The results of the Tripura elections have come and obituaries of the Left (in general) and the CPI(M) (in particular are being written). The BJP, in alliance with the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), a secessionist outfit, is going to form the next government in the state. According to a CPI(M) Polit Bureau press statement, “The BJP has, apart from other factors, utilised 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.”
Apparently, the CPI(M) and the Left Front continue to be massively supported by the people of Tripura, with close to 45% of the voters standing up for the red flag, despite the machinations of the RSS-BJP. As March 3 press statement underlines, “The Party will carefully examine the reasons for this electoral setback and take necessary remedial measures.”
The implications of these results are surely going to have an impact on the national political scene. The results have only led to the 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 of this assumes significance particularly because the CPI(M), the largest contingent of the Left in India, is moving towards its 22nd party congress in the next month, during which the political resolution and its political tactics over the next three years will be finalised (this political-tactical line will probably influence the party’s line in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections). The draft of the political resolution finalised by the Central Committee (CC) of the Party in its Kolkata meeting held in January 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 its utter inability to see the contemporary political reality in terms of class, can be well-understood. However, what is really perplexing is the desperation of those within the CPI(M) who have started arguing for a reversal of the political line finalised by the CC. In a statement to the PTI, Hannan Mollah, a CPI(M) politburo member, has said the party is facing one of the toughest situations, “forcing us to rethink in a new way.” He further added, “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 in isolation. He represents the section within the CPI(M) which wants to make the party an appendage of the Congress in the name of an ‘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?
1. An argument that a ‘Left-Congress alliance’ in Tripura would have stopped BJP-IPFT from winning too many seats is making the rounds. However, what is the reality here?
The Congress, which has been the traditional anti-Left force in the state, has been decimated. Its vote share has slumped from 36.5% in the 2013 assembly elections to just 1.8% in the 2018 polls. On the other hand, the BJP’s vote share has increased from 1.7% in the 2013 assembly elections to 43% in 2018.
Now, what has really transpired in these five years? In my opinion, the entire organisational structure of the Congress ‘transformed’ first into the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and then, the BJP, which was able to channelise far greater electoral gains through a massive influx of financial and other resources. It’s clear that the facts don’t really justify the argument put forth in favour of an alliance. In fact, in a bizarre way, a pre-conceived political position is being juxtaposed over non-confirming facts.
2. A section of the CPI(M) had gone and implemented this line of a ‘Left-Congress alliance’ in the 2016 West Bengal assembly elections, betraying the decision of the party CC which had underlined that no such alliance or understanding should happen. What was the outcome of this grand experiment then?
While the vote share of the CPI(M) and the Left shifted in favour of the Congress candidates, the Congress’ votes didn’t shift in favour of the Left candidates. The eventual outcome was that while the Congress became the second biggest party in the assembly, CPI(M) was relegated to the third position.
This happened because the Congress in West Bengal continues to be made up of an anti-Left base. Hence, the slogan of ‘defeating the authoritarian TMC’ didn’t appeal to this base, which chose to vote for the TMC (and also the BJP in some seats), instead of voting for the Left. The party CC, in its review of the assembly elections, clearly found that the line of class collaboration and opportunism pursued in West Bengal was not in consonance with the party’s political line.
Despite the bitter experiences, this section doesn’t seem to be ready to learn any lesson. Furthermore, now it wants to extend this ‘class-collaborationist’ line at the national level.
3. It’s a known fact that the CPI (M) and the Left have an uneven political presence in the country. Traditionally, in all the Left bases, the Congress has been the principal anti-Left force. In fact, the CPI(M) was able to build and consolidate its political base through the principled and uncompromising struggle of the peasantry, agricultural labourers 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 may have shifted away from the Congress to the TMC in West Bengal or the BJP in Tripura, this doesn’t mean that the remaining Congress base 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 an alliance with the Congress in the Left bases effectively means a line of class collaboration will ultimately pave the way for the eventual liquidation of the entire party. In rest of the country too, where the party doesn’t have a strong political base, this argument will, in all probability, lead to the liquidation of the party.
As stated earlier, we can perhaps forgive the liberals who can’t see the political situation in terms of class. But, what about those who are part of the leading committees of the CPI(M)? What about those who are leading the class organisations 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 continues to be one of the two national parties of India’s ruling classes? What about those who are ready to liquidate the party?
I don’t think these elements can ever be forgiven. The 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. The CPI(M)’s growth has been possible only due to its continuous guard against both Left and Right deviations. The modern ‘Dangeites’ surely want to transform the party into a toothless instrument of class-collaboration, just like numerous other communist parties in the world have become.
However, let this be clear to them that the CPI(M) will ensure that their dreams won’t succeed. It is the prime duty for all those heading the CPI(M), who are committed to the task of reviving a revolution – to ensure that these hydra-headed revisionists are exposed and defeated.
This is central not only to the future of the CPI(M), but also for the immediate struggle against the authoritarian offensive of the Hindutva-neoliberal combine. The Congress doesn’t have the political and ideological will to combat the fascist project of the Hindu rashtra. What we need is an independent Left assertion. Those who expect this to happen overnight will surely be disappointed. It will be a torturous, zig-zag path whose curves and speed will all depend on the mass outreach and ‘militancy’ of the Left-led movements – and not by any wishful thinking.