Evaluation of the Assembly Elections - K N Ramachandran
KN Ramachandran, General Secretary, CPI (ML) Red Star
The RSS parivar and the corporate media have joined hands to create fantastic stories about a Modi tsunami spreading fast all over the country by selectively focusing only on UP election results. Gulping it up the petti bourgeois intellectuals and large sections of non-partisan opportunists raise alarmist calls as if something new is happening. An evaluation of the details of the election results show that it is primarily the anti-incumbency factor which led to the defeats of all parties/coalitions in power in these state elections. For example, the five years of Samajwadi Paty rule witnessed maximum number of communal riots, atrocities on dalits and women. During this period, public distribution system, education, healthcare, housing facilities, etc. for the vast majority got further deteriorated. Unemployment and corruption became more rampant. The very sustenance of the people including security of life also worsened. Instead of addressing these vital lapses, Mulayam Singh and his son Akhilesh quarreled openly for leadership. In spite of all these, the BJP could not increase the vote share it got during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections even amidst most rabid efforts to further communalize the elections. If BJP and its allies in UP increased their vote share from 15 % in 2012 assembly elections to 43.6 % in 2014 LS elections, this time they could get only 41.4%. In 2014 general election, if they had majority in 337 assembly seats, this time it was reduced to 325. So, as happened in Bihar in 2015, if the SP, BSP, Congress, ILD who got 53.8% together this time had joined hands and formed a grand alliance they could have easily defeated the BJP. But these rightist parties have no such political will or desire to defeat the ultra rightist and communal fascist BJP. Except for superficial war of words, the non-BJP parties had no fundamental differences with it with regard to neo-liberal corporate raj or communal, caste based vote bank politics. Though the non-BJP parties had apparently opposed demonetization, their differences were only with regard to the timing and method of implementation of this corporate agenda and none of them made any serious effort to make it a central issue in the election campaign. So utilizing the anti-incumbency factor, the division among SP-Congress and BSP, and using communal polarization, in spite of losing 2% of votes compared to 2014, the BJP could win 325 seats using existing ‘first pass the post’ electoral system. In Uttarakhand also the picture is not basically different. BJP’s vote share went down from 55.87% in 2014 to 46.5% now; still it got a thumping majority by opening the door to Congress rebels and regional groups.
In Punjab, in spite of rabid communalization by both Akali Dal and BJP, the anti-incumbency factor turned the table in favor of Congress. Here, while BJP’s vote share increased from 7.18 in 2012 to 8.77 in 2014, it went down to 5.3% now. Its seats decreased from 12 in 2012 to just 3 now. And the Congress with 38.5% votes got 77 out of 117 seats.
In Goa where the BJP was the ruling party, its vote share of 34.68 in 2012 went up to 54.08 in 2014 and fell to 32.5 % now. Its seats went down from 21 to 13 out of 40 seats in the state. Neither in Punjab nor in Goa, does the ‘Modi-wave’ have influenced the voting. In Manipur, the 15 years of Congress misrule, the tradition of habitually voting for the ruling party at the centre, absence of any major opposition party plus the opportunist adjustments made by the BJP with the Naga groups helped it to increase its vote share and to win 21 out of the 60 seats in the state. So it can be seen that primarily it is the incumbency factor which became the decisive factor here also.
As the demonetization debate has shown, though the opposition parties had opposed it in the parliament, they did not organize any major people’s movements against it in the streets or put forward any alternative as all of them also basically pursue the neo-liberal policies and corporate raj. If BJP fiercely pursue the Hindutva communal card, Congress and other opposition parties have been following communal, caste appeasement based vote card for long. All of them are united about imposing the black laws including AFSPA and UAPA, on denying the right of self determination to Kashmiri people, in continuing the present foreign policy which is subservient to US imperialism, etc. Even the differences the opposition parties have on the communal fascist policies pursued by the RSS parivar is cosmetic. Among the opposition parties there is no desire to join hands to defeat the ultra rightist, Hindutva policies of BJP. It is in this situation, using the anti-incumbency factor coupled with Hindutva communal polarization, the BJP could win in UP and Uttarakhand. In the context of a divided opposition, this has enabled Modi to accomplish a repeat of the of the 2014 general election results in UP effectively avoiding a repetition of the 2015 Bihar debacle thereby reinforcing the strong foothold that he got three years back. Thus, while Modi’s well oiled campaign machinery peppered with populism, xenophobic nationalism, exaggerations of development and achievements and even outright lies including his casting of notebandi as a class-war against black money succeeded in resonating with the ill-informed common people despite social media jokes, his opponents devoid of an alternative conspicuously failed to initiate a counter-campaign.
This victory of the RSS parivar poses the danger of the opposition parties also taking more rightist and communal appeasement policies in their parliamentary fight against BJP. The danger of the whole Indian polity turning to ultra rightist positions, as happening in US and other countries is increasing. How to challenge and defeat this growing danger is an urgent question.
Of course, this danger of growing fascistization in our country and internationally should be viewed in the context of intensifying crisis of the global imperialist finance system. Divisive, communal, racist and casteist cards are utilized and barbarous local wars are promoted along with decimation of even existing democratic values to cover up this crisis and to prolong the sustenance of the exploitative ruling system. What requires is an alternative capable of challenging and defeating the danger of fascistization posed by the ultra-rightist BJP as the political wing of the RSS parivar. Internationally, the capitalist roaders within the communist movement have disintegrated the Soviet Union, transformed China in to an imperialist country competing with US for world hegemony, and have weakened all the traditional communist parties, making the struggle against the imperialist forces that are resorting to aggressive ultra-rightist and fascist positions increasingly difficult. In India, the CPI (M) led Left Front by degenerating to ruling class positions and implementing the neoliberal policies wherever they come to power have become junior partners of the ruling class parties. Their 34 years of rule in West Bengal and present rule in Kerala have only defamed the communist movement, making them an appendage of the ruling system. As proved once again during the election to these five states, they neither have an alternative to the neo-liberal policies nor the will to develop struggles against the ruling system based on an alternative program and path of struggle.
Opposing this right opportunist line, though the CPI(Maoist) like forces talk about overthrowing the existing state power through armed struggle, their analysis of the Indian situation, evaluation of the reasons for the severe setbacks suffered by the international communist movement, their conceptualizations regarding developing democratic space within the party and in the society, on evolving the theory and practice of Marxism so as to politicize the masses and making them capable of overthrowing the state, regarding an alternative people oriented development perspective, etc. are basically erroneous and lead to anarchy. Still pursuing the discredited ‘line of annihilation’ and farcical boycott of elections, this left adventurist line also is defaming the communist movement and alienating the masses of people from it. During the present elections too, both the right opportunist trend led by CPI (M) as well as the anarchist trend have further weakened while doing the damage of further defaming the communist movement.
This is a reactionary situation where the ultra-rightwing and fascist forces are on the offensive. It can be challenged and transformed only when an independent and genuine left and democratic alternative capable of mobilizing the masses with the politics of people’s alternative and anti-caste, secular perspective is put forward and fought for. For developing such an alternative as a powerful force capable of replacing the ruling system, for winning over the democratic forces along with it, first of all the theoretical struggle against the right opportunist and anarchist trends which are alienating the masses from the communist movement, should be strengthened further. During the present elections, when we fielded one candidate in Punjab and nine candidates in UP in areas where we are mobilizing the masses and leading their struggles like the struggle of agricultural workers, the necessity of popularizing the politics of a revolutionary alternative was seriously felt. In the absence of politicizing the masses based on such an alternative and leading them in mass movements like the present Bhangar movement, they will not be able to resist the corrupt ruling system and the communal and fascist tactics pursued by the ruling parties of all hues. That is, the parliamentary struggles can be effectively utilized only in a situation of politicization and in areas where the party and class/mass movements are well established among the masses. Otherwise, even the members of the mass movements themselves may be swayed by the ruling class parties. So, instead of reaching any alarmist conclusions, the Communist forces should intensify their effort to organize the party powerfully and to develop broad based people’s movements for land, livelihood, democracy and environmental protection. A powerful movement for caste annihilation and against all shades of religious fundamentalism based on genuine secular positions should be developed. Based on the worker-peasant alliance, the struggle for the basic rights of dalits, adivasis, minorities and women, for education-healthcare-housing-employment for all should be developed. Such an offensive shall pave the way for building and expanding a broad platform of genuine left and democratic forces based on a common minimum program. Taking lessons from the results of the elections to the five states, let us prepare and organize for both parliamentary & non-parliamentary struggles in the days ahead.