Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Historic Legacy of the Left Front Government

By Prakash Karat

When the Left Front government headed by Comrade Jyoti Basu was sworn into office on June 21, 1977, no one had expected or known that history would be made by this government. If any one had predicted that the Left Front would continue to rule for more than 30 years, there would have been none to believe such a claim. Yet, this is what the Left Front government accomplished. It lasted for 34 years without a break. This, in itself, is a unique record.

The Left Front won the elections in 1977 after a prolonged period of struggles and repression of the Left. The 1972 Assembly elections were falsified and rigged by the Congress with the help of the police and the administration. Between 1971 and 1977, a reign of semi-fascist terror prevailed during which 1,400 members and supporters of the CPI (M) and the Left were killed. The country as a whole came under Emergency imposed by the Indira Gandhi government during which democratic rights were suppressed.

The repression on the CPI (M) and the Left was unleashed because of the militant struggles of the peasantry for land and the rising tide of movements of the working people. The CPI (M) and the Left Front won a big victory as the people swept away the hated Congress regime and voted wholeheartedly for the Left Front’s programme and policies.

This wave in favour of the Left Front still does not account for the longevity of the Left Front government for more than three decades. The Left Front won seven successive elections getting on each occasion two-thirds of the seats in the Assembly. This is a remarkable record of popular support and endorsement. Under the Left Front government, land reforms were implemented which benefited millions of peasants and bargadars; for the first time, panchayats were made into popular institutions with the participation of those who belong to the dispossessed rural classes; the rights of the working class and the working people were assured.

All these gave a new dignity and confidence to the working people. Left Front rule also began the fight back against the economic backwardness which had been imposed on West Bengal and Eastern India – a legacy of both colonial rule and the uneven nature of capitalist development in independent India. The Left Front showed in practice what secularism means in essence and spirit. West Bengal became a bastion of communal harmony. All these were achieved despite the serious limitations of running a state government within a system controlled by the big bourgeoisie and the landlords. Despite the fact that a state government has limited powers and State power rests with the Central government, the Left Front government had major achievements in the spheres like agriculture which is a state subject.

Further, the Left Front government was always under threat from the domestic and external reactionary forces. The Purulia arms drop of 1996 illustrates to what extent they could go to undermine the Left Front government. The Left Front government faced the hostility of successive governments at the Centre with a few exceptions. It survived and continued only because of the unstinted support to the people of West Bengal and the democratic consciousness which grew in the rest of the country which would not have tolerated any attempt to topple the Left Front government undemocratically.

After the defeat in the May 2011 Assembly elections, a concerted effort is being made to negate the achievements of the Left Front government in the past three decades. The electoral defeat is being interpreted as the people’s rejection of all that has been accomplished by the Left Front government. This is a motivated attack by the ideological and political opponents of the Left. It is necessary for them to paint the Left Front rule in dark colours if they are to try and reverse the gains made by the people. After the euphoria of the victory of the TMC led combine, efforts will be made to undo the gains of land reforms. The old dominant classes will try to reassert. With the Congress-TMC coalition at the Centre following neo-liberal policies, in West Bengal, behind the cloak of populism, efforts will be made to push through measures which will affect the livelihood of the people and erode their rights.

The present wave of violence unleashed against the CPI (M) and the Left Front in order to weaken it is a prelude to what can be expected to follow. The class forces which represent the TMC combine are making a systematic effort to kill, maim, intimidate and destroy the organisational framework that is the basis for the toiling people of West Bengal to struggle and assert their rights.

The gains made by the working people – the peasants, the bargadars, the agricultural workers, the working class and the lower middle classes – under Left Front rule have to be defended. It will not be easy for the ruling classes to rollback the land reforms and other gains as the past experience of Kerala shows. The struggles of the working class and other sections of the working people to defend their rights and livelihood, for democratic rights and to fight back the anti-people neo-liberal policies will constitute the next chapter in the history of the Left Front in West Bengal.

While organising the working people, advancing the class struggle and defending democracy, the historic legacy of the Left Front governments will always be a bulwark of support. Those who have written off the Left Front and declared its obituary will be proved wrong.


21st June, 2011


freemang2001 said...


freemang2001 said...

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