Vinod Mubayi


Defying all projections of a hung parliament and a multitude of names as potential Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh has become the Prime Minister of India for a second term. Fortunately, BJP and, unfortunately, the Left, especially CPM suffered a decline in their representation.  The Third Front floated by the Left really came third, managing to get measly 70-odd seats. The dedicated cadres of the left parties constitute the strongest and most steadfast bulwark against the danger of right-wing Hindu communalism; they have to take some resolute steps to change the course taken by the present leadership of CPM.



Throughout the campaign for the 2009 elections in India, the pollsters and pundits repeated ad nauseam their predictions of a “Hung Parliament.”  Columnists of all hues and persuasions speculated at length about the various permutations and combinations that could emerge after the votes were counted; all nevertheless were at one in confidently proclaiming that the real business of the elections, viz. formation of the government, would begin only when the horse trading began after the results were in.  Scenarios were put forward under which Mayawati, or Sharad Pawar, or even Narendra Modi, among a host of other notable wannabees, could become the Prime Minister.  Now it looks as if these pollsters and pundits were only talking among themselves not to the voters.  Just like in 2004 when the “Shining India” slogan bit the dust when the results were declared.


In relative terms, given the history of the last quarter century, Congress’s gain of 61 seats (from 145 to 206) must be looked at as a comprehensive mandate.  BJP’s loss of 22 seats (138 to 116) indicates that the shrill Hindutva rhetoric is losing its appeal as an electoral tactic.  Even in the BIMARU states, its original stronghold, BJP was trounced in Rajasthan and failed to increase its tally in UP or Bihar, managing to hold its own only in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.


The Left, however, suffered the sharpest decline.  CPM lost 27 seats (43 to 16), mostly in its bastions West Bengal and Kerala, while the smaller CPI lost 6 seats (10 to 4).  Counting in the smaller Left formations, RSP and AIFB, the Left, which occupied the third largest position in the previous Parliament, is now down to a mere 24 seats from the 61 seats it occupied in the previous Parliament.  Of course the Left, by its own volition, is part of the so-called Third Front, that occupies a total of 70-odd seats, but with such sterling allies as BJD, TDP, AIADMK, and BSP, the Left could soon be asking itself “with friends like these who needs enemies?”


The left was in an important position following the 2004 elections. A CPM Member of Parliament was given the honor of becoming the Speaker. Left intellectuals had important input in the Common Minimum Program, that established one of the best measures the UPA regime could take credit for: the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act or NREGA, which provides for a minimum 100 days of paid work for the rural poor, a crucial safety net in a country that has no social security of any kind for the masses.


The leadership of the CPM, however, the largest single party of the left, launched what in retrospect can only be termed politely as a strangely inconsistent set of policies.  At the national level, they attacked the Congress and in particular Prime Minister Manmohan Singh from the left on the Indo-US nuclear deal, blasting him and the government with the shrill rhetoric on U.S. imperialism some leftists excel in when they have little of substance to offer.  At the state level, however, where they were in power like in West Bengal, they were trying to induce the multinationals to invest in large industrial projects to increase employment and getting attacked from all points of the political spectrum for ignoring the rights of peasants who would lose their land to industry. 


The CPM leadership reached its nadir last year when the party joined hands with the right-fascist crowd in Parliament to try to defeat the UPA government on the nuclear deal with the U.S.  When the Speaker, who is obligated to be above party by virtue of his position, opposed some of the CPM’s diktats he was unceremoniously expelled from the party, despite being one of its most senior and respected members.  Defeated in their attempt to unseat the UPA regime, the CPM leadership lurched into a completely unprincipled, nonsensical coalition called the Third Front.  Most of the allies in this coalition had been in the bed with BJP only a short while earlier and had left the NDA for purely opportunistic reasons.  On what principle could the left ally with the darling of the multinationals, cyberbabu Chandrababu Naidu, while castigating Manmohan Singh day in and day out?  The voters saw through this charade and delivered the left a stinging rebuke.


INSAF Bulletin has maintained for a long time that the main danger to democratic India’s progress is right-wing Hindu communalism led by the various arms of the Sangh Parivar.  The hundreds of thousands of the dedicated, selfless, and hard working cadres of the left parties constitute the strongest and most steadfast bulwark against this danger.  If inner party democracy has to have any substantive meaning beyond mere rhetoric, this cadre has to take some resolute steps to change the leadership and direct the course of the left away from such foolish ventures as the Third Front.


Indeed the left has to stand for something positive beyond anti-Congressism and anti-BJPism.  Communal politics is not going to be combated by hobnobbing or making electoral alliances with Jayalalithaa, Mayawati, or Naveen Patnaik.  Patient long-term cultural and educational work among the rural and urban masses is one of the most urgent needs in this regard, beginning with primary education, and inculcating a respect for India’s composite character and culture from an early age.  The grassroots efforts by the RSS over the last several decades in establishing the Ekal Vidyalayas has played an important role in spreading the communal virus to areas formerly untouched by communal propaganda.  Left cadres and cultural-educational outreach groups have a very important role to play in countering this insidious and poisonous propaganda.


It is gratifying that the voters rejected NDA and communal politics and chose UPA to lead the country under the leadership of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.  In its previous term, UPA instituted the Sachar committee to investigate the role of minorities in national life.  This was a praiseworthy step but the report of the Sachar committee must not be allowed to languish on the shelves; now that the government has a stable majority its recommendations must be implemented in a timely fashion.  Justice also must be done to the victims of the Gujarat pogrom by providing all needed support to ensure the prompt and efficient functioning of the Special Investigation Teams appointed by the Supreme Court.

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