripura; this hasn’t meant that the remaining base of the Congress Party has shunned its anti-left credentials. In fact only a non-class and ahistorical account can see things in this way. In such a situation, arguing for alliance with congress in the areas of left bases effectively means a line of class-collaboration which if allowed to happen will pave for eventual liquidation of the entire Party. In rest of the country too, where the Party doesn’t have political base, this argument leads to liquidation of the Party. First, in the name of stopping BJP it would be argued that left should not contest (since it would lead to splitting of anti-BJP votes) and hence the miniscule mass presence would be directed to shift enmasse to the Congress candidates. Second, given the fact that it is the policies pursued by the congress during its 10 year rule which paved the way for BJP’s rise; such a position would discredit the fighting credentials of the CPI (M) and the mass organizations led by it. Thus, the liquidation would not only be immediate, it would also close the possibilities of any consolidation (forget expansion) in the near future. The mass upsurge as seen in the Kisan movement in Rajasthan & Maharashtra and also in the massive working class actions of the recent past provides a possibility of expansion of the political presence of the red flag. However, the liquidationist line if allowed to go ahead will nip these possibilities in the bud.
As stated earlier, we can perhaps forgive the liberals who anyway can’t see the political situation in class terms. But, what about those who are part of the leading committees of the CPI (M), what about those who are leading the class organizations led by the Party? What about those who are ready to crucify Democratic Centralism- the backbone of a Marxist-Leninist Party- in the name of furthering their bogus line of opportunism? What about those who are so blinded by their ‘anti-BJP’ rhetoric and are so much driven into frenzy by the increasing political might of the fascist RSS-BJP, that they are ready to ignore the fundamental fact that the Congress Party continues to be one among the 2 national parties of the Indian Ruling classes? What about those who are ready to liquidate the Party? No, these elements can’t be forgiven! CPI (M) was born as a result of intensive inner party struggle within the Indian Communist movement against the forces of revisionism and class-collaboration. CPI (M)’s growth has been possible only due to continuous guard against both left and right deviations. The modern dangeites surely want to transform the Party into toothless instrument of class-collaboration which numerous other communist parties in the world have become. However, let this be clear to them CPI (M) will ensure that their dreams wont succeed. It is the prime duty today in front of all those in the CPI (M) who are committed to the task of Indian Revolution that these hydra-headed revisionists are exposed and defeated. This remains central not only to the future of CPI (M), but also for the immediate struggle against the authoritarian offensive of the Hindutva-neoliberal combine. The Congress Party doesn’t have the political-ideological will to combat the fascist project of Hindu Rashtra. What we need is independent Left assertion. Those who expect this to happen overnight will surely be disappointed. It will be torturous, zig-zag path whose curves and whose speed will all depend on the mass reach and militancy of the Left-led movements; and not by any wishful thinking.
Padatik Mandal is pursuing his PhD in Economics from Burdwan University. He is also involved with trade union activism.