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Elitist ‘high culture’ of political Hindutva is attempting to make significant inroads in the mass culture of the Indian society. Cultural practices promoted by the right wing Hindutva forces are gaining popular support among the Indian middle and upper classes. We have reached a point of crisis in our cultural history which demands intervention by the forces concerned with the growing trend of vicious Hindu nationalist culture in our society. Divisive communal ideologies are brazenly propagated in defiance of our constitutional principles. If you have not noticed this you are not paying attention.

Hegemonic mono-cultural drive unleashed by the corporate sponsored right wing forces has placed religion at the centre of cultural and social practices. The Brahminical version of Hinduism is made popular among the Indian masses in the name of Indian Nationalism. This in turn creates ground for the rise of Muslim radicalism too. The communal divide thus formed is a breeding ground for ideas of religious sectarianism. Ideas of post-modernism are reflected in the new mass culture through revival of the traditional in the banal contemporary forms. TV soaps, films based on hyper nationalist themes, hate clips on social media, etc., are examples of manifestation of these post modernist trends. Neglect of fine art institutions, interference and interventions in the regional literary festivals by the saffron brigade, using censorship to muffle expression of dissent through media, saffronisiation of the cultural events are the examples of project of de-secularisation of our culture.

Authoritarian regime at the centre is set to wipe out liberal democratic values in our culture. Rise of communalism in India has posed a challenge before the advancement of progressive cultural movement. Mass culture is developing in a direction of serving the interests of imperialism and ruling classes of our country. Peoples interests are being ignored, artistic freedom is being impinged and real cultural progress is facing opposition from the pretentious Hindutva Cultural brigade.

All concerned artists and cultural activists should therefore actively resist this communal onslaught on our culture. We should also do all we can to promote secular popular culture. We should form action networks on issues concerning the project of opposition to the communalisation of Indian culture. It is also necessary to support the civil society institutions struggling to protect their independence from authoritarian forces. All our efforts to save democratic space for art and culture should be combined with struggle against neoliberalism which is the real prop for Neo conservatives of Hindu National variety.

Even liberal democratic values cannot be realised without addressing the real issues of social and economic inequalities in our society. We should therefore also strive to give form to the aspirations of the victims of these inequalities through our works of art and literature with a renewed vigour. This appeal is meant to address the cultural activists and the artists to defend our composite culture and strengthen the movement for cultural advancement of our country.

  • Reject the ‘high culture’ of political Hindutva!
  • Let us join the struggle to preserve and promote the syncretic traditions of our culture! 
  • Protest against the onslaught on the basic cultural rights and freedoms of Indian people!
  • Get active, rise up!

[Tuhin, Pravin Nadkar, Aseem Giri, Ravi Paloor, Samar Sengupta and Rajendra Prasad Singh on behalf of All India Coordination Council of Revolutionary Cultural Forum] n

We don’t want missiles, nuclear bombs and war, but we need bread, peace and equality.

Cultural evening was organized at Vrindavan Hall, Raipur (Chhattisgarh) on 31th March against yuddhonmad and communal hate by Revolutionary Cultural Forum (kasam). Com. Tuhin, its general secretary, highlighting the purpose of the program, said that today the whole country is severely affected by the spread of the poison of blind nationalism and yuddhonmad. As a result, unemployment, inflation, poverty as well as attacks on the common people by corporate forces are increasing. He explained that the cultural evening has been organized at Raipur as part of the countrywide campaign to raise the voice of peace, understanding and secularism against war mongering. The main attraction of the cultural evening was the participation of the famous singer Asim Giri, a member of the central committee of the Revolutionary Cultural Forum, who presented many popular songs in Bangla and Hindi along with lyrics.

A solo act  No. 13 Prasad was presented by the well-known cultural activist from Jabalpur, Samar Sengupta, also a member of the central committee of the RCF. He also presented Kaifi Azmi’s Nazam and presented the song “ Katasa-Kasa Step-step “ written by Shalove Singh Ram Singh. There was presentation of public songs, poetry / saswatext and laghnatika spreading messages of anti-communal, anti-violence humane values by the cultured personnel from Bhilai and Raipur. In the program, journalist and cultural activists, Rajkumar Soni, Bipasha Rao, ipta Bhilai’s Manimaya and Sucheta Mukherjee presented joshile jansongs and poetry lessons (written by Uday Prakash and Liladhar Mandalai). The presentation of short poetry and Ravindra Sangeet against the war hysteria by the poets Shivani Moitra, Aada cultural forum and the poet Nikhil Bang Parishad, poetry by Vijender of Bhilai, all of these were rich contributions. Presiding over the program, the city’s senior repertoire Bodhisava Chatterjee said in his statement that we do not need missiles, guns, nuclear bombs and no war, but want rise-bread, peace and equality. He spoke of anti-war books and films by director Michael Moore and the need to defeat the communal fascism which is the major threat today. Ravindra Yadav of Raipur conducted the program. In the program many cultured personnel, intellectuals, students and youth attended. n

As apprehended, according to reports, the first phase of elections on 11th April witnessed widespread malfunctioning of the EVMs in many places where elections took place. The second phase of elections on 18th April also proved that EVMs are faulty and they cannot be relied on. For the last one decade CPI(ML) Red Star is demanding that EVMS should be replaced with the ballot system as done in vast majority of the countries. It is a good sign that all the opposition parties are also upholding this view now. But the Election Commission is adamant to persist with them and was not ready even to increase the number of VVPATs till the Supreme Court intervened. Still the demand to use 50% VVPATS is not accepted. There are reports that this system is also malfunctioning in many areas delaying the election process. The common feature is that everywhere EVMs are favouring BJP, that is even when button is pressed for a non-BJP party, vote goes to Lotus symbol! It itself shows the extent of malpractice and that it favours the ruling party. In our Election Manifesto we have demanded that:”Since the possibility of insertion of malicious software in EVMs and manipulation of voting preferences being already proved, immediately we should return to the ballot system”. In view of widespread complaints about EVMs, CPI(ML) Red Star reiterates this demand. n

Leaders of CPI(M) are very angry because the Congress president Rahul Gandhi has decided to contest from Wayanad seat in Kerala also, besides Amethi. BJP is not a major force in Kerala.  It is difficult for it to get even one seat. There the main fight is between CPI(M) led LDF and Congress led UDF.  Whoever wins in this contest, all the 20 MPs shall support the anti-BJP government coming to power at Delhi. So, Rahul is contesting not against BJP at Wayanad, but against the LDF which is staunch opponent of BJP. This will only weaken the anti-BJP forces, according to them. They are angry and feel very hurt, because outside Kerala, either they are in alliance with Congress as in TN and Odisha, or supporting Congress in vast majority of the seats in other states except in W. Bengal and Tripura.  In this situation, its leadership asserts that it will strive to defeat Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad, and try for non Congress leadership to the anti-BJP alternative.

What is surprising is the naivety they exhibit about the class character and politics of Congress. Was it not the Congress which led the so-called liberation struggle in Kerala against the undivided CPI led ministry in 1959 and dismissed it under this pretext even when it had majority support? Was it not the Congress Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who imposed internal emergency in the country? Was it not Congress which allowed the RSS criminals to demolish the Babri Masjid in 1992? Was it not the Congress government which imposed the neo-liberal/corporate policies in the country? Were not all these and numerous other similar policies including its dynastic character and the bitter experience of the masses under the UPA rule which gave golden opportunity for ultra right and neo-fascist BJP to come to power with majority creating many illusions? In spite of all these, it was the CPI(M) and the LF parties who called for anti-BJP alliance led by Congress!

The problem with CPI(M) is that even now they refuse to see Congress as it is. Congress is not responsible if in 1955 Krushchov, then Soviet communist party leader characterized it as a predominantly national bourgeois party, when actually it was/is a party of comprador big bourgeoisie-big landlords, and if the then CPI leadership mechanically followed it. Similarly, if CPI and then CPI and CPI(M) abandoned the necessity for developing independent left assertion while utilizing parliamentary form of struggle and building a left alternative based on a people oriented program long back, and degenerated to the line of peaceful transition to socialism and parliamentarism, they themselves are responsible for it. They refuse to recognize that it is this degeneration which led to their decimation in Bengal and Tripura, and the threat of severe defeat in Kerala also in the present Lok Sabha elections and in future if Rahul Gandhi succeeds to polarize the minorities and upper caste Hindus in his favour. More than anything else it is this fear which has led its leaders to come out with such outbursts against his contesting in Wayanad seat.

Congress was the main party of the ruling classes in India till BJP replaced it in 2014. Its evaluation is that, in spite of all setbacks it has suffered and its organizational weaknesses, only it is capable to lead the anti-BJP offensive in this election. It is this arrogance which led it to enter UP elections in a big way, weakening the possibility for the SP-BSP combine inflicting a major defeat to BJP. Except in Kerala, TN, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Bihar it has not gone for any major alliance with other parties. By fielding Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad it wants to brighten its possibilities in Kerala, TN and Karnataka and to become the leading party in the Lok Sabha after the elections. While pursuing this arrogant path, true to its class character, neither it is prepared to accommodate other anti-BJP parties in a grand alliance to defeat the BJP which is posing the major threat to whatever is positive in Indian polity, nor it is prepared to reverse its neo-liberal/corporate policies or the communal-caste appeasement.

Nobody can wish away this reality. That is why the CPI(ML) Red Star has given the call for striving hard to defeat BJP from power by supporting the candidates capable of defeating BJP at all India level, while fielding candidates in limited seats for building up program based people’s alternative by strengthening independent left assertion and organizing mass political platform of struggling left, democratic, secular forces including people’s movements and organizations of oppressed classes and sections. Instead of pursuing such a Marxist-Leninist path, the CPI(M) leadership is pursuing the opportunist path of sailing in two boats, on the one hand  collaborating with the ruling class parties and implementing their policies wherever it comes to power, and on the other trying to pose as the Left or Left Democratic Front, which it is not. The whole discussions within the CPI(M) ranging from the debate in its last year’s party congress on the nature of the resistance to the threat posed by the Modi rule to the present outbursts against Rahul Gandhi’s candidature in Wayanad smacks of this opportunism, this refusal to seek truth from facts.

To be precise, CPI(M)’ s frustration and overreaction in the context of Rahul’s Wayanad candidature directly stem from its basic ideological-political weakness in concretely evaluating the inherently anti-Communist Congress as the leading party of Indian ruling classes till the BJP taking over that position. n

Look away from the Bharatiya Janata Party versus Congress battles for a moment and there are still a number of fascinating questions that arise from India’s upcoming general elections. Who will capture the political imagination of Tamil Nadu? Will film star Pawan Kalyan make a dent in Andhra Pradesh? Does Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar still have a strong base?  We’ll try and get to these questions and others in the Election Fix. Today, we look at another one: what will happen to the Left?

Although India’s various communist parties, associations and trade unions still have a presence across the country, as a political force they have for the most part been confined to three states: Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura. Even in these three, the party has experienced major setbacks. In 2018, after nearly three decades of communist rule, Tripura got a Bharatiya Janata Party chief minister. In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress and a recently assertive BJP have combined to turn the Left Front, a coalition of communist parties, into what seems like a bit player in a state it once ruled for three decades.

It is only in Kerala that the Left Front is actually in power. But here too, there are fears that the anti-incumbency factor could work against it. Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s decision to contest from a second seat in Kerala, in addition to his current constituency of Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi, complicates this further. Gandhi will be contesting from Wayanad, where he will be going up against the Left. The constituency sits on the corner of Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, and the Congress hopes that its leader’s decision to contest from there will boost its chances across these three states.

But that means cutting further into the Left’s base in Kerala. In an election that is supposedly built around the idea of Opposition parties working together to “save democracy” by defeating the BJP, this decision presents a different picture: one where the Congress is pragmatically building its own base, which we discussed on the Election Fix a few weeks ago. So where does that leave the Left Front? Not in a great place. Opinion polls in West Bengal suggest the communist parties will be left with no seats at all.

Shoaib Daniyal, reporting from West Bengal, offers this snippet to give you a sense of what is happening to the Left: “Habibpur is an adivasi-reserved Assembly seat in the Malda district of West Bengal. Incredibly, the communists have held this seat since 1962 – with only one gap from 1967-’69, when it lost to the Congress. For the past three terms, the seat has been held by veteran Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Khagen Murmu.

But in March, Murmu jumped ship to join the BJP. The prize? He was made the Hindutva party’s Lok Sabha candidate for Malda North. The CPI(M) itself can scarcely be found in the villages of Habibpur anymore, as saffron blots out red. The communists once considered Bengal their fort. Now they cannot even hold on to their pocket boroughs.” In Kerala too polls are weighed against the Left, so Gandhi’s decision to contest from Wayanad will no doubt have an impact.

The big two Left Front parties, the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist), put out their manifestos this week, with promises that included Rs 9,000 per month in pensions, more guaranteed employment and data privacy. But the Left’s ability to influence policy will depend, to some extent on its political fortunes. And those, at the moment, do not look promising.

[From the Election Fix published by the]

A Response from CPI(ML) Red Star to the Above Comment

The above report on future of the left in India in the context of the 17th Lok Sabha elections. Of course, if you reduce the communist movement in India to CPI and CPI(M) and the Left Front and the index of the strength of the communist movement only as its strength in the elected bodies, this evaluation may be correct. And this negative picture can be extended to global scene also with all former socialist countries including China and Vietnam degenerating to capitalist states though they still use red flags.

But generally very little serious study is made to analyse the reasons for this set back. Or to see whether there are forces who are making serious rectifications, developing the Marxist perspective according to present conditions, and trying to build socialist alternative to present crises including the ecological catastrophe.

Marxism calls for overthrow of the capitalist system and replacing it with communism through a long socialist transition period. Under the leadership of Lenin when Russian revolution became victorious, Soviet Union was formed, and when it took up socialist transition it had become the future hope of mankind. Communist parties took birth in most of the countries, Soviet Union played leading role in defeating the Nazi fascist offensive, a dozen more countries took socialist path, and by early 1950s it looked like the socialist wave shall submerge the capitalist imperialist forces.

At this time, the imperialist camp led by US, in order to beat back the socialist offensive, replaced colonial (direct) domination with neo-colonial (indirect) domination by transferring power to big capitalist-big landlord classes in the colonies and launched social welfare measures and state capitalist policies, while maintaining their hegemony through export of finance capital, market system and technology and through arms trade. On the one hand military blocs were formed, and on the other IMF-World Bank and later WTO along with UN and its various agencies, for strengthening the neocolonial control.

What the communists did? By and large they could not correctly evaluate this new imperialist offensive. They saw it as weakening of imperialism. So the post-Stalin Soviet leadership called for peaceful coexistence and competition with imperialism and peaceful transition to socialism, abandoning the path of class struggle. It opened the floodgates to the capitalist roaders in the socialist countries who degenerated these countries in the course of next two decades.

In India, the CPI leadership started abandoning the revolutionary path by 1957, believing that through parliamentary path socialist transformation can take place. Against this there was inner party struggle, CPI splitted, and in 1964 CPI(M) was formed. But soon they also took to the path of parliamentarism. In 1967 both of them came together, formed broad based class collaborationist fronts and came to power in Kerala and W Bengal. Though they had promed  implementation of land to the tiller like slogans, once in power, instead of using it for advancing class struggle, they soon compromised with the ruling rightist state system. Against this, there was revolt in Naxalbari in May 1967. But due to left adventurism, it could not take the movement back to the path of democratic revolution.

During this time the rightist Congress was degenerating fast and getting alienated from people. The space lost by it could be captured by the CPI(M) led Left Front, though for decades it was to power for decades in Bengal, Tripura and Kerala, as it continued to implement the ruling class policies and could not put forward an alternative path of development when the neoliberal policies were imposed by Narasimha Rao govt in 1991. It had lost the socialist narrative and naturally Singur, Nandigram happened degenerating and alienating them from the people fast. And the the space lost by the Congress and this institutionalized Left Front is now occupied by the autocratic TMC and the ultra left, regional, casteist parties. In spite of the setbacks in Bengal and Tripura, since the CPI(M) led LDF in Kerala is pursuing the very same corporate policies, it is bound to face setbacks there also. It reflects the fact that social democratic parties like CPI(M) are bound to fade out.

But it cannot be evaluated as the end for the left, it is incorrect. The revolutionary left is already on the path of overcoming this setback, not only in India, but all over the world. We are not talking about the CPI(Maoist) which is led by middle class’ utopian anarchist views, We are talking about CPI(ML) Red Star like forces who are leading Bhangar like people’s movements, who are trying to develop Marxist world view according to present conditions, and using all forms of struggle including parliamentary struggles to capture political power.

The hitherto history after the advent of capitalist system shows that only socialism can provide an alternative to present global turmoil created by the capitalist imperialist system, including the ecological catastrophe. So, learning from past mistakes, challenging and throwing out the present offensive of ultra right, neo-fascist forces at global level and in India, the socialist forces led by the revolutionary communists shall come to the centre stage as the people’s alternative in the coming days.

KN Ramachandran

In the elections to the AP assembly and Lok Sabha seats, the AP state committee organized a good political campaign propagating the party’s Election Manifesto, which was ranslated to Telugu and published in time, and projecting important local issues in the Guntur Lok Sabah seat fielding com. Hariprasad, AP state committee member for the LS seat and comrades P. Chenna Kesavalu, for Guntur East, Pushpalatha for Guntur West and T. Govindu for Prathipadu assembly seats within the LS seat. All party comrades actively participated in the campaign. As the only left candidate in the Guntur LS seat MCPIU and other organizations extended support to com Hariprasad. In AP the polling was completed on 11th April amidst many violent clashes mainly between followers of TDP and YSRCP and complaints on malfunctioning of EVMs.

In Telengana, though nomination for Kommula Srinivas for Peddapilly seat was submitted, it was rejected. So party comrades propagated party manifesto, supported the like minded left candidates and generally campaigned against the BJP and TRS.

In Maharashtra party had fielded two candidates to Nagpur and Ramtek Lok Sabha seats, comrades Yogesh Thakre and Bandu Mishram. The state committee organized an active campaign mobilizing all party comrades and sympathisers. The Election Manifesto and thousands of handbills were distributed and street corner and village level meetings were held besides house to house campaign where our party committees are active. Elections to these constituencies completed on 11th April. Besides, party is supporting the independent candidate Milind Rete in Mumbai North constituency. Comrades active in trade unions and student movement are also campaigning based on a handbill published by the party supporting the candidate Elections to this seat is on 29th April.

In Gujarat our party committee is supporting the candidate of  Bharatiy Tribal Party com. Aswin Parmar in Ahmedabad West constituency. Bringing out party’s hand bill supporting Aswin, our comrades are organizing a campaign based on party’s Election Manifesto.

In Kerala party has fielded three comrades Usha from Wayanad, Sudhakaran from Vadagara and N D venu from Thrissur. Com. Shahjahan is contesting from Ernakulam as party supported independent candidate. Besides party has extended support to com.Gomathi from Idukki seat and Freddy Jaison from Chalakudi seat. An active campaign is launched by the party committees and the mass organizations based on the Election Manifesto published in Malayalam and tens of thousands of handbills. Many people’s movements and environmental movements have extended support to these candidates. Support is also expected from those left sections who are for social justice and a system change. The elections were held on 23rd April.

In Tamilnadu com. Paulraj is the party candidate from Kanyakumari seat. A vigorous campaign is going on and the polling was on 18th April. The Election Manifesto is published in Tamil. Besides thousands of handbills explaining party’s call for the people’s alternative highlighting state specific issues were also used in the campaign. Due to technical problems com M K Muthu could not submit nomination from Theni seat. Comrades from other areas also participated in the campaign of com Pulraj.

In Karnataka, though the state committee had planned to field five candidates, the nomination of Veerupaxi Gouda from Raichur was rejected and candidates from Kudagu/Mysore and Bellary could not file nominations. Campaign for comrades Hemraj Veerapur and S.Vijaya from Koppal and Chikmagalur/Uduppi are continuing well.  Party is supporting the independent candidate com Prakash Raj from Bengaluru Central along with other left and democratic forces. The Election Manifesto was published in Kannada besides large number of handbills.

In Chhattisgarh party state committee has fielded com Bhojlal Netam as party candidate from Mahasamund constituency and the campaign under the leadership of CC members comrade Saura and Tejram is progressing well. Here the polling took place on 18th April.

In Odisha where along with the elections to Lok Sabha, the assembly elections are also taking place, party has fielded com Ranjan Mishra from Puri,  com Pramela Behera from Bhubaneswar, com. Tuna Mallik from kandhamal, com. Rajendra  Kendruka from Koraput and com. Sankar Sahu from Aska Lok Sabha seats. Besides com. Purna Mandingi from Laxmipur, com. Purna Chandra Pradhan from Bhanjanagar, com. Rajendra Prasad Bari from Bhubneswar and Ad. Abani Gaya (independent supported by party from Berhampur. Elections to Koraput LS seat and Berhampore assembly seat were held on 11th April. Campaign for other seats are progressing well. As reported by com sivaram this time the campaign by the party has reached at least more than 5% of the state’s population and the media was also forced to publish news of the campaign. Election manifesto was published in Odiya, besides few lakhs of handbills were also published taking party’s message to people.

In W. Bengal party has fielded from Dumdum seat com Shankar Das, Bankura seat com. Sukchand Soren, from Bishnupur seat com Jithendra Nath Roy, from Belarghat seat com. Manas Chakravarthy, from Barrakpore seat com. Hyder Ali, from Barasat seat com. Oli Md Mallick. Besides com Bikas Ranjan Bhattacharjee from jadavpur seat is supported by the Bhangar Committee. A very effective campaign is progressing well in which all comrades are actively involved. In the present situation in the state when BJP is trying to make headway in the state replacing the TMC and the Left front’s influence is waning day by day, party is trying to put forward its line of building up a people’s alternative uniting all struggling forces. It is gaining support from larger sections of people.

In Jharkhand, party is fielding three Lok Sabah candidates, from Ranchi com. Vikas Chandra Sharma, from Palamu com. Madan Ram and from Jamshedpur com. Malay Kumar Mahato. With the Election Manifesto and thousands of handbills explaining the problems of the state the state committee is organizing an active campaign. State specific environmental problems are also actively raised like the problems of the people suffering from uranium mining in Jharsuguda region. Adivasis threatened by evictions are also mobilized during the campaign.

In MP from Sidhi seat com. Heeralal Singh is contesting highlighting the large scale environmental challenges faced by the region as a result of the extensive coal mining and building of thermal power plants displacing millions of people from their habitats. The MP state committee is trying to organize an effective campaign in this very large constituency.

In UP the state committee is fielding five candidates to the Lok Sabha seats mainly from Purvanchal region: from Deoriah seat com. Chaturanan Ojha, from Chandaulir com. Kailas Sharma, from Amethi com. Basudev Maurya, from Gajipur com.Rajendra Vanvasi and com. Aravind Yadav from Kushinagar. The campaign is started in both places.

In Delhi a Lokthantrik morcha is formed uniting CPI(ML) Red Star, NDPI led by Arun Maji, Sarvodaya Prabhat Party,  People’s Front-Delhi, Samajic Nyay Manch, People’s Green Party and  Bahujan Samanvay Samithi based on a Common Minimum program. It is fielding three comrades, com Harsh Kumar Gautham (NDPI) from New Delhi, Jaswinder Kaur (NDPI) from South Delhi, P K Raghav from North East Delhi.. While campaign is started based on a joint handbill, in the coming days attracting more struggling forces from the Communist, Socialist and Abbedkarite streams the Morcha shall be expanded and campaign strengthened with the slogan : Throw Out BJP, Build Up people’s Alternative.

In Rajasthan, the party organizing Committee is fielding comrade Kika Meena from the predominantly Adivasi seat of Udaipur. The nomination is already filed and accepted. With saw symbol handbills are prepared and the campaign is started.

The Punjab-Chandigarh committee has fielded com. Lashkar Singh from Chandigarh and com Jeet Singh from Sangrur seats and the campaign is progressing. A press conference was held on 10th April at Chabdigarh releasing the Punjabi translation pf Election manifesto and calling on the people to defeat BJP and its allies and appealing to vote for Red Star candidates. n

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The Communist movement in India has a history of almost a century after the salvos of October Revolution in Russia brought Marxism-Leninism to the people of India who were engaged in the national liberation struggle against the British colonialists. It is a complex and chequered history.