Indian left takes steps towards realignment
By Dipankar Bhattacharya
Four fighting organisations of the Indian left - Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, Communist Party Marxist (Punjab), Lal Nishan Party (Leninist) of Maharashtra and Left Coordination Committee (Kerala) - formed an All-India Left Coordination (AILC) through a joint convention held in New Delhi on August 11.
The convention adopted a Delhi Declaration with a 12-point agenda that will serve as a guideline for coordinated action and intervention by the four organisations in the coming days. In its declaration, the AILC rejected both class collaboration/parliamentary cretinism and left adventurism/anarcho-militarism and resolved to strengthen the left movement by all means while exploring opportunities for broader left unity and cooperation with democratic forces. As its first all-India action, the AILC called for observing August 20 as a National Day of Solidarity with the People of Kashmir and Protest against State Repression.
The AILC was not formed overnight. It was the product of years of cooperation and shared quest for a united platform to radicalise and rejuvenate the left movement in the country. The CPI(ML) (Liberation) and LNP(L) have worked together for nearly two decades. Ever since the Communist Party of India (Marxist) split in Punjab in 2000, leading to the formation of CPM Punjab, the CPI(ML) and CPM Punjab have had close ties of cooperation. The LCC (Kerala) came into existence only recently, but it was preceded by years of ideological struggle inside the CPI(M), and ever since it started taking shape as an independent organisation, it has evinced keen interest in becoming part of an all-India realignment and radicalisation of the left.
This united move surely marks a first step towards fulfilling a long-felt need. For much of the last three decades, the CPI(M) and CPI had virtually monopolised the left space in the dominant media and naturally also in the public perception. The CPI had a bigger presence than the CPI(M) in the Hindi belt, while the CPI(M) dominated the show in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura.
Over the last few years, the CPI has been reduced to a pale shadow of its past in the Hindi belt, and now increasingly the CPI(M) is facing a similar situation in West Bengal and Kerala. This marks both an opportunity and a challenge for all sincere and radical forces of the left to step up their role and dispel all notions of a “terminal crisis” and “irrelevance” of the left in India. The AILC has its role cut out in this context.
The other significant feature regarding AILC is that it is not yet another proverbial case of “birds of a feather flocking together”. Neither is it an attempt at unity of ML forces nor a case of erstwhile CPI(M) forces reuniting. Rather it is a case of historically diverse and also to an extent geographically separated streams of the left seeking a common all-India ground in today’s critical situation. A closer look at the constituents of the AILC will bring out this important aspect.
For example, the LNP(L) of Maharashtra branched out of the CPI in the 1940s questioning the CPI’s 1942 line, played an active and important role in subsequent years in many worker/peasant/general democratic movements in Maharashtra right from the Sanyukta Maharashtra Movement [demanding the creation of a separate Marathi-speaking state] to the historic textile strike of the 1980s, and moved away again in the late 1980s from the parent Lal Nishan Party’s increasingly pro-Congress reformist stance to reiterate its Leninist moorings. This is what paved the way for close cooperation between the LNP(L) and the CPI(ML)(Liberation).
The CPI(ML) too has evolved in two different directions, while CPI(ML)(Liberation) has emerged as an all-India revolutionary communist party rooted in militant mass struggles, the PWG [People’s War Group] of Andhra Pradesh has moved away from the CPI(ML) stream to acquire a “Maoist” identity by merging with the Maoist Communist Centre. As far as the CPI(M) is concerned, in the later 1970s, it had benefited considerably from the first phase of the CPI(ML) movement when the CPI(ML) base in many areas had returned to the CPI(M) and in states like West Bengal and Kerala, it was the CPI(M) which succeeded in appropriating much of the impact of the CPI(ML)-led struggles and the people’s desire for democracy following the dark years of semi-fascist terror of the Congress.
Yet the CPI(M) promoted a hostile attitude to the CPI(ML) and tried to suppress every voice of ideological dissent within the party as a sign of “Naxalism”. The CPI(ML) on the other hand always stressed left unity on the basis of independent assertion, and today, left forces coming out of the CPI(M) find a warm welcome from the CPI(ML) precisely on this common ground.
As noted in the Delhi Declaration, the AILC marks only a modest beginning. As of now, it is just a platform of coordination with a shared approach and understanding on the most urgent issues of the day. But as representatives of all the four organisations remarked in the convention, it is a modest first step, which, nurtured properly, may well grow into an important long march; a small beginning hinting at great possibilities of realignment and radicalisation of the Indian left. Let us carry it forward in this desired direction.
[Dipankar Bhattacharya is the general secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation. Further information is available on the internet from the website of Liberation, the party’s newspaper. You can read a report on the joint convention and the text of the Delhi Declaration at the CPI(ML)(Liberation) website.]