There is no denying the complex process underlying the defeat of the LF in 2011 assembly elections, and there is no question of simplifying it to a "mono-causal" one of pursuing neoliberal policies. However, can you deny that compromises with neoliberalism was ONE cause behind the decline of the Left in west bengal, and that too quite an important one? there may be many other reasons.
the point is not about finding one to one correspondence between districtwise human development indicators and election results. that is nobody's case. the point is about trying to understand the underlying causes behind the difference in developmental outcomes in two states having similar political dispensations in office for a 10 year period. doesn't policy priorities have anything to do with it?
Warren Anderson of Union Carbide escapes in 1984 after the Bhopal Gas tragedy......Kim Davy escapes after the Purulia arms drop case in 1995.....now the Italian marines....
the question is - has the Indian government been duped, or has it been complicit?
Thank you for a thought provoking piece. It is certainly true that West Bengal should have done a lot better than it did in terms of key human development indicators and it is also true that Tripura has done very well in terms of these indicators. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya's government should have been far more motivated to implement the national flagship programmes to improve the condition of the poor. Where Central funds are not available his government should have used state resources to help the poor. Some efforts were indeed made - SAHAY or Backward Village - for example, but these were not implemented with enough vigour. SRD project started a process of decentralised planning but was never taken up at the level of state policy. On the other hand Manik Sarkar's government has utilised the national flagship programmes to improve the human development indicators. West Bengal Government (Left or TMC) has a peculiar anti-Centre attitude, which results in poor performance in almost all national flagship programmes. I think a similar attitude is absent in Tripura. It is also possible that Tripura simply has a better administration capable to delivering the national flagship programmes.
However there are areas of Dr. Bose's analysis that I do not agree with. Why Buddhadeb Bhattacharya's CPIM fell in West Bengal has to be understood through a complex analysis of the political process. Mono-causal explanations such as pursuit of "neo-liberal" industrialisation or poor human development indicators is not sufficient to explain the fall. For example, Purba Medinipur has very good human development indicators. Yet after Nandigram, the district went to TMC in the panchayat election. Similarly greater Calcutta region has human development indicators that are much better than the state average. Yet here the LF lost almost all the seats. So even though human development in these areas is good, LF lost. Thus we cannot say that left lost because of not improving human development indicators.
Institute of Social Sciences
Prasenjit has highlighted some interesting contrasts between bye-election in WB and Tripura, one agrees with the major content but another point which needs to be added is that the leadership in Tripura is yet to be affected by the virus of BHADROLOK culture as is evident in WB, a petty bourgeois attitude masquerading caste and communal overtones in the garb of avowed internationalism, unaffected by this virus it is not only Manik Sarkar but the entire leadership of left in Tripura has retained the ingenuity to read the pulse of the people and lead them to a decisive victory. People can very well understand the duplicity in words and deeds among the left in different parts of India e.g. the recent hullabaloo about creation of SEZ in WB is an indication in this direction
if the parliamentary left in India has the courage to look beyond their gentrified space which is occupied by the toiling masses, we can have many more Tripura's in India
there is a problem if while writing the history of the motor car, you start from the discovery of the wheel! there may have been 1001 problems with the CPIM and left front in west bengal since 1977. but the fact is that they continued to win election after election till the 2008 panchayat elections. unless you believe in the BS that all those polls were rigged, you have to accept that the majority of west bengal's electorate rated the LF government's performance to be positive, IN NET (i.e. POSITIVES - NEGATIVES = STILL POSITIVE). after 2008, the story has changed. the reasons are manifold, nandigram, singur being the trigger. but since 2008 elections the people have judged the Left in the negative, IN NET (i.e. POSITIVES - NEGATIVES = NEGATIVE). this trend has continued.
many commentators on the left have noted that this defeat is basically due to the neoliberal turn taken by the LF government in west bengal. the roots of that neoliberal shift can be traced to the 1990s. some even trace it back to the decision of allowing joint sector industries in 1985. but the fact is all those compromises were not rejected by the people. they continued to vote for the Left. under Buddhadeb, the LF has been rejected by the people. yet there is no admission of mistake. only adamant re-assertions of the need to build more SEZs and acquire more land from farmers. that is why the support of for the LF is eroding fast.
you may have some complicated theories on the degeneration of the Left. but for lesser mortals like me, this seems to be a realistic and credible account.
"The scale of its victory could induce the Left Front into a kind of euphoria. It is however relevant to draw attention to a number of emerging facts:
(a) While the Front has registered a major triumph in this year’s poll, it is not an unprecedented achievement. For example,
in 1987 the Front captured 251 of the 294 seats in the assembly; this time, the tally has been only 235. And there have been
other occasions too in the past when the Front obtained more than 50 per cent of the total votes cast.
(b) A large proportion of the Front government’s efforts and resources has over the past five years been expended
to improve the infrastructure in and around Kolkata, including for the establishment of luxury facilities which could seduce the upper-class mind, especially industry circles. This apparently pro-rich and pro-big industry bias in the state government’s policies has borne little fruit though in electoral terms. The Front actually has won in 2006 a lesser number of seats in Kolkata than it did in the past. The areas where civic improvements such as flyovers, sleek modern roads, shopping plazas and suchlike are concentrated continue to vote with a vengeance against the Left Front. The Front therefore faces a dilemma: to increase further the outlay on luxury facilities might fail to yield electoral dividends, while the relative curtailment of outlay intended for the poor could lead to a rapid erosion of its “safe” vote bank.
(c) The issue of conversion, at state initiative, of arable land for commercial exploitation, the poll results suggest, should
be handled with some circumspection. In the rural belt of South 24 Parganas, the Left Front lost in just a single constituency,
Bhangar, partly because of the involvement of this location in the controversy. Similarly, while the Front made a clean
sweep of the rest of the seats in the district of Howrah, it failed to win in two constituencies where the issue of land sales had
(d) The state government has apparently made up its mind to pursue a vigorous programme of generally capital-intensive
industrial growth with focus on the IT industry. It has, simultaneously, made explicit its determination to make the
state more investor-friendly. The state administration, it follows, would from now on allocate a relatively higher
proportion of its resources in the pursuit of these goals. What impact such a policy is likely to have on the life and
living of close to seven million unemployed in the state remains an open question. The surprise defeat of the state labour minister, along with the loss of a number of seats on the fringes of Kolkata, should provide some sort of a warning. It is possible to trace an undercurrent of resentment at the resulting bias – howsoever unintentional – for labour economising industrialisation; there is similar disquiet over hasty handing over of lush agricultural land either for “contract farming” or to fly-by-night adventurers from other shores.
(e) Above all, the mandate the Left Front has won, in the view of a vast number of its rank and file, is a mandate for Left
principles. Any deviation from these principles, such as a diminution of the role of the public sector in the development
agenda, could meet with fierce internal resistance. The seventh Left Front government therefore must continuously watch
AM, "Suffrage in West Bengal", EPW, May 27, 2006
Dear Mr. Pranav,
You have indeed raised quite a few important points. I would like to say a few things:
1) You have rightly said that electoral results should not to be interpreted in a flat manner to understand politics, otherwise the analysis will be fraught with many mistakes. And I think you have committed the mistake which you were wary of. Was the 2006 WB result a mandate for an industrialization led by forceful acquisition of fertile land, was it a mandate to fire upon unwilling farmers, or was it a mandate to bring more and more of such industries of neo-liberal model? The question is not pro-industry or anti-industry, but industry of what nature; because anybody, even an idiot according to Ashok Mitra, can understand the importance of industries. If 2006 was a verdict for industries, it was for a model that is definitely not of neoliberal order. Was it too much of expectation from the people, that is if it was indeed so, to a government led by Left parties who are avowed to fight against neoliberalism? Hence I think the argument made in the article holds fine, and that is what Manik Sarkar intended to say: we have not done anything which people did not expect us to do. So one needs to read electoral results carefully, yes, but not stop reading it. In that way, reading electoral verdicts wont create the contradiction which you seem to suggest.
2) I am generally averse to seeing commitment and progressiveness only abstractly. Those are not good enough if that does not lead to betterment of peoples' lives. And I do not think that the LF in WB has been in the government by merely speaking about abstract commitment and progressiveness. Those have been transformed into tangible outcomes in peoples' lives for the better. For example, Left's 'abstract' stand on secularism has reflected in drastic reduction of communal violence/riots in the states; or food security; or issue of land etc. Those are better than perhaps any state in the country. The point is, no political analysis can be sans analyzing concrete outcomes that change peoples' lives.
And there are failures. And there are other states ruled by other political outfits that out-shines WB on certain indicators that indicate living conditions of the masses. Should we not be concerned by that? Those are the aspects on which LF could and should have emphasized, like a state ruled by the same political formation (Tripura), rather than trying to implement the neoliberal logic.
3) And then, of course, there are deviations, which you mentioned. Did those deviations bring larger electoral fortunes? Well I tend to believe even electorally we would have been better of without those. Otherwise, why do we believe in democratic mandate of the people? And that is precisely why, as you rightly said, left should ponder upon "such uncomfortable questions". Can't agree with you more on that. But I do not think anybody has tried to reduce that story of ideological deviation as merely 'post 2001' or so. What is hammered upon here, I think, is to underline the contrast which wins peoples mandate. And that is evident even in an analysis of 'restricted' scope. That is of course valuable.
The observations made by Mr. Prasenjit Bose are correct in more than one way. There is much to read from the results of the bye elections other than any cause for jubilation on the part of the Left establishment of Bengal. Like, the results show, the Left has won one seat of Nalhati, but the size of their vote has further declined. Interestingly if anyone follows the results of 2011 Vidhansabha elections, the best Left performance was recorded in Rejinagar. At Rejinagar the current results show even a sharp and further drop in the votes for the left. Across the three constituencies the drop in the net vote for the left is significant. In the regional media the left representatives tried to appear brave by arguing that the results should be regarded as the symbol of people's disenchantment with the AITC government as the anti government vote is more. This logic is like building castles in the air. because by the same logic the anti left vote has nearly doubled in comparison to 2011. There are many causes at play. Taking cue from Mr. Bose's argument I would like to reiterate that the trend clearly shows the fall out of the Bengal left's apathy (which was set in from arond mid eighties) towards building social progressive movements. Also a fact that Bengal's electoral terrain is changing pretty fast. The trend can be explained elsewhere, but for this comment I would rest by saying that the politics of Bengal is not limited with the scope of CPI(M), AITC or INC. It is changing. The factors are visbly and invisbly displayed along the election outcomes post 2011. Left establishment should think deep as another fact which no one has emphasized about the current bye election results is that each constituency i.e. Nalhati, Rejinagar and Englishbazar has seen at an average 6% increase from 2011 in terms of voters participation. The Left establishment should face up to this complex terrain. I conclude by reiterating that politics of Bengal is not remaining within the scope of AITC and CPI(M). It is happening to be more.
Thanks for your informative and well-argued piece on the election results in Tripura. I believe it will contribute to a healthy and wide-ranging debate on the Indian left - it's past, present and future. Allow me to point out, however, that while I appreciated the piece, it left me with a certain sense of disappointment. While I am no cpim loyalist, i could not help but discern a certain unwarranted simplification in your analysis. Kindly permit me to identify the nature of this simplification.
While it is certainly the case that success and failure in electoral politics is very important to the fortunes of a political movement in a country like India, and that the left has to make sincere efforts to present itself as an electorally viable alternative, reducing political analysis to a purely psephological exercise is a path fraught with perils and contradictions. And I believe your article suffers to some extent from this problem. For instance, you draw a connection, which is central to your analysis, between the declining electoral fortunes, be it seats or vote share, of the left front in Bengal, and a certain rightward shift in cpim embodied most strikingly, according to you, in its pro-industrialisation drive. This to me seems an oversimplification. Such an analysis cannot account at all for extremely significant events like the landslide victory of the left front in the 2006 state elections. Remember the left front contested the 2006 elections almost solely on the plank of industrialisation. Before the elections the cpim had gone on an extensive and aggressive campaign projecting 'brand Buddha' as the way forward for the state. Now, if electoral performance were the sole criterion for judging the correctness and mass acceptance of an ideological-political line, the 2006 results could have been read as an overwhelming mandate for industrialisation. And maybe the cpim did read it in such a manner. The point, however, is that by continuing to operate in such a frame of analysis, we will be imposing an unnecessary constraint on our vision - thereby scuttling the prospects of a serious and productive debate.
Secondly, as a sympathiser of left politics, I have some problems with the kind of abstraction with which socio-economic indicators are being looked at. Now, to be sure, in the long run the ideological commitment of a political force would have a bearing on the welfare of the people. The whole left project is about such a transformation. But does that warrant seeing a mechanical one-on-one correspondence between commitment and socio-economic indicators? I would not think so. Remember that even apart from tripura, there are several states - for instance states like Tamil nadu, Maharashtra, uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Goa etc. - which fare much better than West Bengal on a range of socio-economic indicators. On several such indicators, these states fare even better than Kerala and Tripura. None of these states, of course, has ever had a left government. Now, if socio-economic indicators were the sole criterion for judgment, forces like the DMK would seem far more progressive than the cpim. If the socio-economic statistics in Tripura prove something, what do the statistics in these other states prove? The problem is that we on the left have systematically shied away from even asking ourselves these questions. And the same reluctance seems to lurk in your article.
Finally, such reluctant analysis takes us farther away from historically concrete political analysis. It is quite strange that most of your comparative statistics begin from 2001. Why is that? The statistics for instance tell us that on these socio-economic indicators west Bengal did not fare particularly well even before 2001. And, of course, by 2001, the left front government had already finished around 25 years - enough time to carry out thoroughgoing work on health, education, sanitation etc. Let me remind you that even by 2001, Kerala, where the left had enjoyed a much shorter duration in power, had enormously outpaced west Bengal as far as socio-economic indicators were concerned. To me this this suggests that problems in west Bengal go far deeper than just the pro-industrialisation stance of leaders post-2001. Several political commentators have observed, for instance, that a certain undesirable electorally motivated reformism had crept into the agrarian agenda of the cpim in the eighties itself. There was a distinct shift in the policy of the cpim, in the eighties, from isolating the dominant agrarian classes to winning them over. This led to tremendous electoral gains, of course, but it diluted the agenda of agrarian change, and led to a widespread ideological-political slackening within the cpim. Could such ideological debilitation have been responsible for the abandonment of certain crucial tasks of social welfare even in the eighties and nineties, a time when the left front used to win comfortably? Could this class reformism have had something to do with the left's far from robust performance on the questions of the emancipation of Dalits, tribals, minority communities etc. even in the first two decades of its rule?
I believe that the left has to urgently raise and answer such uncomfortable questions. Easy and neat dichotomies between pre-2001 and post-2001, between Tripura and Bengal, between buddadeb and jyoti Basu, while they may seem explanatorily tempting and attractive, are not really of much value.
"it could win more seats. i want to ask - what matters more to you - winning more seats or retaining a better vote percentage? your recipe for the left is not based in the realities of Indian politics but in an esoteric approach which would render the left politically irrelevant in parliamentary politics."
People like you only expose how sections of the CPI(M) have slipped into the worst kind of Parliamentary deviations. When one hopes for a political revival of the CPIM people like you come in and shatter all hopes. Considering Rahul Gandhi's and Sitaram's frequent meetings are according to you a sign of the revival of the left, I really wish you'd revise your understanding of a left movement.
I really don't know what you mean. While, unlike the CPI(M), I am not really against the creation of smaller states but to assume that smaller states bring in better governance is not always entirely true. Look at the kind of war against the people that has been unleashed by the state in the newly created smaller states like Jharkhand and Chattisgarh. The very tribal populations that were supposed to be benefiting from the creation of these states have been the most deprived after the formation of these states. Also look at Uttrakhand. It was created with the intention of the hill people not losing out on development to the people in the plains in U.P. After Uttarakhand's creation even now the bulk of industrialisation and job creation has happened in places like Haridwar etc.- Among the few plains areas of Uttarakhand.
About better governance in smaller states- Is that really true? Look at Goa? There's been a continuous, almost tragi-comedy kind of musical chairs that we've seen with the CM's of the state. Look at how the mining lobby of Goa is ruling the state today and the good governance of Goa only exists for the tourists.
In the context of reverses in West Bengal, the 20th Party Congress of the CPI(M) resolved the following in its Political Resolution: '...the strengthening of the CPI(M) and the recovering of the ground lost by the Left assume importance....Learning from experience, we should overcome the weaknesses at the political and organisational level and reestablish our links with the people who have got alienated.'
However, like many other aspects of the Political Resolution, it appears that the task of reestablishing links with the alienated people has also taken a backseat. The recent bye-elections show that the mass base of the Left is eroding further. This erosion cannot be the basis of any recovery. The suggestion that people's support can be ignored and the Left can still win through opportunistic parliamentary manipulations exemplifies what is wrong with the CPI(M) today. The realities of parliamentary democracy are predicated upon support among the people. With declining people's support, no Party can have a future, leave alone a Left party.
The sooner the CPI(M) prioritizes winning back its declining support in west bengal, the better. Ignoring or being in denial of this basic fact will not help. Correct lessons need to be drawn from the recent election results. Correct lessons needed to be drawn from all previous election results as well. This article provides some serious food for thought to all those who are genuinely concerned about the future of the Left. Prasenjit should continue to write such excellent articles and give voice to opinions within the ranks of the Party that are often steamrolled and ignored by the cynics.
dear well wisher,
you seem to have misread the argument regarding social indicators made in the article. consider the fact that in 2001 the literacy rate in Tripura was 73% while in West Bengal it was 68%. in 2011 the literacy rate in Tripura improved to 87% while in West Bengal it was 77%. therefore while the proportion of literate people in Tripura and West Bengal was at a similar level in 2001, by 2011 a much higher proportion of people were literate than in West Bengal. Similarly, the proportion of households with electricity in 2001 was 41% in Tripura and 37% in West Bengal - comparable levels. by 2011, the proportion improved to 68% in Tripura but only 54% in West Bengal. If relative population sizes matter so much for these indicators, what explains the similarity of literacy rates or access to electricity in Tripura and West Bengal in 2001? the difference in population sizes was there in 2001 too. the fact is that the quality of life was better for a much higher proportion of population of Tripura in 2011 than that of West Bengal, while it was roughly similar in 2001.
the comparison between West Bengal and Tripura becomes relevant because both were governed by the same political coalition - the LF. the rapid improvement in development indicators in Tripura compared to West Bengal between 2001 and 2011 must have something to do with policy priorities of the two governments. what has population size got to do with the fact that Tripura was the Nos. 1 state in India in implementing MNREGA while West Bengal was a laggard? it is an issue of political will.
please do not try to obfuscate ideological-political factors by hiding behind inane arguments like "small states have a better quality of administration". if the size of a state is the sole determinant of the quality of administration and improved social indicators, then the policy conclusion should be to divide the existing states into states of the size of Tripura in the interest of the people - i.e. to make a state out of every district in India! fortunately, that is not the case, which can be seen from the experiences of many of the smaller states, be it Sikkim or Jharkhand. moreover, administrative convenience has never been the sole basis of state formation; there are historical, political, cultural factors.
"even if the left vote witnesses a further decline, the fact that the TMC and the Congress contested separately, made it possible for the Left to win one seat. in our parliamentary politics, winning is all that matters, not the percentage of votes received."
response: winning seats matter the most. but the fact is that you are bound to lose seats if your vote share declines. when the LF got around 50% vote in west bengal it could win over 200 seats. when LF's voteshare fell to 41% in 2011, its seats also fell to 60. If the voteshare declines further, it will naturally imply even lesser seats. Moreover, the strength of a political party in a state cannot be judged solely on the basis of seats. Congress won 42 seats in 2011 elections compared to 40 won by the CPI(M). Do you think that therefore Congress became a bigger political party in West Bengal compared to the CPI(M)?
"as reported in the press, rahul gandhi has been frequenting com. Sitaram Yechury's chamber regularly in recent times. if the left manages to keep the TMC and the Congress from striking an understanding with the Congress in west bengal, wouldn't this be the best strategy to remain relevant for the Left? it could win more seats."
response: if reports regarding rahul gandhi "frequenting" the CPIM leader is correct, it is indeed surprising, because that CPIM leader is currently leading a "Sangharsh Sandesh" jatha against the policies of the Congress-led government from Mumbai! People will see through such hypocrisy and punish rather than reward the CPIM for this. besides, your understanding that the left can "manage" to keep the TMC and Congress away from each other is fallacious. that is not the way political alliances operate. TMC and Congress will come together or contest separately in keeping with their own political interests at the state or the national level. There is precious little the Left can do about it. The Left will only expose its weakness if it asserts that the only way it can win more seats is by preventing an alliance between TMC and Congress. Rather than winning more seats, the Left will continue to suffer erosion.
"i want to ask - what matters more to you - winning more seats or retaining a better vote percentage? your recipe for the left is not based in the realities of Indian politics but in an esoteric approach which would render the left politically irrelevant in parliamentary politics."
response: what matters for the Left is to reverse the declining trend in its popular support. if the support and voteshare of the Left starts increasing again, it will naturally lead to more seats for the Left. what is indeed esoteric - at least for the people of west bengal - is the continuing humbug by a section of the Left of its imminent resurgence, by dividing the TMC and the Congress. that is why popular support for the Left continues to decline and which, if not reversed soon, will surely make it politically irrelevant. how much the likes of you understand "the realities of Indian politics" is there for all to see: you seem to have no concern for the fact that the erosion of support for the Left in West Bengal continues unabated.
thank you for shedding some light on the brilliant electoral victory in Tripura. Long Live the efforts of our comrades there.
Jharkhand is also a small state, Mr. well wisher
Dear Mr. Bose,
I am most surprised at the logic of your arguement. The creation of small states in our country has decisively shown over time that irrespective of the ideology or politics of the party in power, they have a better quality of administration and deliver better results to the people. The better social indicators of Tripura are based in the simple FACT that Tripura is a small state while West Bengal is a large one. Kindly stop insinuating ideological-political reasons for the same.
a well wisher.
even if the left vote witnesses a further decline, the fact that the TMC and the Congress contested separately, made it possible for the Left to win one seat. in our parliamentary politics, winning is all that matters, not the percentage of votes received. as reported in the press, rahul gandhi has been frequenting com. Sitaram Yechury's chamber regularly in recent times. if the left manages to keep the TMC and the Congress from striking an understanding with the Congress in west bengal, wouldn't this be the best strategy to remain relevant for the Left? it could win more seats. i want to ask - what matters more to you - winning more seats or retaining a better vote percentage? your recipe for the left is not based in the realities of Indian politics but in an esoteric approach which would render the left politically irrelevant in parliamentary politics.
Two times he became CM of kerala, but he could not finish tenure. But he led communist movement all over India very successfully. Even today communist party did not get this kind of intelligent man. He has good knowledge about marxism. But indian condition is very different, he identified that also. He was not good speaker, but his brain played important role. He has good language skill, especially he can talk, Malayalam, Sanskrit, Tamil, Hindi and English. When party will get this kind of genius.
Workers joined work en masse on the 21st once the transport sector has been kept under the purview of the strike. A few Ranadive-ites think that their echo-chambers reflect in an authentic manner the views of the workers. Workers understand more than anybody that these strikes are not going to help them and hence they defied the strike. Working Class struggles in the 21st century are not about calling bandhs and forcing a shutdown - thats the cardinal mistake Ranadive-ites are making.
All the left and progressive force of the country must condemn the hanging of Afzal Guru by the Government of India. This act was a political, and not a legal act. Behind it lay a desperate need to drum up nationalist hype, as the popularity of the Congress led UPA government steadily disappears, as working class anger leads to repeated strikes and even general strikes, called even by bureaucratic union leaders, as middle class anger sometimes goes in the direction of the BJP and at other times in seemingly non-party, but definitely anti-Congress directions. Just like the hanging of Kasab, or the decision to introduce death penalty in rape and murder cases, this is a political act. It is significant that the government condones rape in uniform, with Chidambaram saying that in view of the army not coming to a consensus, the AFSPA rape cases cannot be covered. In the same way, Guru, who was, even by the extremely flawed legal process he faced, found guilty only of being involved in a alleged conspiracy, was nonetheless condemned to be hanged, while Babu Bajrangi and Maya Kodnani, found guilty of directly inciting riots, have not been condemned to be hanged. We do not call for their hanging either. But we point out that this is very clearly a case where Muslims will be punished more severely than Hindus, for not only same crimes but even lesser crimes. Even by existing law, death penalty can only be given in rarest of rare cases. But Guru was not one who fired a shot or threw a bomb. He was not present at the scene. Even by prosecution evidence his role was peripheral. The court ruled that he did not belong to a terrorist organisation. In addition, it must be remembered that Guru was not represented at the trial court by a lawyer. He was tortured into producing a confession which stank so much that even India’s higher courts impugned it. And yet he was sentenced to death. And this was ordered by the Supreme Court, in a terrible language, when it said that he must be hanged for the "collective conscience of society"
Guru was also denied the full legal and procedural rights one is supposed to get. If a clemency petition is rejected, and if the person is properly informed, there are opportunities for judicial review. Guru was denied this opportunity.His family members were not informed about the hanging and his body was not handed over to them.
We should also condemn the day long violence on those who raised their voices in protest, such as the arrest of S.A.R. Geelani, or the violence on Gautam Navlakha, and the house arrests in Kashmir.
We must demand
· End secretive hangings
· Hand over Afzal Guru’s body to his relatives
· Immediately release everyone arrested in connection with protests over the hangings
· Take action to punish those who attacked and those policemen who were complicit in the attacks, at Jantar Mantar
All democratic Indians must be urged to join a campaign to abolish the death penalty, in view of the extremely selective, flawed and politically motivated manner in which death penalty is carried out, even apart from any principled opposition to it that many have.
Class Struggle versus Serving the Rulers and Becoming Regional Linguistic Chauvinist: The Retreat of CITU in the coming General Strike
The media has praised the wisdom of the CPI(M) and the CITU. The taming of the Bengal CPI(M) takes one more step forward. Taken in conjunction with the interview of the former Chief Minister of West Bengal, Buddhadev Bhattacharjee, to ABP Ananda, it marks an important stage in the transition of the CPI(M). From a Stalinist party, it had long been converted into a party with Stalinist organisational structures but wedded to social liberalism. However, it had so far been compelled to accept the pressure from its working class electoral base to a larger extent than the so-called modernisers wanted. In course of the long period of being a government party, however, certain changes had occurred, and now they have caught up. On one hand, the CPI(M) in government had protected strikes and bandhs when called by itself or its controlled mass organisations. As a result, the habit of really fighting militant battles, even militant economic battles, had given way to mock battles on the part of the CITU leaders. On the other hand, the party, serving the ruling class for years, even while extracting small prices, had been gradually transformed. This was becoming evident in the last years of the left front government. Buddhadev Bhattacharjee had already been stressing the need for greater labour discipline, the need for industry in the interests of the working people, and similar themes.
What, at this point a CPI(M) supporter will get up to say, are we to do then? Should we not have industries? What will happen to us? Where will we get jobs? How will we eat? Certainly, we need jobs. We need a living wage. Is that not what the general strike is all about? There is profit galore. Tax breaks make sure that capitalists do not lose out. The argument that we must first ensure that the capitalists make a profit and only then can we make a living wage, however, leads us to only one possible end. There is an international competition among capitalists. If “our” capitalists are to make profits at above the average rate of profit, then the solution lies in the use of superior technology which will mean an increase in relative surplus value, or in driving down our wages more and more. The Chinese “socialist” model upheld by Bhattacharjee and his friends is based on years of bureaucratic control that ensured that capitalist restoration went apace while trade union rights were ignored. If Chinese workers have received anything extra, that is because from 2010, there have been important working class struggles, not because of saviours from above.
The CPI(M)’s pressure and the CITU’s retreat tells us, first of all, that the CITU is a bureaucratic trade union more responsive to the CPI(M) than to the workers who are supposedly its members. Secondly, it shows that the relationship between CPI(M) and CITU, is not just bureaucratic, but that even over core labour issues, nowadays, the pressure of “greater’ interests prevail. One formal reason for cutting down the strike is particularly significant, for it shows the triumph of petty bourgeois “national” identity voer class. The strike will be restricted on 21 February because it is Bhasha Divas, says Bhattacharjee. Note, this means transport workers, wbho are parts of the working class, are being asked not to go on strike. To say that means, to argue that the Bengali national identity, remembered only as a reflex (given that it was in East Bengal/East Pakistan/Bangladesh that the battle over language was fought, while the reality of petty bourgeois Bengal is that apart from this one day, it is hardly concerned with Bengali), and given further that a large part of the working class is not Bengali speaking, in whose interest and why is the strike being restrained ?
It could be argued that the decision to call a general strike cum bandh was erroneous, that the working class struggle had not peaked where such a struggle becomes really viable. That would take us into other areas. The point is, these are not the reasons why the CPI(M) has pressurized the CITU. As long as the CITU commands the support of a considerable part of the working class, the CITU cannot be ignored. But when this allegiance of workers is used to betray them in the interests of the ruling class, and in the interests of electoral support from the Bengali speaking petty bourgeoisie, the intelligentsia who had turned to the TMC in 2009 and 2011, it is essential that militant workers become aware of the reality.
what is your position on SEZ to IT-companies in west bengal?
weather its benefitial to bengali prospective technical students and unemployed technical gradduates?
Dear Com. Maran,
I hope you know that Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and the CITU unit of West Bengal are not observing the strike on 21st Feb because of international language day.....the great leader Buddhadeb is openly advocating setting up of SEZs in West Bengal...not a word has come from his, in his (in)famous interview for 4 hours to two consecutive Bengali TV channels about the all-India jathas, the movement for food security, the killing of 85 comrades in WB....and our great leader Prakash Karat is conspicuously silent and people like you would defend this kind of complete subversion to bourgeois values, in the name of discipline....i only hope that you and others identify, before it is too late who are the Gorbachevs and Yeltsins of WB and India are!! unless u do so, the day is not far when Buddhadebs of the world will liquidate the party and you will continue to adhere to the disciplines of a non-existent communist party....
With revolutionary greetings,
Your vicious attack on any initiative that is constructively critical of the CPI(M) (while acknowledging its achievements) clearly suggests that you believe that the Left's fortunes can only be resuscitated by the CPI(M) even with its humongous mistakes.
If all you say is so hunky-dory with the CPI(M), why is it in a state of decline for years now? Why is its representatives and leaders such as Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee unwilling to change their spots and insisting upon disastrous courses (SEZs, industrialisation with more land acquisition, etc) despite being shown their places time and again by the people? What form of Left unity do you think is possible if leaders like Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee continue to rule the roost in the CPI(M)?
Howmuchsoever the CPI(M) tries to stay true to its programme and its left credentials in other states and smaller units, its repeated condoning of the actions of its strong unit leadership - such as Bengal's - will only drag it down further. And when those who are tired of trying to fight it from within, strive to build left unity and praxis from outside the CPI(M) without the baggage of the right wing deviation and anti-people nonsense perpetrated by the likes of Bhattacharjee and his clique, they are derided by people like you.
Do introspect and think about it. The Left in India is in crisis- partly and mainly of its own making. And the CPI(M) cannot absolve itself of blame. Nonsensically parroting what your leaders tell you as defense of the CPI(M)'s many mistakes and deviations will certainly not help. Constructive criticism is the order of the day as much as appreciation of any other work/struggle that is not necessarily led by the CPI(M). The CPI(M) does not have a monopoly over the lives and activism of those committed to work on the Left in the country. Try understanding that.