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 www.Scroll.in]

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

MARTYRS REMEMBERED

In Telangana peasant armed struggle (1946-52) and  in Srikakulam tribes peasant armed uprising (1967- 72) many young communists  of Guntur district became martyrs. A memorial in their name was built at Tummalapalem village few years back. The memorial is in between Guntur city and Chilakaluripet town,  Chennai- Visakhapatnam national highway. Every year on April 13th many a ’communist’ parties, including erstwhile M-L committee visit the place and pay homage. After the merger of M-L committee with CPI(ML) Red Star, the AP committee comrades of Red Star led by its secretary comrade Kollipara Venkateswara Rao is observing the same. This year comrade Kollipara  accompanied by ten comrades including Chennajesavu, Pushpalata, Govindu and others paid floral tribute to the martyrs and pledged to serve the people and proletariat revolution. The banner reads : “Red salute Tummalapalem martyrs”-. CPI(ML)Red Star, Andhra Pradesh committee. n

The CPI(ML) Red Star strongly condemns the 27th March anti-satellite missile test, Modi’s arrogant claims about India entering the elite club and BJP leaders’ war mongering sighting it to influence the ongoing election process.

 One of the progressive aspects of India’s foreign policy was that right from the beginning it had stood for universal nuclear disarmament. That is why even after achieving scientific-technological capability to make nuclear bombs, it did not go for it. But Vajpayee government violated this and went for nuclear arms soon after coming to power. When China test fired its anti- satellite missile in 2007 India had condemned it. India had opposed the use of outer space for armament and conflicts; it had opposed the sabre-rattling of US to use outer space for future arms race and possible wars. It was a positive step that in spite of having the capability to launch missiles capable of destroying satellites by 2010, it did not go for it.

But like Vajpayee, Modi has used this capability by ordering the anti-satellite missile test and is boasting about it for winning the elections. In effect he and the RSS parivar are destroying whatever positive aspects Indian foreign policy had hurriedly. It is similar to the destruction of all institutions built up under existing constitutional principles under Modi rule. So Modi’s 27th March act should be opposed not from a defensive position, but by attacking him for destroying whatever positive values this country had. We should stand for and struggle for universal nuclear disarmament and against using the outer space also for weaponization and arms race. War mongering by Modi and the BJP leaders should be resisted and defeated.

The anti-satellite missile test and war mongering are calculated moves to divert attention from the total failure of his government to address any of the problems faced by the vast masses. We appeal to all progressive, secular democratic forces to strive hard to defeat BJP and its allies. n

The allegation of sexual harassment against the Chief Justice of India (CJI) by a dismissed staffer, a woman, against the CJI, is now turning into a crisis of credibility, not just for the CJI but for the judiciary as well as the constitutional scheme of government as a whole. Without prejudice the veracity of the allegations should have been investigated to find the truth, including allegations of conspiracy raised by the CJI to defame him. But the Supreme Court, the CJI and the government have prejudged the matter. The affidavit containing lot of information can easily be verified or disproved. The complainant did not hold press conference or took any public route. The petition seeks protection and justice. Along with the petition, all conspiracy theories and counter allegations also can be investigated. But instead, the Court and the government have themselves added fuel to the fire of conspiratorial thinking.It shows the extent of degeneration of the judicial system even at the topmost levels. One can imagine the extent of its rot at the lower levels with lower level judges openly getting corrupt and serving the neo-fascist forces. Under Modi rule, like all other institutions, the judiciary has also become more rotten than ever. n

The serial blasts in Colombo, Sri Lanka, a country which was suffered ravaged by violent internal strife for long periods should be condemned by one and all. It should be seen in the context when ultra rightist, neo fascist forces promoted by imperialists and their lackeys and supported by religious fundamentalists in the service of global corporate system directly or indirectly are gaining strength everywhere, violently attacking all democratic human values. So, while we are hurt when practically everyday such incidents are happening in some country or other, it should be recognized that these terrorist acts can be ended only by throwing out the imperialists and their agents who are behind them.

When the Khalistan fundamentalists had launched terrorist actions in the beginning of 1980s, when even some among the left circles had supported them, we had categorically pointed out that majority fundamentalism and minority fundamentalism are two sides of the same coin, that both help the growth of each other, and so both should be opposed uncompromisingly. Centuries long human history reveals that all hues of religious fundamentalism/communalism, racism and casteism are helping the growth of each other and all of them ultimately serve the interests of the ruling system only.

In Sri Lanka we witnessed a quarter century of bitter strife between the predominantly Budhist Sinhala state and the LTTE rooted among the Hindu Tamils. But, while the nationality question still  remains unresolved, all the communal forces grew. It was followed by Islamic fundamentalists’ attacks on Budhist centers, and retaliation by them. Now the present attacks on Christian churches under whatever justification by the Islamic fundamentalists shall only further aggravate the social contradictions in that multi-religious country.

We are witnessing within our country how the growth of Saffron forces have vitiated the social life. It is a universal truth that whatever may be the claims of the religious fundamentalists, racists, their militancy and actions are making the life of common people more miserable; at the same time they help the ruling system and elite classes to perpetuate their regimes.

The gruesome tragedy in Colombo on 21st April is a reminder to all secular democratic forces that uncompromisingly combating the communal, racist forces of all hues, they should intensify the fight for inclusive, secular, democratic and renaissance values globally and in all countries. n

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.