Daya Varma


Sarju Pandey was a member of the Communist Party of India (CPI) and a peasant organizer in the eastern districts of Uttar Pradesh. The 1952 elections to state assemblies and the parliament were held while he was still in the Jaunpur District jail.  Sarju Pandey contested both the UP state Assembly and the parliamentary elections from his jail cell as a CPI candidate and won both. So did communists in other constituencies from UP, Punjab and elsewhere. Ravi Narayan Reddy, a prominent leader of the legendary Telangana peasant struggle, polled the highest number of votes in the country in the 1952 parliamentary elections, far more than Nehru; CPI became the official opposition in the Parliament.


The communists of India created history when in 1957 they formed the government in Kerala through democratic elections – the first anywhere in the world, and a feat never repeated anywhere outside India (this is the fiftieth year of the first ever elected communist government but none of the communist parties or groups seem eager to celebrate it). During the state elections in Punjab in the 1970s, CPI (Marxist) fielded 8 candidates and won them all.


That was then. What is the scenario now? For the very first time since elections have been held in India, no communist has been elected in either Punjab or in UP assemblies. The CPM publication People’s Democracy and the CPI publication New Age have matter-of-factly reported this downslide. They do not write what they are going to do about it, if anything at all. CPI (Marxist-Leninist)-Liberation fielded 18 candidates in the UP elections and quite a few in Punjab. They also did not win any seats but most likely did better this time than before. If so, it is a good sign. It is progress and not regression. The very fact that they could contest 18 seats in UP (eastern) from areas which used to be a stronghold of the communists is reassuring.


But there is a hard lesson to learn. A decline and especially a gradual decline in the influence of communists in UP, the most populous state of India and Punjab which used to have red villages is a matter of serious introspection for all serious communists, no matter by what name they are known. A decline in the influence of communists in Bihar, which at one time provided almost one-half of CPI’s membership, is also a matter of serious concern. It seems that communists have won and increased their influence in the course of leading people’s struggle on immediate issues – not diesel and petrol prices because those who consume petrol don’t vote for communists- but food clothing and shelter and against caste and police repression. It may be a good thing that CPI is organizing a march from Barrackpore, Bengal (where Mangal Pandey became the first martyr of the 1857 anti-British rebellion) to New Delhi, but such activities will not increase its influence any where even one bit. What will increase communist influence is a repeat of what they used to do in the past, integration with the masses and leading mass struggle. 


One can hope that communists would assess the source of their declining influence. India more than any other country has no anti-communist culture. So if people reject them in the only forum available, i.e., parliamentary elections, the fault lies with the communists, most of all in their disunity and insensitivity to the aspirations of the Indian people.         




Total number of the Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA): 403. Elections were held for 402 seats.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) led by Mayawati – 206 seats

Samajwadi Party (SP) led by the outgoing Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav – 97 seats

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led by Raj Nath Singh – 51 seats

Indian National Congress (INC) led by Sonia Gandhi’s son Rahul Gandhi- 22 seats

Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) led by Ajit Singh (son of former Prime Minister Charan Singh)- 10 seats

Independents                                     (16)

At least 24 of the 51 BJP seats are from urban areas.

Source: Government of India Website

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