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A Selective Reading

 A Selective Reading Prasenjit Bose This is in response to the editorial

DISCUSSION
A Selective Reading Prasenjit Bose power project in Maharashtra. The DPR unambiguously states: “The Party and the kisan and agricultural labour organisations should take the lead to fight for the rights of the peasants on land and to

T
his is in response to the editorial “CPI(M) in Crisis” (EPW, 11 February 2012). Releasing and publicising the draft political resolution (DPR) adopted by the central committee two months before the party congress is a provision enshrined in the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] constitution. We are thankful to the EPW for finding merit in this “transparency”. The editorial’s reading of the DPR is, however, highly selective which has led to misinterpretations and misguided criticisms.

The DPR puts forth a left and democratic platform as the only alternative to the bourgeois-landlord order represented by the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) (Para 2.135) which will emerge through movements and struggles against the present neo-liberal order. The DPR not only emphasises the “independent role and projection of the Left” and the “necessity of Left unity”, but goes on to state that “There are a number of Left-minded groups and individuals outside the Left parties who should be brought together on a platform on issues which the Left advocates. For this, the Party should take an initiative” (Para 2.146). The DPR also lays down a left and democratic programme (Para 2.148)

– which includes thoroughgoing land reforms, nationalisation of mining and natural resources, promotion of public sector, redistribution of wealth, etc – on the basis of which the CPI(M) seeks to mobilise the masses on an immediate basis and rally the “broadest democratic and secular forces”.

Rather than appreciating this focus on independent left mobilisation the EPW edit disparagingly remarks that the political line amounts to “desperately trying to stitch together alliances with right-wing, regional, caste-based outfits, all in the name of keeping ‘communal forces out of power’”. This is a gross misreading of the DPR.

The DPR talks about rallying non-Congress and non-BJP forces on the basis of a policy platform to help build the left and democratic alternative and not merely for short-term electoral purposes. The CPI(M) does not share the EPW editorial view that all non-Congress, non-BJP parties are merely “right-wing, regional, caste-based outfits”, who do not have any democratic potential. Such an ahistorical and holier-than-thou attitude would only isolate the left in national politics and aid the polarisation of the Indian polity into Congress- and BJP-led camps, which is so desperately desired by the ruling classes. The right-wing neo-liberal policies would then have a smooth sailing in Parliament.

Regional parties have their own share of problems. The CPI(M) and the left have criticised and fought against many of their policies and actions when they have been in power in the states. But these parties continue to be supported by a significant share of the electorate, who are against both Congress and BJP. Left tactics have to be shaped on the basis of ground realities and not wishful thinking.

The EPW edit berates the CPI(M)-led government in West Bengal for crushing “peasant resistance to the grabbing of their land” in Nandigram. The CPI(M) has repeatedly regretted the police firing in 2007, which led to tragic deaths. It needs to be reiterated, however, that not an inch of land was actually acquired in Nandigram. To argue that the CPI(M) has lost its credibility forever on that account is odd and rancorous.

EPW seems to be oblivious of the significant peasant struggles being waged by the All India Kisan Sabha since 2007 against forcible land acquisition across several states like Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Odhisha and Madhya Pradesh. CPI(M) has also been actively participating in the anti-land acquisition struggle against the Jaitapur nuclear

february 25, 2012

oppose any forcible land acqui sition” (Para 2.27). The DPR has also adopted a strong stand against the provisions of the proposed Land Acquisition and Rehabilitation Bill which seeks to facilitate land grab under the cover of addressing farmers’ concerns (Paras 2.28 and 2.29).

Besides, the Kisan Sabha is taking up other agrarian issues like lack of fair prices, subsidy cuts in fertilisers, hike in power tariffs, etc. There was a day-long agriculture strike in West Bengal in early January 2012 sponsored by left-wing peasant organisations against the crash of paddy and potato prices. Over 30 farmers have committed suicide in West Bengal since the TMC-led government has come to power in May 2011, because the crop procurement machinery has collapsed in the state. The debate on agrarian issues needs to move beyond Nandigram and focus on the current plight of the peasantry in West Bengal and elsewhere.

The EPW edit selectively quotes left i ntellectuals to deride the CPI(M). Their critical views have been studied by the party and some of their legitimate concerns are being addressed. However, CPI(M) rejects the prognosis of its “straying from the revolutionary road”. Neither does it think that the left intellectuals quoted by the editorial subscribe to that view. This is a prejudiced conclusion solely drawn by the EPW editorial.

The party has learnt from the recent experiences and reworked its approach based on a firm class outlook. The DPR for the 20th party congress embodies this fresh perspective in the form of a left and democratic alternative. CPI(M) is confident of realising that aim through a wave of struggles by the workers, p easants and other oppressed sections against the neo-liberal order in India. Comrade Jyoti Basu has taught us never to lose faith in the people.

Prasenjit Bose (boseprasenjit@gmail.com) is convenor of the CPI(M) research cell.

vol xlvii no 8

EPW
Economic & Political Weekly

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