This is the first time in the history of Bengal in the post 1947 period when a communal political force like BJP is dreaming to win the throne of the state government. They made a significant advancement in the Lok Sabha election of 2019 when they won 18 seats out of 42. Their number of seats increased from 2 to 18 in the five years and vote share increased by 22.25 percent. Though there is a general saying that there is always a difference between Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections, in a sharply politically compartmentalized society like that of West Bengal, any election can be a good indicator of ground reality.
It is noteworthy that BJP made its advancement in Bengal not mainly due to the communal factor. It does not mean that communal factor is absent, however, it plays comparatively lesser important role for BJP’s advancement. In the main, it is a total failure of conventional political parties, like Congress, CPIM or TMC which has provoked the voters to develop a strong inclination towards BJP.
TMC led by Mamta Banerjee came to power in 2011 inspiring much expectation. People were disgusted over CPIM’s rule of 34 years, although they implemented some of the important pro-people policies in the initial years. Panchayat system was developed and regular elections in Panchayats started to take place. Thus the feudal control over the rural socio-economic life was broken. Lands were distributed among the landless peasants, share-croppers got their rights. Spreading of education was given priority and the teachers and government employees started to get good salaries.
However, very soon as a result of these reforms a new section of rural middle-class came up and eventually captured the political domination in the village area. Panchayats came under the hegemony of the party. Similarly, in the urban areas too, the mass initiatives and spontaneous political activities of the people faced more and more organizational resistance, sometimes violently, by the party workers. All political activities outside the party initiative and planning were dubbed as anti-party and right-wing conspiracy. Any opposition of government policies and practical steps were portrayed as planned efforts to bring back the heydays of Congress thugs. As a result overall democratic atmosphere of the state came to face danger.
Since the middle of the 1990s a new development started taking place. Left Front government started to adopt the neo-liberal policies which they had strongly opposed when Rajiv Gandhi for the first time introduced them in 1987-89 period. Since the starting of the new millennium Left Front started to become more and more aggressive to introduce the neo-liberal changes which finally led them to commit massive blunders in Singur and Nadigram which paved the way for their departure from the seats of power . A closer look into the last years of Left Front’s rule may suggest that once again the question of democracy became the main area of political controversies and conflicts. So, one of the extremely popular slogans of Mamta at that time was “No to Partiocracy; we want Democracy!” [Dalotantranoy, ganotantra chai!]
The ten years rule of Trinamool Congress has left the people totally disillusioned about the party and its government. The grip of partiocracy has become even more pernicious. Wide-spread and rampant corruption in every field has become the norm of the day. A total failure in economic policies has led the people to frustration about the future of the growing generations. Moreover, extreme authoritarianism has given birth to a suffocative atmosphere in political arena. Democracy is facing even bigger challenges under TMC rule.
As a result BJP has made significant inroads in West Bengal. Bitter memories of LF rule are still living in the minds of the people. And the added advantage of BJP lies in the fact that the people of the state do not know the party well. Therefore, a popular sentiment has been growing among the Hindu toiling masses that BJP should be given a chance. “We have seen all the parties. Let us see what they do!”
In such a situation one important development is taking place in the state. In the first week of January a non-electoral political platform was formed to campaign against BJP/RSS under the name: “Bengal Against Fascist BJP-RSS”. This platform has campaigned throughout south-Bengal with the central slogan “No Vote to BJP” in a mass scale. Lakhs of posters are stuck on the walls, pamphlets are distributed, a number of conventions and public meetings are organized in all the districts, and finally a huge rally was organized by the platform on 10 March where 10-12 thousand people participated. Apart from our party, MKP and CPIML Liberation are the political groups which are taking part in this platform. There are many individuals and social organizations also taking part in this initiative. The campaign has gained sufficient currency and many intellectuals started to open their mouths against Fascist BJP after this campaign started.
On the other hand BJP’s rule under the leadership of Narendra Modi for last seven years has created panic among the Muslim population throughout the country. Their whole mobilization behind the movement against NPR/NRC/CAA made it crystal clear to everyone. A section of Muslim people has now reached to this opinion that they must be organized as Muslim community in a separate independent party. The growing popularity of All India Majlish-e-Ittehad-ulMuslimeen [AIMIM] under the leadership of Asaduddin Owaisi is a good indicator of this phenomenon. The English translation of the name of the party -All India Council for Unity of the Muslims — clearly shows the aim of the organization. In West Bengal a similar kind of initiative has been developed by a section of Heirs of Furfura Sharif, especially by Pirjada Abbash Siddique. Very recently a party was formed, named Indian Secular Front which eventually has become an important partner in Left Front-Congress-ISF alliance.
Although it is claimed that ISF is a front of as many as ten organizations including dalit and tribal organizations, however, it is already seen in case of AIMIM that using dalit and tribal cards is nothing but a tactical step for this organization to carefully avoid the Muslim tag. The tribal or dalit leaders have no significant role in the policy making or character making of the party. However, the process of forming ISF clearly shows that it is dominantly a Muslim organization whose interest is to organize the Muslims in religious line. This development in the state has provided a further impetus to BJP to carry forward its Political Hindutwa agenda. Moreover when CPIM and Congress went into an alliance with this organization, then it has earned some kind of political legitimacy in Bengal politics which in return help BJP to legitimize its religious politics breaking the apparent secular atmosphere in the state.
By the time a fierce and bitter debate has been cropped up among the leftist circles over the question of main enemy in the ensuing election. In the main the debate is taking place between CPIM and the radical lefts. Although all the parties which are known by the term “communist” have settled this question in their respective Party Congresses that at present situation BJP is the main enemy everywhere in the country, the CPIM state committee in Bengal has developed a clear mindset that unless and until TMC government is removed no struggle against BJP is possible, whereas the fact is in the electoral battle BJP is mainly challenged by TMC for obvious reasons. As a result of the debate CPIML [Liberation] came out from electoral understanding with CPIM and is fighting independently in 12 seats. Our party is fighting in 4 seats and has extended its support to the various Communist Revolutionary [CR] forces wherever they fight in the election.
Apart from these few seats, our party has given an open call to the people to defeat BJP and not to have any illusion on the other parties. Most of the CR organizations have taken similar stand which is paving the way to build joint political activities of the revolutionaries in coming future. Ultimately, as per our understanding, the Fascist advancement can be given actual challenge only by developing an anti-neoliberal, pro-people alternative development paradigm launched by an alternative political force which can only be formed by joint effort of all CR forces. Keeping BJP at bay from power can provide us important respite which will be helpful to develop the actual alternative to Fascism successfully.
With these long term and short term goals CPIML [Red Star] is taking part in the electoral battle. The party is directly fighting in four seats, out of which the Bhangar constituency, which obviously remains as the area of prime importance. TMC has failed to give a local candidate due to severe inner-party conflicts. However, more important factor for them to bring an unknown candidate from outside is that, all of their local leaders have lost credibility to stand in front of the people. Sitting MLA Rejjak Molla, an erstwhile minister in Left Front regime, is not even accepted within the party circle any more. Another strong man Arbul Islam who spear-headed TMC attack against Red Star and Land, Livelihood, Environment and Ecology Protection Committee at the time of Bhangar movement, has become mostly irrelevant as a result of their near-total defeat in Bhangar movement and subsequent local body election in 2018.
BJP has also given ticket to an unknown candidate. They do not have much expectation in this seat since the constituency is over-whelmingly dominated by Muslim population. However, CPIM-CONGRESS-ISF has nominated Pirjada Nausad Siddique, younger brother of Abbas Siddique who is definitely going to be a major factor. Our candidate Comrade Mirza Hassan is one of the Conveners of JJPBRC and is having very good popularity among the masses and practically the only Leftist candidate in Bhangar. Therefore, practically it is going to be a fight among three major candidates. BJP can be a dark horse if the overall communal tension reaches in an unprecedented level in the state.
Whether Com Mirza Hassan will win or not is obviously an important question before the left and democratic people; however, more important thing before the left-leaning people of West Bengal is whether the real leftist ideology, politics and morality will be able to survive in this time of overall decay of left, secular and democratic politics and at the time of Fascist surge. The electoral challenge taken by CPIML Red Star in particular and Communist Revolutionary forces in general is giving assurance to the people that the glorious red flag shall not die, in spite of whatever may happen in the election.
As far as the overall situation in the state is concerned we have seen that some factors are working in favour of BJP, while some other factors are working against them. The initial advancement of the party in post-lockdown time has been significantly slowed down due to many reasons. Huge price-hike of cooking gas, petrol etc has caused large level resentment among the masses. Secondly, more and more public sector unions are coming to the streets against government’s effort to privatize those institutions. After many decades Bank Employee Unions started to organize street protests where they are inviting social organizations for their support. Recently, during their three days strike State Bank Employees Union invited “Bengal Against Fascist BJP/RSS” forum in front of their main office in Dalhoise, Kolkata for solidarity. All these protests against BJP have become vibrant with the ongoing peasant movement. Peasant leaders started to visit and organize Maha Panchayats in all five poll-bound states. In Bengal also five Maha Panchayats took place including in places like Singur and Nandigram. However, absence of proper alternative political force against BJP is the main trump card in its hand
As the Farmers’ Struggle to Repeal the 3 Farm Acts for Corporatization of Agriculture Gets Increasing support through Maha Panchayats, Modi Government Hatches More Conspiracies and Uses Fascist Terror to Oppose it!
Even after completing four months, the farmer’ siege of Delhi by the farmers’ movement is continuing more vigorously than ever. During this period the corporate fascist government of RSS/BJP led by Modi-Shah has used every weapon in their anvil to divide, defame and suppress it. It used Supreme Court also to intervene and weaken it. It used the isolated incidents during the massive rally of lakhs of farmers and lakh tractors on 26th January to unleash violence and to throw away the struggling farmers from around Delhi. But, when the farmers retaliated by expanding the scope of the movement by organizing Maha Panchayats all over the country, trying to involve all the farmers and other struggling sections of the people in the country in the movement, people effectively boycotting the BJP leaders in Punjab and Haryana, Modi found the second wave of the pandemic, forcible collection for Ram temple and raising Jai Sri Ram as the war cry of the RSS parivar are not sufficient to divert attention from his war of attrition with the farmers. So, he has decided to move out of Delhi, engaging fully in the campaign for the elections to the five state assemblies, especially in W. Bengal, to divert attention of the people. He is not leaving any stone unturned to win the elections especially in Bengal and to use it as a trump card to unleash another round of fascist terror to weaken and suppress the farmers’ movement. This is a great challenge, and the AIKSCC and SKM have decided to meet the challenge. They have given the slogan: No Vote to BJP and appealing to defeat it in all the states. This slogan which was already raised and popularized by the revolutionary left and struggling forces in these states got a further boost with the farmers’ leaders going to all the states and calling for the people to defeat BJP and its allies as a sign of solidarity with the farmers’ movement.
The RSS/BJP led Modi government is in desperate situation. It does not mean that it will lay down its arms and surrender. History teaches that the fascists shall try all heinous means to prolong their rule till they are hanged by the people or forced to shoot themselves. But in the present Indian situation, the Manuvadi Brahmanical fascist forces are still having the upper hand ideologically, culturally and politically within the ruling system. They have penetrated all sectors of administration through the domination of the Brahmanical upper caste sections who control more than 75% of the top layers of all departments, police, judiciary, armed forces. Their domination is more in the corporate sector and media. All institutions where the progressive elements had a say are entirely saffronized. All central agencies like CBI, ED, NIA etc are under RSS control and are used to win over, to terrorize and silent the opposition, or to throw them in to jail. Besides, as the RSS chief often boasts, RSS is not only working through the BJP, it has penetrated almost all the mainstream parties and even the leaders of the minority religions, the Savarna sections as I now happening in Kerala. It was easy for RSS to create this situation as not only Congress or other ruling class/regional parties, even the parliamentary left, all of whom pursuing soft Hindutva for vote bank politics, have never launched any campaign against RSS and its ideology; on the other hand all of them still pursue an appeasement policy towards RSS. So, the evolutionary left and struggling forces while mobilizing their full force to strengthen the farmers’ movement and for its victory, have to intensify the campaign and politicization against the RSS ideology and practice, the main prop of neoliberal corporate politics wielding political power in our country.
In the present situation, not only to mobilize the masses more widely and to make the farmers’ struggle victorious, besides helping to initiate movements of the working class and other sections to beat back attacks on them, the most important task is to build the broadest possible anti-fascist united platform of all forces opposed to BJP and its allies. At the same time, the revolutionary left and struggling forces have to wage an uncompromising campaign against the RSS ideology and practice, while putting forward an alternative program and line of action, to polarize the revolutionary forces. With this clear perspective let us rally as many forces as possible and spread the movement at all India level so that conditions can be created for the victory of the farmers’ movement against corporatization of agriculture.
We are observing the 52nd anniversary of CPI(ML) formation on 22nd April this year at an important turning point in the history of our country when the fascist RSS formed in 1925, consistently pursuing its Manuvadi Hindutva path to turn the country in to a Hindurashtra, has come to power with substantial support in the parliament and is pursuing its aggressive Brahmanical offensive through corporate fascist Modi government is taking the neoliberal offensive to its zenith. In spite of the challenge thrown up by the forces opposed to it through the anti-CAA, NPR, NRC movement, using the pandemic, Covid19 as a cover it could overcome this challenge, suppressing it ruthlessly.
Following this Modi government snatched the Babri land with the help of a Supreme Court order and launched Ram mandir construction forcefully collecting huge amounts and started raising Jai Sri Ram as its central political slogan, as if Manu Smriti has become Indian Constitution. Corporatization of all fields was intensified including the adoption of Manuvadi NEP 2020 in the education sector, cutting down all labour rights in the 4 labour codes and adopting 3 farm laws hastily to corporatize agriculture. But, following it, what happened was unexpected by the RSS and Modi govt. Following the Delhi Chalo call, the great siege around the national capital was started by lakhs of farmers and other toiling masses supporting them from 27th November, which is still continuing more vigorously demanding the repeal of the 3 reactionary farm laws.
Unlike what happened in 1967 during the Naxalbari Uprising and later, this mighty mass movement is continuing, attracting increasing support from the people, overcoming all lies and slanders, all attacks calling them Khalistani, agents of Pakistan and China, terrorists, all adjectives viciously used by the RSS parivar to malign, subvert and defeat it, the Godi media campaign, the massive oppression by the fascist state apparatus. It is attracting increasing massive support in the Maha Panchayats organized across the country.
This massive movement is continuing the successful social boycott of RSS/BJP leaders and their supporters in Punjab and Haryana; it has joined the No Vote To BJP campaign in the five states where elections to state assemblies are taking place to give an electoral rebuff to weaken the neo-fascist rulers who are corporatezing the whole public sector, devastating people’s livelihood and the ecology. What happened to Indian politics during the last five decades leading to present historic upsurge of the peasantry against fascist Modi rule show how correct and historic was the call of Naxalbari Uprising, followed by CPI(ML) formation in the late 1960s, to overthrow the rule of the big-capitalist-big landlord classes serving the imperialist system as its junior partners, and to advance towards completion of People’s Democratic Revolution and Socialist Revolution! As the most reactionary sections of the ruling class, the Modi rule is taking the corporate loot to its climax under neo-fascist terror, the struggling masses are coming out on the streets to defeat corporatization, to fight the corporate, neo-fascist rule of RSS/BJP, and the imperialists behind them!
Naxalbari Uprising took place when the communist revolutionaries waged an uncompromising struggle against the CPI leadership, and following the 1964 split both CPI and CPI(M) leaderships, who had abandoned the path of revolutionary Marxism and embraced social democratic path, degenerating as “apologists of neo-colonialism”. It had inspired tens of millions of the oppressed masses, the dalits and Adivasis, the working class and the peasantry, along with the women, students and youth who challenged the ruling forces, including the social democrats who had already become part of the ruling system, sharing power in W. Bengal and Kerala. Though the CR forces who formed the CPI(ML) and all those who did not join it, failed to correctly analyze the fast changes taking place under the neo-colonial phase of imperialism, and took the left adventurist path leading to severe setbacks and disintegration in to different groups; by and large, almost all of them are still continuing their efforts to overcome the mistakes and to develop the program and path according to present situation. They continue to wage many struggles pursuing mass line and still constitute the revolutionary left stream. Though few of them have joined with the social democratic stream, even when it has degenerated from social democracy to stepping stones for the neo-fascists, and when few others still continue in the left adventurist path.
The CPI(ML) Red Star has emerged as one of the leading revolutionary left organization in the course of developing its Marxist understanding according to present conditions, developing its program and path based on it, and as a result of unity of many CR organizations and sections during this process. Continuing to struggle against modern day Mensheviks and Narodniks, it is striving for the unity of the CR forces to build a Bolshevik style Communist Party capable for completing the remaining tasks of democratic revolution and advancing towards socialist revolution.
The present international and national developments including the efforts to build a platform of the communist revolutionary organizations at international level (ICOR), the international anti-imperialist, anti-fascist united front at the initiative of ICOR and ILPS, the numerous mass movements launched by it against neoliberal policies including the Bhangar movement in W. Bengal, the caste annihilation movement launched against the caste system which is used by the Brahmanical forces to subdue vast masses and to serve neo-fascism, the campaign against the Manuvadi, Hindutva attacks of RSS and the struggle against the ecological destruction and for people oriented development alternative, and movement against the CAA and now the historic mass upsurge of the farmers against corporatization substantiate the correctness of its general orientation.
Meanwhile, it has initiated an offensive to develop the theory and practice for developing the workers’, peasants’, women’s like movements and to bring the dalit/Adivasi like oppressed sections in to mainstream of revolutionary struggles, overcoming present challenges faced by them under all out neoliberal offensive of the imperialist system. On the occasion of the 52nd anniversary of the formation of CPI(ML), the Red Star calls upon all the CR forces to come forward to get united in order to organize a powerful communist party capable of overthrowing the reactionary ruling system and leading the people towards people’s democracy and socialism.
February 21st is celebrated as "Red Book Day" by leftist publications around the world to commemorate the first publishing of the Communist Manifesto on 21st February 1848.
The left publishers and in social media a week long ‘Read Red Books campaign’ is being organized since 14th February to culminate the campaign on 21st February. It is not just a reading of the Communist Manifesto, but also observed as an expression of solidarity with the victims of the onslaught of right-wing forces around the world.
Observing Red Books Day on 21st February, on the occasion of 173rd anniversary of the publication of the Communist Movement is used as an occasion to go through the experience of the communist movement during this period. If the origin of the Communist Manifesto was in the midst of significant ideological struggle against utopian socialist concepts and anarchist tendencies, its publication and the ongoing workers’ movements led to the whole camp of reaction coming together to suppress the revolutionary dawn it called for. As we have seen during the Paris Commune, all forces of reaction across Europe including the Pope joined hands to suppress it. Still its message reached the workers and oppressed people, and they led momentous struggles to become strong enough by the 1960s to challenge the imperialist system and make themselves heard everywhere.
But, the communist movement globally started facing a setback with the usurpation of power by the revisionists led by the Krushchovites who succeeded to weaken the ICM. The setback in China also intensified weakening of the communist movement. Though the struggle against growing imperialist trend around the world is increasing and many historic people’s movements and mass upsurges are sweeping around the world, the communist parties or organizations are so weak that they are incapable to come to the leadership of this movement.
But the situation is changing fast. Objective conditions are becoming right for revolutionary changes in many countries. And our country itself is in the middle of a historic farmers’ movement against corporatization of agriculture. This will give rise to the growth of all anti-fascist forces and they are joining hands with the struggling forces to create new wave of revolutions.
At this juncture the re-publication of the Communist Manifesto has significance. Let us take initiative to bring out more Marxist classics in different languages. Let us also become part of this initiative.
Red Star Publications