To All Comrades and Friends,

 

Dear comrades and Friends,

 

Com. Sharmistha, PB member of the Party, General Secretary of AIRWO, and Central Executive Committee member of the TUCI left us at 3 pm today, in a hospital in Kolkata where she was admitted yesterday evening for serious abdominal ailments from which she was suffering for a long time. She became ill while participating in the election campaign at Bhangar and from that time she had to keep away from all activities.

 

Com. Sharmistha was in the forefront of the party activities as well as in women’s front and working class front. In developing the ideological, political line of CPI(ML) Red Star, as well as in building the party in W. Bengal she has played an important role along with other leading comrades. She was just 45 years old when she left us. She was a student of Presidency College and then Kolkata University from where she did the post graduation, and journalist course. She started her career as a journalist in The Telegraph. From the Presidency College days she was a militant student activist. In 2002 she left the job, and became a whole time activist in the CCRI. In 2009 CCRI became part of the CPI(ML) Red Star. During the last 12 years, as an active party leader, as General Secretary of the All India Revolutionary Women’s organization, and as the Central Executive Committee member of Trade Union Centre of India she has participated and led many important struggles.

 

On the question of women’s liberation she has written many important papers which has exposed the theoretical weakness of the communist movement from the beginning in developing a consistent political line and practice against the Brahmanical, Hindutua ideology and patriarchy based on Manumrithi, which is the theoretical basis of RSS and all reactionary forces, perpetuating the slavery of women and other genders. She has campaigned for revolutionary emancipation of women, and has led the AIRWO for last one decade, developing it to an all India organization. Extending her activities to international level, she has played an active role in the development of the World Women’s Conference, actively participating in its Conferences at Caracas (Venezuela), Nepal and Germany, and organizing the latest Conference at Bangalore in 2018.

 

Com. Sharmista was active in working class movement also from the beginning of her political career. When the neoliberal policies have turned 95% of the workers as contract/casual workers, and as the traditional TU movement of the old style, affiliated to ruling class and reformist parties have become stagnant failing to take the working class beyond economism, she was always eager to develop movement of the workers in the unorganized sector. One of the struggles of closed jute mill workers led by her had led to collision with the TMC government.

 

In initiating and developing the Bhangar movement , and the Committee for land and livelihood she played an important role along with com. Alik, who is her life partner also, and other comrades. She was arrested and jailed under UAPA. After coming out of the jail after six months, she again plunged in to the movement playing an important role in defeating TMC goons and winning five seats in Polarghat panchayat elections. Once the struggle was successfully concluded, she played important role in consolidation the party and mass organizations  in that area.

She was vibrant and militant mass leader, a powerful speaker. Living in the Commune with com Alik and other comrades, she dedicated her life for the emancipation of women and all oppressed classes and sections, with uncompromising communist conviction and determination. Comrades Sharmistha was a real revolutionary mass leader who has contributed much in developing the revolutionary mass line under the leadership of the party. Her loss, just two weeks after the our another great loss, com. Sivaram leaving us on 28th May,  a time when the communist movement is facing serious challenges, is not only a loss to our party, but to the whole communist movement. The Central Committee of the CPI(ML) Red Star appeals to all comrades and friends to organize memorial programs, and to dedicate ourselves to carry forward the revolutionary work for which com. Sharmistha has fought for all her life.

 

She is survived by her mother. The Party extends heartfelt condolences to her and all other friends and comrades dear and near to her. Com. Alik, her partner, who is the secretary of the W. Bengal state committee of the party, has announced that after a brief program when all comrades from different parts of the state including Bhangar shall pay tributes to departed leader com. Sharmistha, and her body shall be handed over to the hospital for helping the students’ research. Com. Sharmistha was our beloved, dear comrade, whose memory shall be always with us inspiring us to carry forward the revolutionary tasks.

 

Red Salute to our beloved dear comrade Sharmistha!

 

K N Ramachandran

General Secretary

CPI(ML) Red Star

 

New Delhi

13th June 2021

In the course of evolving class divided society and state, different kinds of states have appeared in accordance with changes in the character of class contradictions. Going past the ages of monarchy and autocracy, parliamentary democracy has been established particularly in the era of capitalism. This is nothing but a form of dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and all the exploiting classes. Phrases like establishing rule of law, abiding by law, etc are conventional there. No king or dictator can rule at his/her whims, rule must be confined within a legal limit—such a stately attitude develops.

 

Parliamentary democracy has been established in the continuation of the struggle against feudalism. Generally it has been found that the struggle of the bourgeoisie and the working class against feudalism has taken placed together based on which parliamentary democracy has been established. Therefore in many cases, it was historically found that the bourgeoisie had left parliamentary democracy to revert to absolute monarchy. Because, as long as its rule was not established through parliamentary democracy, its founders could not use it finally as a form of state. The form we mention here had bureaucracy and army as its pillars. Parliamentary democracy has been established in the continuation of the struggle against feudalism. Generally it has been found that the struggle of the bourgeoisie and the working class against feudalism has taken place together based on which parliamentary democracy has been established. Therefore in many cases, it was historically found that the bourgeoisie had left parliamentary democracy to revert to absolute monarchy. Because, so long as its rule was not established through parliamentary democracy, its founders could not use it finally as a form of state. In the form we mention here, bureaucracy and army are called its pillars. The Leninist theory or Marxist-Leninist political theory, taking bureaucracy in parliamentary democracy into account, stated in the definition of Marxist state that the state that has essentially emerged from the impossibility of reconciliation of the irreconcilable contradictions of classes in a class divided society and sitting on its head has established itself as an apparatus isolated from the society.

 

Hence the separation of the state and the society –separation of the people—is but a natural phenomenon. However, from the above definition itself we can understand that an isolated apparatus can’t control and compatible with a society for long. Therefore it needs a system through which the state can forge institutions to make relations with the people. Parliamentary democracy is one such instrument to make the state acceptable to the people. This is a form of rule which apparently provides a place for people’s participation. But the bureaucracy, the judiciary and the army is connected inextricably with parliamentary democracy, none of which is an elected institution. The principle of Separation of Power of bourgeoisie system was established through French Revolution based on Montesquieu’s doctrine. That principle of Separation of Power is still continuing. Separation of Power means that the three pillars of state—the legislature, the judiciary and the administration—will remain independent of one another and no section can interfere in the business of other  institutions organically linked as mutually complementary. For the purpose of acceptability of the state, sometimes their differences are manifested. When activity of the people rises, the people can at times be able to some extent to make use of the space for apparent participation to occupy some ground to intervene in a country. This generally comes up from the contradictions or conflicts between the bourgeoisie and the working class, ruling class(es) and the ruled. Such a situation emerges in relation to the contradiction within the production system. Therefore the working class too can use the bourgeoisie democracy to some extent for organizing themselves, to upgrade their standard of life, to have some influence in making society stand up against the ruling class. But just this much. If we think that the whole system can be changed through the bourgeoisie democracy, that will be only farfetched. Many among us don’t think this way. 

 

 

Question arises as to how then fascism can arise within parliamentary democracy, or how individual governance comes up? This is our general knowledge that as much as democratic right is there for the people within parliamentary democracy, that right, the traditional bourgeois democratic right, must be destroyed for fascism to be established. The organs of the state do not necessarily perform according to laws because dictatorship essentially implies some coercion, legal or illegal. Hence the state must have always some fascistic character. The fact is not that some state machinery or a Govt. there under does never take fascist step. But there is difference between taking some fascist step and converting the whole state machinery into a fascist one. The difference is that the apparent space of participation of the people within the state machinery can be exploited by fascism. Fascism takes a section of the people into its own direction, influenced by its reactionary ideology assimilates into the whole state machinery. The existence of bourgeoisie democracy in the whole state machinery or the differences which exist between the different organs through separation of power are all obliterated. 

 

 In the course of evolving class divided society and state, different kinds of states have appeared in accordance with changes in the character of class contradictions. Going past the ages of monarchy and autocracy, parliamentary democracy has been established particularly in the era of capitalism. This is nothing but a form of dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and all the exploiting classes. Phrases like establishing rule of law, abiding by law, etc are conventional there. No king or dictator can rule at his/her whims, rule must be confined within a legal limit—such a stately attitude develops.

 

Parliamentary democracy has been established in the continuation of the struggle against feudalism. Generally it has been found that the struggle of the bourgeoisie and the working class against feudalism has taken placed together based on which parliamentary democracy has been established. Therefore in many cases, it was historically found that the bourgeoisie had left parliamentary democracy to revert to absolute monarchy. Because, as long as its rule was not established through parliamentary democracy, its founders could not use it finally as a form of state. The form we mention here had bureaucracy and army as its pillars. Parliamentary democracy has been established in the continuation of the struggle against feudalism. Generally it has been found that the struggle of the bourgeoisie and the working class against feudalism has  taken place together based on which parliamentary democracy has been established. Therefore in many cases, it was historically found that the bourgeoisie had left parliamentary democracy to revert to absolute monarchy. Because, so long as its rule was not established through parliamentary democracy, its founders could not use it finally as a form of state. In the form we mention here, bureaucracy and army are called its pillars. The Leninist theory or Marxist-Leninist political theory, taking bureaucracy in parliamentary democracy into account, stated in the definition of Marxist state that the state that has essentially emerged from the impossibility of reconciliation of the irreconcilable contradictions of classes in a class divided society has established itself on the head of and separated from the society.

 

Hence the separation of the state and the society –separation of the people—is but a natural phenomenon. However, from the above definition itself we can understand that an isolated apparatus can’t lead a society for long. Therefore it needs a system through which the state can forge institutions to make relations with the people. Parliamentary democracy is one such instrument to make the state acceptable to the people. This is a form of rule which apparently provides a place for people’s participation. But the bureaucracy, the judiciary and the army is connected inextricably with parliamentary democracy, none of which is an elected institution. The principle of Separation of Power of bourgeoisie system was established through French Revolution based on Montesquieu’s doctrine. That principle of Separation of Power is still continuing. Separation of Power means that the three pillars of state—the legislature, the judiciary and the administration—will remain independent of one another and no system can interfere in the business of other.  institutions organically linked as mutually complementary. For the purpose of acceptability of the state, sometimes their differences are manifested. When activity of the people rises, the people can at times be able to some extent to make use of the space for apparent participation to occupy some ground to intervene in a country. This generally comes up from the contradictions or conflicts between the bourgeoisie and the working class, ruling class(es) and the ruled. Such a situation emerges in relation to the contradiction within the production system. Therefore the working class too can use the bourgeoisie democracy to some extent for organizing themselves, to upgrade their standard of life, to have some influence in making society stand up against the ruling class. But just this much. If we think that the whole system can be changed through the bourgeoisie democracy, that will be only farfetched. Many among us don’t think this way. 

 

 

Question arises as to how then fascism can arise within parliamentary democracy, or how individual governance comes up? This is our general knowledge that as much as democratic right is there for the people within parliamentary democracy, that right, the traditional bourgeois democratic right, must be destroyed for fascism to be established. The organs of the state do not necessarily perform according to laws because dictatorship essentially implies some coercion, legal or illegal. Hence the state must have always some fascistic character. The fact is not that some state machinery or a Govt. there under does never take fascist step. But there is difference between taking some fascist step and converting the whole state machinery into a fascist one. The difference is that the apparent space of participation of the people within the state machinery can be exploited by fascism. Fascism takes a section of the people into its own direction, influenced by its reactionary ideology assimilates into the whole state machinery. The existence of bourgeoisie democracy in the whole state machinery or the differences which exist between the different organs through separation of power are all obliterated. 

 

Question arises that how then fascism can arise within parliamentary democracy, or how individual governance comes up? This is our general knowledge that as much as democratic right is there for the people within parliamentary democracy, that right, the traditional bourgeois democratic right, must be destroyed for fascism to be established. The organs of the state do not necessarily perform according to laws because dictatorship essentially implies some coercion, legal or illegal. Hence the state must have always some fascistic character. The fact is not that some state machinery or a Govt. there under does never take fascist step. But there is difference between taking some fascist step and converting the whole state machinery into a fascist one. The difference is that the apparent space of participation of the people within the state machinery can be exploited by fascism. Fascism takes a section of the people into its own direction, influenced by its reactionary ideology assimilates into the whole state machinery. The existence of bourgeoisie democracy in the whole state machinery or the differences which exist between the different organs through separation of power are all obliterated.

 

These are, in general, required to reconcile the internal contradictions among the bourgeoisie too in a bourgeoisie democracy. But fascism means establishment of a most reactionary rule by suppressing the internal contradictions even among the bourgeoisie. If we understand the difference at this point, we can comprehend the difference between parliamentary autocracy and fascism in a conventional democratic or constitutional set up. We will confine our discussion within the example of West Bengal. That the Trinamool Govt. in West Bengal is an autocratic Govt. bears no doubt among any of us. A new debate has surfaced again concerning the massive police attacks on the Nabanna expedition led by the student organizations of the left section on 11 February 2021. That is, what is the difference between this and what the BJP Govt. is doing in UP? There have many more attacks been launched in West Bengal from Bhangar to many other places. Keeping those attacks in mind one raises the question whether removing the TMC Govt. should be the principal task. When, today, BJP has possibility to snatch power in West Bengal, what is the answer? 

 

It should be mentioned first that removing not only these two forces, our target is to uproot the ruling class itself. In elections too, it is always desirable to defeat or corner all the ruling class forces. But it must be considered how much the victory or defeat of some force reinforce the state machinery or destroy the unity of the people under the given condition of the election.

 

Let us come to the present situation. It can be said at this situation that BJP is a fascist force and TMC an autocratic force. BJP is exploiting the constitutional system not only to guard the corporate interests but also strives to instate autocracy after crushing the whole system. That is the reason why it is bringing in its reactionary ideology forcefully among the people. As for example, Hindi Hindu Hindustan, one nation-one language-one state, etc. These all constitute their effort to destroy the present constitutional structure and build up a new one. This means substituting the present federal structure by a central power, all powers concentrated to the president in place of parliamentary democracy, destroying the autonomy of different nationalities and languages. This implies that it will not only rob the rights of the exploited classes, will also resolve the internal contradictions of the exploiting classes through forceful suppression. When democracy disappears from among the exploiting classes themselves, it needs no mention that the exploited classes will not have even the sprinkles of democracy.

 

On the other hand, imprint of autocracy is conspicuous when judged every sphere of functioning of the Govt. and the party of TMC of this state. But that it does through this conventional democracy. All the suppressive and autocratic measures it takes are all features of this conventional democracy. Many might argue that many of their actions are illegal. Actually, meaning of democracy is not limited within legal rights. It carries a much wider sense. Law is but its one aspect. As people say, as much laws, so much are its lacunas. This is bourgeoisie democracy. Rule of law is there, of course, but the laws are so framed that the coercion of the ruling classes becomes legally permissible. Say, for example, a worker is retrenched illegally. Proving this as illegal, the course the worker has to run through is impossible for him to follow alone. Therefore, only presence of a law is not enough, the process through which it is effected is also important.

 

Similar argument we can hold about the power of the police. Police can’t search a house without search warrant. Notwithstanding, if the police officers deem it necessary to search immediately, they can force to do that. The person can go to the court to decide for its legality. But the coercion is already done. And then comes when the court will judge, whether the police can manage to get the search warrant at a post-date, etc. The long time the judgment will take is everybody’s experience. But if the whole society agitates against this, the people gets into movements against the ruling system, the laws can in many cases be made use of by us. Thus in the existing system the democracy of the people means their right to protest. Its extent is the criteria to judge the ambience of democracy. But the matter of people’s participation in state functioning is solely apparent. From that point of view, Mamata’s rule is somewhat more or less democratic than that of the other governments. Modi’s rule too, till now, could not have negated the existing democracy, though advancing towards that. As much their strength grows, so much will that situation ripe.    

 

But many fail to comprehend this situation, particularly CPI(M), the new version of social democracy. All say the emergency, declared by Indira Gandhi, also as semi-fascist instead of fascist rule. But at the present situation, the Mamata Banerjee rule is made by them as a virtually fascist rule. For example, the Indian People’s Theatre has made a video clip on the assembly of the alliance (Left-Congress-Abbas) at the Brigade on 28 March. Everything there is targeted against Mamata, as if BJP has no existence. One can argue that it was made only against TMC. It can be agreed at this point for the sake of argument. But everything is said there referring to Mamata Banerjee as fascist. This is nothing but showing fascism watered down. Similarly, in the Press Conference of DYFI leader on Maidul’s death, police was referred to as the hands and legs of the Govt. which is the brain. But the A-B-C-D of Marxism teaches that bureaucracy and the armed force are the pillars of the state. No Govt. can function without them. Actually, the absolute ignorance about the Marxist concept of state or its intentional distortions has utterly jumbled the concepts of fascism and parliamentary democracy.

 

Dmitrov, the leader of the Comintern, while discussing about German fascism, said that the class pacifism of social democracy is one of the reasons of the rise of fascism. Here too we find how the attempt to conceal class hatred is running.

 

So, beware of the danger!

 

(This is the translated version of Bengali article published in the Bengali Organ ‘Sangrami Sangbad. Translated by Com Gautam Chaudhury-- Editor RS)

A vast section of progressive, democratic, leftist, revolutionary people are in favour of forging a broad-based joint front against the Fascists – that is against the Modi Government and RSS and Sangh Parivar and mainly against Fascism. In essence this aspiration is commendable and cannot be differed with. A broad-based, anti-fascist front is required to fight against and defeat fascism. This is an undeniable task of the communist revolutionaries. The contemporary situation is also fully ripening towards an upsurge of fascism. Fascist forces are going ahead increasingly aggressively to execute their policies by hook or by crook. So there is no debate or difference regarding the making of an anti-fascist, broad-based front. The central task of every class conscious proletariat is to combat fascism. To combat fascism is the central task of the vanguard section of the proletariat of the party of the proletariat. But the point is how to build up the broad-based, anti-fascist front? How will it evolve? Will it evolve through table talk? Will it evolve through the unity of struggles within parliament? Will it evolve through extra parliamentary struggles?  What is the way to develop a broad-based, anti-fascist front?

To understand this we have to first understand the characteristics of fascism and the perspective of rise of fascism in our country. Our party CPI(ML) Red Star has defined BJP and Sangh Parivaar as corporate Hindu fascists. That means this is the most reactionary representatives of corporate capitalist class and through spreading Manuvadi or Brahminical ideology they are creating their ultra-nationalist base so that all people’s issues can be relegated to the background. So if we have to fight against fascism we have to fight against corporate onslaught as well as Brahminical and ultra-chauvinist ideology. Without fighting against both of these, no anti-fascist struggle can be developed. Now the point arises, is it possible to fight against both at the same time? The answer is, ultimately it may not be possible. In the ultimate sense, the necessity may arise to choose the principal aspect between these two things. But what is the importance of saying ultimatesense and not immediate sense? Actually, Brahminical ideology and corporate onslaught share a reciprocal relationship – Hindutva is the ideology while corporate interest is the class interest.

So basically if we want to fight against fascism that means we have to fight its class position, ideological position, philosophical position, political position, everything. Fascism is not a single aspect. It comprises the whole of the reactionary aspect of the ruling class. So what will be the minimum programme to fight against fascism? Actually there is no minimum or maximum programme against fascism. If we think along that line, we may end up in the trap of fascism. We have to fight against the reactionary upsurge. In that struggle, a particular aspect may develop as the principal aspect.

In the light of the above, let us discuss the current situation. Some sections are of the opinion that an anti-fascist front can be developed by bringing together the entire parliamentary opposition. Is that correct in this situation? Are all sections of the parliamentary opposition fighting against fascism or at least fascistic aggression? Let us take the example of the main parliamentary opposition, Congress. Is it fighting against fascism? The answer is no. They are not fighting against fascism. They did not come up with a single statement of protest against Umar Khalid’s arrest. On the question of selling Railways, Banks etc., they are totally silent as because aggressive privatization is also their policy. Regarding the Indo-China border conflict, Rahul Gandhi Tweeted to Narendra Modi asking whether the PM will fight against China or not, in fact provoking the development of a border conflict into a full-fledged war. The abrogation of Article 370 did not happen in a day. The final stroke may have been Modi’s, but Congress was responsible for diluting the Article beyond measure, denying Kashmiris the right to self-determination and exacerbating the situation in the Valley. BJP simply lifted the ‘fig leaf cover’. The Congress made some half-hearted protests against abrogation of Article 370 but never fought even verbally for the right of Kashmiri people. On the question of Ram temple, Priyanka Gandhi said that her father Rajiv Gandhi had opened the door of Ramlala, and through this continuity today the Ram Temple is being established. Ex Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Kamal Nath sent 16 silver bricks for the building of the Ram Temple. In the crucial matter of paying wages to workers during the lockdown period, the Joint Parliamentary Committee speedily gave its opinion that owners cannot be forced to pay wages to workers for the lockdown period. The Congress did not oppose the recommendation. Actually, if we go a little deep, we will see that most of the anti-people economic policies that the BJP is trying to implement had their origin in the Congress and UPA era. BJP has simply made it more apparent and vulgar. That is the only difference.

Now let us come to the Parliamentary Left. On paper, at least, they have a separate policy from the Congress or the BJP. We do not say that they are the representatives of corporate monopoly capital. They had a tremendous responsibility of fighting against fascism from the beginning because they were the biggest left and democratic force in society. Besides, they had been in power in three states for decades. So they did actually have the opportunity of implementing an alternative policy to that of the ruling class. But through their policy of compromise they totally adopted the neo-liberal path in all states where they are and were in power. The people’s uprisings against the Left Front government’s anti-people and corporate-friendly policies in Singur, Nandigram, Lalgarh etc. were the offshoots of their policy of compromise. When they were in power in West Bengal they implemented the draconian UAPA law at will and they are still doing the same in Kerala. And even if we leave aside the point of the alliance with BJP in 1989 parliamentary election, can it be forgotten that at the time of Jyoti Basu RSS was permitted to hold a parade at the Maidan? Further, all of us remember how Advani conducted his Rath Yatra in West Bengal, unchallenged by the government and administration.

Many comrades are now insisting that we should not dwell on the past – on what the Left Front did when it was in power in West Bengal – because the situation is now so serious that if the Parliamentary Left retains a grain of fighting element then that has to be utilized in our fight against fascism. Basically, this is not to be disagreed with. But even if we forget the past and look at their (Parliamentary Left) present, we shall see that they have made no departure from the past. In fact, after losing power in two states (Tripura and West Bengal), they are moving farther to the right. In Bengal they have made an alliance with Congress. We have mentioned above the present role of the Congress in brief. Actually, it is the bitter truth that the CPIM-led Left Front is not as keen on fighting against fascism as they are on coming back to power in the state government of Bengal and retaining state power in Kerala. All their policies are directed towards coming to power in Bengal in the upcoming Assembly elections. So their principal target in Bengal is not the fascist BJP but the Trinamool Congress. Therefore they forged an alliance with the Congress. It is important to note that they did not form an anti-fascist front with the Congress; they have formed an anti-TMC front with the Congress. The Left Front is courting the Congress in a state like Bengal where the people completely and consistently rejected the Congress after 1977 because of their long years of semi-fascistic rule. The Left Front is courting the Congress in a country where the Congress was in power for several decades and brought things to such a pass that the BJP was able to win the votes of the masses. Now this Congress is the ally of the Parliamentary Left! These ‘Left’ leaders even attended the birth anniversary of ex West Bengal Chief Minister Dr Bidhan Chandra Roy – hosted by the Congress – whose hands were bloodied by the brutal killings of workers, peasants and democratic people during his rule. Is it possible to resist fascism through this type of unholy alliance?

If we consider the process of coming to power of the BJP, we will see that they utilized the people’s wrath against the corruption and anti-people policies of the UPA government. In West Bengal too, there would have been no question of such a debacle of the Left Front if they had not shed common people’s blood in Singur, Nandigram, Lalgarh, Netai etc. But they have not learnt any lesson from their experience. They continue to advocate that what they had done in Singur, Nandigram and Lalgarh was absolutely correct. They loudly proclaim that if they come back to power they will set up Tata’s factory in Singur, that they had all along been right in snatching peasants’ land and handing it over to the Tatas. In this context, the CPIM has no difference with the BJP in Bengal, because BJP has also promised that if it comes to power in the state it will establish the factory in Singur! So how can the Parliamentary Left fight against the BJP and Sangh Parivar with the policy they are upholding and following?

Some comrades still say that in spite of all these, the Parliamentary Left are fighting against corporate loot in agriculture, against privatization and so on. We shall refrain from pointing out that even these in these struggles the role of the Parliamentary Left is at best half-hearted and they are certainly not utilizing the whole extent of their power and mass base in these struggles. Our position is that wherever such struggles are developing, however feebly, we have to stand with this struggle. Obviously such struggles are contributing to the resistance against fascism to some extent. But such struggles are not being led only by the Parliamentary Left. Every ruling class party in opposition, for the sake of retaining its mass base, is bound to take up some protest programmes against anti-people government policies. Even Shiv Sena has played a serious role against the installation of nuclear power project in Jaitapur in Maharashtra. The BJP’s labour wing, the BMS, is also against the auction of coal block and is part of that movement. So we cannot say that all these are part of the anti-fascist movement. Rather, we can take decision on that when we discuss the other side of the problem. That is, the Congress is not against corporate loot in agriculture. Even CPIM is not against the entry of corporate in agriculture. Neither the CPIM nor the Congress is against the entry of monopoly capital in retail trade. So what kind of resistance can they build up against fascism? The people of the country are well aware that after coming to power they will execute the very same policies that the BJP is implementing today. Appeasement of Hindutva fundamentalist forces is something that even the Parliamentary Left is engaged in. Recently, a CPIM leader went on record saying that Ram is God!

A projected mathematical majority against the BJP cannot resist fascism. Neither will such mathematical majority come to fruition if the Congress, CPIM-like forces cling on to corporate appeasement and Hindutva appeasement. If we cannot fight ideologically and politically, on the streets and in parliament, we cannot take on fascism. So an alternative revolutionary left force is necessary to resist this situation. As long as this force does not develop, the fight against fascism will go on in a distorted, half-hearted way. There is no hope that the Congress will fight the fascist policies of the BJP either on the streets or in Parliament or in the ideological sphere. Yet, we cannot rule out electoral support to any anti-BJP party in elections as long as a new force does not come up as an alternative. But instead of considering only electoral support to a certain extent, we think of forging electoral alliances with them, the soul of the movement against fascism will be lost. CPIM and Left Front are doing just that. At first they supported the BJP against the Congress and made it powerful, and now they are forging an alliance with the Congress, the tested representative of imperialist monopoly corporate capital

Spectacularly Enough, ever since the unplanned lockdown imposed by the Modi government in late March, the ongoing people’s movement in Bhangor has reached new heights, with women and men taking to the streets on a regular basis to seize their rights. As a result, in Bhangor, at least, the government and administration have been compelled to actually give the people what they have promised – rations, relief after Amphan and special relief to those whose livelihoods have suffered due to the lockdown – instead of keeping the same confined only to notices and paperwork, as has happened in most other parts of the state as well as the country.

Although it is true that there have been sporadic struggles on similar issues in some other parts of the state, with success being achieved in a few places, the struggle in Bhangor has surpassed them all in terms of grit, vigour and magnitude. This deserves special mention, because only a couple of years ago, in August 2018 to be precise, when the historic anti-powergrid movement of Bhangor had forced the government to enter into dialogue with the Jomi Jibika Bastutantro O Poribesh Raksha Committee (Committee for the Protection of Land, Livelihood, Ecology and the Environment), that is the People’s Committee leading the movement, the entire leadership – both the political leadership of CPI(ML) Red Star as well as the local leadership of Bhangor, had been mercilessly maligned by a large section of the ‘left and democratic forces’ for ‘surrendering’ to the government.

Indeed, leaflets and pamphlets signed by leaders of these ‘left and democratic forces’, accusing us of ushering in a ‘Black Day’ and signing a ‘black deal’ with the government, were circulated in Bhangor and elsewhere and posted rampantly on social media. We, especially the authors of this article, were labelled as ‘traitors’ and our detractors glibly claimed that through a nefarious, underhand deal with the Trinamool government, we had prepared the ground for the Trinamool to firmly establish its autocratic rule all over Bhangor, and very soon we would be forcing the villagers to shout slogans hailing discredited Trinamool leaders. Our detractors, many of them leaders of ‘left’ organizations, stooped to the level of deliberately and actively circulating stories of our being gifted with a crores-worth flat in a posh part of the city in return of ‘surrendering’ the movement!

What had, in fact, happened? The main demand of the movement, from the beginning was that the government should open an unconditional dialogue with the Committee leading the movement. The government had responded by slamming terror charges against practically the entire leadership of the Committee, locking up people in jail for months and obstinately refusing to begin any dialogue. Rather, ministers of the Trinamool government openly claimed that they would go all out to crush the Committee leaders like so many ants. However, after a fierce struggle of 2 years, and especially when it became abundantly clear that even the arrest of the principal leader of the movement, Alik Chakraborty, would by no means succeed in suppressing the movement, which by then had spread across an entire Block and was rapidly spreading to other areas, the government was forced to eat humble pie and convene a meeting. Not only so, the government was forced to sit for a dialogue with not just the village leaders of the Committee but also those whom it had always labelled as ‘outsiders’ and steadfastly refused any interaction with. The meetings with the government went on for 3 weeks. When the dialogue began, Alik Chakraborty was still in jail (actually in police custody). At the first meeting, only Committee representatives of the village, and no political organizer from outside, were allowed. The village activists firmly told the government representatives that the Committee included political organizers from outside too and they would have to be invited to the next meeting, otherwise the Committee would not attend any more meetings. Thus, at the second meeting, 2 political organizers who were also members of the Committee participated along with the village activists. This meeting ended with all participants telling the government that no dialogue would be meaningful, or need be continued, if Alik Chakraborty was not released forthwith. The government buckled and Alik, who by then had already obtained bail in most of the 40-odd cases against him, soon obtained bail in the remaining cases. The government had no choice but to invite him to the next meeting. After a series of meetings, in which 47 people from the villages and 3 political organisers (that is 50 Committee representatives in all) participated, the government being represented by the District Magistrate, the Superintendent of Police, a representative from Nabanna (WB government headquarters), PGCIL officers and a host of other officers, a solution was finally reached.

The government was forced to sign a written agreement with the people of Bhangor, backing away from the initial powergrid project, promising compensation on a scale unheard of in the history of popular movements in recent years and, also unprecedentedly, declaring in writing that all criminal cases against activists in the course of the movement would be gradually withdrawn. It was in Bhangor that for the first time in India peasants were given compensation for electric lines running high over their land.

This historic agreement – which could have been used as an example for other ongoing and future people’s movements – was treated with unconcealed contempt by those ‘left and democratic’ forces who had wanted the strife and bloodshed to continue unabated in Bhangor without any resolution. Their ill-formed idea had been that if the strife continued, if more village people were injured or imprisoned or killed (while they themselves remained safe in the city), then they could take out fashionable rallies against the government from time to time and decry the lack of democracy in West Bengal, all from the safety of their offices or drawing rooms. The Trinamool government had made it very clear from the beginning that its targets were CPI(ML) Red Star and, later, to some extent, MKP, apart from the village people, and that no one outside these two political streams were likely to be arrested. In fact, throughout the course of the movement, no one from any political or democratic organization, apart from the aforementioned, were arrested. So most of these sections actually wanted no resolution to the problem because they were safe and, if any more bloodshed occurred, it would be common villagers who would be injured or killed, and they could ‘capitalise’ on these atrocities to secure their vested interests. The CPIM was particularly irked by the resolution of the problem because if the atrocities on the people of Bhangor continued till election year 2021, then their rapidly sinking electoral prospects would receive a much-needed boost. The CPIM spent several pages of the Bengali daily ‘Ganashakti’ in maligning us as traitors.

The problem is that all this led to a handful of ordinary people, supporters of the movement, to become confused and first begin to wonder and then believe that the CPI(ML) Red Star leadership had betrayed the movement and sold their souls to the Trinamool.

However, the people of Bhangor, who had faced the guns and bombs, police cases and atrocities, for two years, and were yet determined not to surrender, decided that the question had to be settled democratically. A series of village committee meetings were held, with thousands participating, where the various aspects of the movement and the pros and cons of signing an agreement with the government were discussed threadbare and thoroughly debated. The end result was that the people of Bhangor, almost unanimously, were united in their support of the historic agreement. In this they showed far greater political maturity than the so-called ‘left and democratic forces’. They realized what a great victory would be achieved by the agreement with the government, how enormously it would expand the democratic space and were determined to build on it and further consolidate their wins. The small section of left and democratic forces, which stood by our side and resolutely upheld the agreement, advised us not to be discouraged by the slew of slandering that we were facing because time alone could and would prove the truth. 

They were absolutely correct. Today, we can hold our heads high and declare that we had committed neither crime nor mistake in signing the agreement with the government. The Bhangor agreement has not only resulted in consolidating the unity of the people of Bhangor, but also encouraged the people to carry on the struggle in a greater sphere. Just as they are fighting to extract and realize every promise the government made, so also are they leading rallies for the release of Varvara Rao, Dr Kafeel Khan and other political prisoners with equal vigour. The torch rallies and demonstrations they organized, demanding the release of political prisoners, in recent weeks, were indeed massive and magnificent.

At the same time, the people have developed a strong local leadership from among themselves. Today the situation is such that the people’s movement in Bhangor is strong enough to fight against the administration and win any local demand that was being denied to them. The local leadership has matured to the extent that this is happening frequently, they are leading and winning such struggles frequently, without the physical presence of any political leadership from outside.

Recently, when corruption was detected in the distribution of NREGA work, they gheraoed the Panchayat office, blocked roads, and compelled the administration to immediately rectify matters. When corruption was detected in the distribution of relief materials after the Amphan cyclone, they again gheraoed the responsible officers, compelled them to initiate enquiry against those who had undeservedly received relief material by virtue of their political clout, and provide money and materials to those who were truly affected by Amphan. Around 1150 families affected by Amphan, whose names had been submitted to the administration by the Committee, have received compensation so far – a feat once more unmatched in most parts of the state.

The people of Bhangor are now capable of crushing any unholy force that tries to rear its ugly head in the region.

This is possibly the only region in West Bengal where the BJP has not been able to unfurl its flag. The Trinamool’s Arabul Islam – who only three years ago had been the undisputed leader and much feared henchman of the region – and his men have gone into hiding. They dare not enter the area dominated by the Committee. Though Arabul Islam’s gang seized some Panchayat seats in the area by the simple expedient of not allowing elections to be held, their Panchayat members are now not allowed to enter the Panchayat office, or even the area, by the people of Bhangor. The villagers have brought a no-confidence motion against them and submitted a mass petition to the district magistrate to this effect. The Panchayat is now solely run by the 5 members of the Committee who were able to contest the elections, and thus win, and run in a manner that has people saying that not in the last 40 years has a fraction of the work been done that is now being regularly by the Panchayat! 

Still, sad but true, some remain under the misapprehension that the movement in Bhangor is long dead, we have allowed the powergrid to be built, Trinamool has got its way and some even told us that they had heard that the BJP was making inroads into Bhangor!

Be that as it may, the fact remains that the movement had compelled the government to sign an agreement and back away from its original powergrid project and reduce it to a regional substation. Through this agreement, not only were the present interests of the movement secured, the oath was taken to go ahead determinedly towards the future, long-term objectives. The spirit of the fighting people of Bhangor is today proving that, back then, the leadership had not been wrong.

Actually, just as there is contradiction when a struggle begins, so also is contradiction present at every bend and curve of the movement. In the course of such contradictions, it may even be possible to be misunderstood or misjudged by friends. But if we are overwhelmed by the fear of being misunderstood or even, maligned by our friends, then we will cease to be guided in the interest of the development of the movement. Such shortsightedness, though it may help keep our ‘friends’, will definitely lead the entire movement into jeopardy.

The task of the leadership is to analyse and understand every bend and curve of the movement and guide it towards its final objective, whatever the temptation may be to succumb to the pull of populism.

Let us end with an example from the freedom struggle of neighbouring Bangladesh. Shortly before the National Liberation War started, when the Pakistani army had begun to brutalise Bangladesh, President of Pakistan Yahya Khan, fearing the retaliation that the Bangladeshis had already started, inviting the leaders of Bangladesh to a meeting. Most of the important leaders of Bangladesh held firm to the position that there could be no meeting unless the Pakistani army was withdrawn from Bangladeshi soil, and boycotted the meeting. But Sheikh Mujibur Rahman participated in the meeting called by Yahya Khan. As a result, he was maligned as an agent of Yahya Khan! However, history proves that it was Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who went on to lead the National Liberation War of Bangladesh and emerged as the undisputed leader of the people.

After the defeat of Germany on May 5, 1945, a worldwide victory was declared against fascism. Thus this year marks the 75th anniversary of the defeat of fascism.

Today it is well-known how in Germany and Italy fascism developed with full force and posed a challenge to human civilization. It was a terrifying force that threatened human civilization and was established very fast. But it was not just the fascist forces led by Hitler and Mussolini that were threatening to destroy human civilization. They were given the opportunity to grow into such a monstrous menace. Undoubtedly and undisputedly, the capitalist and imperialist forces helped, in various ways, these terrible reactionary forces to emerge. The idea of the capitalist-imperialist camp was that since the fascists were enemies of the communists, Hitler or Mussolini would strike at the Soviet Union and both the fascist and the socialist countries would end up destroying each other. In the eyes of Britain, France and so on, Hitler and Mussolini were indeed a great weapon to prevent the spread of socialism in the world.

The fascists were the only ones who had the power to wage an aggressive war by influencing a large section of the people with all kinds of reactionary ideologies, including popularizing extremist and perverted national chauvinism as opposed to internationalism. During World War II, the Axis powers led by Hitler-Tojo-Mussolini, on the one hand, mobilized the masses of their countries in reactionary ideology and militarized almost the entire masses of those countries, eliminating all opposition within. At a time when Hitler was preparing to develop German extremism in the name of establishing Aryan domination around the world, socialist Soviet Union informed the ruling classes of various countries that Hitler-Mussolini were moving towards the destruction of human civilization, so it was necessary for all to unite against it. But the imperialist powers of Europe and America at that time did not pay heed to that appeal, instead resorted to the now-infamous policy of appeasement. Their response was that if war broke out between fascism and socialism, they would support both sides to some extent and move forwards to end both, so that the capitalist powers, that is, the imperialist powers, could establish unchallenged hegemony throughout the world, having crushed both the fascist as well as the socialist forces.

Socialist USSR well understood this policy of countries like America, England, France and signed a non-aggression pact with Germany in 1935. According to that pact, neither side would occupy the other’s territory. This treaty shocked Britain and its allies, who were labouring under the assessment that since the fascists were the greatest enemies of socialism, no understanding was possible between the two. The USSR, meanwhile, desperately wanted some time to prepare itself to deal with the fascist forces and the inevitable onslaught that would follow not long after. Hitler, on the other hand, thought that after first occupying some large countries (while keeping USSR out of the war till then) and then striking at USSR would give him the leverage to occupy the whole world. As a result of the merging of these two interests, a non-aggression pact became possible and the history of World War II took a different course. Hitler moved to occupy the whole of Europe, leaving USSR neutral; Italy moved into Africa, and Japan targeted Asia and the Pacific. Thus, World War II broke out between the imperialist powers. Hitler showed his might and occupied France in 17 days. Then England came under attack, with severe bombing devastating the country.

But Hitler knew that none of his dreams would come true if the USSR survived. So, as the major European powers steadily lost ground under the Fascists’ onslaught, Hitler decided that the time was ripe to attack the Soviet Union. Unapologetically going back on the non-aggression pact, Hitler attacked USSR on June 22, 1941. The USSR had known perfectly well that it was only a matter of time before they were attacked by Hitler. Therefore, in preparation of what promised to be a long and bloody war, they had temporarily moved away from the socialist policy and occupied some important strategic places in the war so that they could not be occupied by Hitler. With the non-aggression pact, Germany could no longer enter those areas, as they had then become part of USSR. Dissection of Poland and the occupation of Finland were two such examples. In this way, the Soviet Union was able to restrict Germany far from their border before the war and at the same time plunged into the mobilization of democratic people all over the country and around the world by escalating the conflict between the enemies and preparing for the coming war. That was the USSR’s strength. In this war, 10% of the Soviet people were martyred and set up a unique example of resistance. It proved that only socialism can deal the death blow to fascism. Though Germany was undoubtedly militarily very powerful, the USSR not only defeated Hitler, but also liberated the whole of Europe from fascism. This victory ushered in a wave of anti-colonial struggles across the world. China liberated itself from Japanese imperialism and direct colonialism around the world almost came to an end.

Today, in the context of the retreat of socialism and the imperialist crisis, fascism is re-emerging in many countries, including our own. Fascist forces are trying to re-emerge all over Europe. The so-called liberals have very cleverly started to denounce Soviet Russia's glorious role in WWII as ‘dictatorial’, claiming that Stalin was no different from Hitler. This will of course, in the ultimate sense, only strengthen the hands of the fascists. In the 75th year of the defeat of fascism, if we are not aware of this conspiracy to malign socialism, equating it with fascism, we will not be able to strengthen the struggle against fascism. In order to check the advance of fascism, it is important to highlight the role of Soviet Russia not just in the anti-fascist war but also in the development of civilisation.

Actually what these nitpicking liberals – who are so keen to denounce every little drawback of the Soviet Union – tend to forget is that war never keeps people in a state of normalcy. No movement or struggle can be perfect. There are bound to be drawbacks, weaknesses. The anti-fascist war was not a simple war, it was a great war. It had no precedence, from which socialist forces could have drawn lessons. We have to think and reason from that perspective. If the USSR had not been a socialist republic, what would have happened to the whole world even in the unlikely circumstance of Hitler being defeated? Everyone has seen the condition of the lands occupied by America. Therefore, the power of advanced ideology is necessary to stop fascism. It is necessary to learn from the defeat of fascism in 1945 to check its advance now. It is not possible to stop fascism without upholding advanced ideological and political position. Hitler’s defeat and its outcome have indisputably proved that socialism is that advanced ideology. Even today, the rise of the BJP and the Sangh Parivar in India and the surrender of the established parties to these forces is a testament to the capitulation of capitalism to fascism. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to strengthen the socialist movement. Today, in this 75th year of the victory over fascism, we have to take the oath to revive the worldwide socialist and communist movement

Sangrami Sangbad Weekly

Digital Weekly in Bengali  from CPI (ML) Red Star West Bengal State Committee

Political Comments & Reports on Peoples Struggles 

Chief Editor - Comrade Alik Chakraborty ;

Editorial Board: Comrade  Sharmistha Choudhury, Comrade Sankar Das, Comrade Gautam Choudhury, Comrade Raju Singh, Comrade Pradip Singha Thakur and Comrade Priyam Basu

 

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Sangrami Sanbad Weekly Issue # 7 (vol 1) Dated 12th July 2020

 

Sangrami Sanbad Weekly Issue # 6 (Vol 1) dated 5th July 2020

 

Sangrami Sangbad Weekly Issue # 5 (Vol 1) dated 28th June 2020

 

Sangrami Sangbad Weekly Issue # 4 (Vol 1) 21st June 2020

 

Sangrami Sangbad Weekly Issue # 3 (Vol 1) dated 14th June 2020

 

 
  
 
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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.