By SITARAM YECHURY
EDITORIAL,6th March, 2011
THESE special issues on West Bengal (current issue) and Kerala (subsequent issue) come soon after the announcement of the election schedule for the state assemblies. This is our contribution and our call to all sections of the people to ensure the success of the Left Front in West Bengal, the Left and Democratic Front in Kerala and advance further the efforts to create a better India, not for a few as it is now happening but for all our people.
In West Bengal, the principal opponent seeking to defeat the seven term in office Left Front is the Trinamul Congress-Congress alliance. The Trinamul Congress, as repeatedly pointed out in these columns, is openly collaborating with the 'Maoists' in fomenting terror and violence as the means to achieve the objective of defeating the Left Front. As we go to press, this Trinamul-'Maoist' nexus has claimed the lives of nearly 400 Left Front workers since the 2009 May general elections. It is worse than being ironical that the Congress party which heads the government at the centre and the Trinamul which is a constituent of the ruling UPA should align with the 'Maoists' who openly declare war against the system of parliamentary democracy in India.
Further, the Trinamul Congress had been a member of the BJP-led NDA and its leader served as the minister of railways then as she is doing today under the UPA. Having left the NDA briefly to align with the Congress in the 2001 assembly elections, the Trinamul Congress rejoined the NDA and the BJP-led ministry soon after the communal carnage in Gujarat in 2002. Thus, it explicitly endorsed the BJP’s communal pogrom in Gujarat. The Congress party which claims to be the principal opponent of communalism has no compunctions in joining with the Trinamul whose hands are smeared, by association, with the blood of horrific communal riots.
While being a part of the NDA, the Trinamul Congress allowed the entry of the communal forces into Bengal and facilitated the victory of some BJP candidates to the parliament. Today, as part of the UPA, the Trinamul facilitates the entry and operation of the 'Maoists' in Bengal and collaborates with them in spreading terror and violence. Such is the company that the Congress party keeps. Such is the character of those who are seeking to defeat the Left Front by forging a grand alliance of all reactionary forces.
Through these issues, we seek not merely to expose the reactionary and regressive character of those who oppose us. It is not just for remaining in power or government that we are asking for ensuring the success of the Left Front in West Bengal and the LDF in Kerala. Defending the Left-led formations in West Bengal and Kerala is defending the vision that we articulated regarding the character of an independent India. The three visions of independent India that emerged during the freedom movement – the first envisioned the future of independent India as a secular democratic republic. The second, the Left vision, looked upon the future of India as not merely gaining political freedom from British colonialism, but consolidating the secular democratic republic by transforming the political independence gained by the country into the true economic independence of its entire people, that is, the establishment of socialism. The third vision in complete opposition to the above two, sought to define the character of the independent India on the basis of the religious denomination of its people. This had a twin expression – the RSS advocating its fascistic vision of a rabidly intolerant “Hindu Rashtra” and the Muslim League seeking the partition of the country to establish an Islamic republic. The ideological battle amongst these three visions, continues till date and the present-day political developments revolve around these parameters. West Bengal and Kerala are the outposts of the vision articulated by the Left and therefore, defending the governments in these states means defending the Left vision and importantly defending India, as we know of it today. This is the pre-condition to carry forward our battle for creating a better India.
The struggle for a linguistic reorganisation of the states under independent India spearheaded by the Communists – Vishalandhra followed by Aikya Kerala and Samyukta Maharashtra – laid the foundations for the political organisation of India. The militant and massive struggles of the peasantry led by the Communists brought the issue of land reforms and abolition of landlordism on to the agenda. This resulted in drawing the vast mass of rural India into India’s political democracy while economically empowering them. The decentralisation of power and deepening of democracy initiated by the Left strengthened the political institutions of democracy, thus, creating the India of today.
The governments in West Bengal and Kerala implemented a number of pro-people measures within the present system and projected an alternative trajectory to the bourgeois-landlord system in India. The radical land reforms in West Bengal resulted in the distribution of nearly 1.3 million acres of land among the landless. Even by a very modest estimation of the value of land distributed among the poor, nearly Rs 1,30,000 crores worth of wealth was transferred to the poor from the rich by the West Bengal government. The panchayati raj system in both the states has decentralised power and led to the deepening of democracy at the grassroots through the establishment and efficient functioning of democratic institutions of local self-governments. It was a full seventeen years after the establishment of a three-tier system of democratically elected bodies by the Left Front in West Bengal that the panchayati raj system was adopted for the country through the 73rd and 74th Constitutional amendments.
The Left has been the most steadfast in defending secularism and maintaining communal harmony. Apart from safeguarding the rights of the minorities, the Left Front government in West Bengal is the first in the country to implement the Ranganath Mishra Commission’s recommendations and is granting 10 per cent reservations to the Muslim OBCs.
The Left has been in the forefront of championing the rights of the people and their livelihood standards from being gravely eroded by the pursuit of neo-liberal economic policies by the central government. We consistently fought against the Indian ruling classes who are surrendering the interests of the Indian people and the country by seeking a strategic partnership with imperialism. We have also demonstrated by implementing various pro-people measures that even within the existing system, greater relief can be provided to the people and thereby exposed the exploitative character of the Indian ruling classes. Because of all these factors, the Indian ruling classes have mounted a concerted offensive against the CPI(M), in its strongest bastions, in order to weaken the resistance to their unbridled loot through the neo-liberal economic trajectory.
The Left is committed to a path of strengthening democracy and advancing development in an atmosphere of peace in West Bengal. It is precisely these objectives that the Trinamul-'Maoist' nexus is undermining in its urge to capture power at any cost. The CPI(M) led Left Front is determined to safeguard the advances made by the people of Bengal and to politically isolate and defeat this reactionary combination of anarchic forces. It is through a prolonged struggle against such very forces in the 1970s where over 1400 CPI(M) comrades were martyred and over 22,000 Party families had to be relocated that the Left Front emerged victorious in 1977 and continued to serve the people and deepen democracy while maintaining peace and advancing development.
The defence of the Left Front government in West Bengal is, therefore, an important pre-requisite in our struggle to create a better India for our people.
(March 2, 2011)