Vinod Mubayi

After disappointing performances in the past several years, the recently concluded state elections in Bihar provided a partial resurgence of the Left led by the CPI(ML) Liberation group that won 12 of the 19 seats it was allotted by the Mahagathbandhan (Grand Coalition or MGB) of the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Congress, and the Left.

CPI and CPM were able to win 2 seats each so the Left has a total of 16 seats in the Bihar assembly, its best performance in any state since the last Kerala election almost 5 years ago. While the BJP-JDU NDA coalition was able to eke out a narrow victory, Bihar has shown the possibilities of further advance on the broad agenda of the Left: support for democratic rights of the people and justice for all, secure employment and jobs for the youth and the poor and marginalized sections, good healthcare and education, defense of the rights of farmers and the working people, and an end to the communal polarization and fascist policies of the BJP, the leading party in the NDA.

The most important lesson, perhaps, is the need for political unity of opposition parties in electoral combat with the BJP. Given the money and media power in the hands of the BJP and the ubiquitous presence of the RSS combined with the first-past-the-post electoral system it is vital that opposition votes should not be divided. One can recall what happened in the 2017 UP election where Mayawati-BSP refused to join Congress-Samajwadi combine. Another lesson, especially in this time of the pandemic, is the importance of a focus on job creation, a slogan highlighted by the young RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav and the Left that almost carried the MGB to victory in Bihar. Modi’s economics is focused on the Adani-Ambani corporate sector who interest in job creation is tepid if not absent.

In this context, Dipankar Bhattacharya of Liberation has sensibly stressed for unity of the entire secular opposition on what he termed the Ambedkar-Bhagat Singh path to defeat Hindutva fascism, in other words upholding the constitution and the rule of law along with the rights of Dalits associated with Ambedkar combined with the secular, socialist, revolutionary spirit of Bhagat Singh to combat BJP/RSS. This emphasis on unity is important in the context of the looming West Bengal election next year where the need to defeat BJP is paramount. CPM, which ruled West Bengal for 34 years, was decisively ousted by the Trinamool Congress in 2011 and has seen its fortunes sink lower with each successive election. It is an empirical fact that its cadres have faced unending assaults from the mastaans of the TMC and many of them have migrated to the BJP, which is now threatening to come to power in the state. Sitaram Yechury of CPM has stated that in Bengal CPM which has formed an alliance with Congress will constitute a third front to fight both TMC and BJP. From the standpoint of risk this appears to be a quixotic strategy. If averting a Hindu rashtra is the basic objective of a secular, democratic party defeating BJP politically in every state, including West Bengal, should be the main task and the Left forces should act in consonance with that logic no matter how onerous or difficult it may be in specific areas or situations.

CPIL(ML) Liberation has issued an appeal to the entire Left and pro-democratic forces in the country “to intensify the battle against the Modi government’s disastrous pro-corporate anti-people policies and the BJP’s divisive hate-filled politics of communal polarization and fascist intimidation.” This appeal deserves to be heeded in Bengal and elsewhere.

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