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Being A Mishmash Of Political Ideologies, The Sanjukta Morcha Failed

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By Kushan Niyogi

India is a land of strange happenings, and limiting them to the connotations of just being “strange” would be glaring injustice to the country itself. The happenings are fantastical, almost as if the Indian state has turned into a Wattpad fan fiction novel. The sex and the murder are kept at a minimum; however, anyone’s guess as to how limited it is.

Thus, it brings us to the latest addition in the fantasy series called Indian politics, wherein your political beliefs are only limited to your mindset, and you are free to let go of the mainstream ideals. Keeping that in mind, let me go a step further to introduce you to the strangest alliance one could ever envisage in their lifetime—Sanjukta Morcha.

As it turns out, I am running a bit ahead of myself here, so let’s break the entire happening down into seemingly little bits.

Sanjukta Morcha: Fornication Of Ideologies

Representative Image.

Everyone must have been privy to having that one group of kids hanging out at your school where everyone belonged to different lingual groups but had adapted Hindi (or English, if you are fancy) as their common tongue. But all they do is barely survive through the ordeal. In much the same way, the Sanjukta Morcha comprising the Left Front parties and the Indian National Congress is one such alliance that barely survives the ordeal.

An emblematic orgy of ideologues, the CPI(M), CPI, All India Forward Bloc, alongside other Left parties, formulate their ideology alongside the precipice of Centre-Leftism and Islamic Socialism.

The commemorative formation of the alliance in 2016 was referred to as a hotchpotch of ideologies, yet their common goal was the same — to topple the Trinamool-led government. In tandem with the 2016 elections, a certain statement from the 21st party congress of the CPI(M) comes to mind:

“The main direction of our attack should be against the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) when it is in power, but this cannot mean having an electoral understanding with the Congress.”

It was about the formidable opposition party of the BJP that had captured power in the Centre 2 years prior. The alliance with a “ruling class” party such as the Indian National Congress was certainly out of the question. Thus, it is anyone’s guess as to what made them have a change of heart.

The incessant need to live up to their initial political presence has undone their tantamount presence in Bengal’s political scenario. Much of it can be accorded to their want to let go of their political ideologue drop of a hat.

The people do not seek to vote for an alliance that has juxtaposed itself with a myriad of other political ideologies portrayed in the 2016 legislative elections itself. The Left+Congress Alliance had secured their presence as the main opposition but at the cost of securing a measly 70 seats instead of TMC’s 211.

This should have been indicative of what Bengal’s people wanted, yet, they went onwards with the same strategy as they contested in the 2021 legislative elections.

Sanjukta Morcha’s Misplaced Secularism And How It Affected The Elections

CPI and Congress Flag
Representative Image.

The original members of the Sanjukta Morcha, the Left Front and the INC, through thick and thin, have always been heralded as the true representatives of secularism in our country. When most major political parties have given into the demands of appeasement on religion and caste, the LF and the INC stood steadfast in their disdain for the same. At least, that was the case in Bengal up until 2021.

As 2021 reared its head and ISF supremo, Abbas Siddique, became an official member of the LF+Congress-led Sanjukta Morcha. The joining of the Indian Secular Front marked a strange administrative decision by the alliance leaders as it was marketed as an Islamic party. The Sanjukta Morcha had decided to harpoon with the sentiments of being a secular and minority inclusive alliance could not have been done in a worse way.

The ISF has its proprietorship with the Rashtriya Secular Majlis Party, and with the supremo, it is anyone’s guess as to the party being a clarion call for a better representation of minorities in mainstream politics.

However, most misread the situation, and with no fault of the Sanjukta Morcha’s apex members, they failed to have any foresight into the public’s perspective. Maybe their insinuation concerning the public was misplaced, but one cannot blame the public either as the inclusion of the ISF can be easily bestowed upon tokenism rather than any form of empath and call for equality.

Surya Kanta Mishra may have had the entirety of his political career figured out, but he couldn’t see this blunder through.

With a mishmash of politics becoming the curtain call for political homogeny with often mixed results, it’s anyone’s guess as to what is to become mainstream politics in the country. One cannot hark a certain ideal while mixing in with another. Similarly, they cannot claim to be any different from a minority appeasing party while appeasing minorities themselves.

If you want to see a good left front party and government, look at Kerala, for West Bengal’s left has certainly lost its way.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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