After the recent failures, can the Left resurrect?

After the recent failures, can the Left resurrect?

After the recent failures, can the Left resurrect?

Recent weeks have been exciting for Left supporters across the world for they witnessed a decisive win of the radical Left in Greece elections. Though this has not been an isolated case of the Left resurrection in Europe, the circumstances in which the Left has won the polls have been important. The radical Left coalition-Syriza won in a situation when the country is in deep economic crisis and a confused atmosphere is prevailing all around. Over a half dozen nations in Europe have seen revival of the Left and they include countries like Spain and Portugal.

A comparable rise and a more sustainable one, has already been witnessed in Latin and Central America. Venezuela has been the remarkable case where Hugo Chavez not only led the country to the Left but inspired the whole of South America. The revival of the Left in Europe and Latin America has put to rest the debate which was initiated after the collapse of Soviet Union that Marxism hardly has any future. It must have also silenced those who had written the obituary of Communism as a creed for human emancipation.

However, the Left in India is still in the grip of a nervousness which had overpowered the communist movement across the globe since the collapse of the first communist state. Both the big communist parties of India – CPM and CPI – are preparing for their party congresses and have just come out with their respective draft political resolutions. 

The CPI, the oldest communist party of the country, acknowledges the crisis with all honesty and says, “The Left is facing the biggest challenge in its history. At a time when secular politics also suffered a setback with the semi-collapse of Congress, the takeover of the country by the Right in the shape of the BJP and the pathetic performance of the Left have disappointed the people, particularly the Left following. They feel helpless.” The party also talks of introspection: “The crisis of the Left is not a sudden and new phenomenon. It has several reasons which are to be analysed deeply with proper introspection.”

The CPI has candidly accepted that the number of Left parties has increased; the Left influence has gone down. The party has pointed out how the percentage of votes secured by Left parties has reduced to 4.5 in 2014 from 9.5 per cent in 1952.

Shrinking base

Both the parties have also acknowledged how their presence has shrunk countrywide. Though the CPM hardly accepts its failure, it points to the shrinking base of the Left in West Bengal, an alarming situation in the state for the party. The CPM is fast losing its ground there and is hardly showing any signs of recovery. The party has considerably lost its base among all the classes including the peasantry and is unable to gather them again in the party fold. It can only be termed as an irony that the party is losing to the Trinamool Congress which is a one-woman party and runs without much ideology or programme. The emergence of the right wing BJP should be more alarming for the party.

Why could the Indian Left not manage a resurrection? Was it a failure in practising the ideology? One can say that the Left practises the classical form of Marxism and adheres to the old ways of analysing class relations. It responds accordingly to the crisis of capitalism. Despite the fact that the party or its leaders have shown less of opportunism – a trademark of most of the political parties including the BJP and the Congress – it could not gain popularity. Nobody can deny that new economic policies have not been able to remove the problems of the common people and people were fed up of inflation and price rise. This could be the reason why people have been voting out parties in power every five or 10 years with few exceptions.

It is also true that masses gather to bring about change in the system. In 1974, people gathered around Jayaprakash Narayan, in 1989 around VP Singh and in 2012 around Anna Hazare. However, the Left failed to catch the imagination of the people at all these times and also could not take advantage of the upsurges. Its failure becomes more evident when we saw it unable to mobilise people against the Congress under Manmohan Singh upon which corruption charges mounted, and failed to deliver any good to the people despite a better economic growth. That the right-wing BJP which was rejected by the people in 2004, became successful and grabbed the opportunity is significant in more than one way.  The Left not only failed in mobilising the people, but also lost its own base.

A close examination of the process the Left parties have undergone in rest of the world – Europe and Latin America – only shows that they could successfully forge a coalition of radical elements of the society. The recent case is the Syriza in Greece which is a coalition of social democrats, Left-wing populist and green Left groups, as well as Maoist, Trotskyist and eurocommunists. Both the communist parties in India talk of coalition of the Left and democratic process in their draft resolutions; but they hardly give any programme for it. The CPM talks more of its independent growth than about the proposed alliance of radical forces.

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