In power, the CPM starts undoing what it preached while in the Opposition. Before its massive defeat in West Bengal, the Left Front had become the least Communist in character. If you want the Left to do good always, keep them in the Opposition. The defeat in Bengal and Tripura owes to the arrogance of the CPM and its leaders. They became heady with decades of power and trampled on the masses. Power changed their chemistry. Many Left leaders, with humble origins, metamorphosed once exposed to power, big money and flashy lifestyle. People hailing from affluent background do not exhibit the same greed as do those from deprived sections.
Former Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar remained wedded to his principles and led a Spartan life. But his colleagues? Once Bengal Communist leaders used to move around in lungis. I used to pull rickshaw on the streets of Kolkata and many top leaders even borrowed beedi from me. But later I saw them wallowing in wealth. Leaders who are rooted do not hanker after power. It is difficult for political workers engaged in fighting for rights of farmers, farmhands and factory labour to get tainted. Those with access to power have a hand in the pie. This happens across the political hierarchy.
People booted out the Left because of the widening gap between their practice and precept, between promise and delivery. Parties in different states enjoyed unbroken tenures by misusing election machinery. The CPM did this in Bengal. But once the TMC learnt the art, the Left faced defeat. Under the Left rule booths were captured, voters terrorised and voter lists rigged. Though the CPM talks about people’s struggle and people’s democratic revolution, it goes into a selective amnesia once elected.
Leaders who have risen to the top by devouring selected writings of great leaders and acquiring knowledge through theory books are more prone to un-Communist ways of life than those who remain with the masses. Those who live in AC rooms and step into AC vehicles do not feel like the poor. Such people are obsessed with comforts. To be honest and be a true Communist, one has to remain reconnected with the people and empathise with them. This is what Lenin said about “declassed” character. If those coming from other classes get declassed, they should hold on to this character. But what happens is just the opposite. This is why the party is decimated in many places.
The Left has no other go, but to nurse and nurture its core segment- the downtrodden and underprivileged. Shifting the focus to the aspirational class- the middle class- risks falling between two stools. The middle class is educated and intelligent, always looking for their personal betterment. Their class interests are different. While fighting for DA and salaries, they rarely think about unorganised workers who do more, but earn less. In Bengal at one point the Left took decisions like Nandigram and Singur, favouring capitalists, which were totally against the interests of the poor peasants. The last two years saw many CPM cadre becoming BJP sympathisers. They are no more active in politics because they want to protect whatever amassed during the Left rule. Those who never went to temples now turn to God, even in public. So you are today the very opposite of what you had preached.
Senior CPM leader Lakshman Seth who was the main accused in 2007 Nandigram violence and was defended by the party till the last crossed over to BJP two years ago. Though there are small Left parties and organisations that are principled and work with the masses, they occupy little space in Indian politics. They pay for the sins of the CPM and other Left parties. Communist parties may have been decimated across the globe, but exploitation of man by man continues. Maybe the Communist party’s nomenclature may change, the flag may not be red, but people will continue to struggle. People have fought for their rights before and after Marx.
The Indian Communists ignored the caste and focussed on class. The difference between India and other countries is that we have a highly discriminatory caste system. Communists should have adapted the teachings of Ambedkar and Periyar. Communists believed that economic uplift will emancipate people from the scourge of casteism. But that didn’t happen. The Left comprises workers and peasants, most of whom belong to lower castes. But most leaders are Brahmins or from upper caste. The middle class and upper caste leadership lacked commitment to fight the battle of the lower castes. Brahaminism was hiding somewhere inside the leaders, so when they came to the political sphere, the baggage of caste and other social vices weighed in. Religious rituals, ceremonies and pujas continued in their houses. They continued to invite Brahmins for marriages. If there is Brahmanvad inside you, you cannot hide it always. So for the common man, there was no visible difference between the lifestyle of BJP leaders and many Left leaders.
I believe only Communists can solve problems of the country, but only if you have true Communists. Workers, Dalits, Adivasis, minorities and women will have to assemble under a new Marxist-Ambedkarist phalanx. What do JNU Babus know what happens when land is snatched away from farmers? What Baba Saheb Ambedkar called as Dalits, Marx called proletariat. If RSS has become powerful today it is not that happened just in a day. They have been working relentlessly for nearly the last 100 years. What the Communists should have done, the RSS did. They went to villages, tribal areas, worked among different sections and connected with them. The RSS cadre are indoctrinated and prepared for the long haul.
I believe the RSS-BJP and Hindu supremacist rule is here to stay. You cannot remove Modi or RSS in a day. If you start working patiently to fight them ideologically and politically, may be in 20 years you will succeed. It is foolish to think you will checkmate BJP government in 2019 even with by rallying Mulayam, Mayawati, Mamata or other parties. I am not against CPM, but I am definitely sad about the state of the party today. It’s time Marxism-Ambedkarism joined hands.