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Will Left resurrect?
In the context of CPM's 21st Congress, held in Vizag, several concerns are raised about the future of left in India. In different ways, many people are suggesting the communists to change for its survival. Neo-liberal camp is eager to convert the Left into a bourgeoisie political party, while many others expect the organized Marxists to behave like Indian anarchists.
However, people already have plenty such options at their disposal none of which they consider worthy of extending long term loyalty and trust. Should the Left be one among the many, even the first amongst the lot, or need it to regain a distinct identity and credibility? Answer is inherent in this query but the question remains as how to achieve it!

Two successive electoral debacles in Lok Sabha elections and loss of power in Kerala and West Bengal in the intermediate period have created an excellent opportunity for the CPM to introspect and resurrect. Yet there is every possibility that the discourse may remain confined to two states, escaping pan-Indian evaluation. 

Defeat in Bengal is not the biggest upset in the history of Left movement in India. Perhaps, the shocking loss to Congress in Andhra Pradesh in 1952, in the immediate aftermath of glorious Telangana struggle, was the most unexpected electoral result so far. Instead of rewarding the Left for adopting the parliamentary democracy, people maintained a distance from it for its earlier denouncement of country's independence as a false notion. But that was not the end of road. Since then the Left, even after multiple splits, emerged as champion of working class interests, democracy, federalism and secularism in the country.

The beauty of post-independence Left is its core belief that if you can't convince the people to vote for you, they will never join your ranks in making the revolution. Therefore, electoral rejection of the Left in its strongest bastion becomes matter of deep concern. However, greater worry is its perpetual shortcomings to evolve as a progressive political option before the electorate in other States. This failure occurs due to Left's inability, rather non-initiatives, to wage long term result oriented struggles in every state, based on state-specific people's issues. This, in turn, is result of Left leadership's pre-occupation with national politics.

The opportunities that were available in the post-2004 political scenario had not been realized simply because the rigorous, and widely appreciated, efforts of the Left at the national level could not be supplemented with backing of the mass movements, given the weak state of Left's organizations throughout the country. The road to power in Delhi, for the Left, would originate in various states. Wasn't that the experience in terms of Kerala, Bengal and Tripura? Left's success in these states was fruit of people's long drawn struggles against the local landlordism, other regressive elements and bourgeoisie, which helped it till recently to exert influence at national level. Much has been said and propagated about functioning and achievements of Left-led state governments. However, the formative years of struggles in those states have been forgotten, thus, the Left cadre in other states are almost clueless about how to reach that ascendency. The political alternative in alliance with regional outfits, the 'third-front', can be a viable reality only in case of growing Left movement in various states. Since regional political parties have strong vacillating tendencies, only a stronger Left presence in respective states can keep them on the left track.

In this context, a frank assessment about the Left's growth or decline in various states from 1990 to 2004; when the central task was to contain the rise of communal forces, particularly in northern and western India, is due. The roots of failures in post-2004 phase may be traced back to those years. The left simply surrendered and posed a blind faith in leaders like Mulayam and Lalu in the name of fighting secularism. It has ultimately resulted into decimation of their bases in all north Indian states.

It is evident that the Left has been unable to grasp people's anger against government policies at various places in the country. This vacuum is being filled by many local organizations or social activists whose objectives may not include ensuring class unity and politicization of masses. It is important to find out causes of hesitations that often results into Left's retreats at such places. A major factor, in recent past, was perception about the Left Front government in West Bengal. What was a matter of pride and celebration for long had suddenly turned into a liability.

The Left Front desperately tried to defend its policy of industrialization ignorant of, or knowingly avoiding, nuances in its implementation. Instead of taking the people into confidence and trying to understand their concerns, the policy was forced upon them. The Left leadership in West Bengal, who were once staunch defender of people's interests, had given impression of being the mouthpiece of big corporate houses. In this process, it forged an alliance with the bureaucratic machinery, again at the risk of going against its own record and reputation in the state. This has substantiated opposition's charge of arrogance and corruption of the Left Front regime..

But the Left Front in West Bengal must not be singled out for Left's reduced strength in the Country. In Communist Parties, it is rightly said, everything - good or bad - starts at the top. Decline in working class leadership and working class outlook as well as reluctance in championing the issues of social equality and dignity contributed to Left's marginalization at all India level. A major anomaly in the Left's praxis is miserable presence of weaker sections in the organization as well as among parliamentary members. Even the representatives of the organized working class, leave aside the unorganized sectors, are not dominating the decision making bodies of the Left.

Except honest admission of these facts and some occasional actions, no significant strides have been made to retain confidence of working class and win over the weaker sections. CPM's organizational structure is based on the principle of 'merit' than on representation. Representation of weaker sections in CPM's organizational structure is dismal because 'cadres from those sections are not considered up to the mark to meet intellectual requirements of the standard of the Left'.

The same is true on the front of gender equality. Left has never gone beyond occasional symbolic mobilizations on women's issues, including on Women's reservation. This is not an aberration but has become the habit; habit of self-congratulations for taking a correct political stand, habit of living in the house of moral righteousness. From farmers' suicides to nuclear deal and black money, the Left has correctly brought these issues in the national discourse. However, it could not alter government policies precisely because it has not mobilized people behind its ideological position.

Again, it would be a foolish thinking to attribute weakening of the Left movement to mere organizational matters and its leadership. If the movement is victim of lethargy, reluctance and non-initiatives, there must have emerged certain contradictions within it. The most difficult task before the Left today is to precisely identify those contradictions and evolve a correct political perspective. At least three issues need a mention here that requires further political clarity.

First, there has to be a comprehensive assessment of impact of globalization and advanced technologies on every section of Indian society. Inherent in it is understanding about format of industrialization as well as expectations of poor, weaker sections and working class from the state.

Second, more nuanced understanding of international politics and also of various regimes in other countries, e.g. Sri Lankan chauvinist state, Afghanistan's fragile system, North Korean despotic government, China's market socialism etc. Last but not the least, participation in the Central Government since the opportunity will knock the Left's door sooner than later, despite today's adverse situation and writing off its political future by 'eminent' pundits.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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