(An appeal issued by Dipankar Bhattacharya, General Secretary, CPIML Liberation.)
THE Modi government has returned to power. The facts that were suppressed till the elections ended, are now officially recognised by the Government. We now know how India’s GDP growth rate has really fallen, and how unemployment is the worst in five decades. We now know that after the Balakot operation, Indian Air Force helicopter that crashed at Budgam killing six IAF officers and a civilian was actually shot down by Indian Air Force missiles.
We also know that with Modi's return to power, new policy announcements have begun. The Niti Aayog has recommended that nearly 50 Public Sector Units (PSUs) will be closed or handed over to the private sector, and labour laws will be rewritten to curtail the rights of workers. The railways are planning to hand over lucrative railway routes to the Adani-Ambani corporate club. The draft New Education Policy says that Hindi will be imposed in each of the non-Hindi speaking states. And the government is also bent upon changing the electoral system to subvert democracy and federalism and enforce simultaneous elections on all levels in the name of 'One Nation, One Election'.
In this situation, we leftist activists must again hit the streets without a moment’s delay. We certainly cannot - and will not - hand over our democracy, our country’s federal system, our right to survival to the Modi government or any other government.
In West Bengal another urgent question confronts us today. The socio-cultural climate and the political complexion of the state are changing rapidly. The BJP, which is attacking people’s unity, peace, and the right to survival with dignity all over the country, is trying to hoodwink the people of West Bengal by posing as crusaders fighting for the restoration of democracy in the state.
The Bengal of Chaitanya and Lalan Fakir, the Bengal of Rammohan and Vidyasagar, the Bengal of Rabindranath and Nazrul, the Bengal of Surya Sen, Bagha Jatin and Subhash Chandra Bose is faced today with a huge crisis, an all-out attack on its society, culture and politics.
When Amit Shah’s roadshow rampaged on Kolkata streets, breaking the statue of Vidyasagar, we could clearly see the face of that crisis. After the elections, this new face of political terrorism and its dance of destruction becomes increasingly visible every day. People of Assam and Tripura have already been seeing this face for a considerable while now. In the name of NRC and Citizenship Amendment Bill, lakhs of people in Assam stand threatened with the loss of their citizenship. In the elections this year, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah sowed the same seeds in West Bengal. Yet, the BJP has emerged as the second largest force in West Bengal in this year's election, and this is a matter of deep concern for us.
It is even more shameful for us that while the BJP’s vote share increased by about 24 percent in the state, the Left's vote share fell by almost 23 percent, and the lion’s share of the votes that moved away from the Left, went over to the BJP. Today the biggest right-wing and anti-democratic force is out to usurp the left-wing mass-base, painstakingly created bit by bit from the time of the tebhaga and food movements, through the sacrifice of countless martyrs and the untiring efforts and struggle of millions of people.
Siddhartha Shankar Ray’s police could not suppress the left; the left came onto the streets and raised their voice over and over against the misrule and terror of the Trinamool era, but today a big section of the same left is directionless in the face of the BJP’s campaign of lies and venomous communal hatred.
Left politics in West Bengal and India never before faced such a grave crisis of direction. Some left-wing friends say, how else to deal with Trinamool misrule? We can fight the BJP later, right now let's use BJP to get rid of Trinamool: this is using a thorn to pull out a thorn. But if we look at the situation with a cool head and open eyes, we can see that it’s the BJP which is actually using a thorn to remove a thorn.
The BJP has gathered around itself well-known groups of corrupt and criminal gangsters, many of whom were with the TMC till yesterday, and is desperate to capture power using their services. How can this model - of defection, forcible capture of party offices, forcible capture of students' and workers’ unions - offer any chance of restoring democracy?
The Leftist consciousness and conscience of Bengal certainly will not capitulate in the face of this crisis; it will not let itself get hijacked by the right-wing. Friends who are saying, ‘use a thorn to pull out a thorn’, may we ask you to take a closer look at yourselves? In the name of using a thorn to pull out a thorn, are you not bruising yourselves with the same thorn? This isn’t a strategy of survival, it's just committing political suicide. West Bengal which once strengthened the left and democratic camp of the whole country is now warning the Left about the ominous threat of political suicide.
We Leftists tell the debt-ridden farmers, don’t commit suicide, come, let us fight. We tell the workers of closed factories who have lost their jobs, the jobless youth, the women facing violence - do not break under the strain, we are with you. Today, we need to remember and apply the same message to the Left movement. It does not befit the Left to abandon its principles, surrender and commit suicide. To be Left is to stand one’s ground and keep fighting. To be Left is to stubbornly go on fighting till the very end. And history tells us that those who fight it out till the end are the ones who emerge victorious.
We appeal to those Leftist friends who made a blunder in the elections this time - please realise your blunder and correct it. Come back to the Left path. And to those Leftist friends who stood firm against this danger, to them we say: Comrade, hold onto the Left flag even more firmly!
Leftists of our CPIML stream have held our ground in West Bengal - fighting many battles, making many mistakes in the course of those struggles, and suffering many setbacks. In the midst of the last Parliamentary elections, we entered our party’s 50th year. This same year is also the birth centenary year of our party’s founding General Secretary Comrade Charu Mazumdar.
In his last article, Comrade Charu Mazumdar, writing at the height of the Siddhartha-era terror, asked CPIML activists to concentrate on forging a broader left-democratic unity. He reminded us that the interests of the people were paramount for the Communist Party, asked us to cling to the people and overcome the setbacks, and inspired us to seek out the light even in the midst of deep darkness.
Today after 50 years, in very different circumstances, the Leftists again find themselves at another such critical juncture. We must abandon this path of misleadingly ‘clever’ notions of using thorns to remove thorns, this path of surrender and suicide - and must once again strengthen the Left alternative. For that, we need to have the courage to learn from past mistakes and the firm determination to face the present challenges. Our fervent appeal to all Left activists and democratic, progressive people - do not allow the BJP’s poisonous tree to take root and grow in Bengal’s soil.
Progressive and rationalist currents have grown strong in Bengal’s soil, Bengal’s waters, Bengal’s climate - do not allow it to be endangered. “Humanity is above all” - this saying (of the 15th century Bengali poet Chandidas) has had a place in Bengal’s heart for many centuries. In that land of humanity, do not allow plunder, communal division, hatred, and hooliganism to find refuge.
The entire country’s democracy is today in peril in BJP’s hands. The Constitution is in peril, as is the rule of law. These forces were busy collaborating with the British rule and spreading communal hatred at the height of the freedom struggle; and today they are pushing back against the hard-won rights and freedoms of women, and Dalits and adivasis. Corporate agents and merchants of communal division and hatred want to grab power, making use of the aspirations of West Bengal’s deprived and oppressed people for democracy and development. Today the thuggish brigades of RSS, BJP and Bajrang Dal are stalking Bengal’s soil - bastion of the freedom struggle, the heart and soul of knowledge and science, art and literature, debate, rationality and free thought. What gifts can such forces offer West Bengal, except even worse disaster?
Trinamool misrule and Mamata Banerjee’s autocratic model is certainly making it easier for the BJP to make inroads in the state. It is the duty of all on the Left to raise and strengthen the wall of social, cultural and political resistance to the growing threat of the BJP and the trauma of the TMC misrule, and to once again present the Left alternative before the people of Bengal. Come, let us rise up to achieve this goal and show the whole country what poet Sukanta had proclaimed in his unforgettable words, “Bengal’s soil cannot be conquered.”