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Shoals of history

Shoals of history

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: June 19, 2000

History has its treacherous shoals and none should know this better than Marxists who premise their praxis on what they regard as its inexorable unfolding.

They are a demoralised lot after the disintegration of the former Soviet Union, the rejection of Marxism by Eastern Europe and China s lurch towards a market economy. And it now seems that what some in this country considered to be one of the last bastions of this beleaguered ideology, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), is facing a decline. The party, the principal constituent of the coalition governments ruling the states of West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura recently suffered a major setback in the defeat of the Left Front candidate, Mr Gurudas Dasgupta, at the hands of his rival from Trinamool Congress, Mr Bikram Sarkar, in the Lok Sabha by-election in Panskura, West Bengal.

Immediately in its wake, it suffered further embarrassment when West Bengal's Transport Minister, Mr Subhash Chakravorti, once again plunged into what seems to have become his favourite pastime cocking a snook at the party s leadership in the State and accused the West Bengal and the Central Governments of having done nothing for daily wage workers in the unorganised sector. When the secretary of the CPI(M) s West Bengal State Committee, Mr Anil Biswas, retorted that Mr Chakravorti could resign if he wished to, the latter defiantly dismissed the suggestion.

It is not in West Bengal alone that the CPI(M) is passing through squally weather. In Tripura, continuing tribal insurgency has cast a shadow over its Government, while in Kerala it is having problems with two of its coalition partners, the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) over the forthcoming elections to the Rajya Sabha. Of course, it alone cannot be blamed for the insurgency in Tripura which predates its Government. Local circumstances and personal factors have complicated things in Kerala. In West Bengal, it would have been a miracle if 23 long years in office had not dented its popularity. But then, the fact also remains that 75 years after the formation of the undivided CPI from which it is descended and 37 years after its emergence as a separate party, the CPI(M) has not been able to extend its influence in a significant way beyond West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura. In fact, thanks to its policy of playing second fiddle to the Mandalite forces in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, it has lost much of the following it had built up in these states.

In fact, playing second fiddle has almost been the second nature of Communists. They have always followed either the Chinese or the Russian line and have never been able to evolve an independent ideological position in tune with Indian realities. There has been no Indian Togliatti, Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping or Ho Chih Minh. Hence, instead of being able to give a new ideological approach to Communists in India and the world as the crisis in the international Communist movement unfolded, they have been plunged into confusion which has lent sterility to their politics. It is now undermining their principal political asset organisational strength whose instrumental use largely accounts for their success so far.

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