The results of the elections to the assemblies of West Bengal, Tamilnadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry have come in. These elections took place against a background of growing anger and resentment amongst the workers, peasants, tribal people, progressive intelligentsia and other working people, about the worsening conditions of life. Growing insecurity of livelihood, attacks on the rights of workers, the forcible seizure of peasants and tribal lands by governments to enrich Indian and foreign multinationals, growing corruption and the scandalous loot of public money by politicians and big capitalists, together with the unleashing of state terrorism to crush the resistance struggles of the people, have led to protests and agitations all over the country.
We communists look at the elections and their outcome from the standpoint of the working class and toiling masses. What was the program that the ruling class, the big bourgeoisie, put before the people? The bourgeoisie put forth the program of globalization through liberalization and privatization. This is a program to further enrich the biggest capitalists and enable them to become world class players through intensified exploitation of the labour and resources of our people. This is a program that is put forth through various rival parties and coalitions with different alluring names and slogans, as well as through the biggest media houses. Through these different political parties and media, the bourgeoisie pushes through this program as the only possible program.
We communists openly contested this program and agenda of the bourgeoisie. In opposition to the program of the bourgeoisie, we put forth the program of the working class, to reconstitute the Indian Union and democracy, so that the workers and peasants of all nations, nationalities and peoples become the rulers of India, armed with the power to decide their own destiny. We exposed how the system of multi party representative democracy ensures that the bourgeoisie continues to rule and impose its agenda on the working masses, independent of which party or coalition comes to power. We put forth the alternative program as well as the alternative mechanisms by which the workers, peasants and all working people can be in power, and called on all those wanting the empowerment of the people to do the same, particularly those who consider themselves communists. From the perspective of the struggle against the bourgeoisie's program, we exposed and opposed the class conciliatory line of the CPM. We pointed out how the CPM and its Left Front were facilitating the program of the bourgeoisie against the working class.
Thousands of people in different parts of India were made aware of this program through the activities of our comrades during the course of the election campaign.
Bourgeoisie uses the people’s anger to carry out a change of guard
What did the elections show? The bourgeoisie has once again manipulated the discontent of the working masses to replace those governments which had become very discredited, with another set of parties and coalitions that will continue to implement its program under different slogans. The bourgeoisie’s program that was already being implemented by the Left Front government of West Bengal, the Left and Democratic Front in Kerala, the DMK government in Tamilnadu, and the Congress governments in Assam and Puducherry, will now be implemented by the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, the AIADMK in Tamilnadu and Puducherry, and the Congress Party in Kerala and Assam.
While implementing the program of the bourgeoisie, these new governments will claim that they "have the mandate of the people" to do so. In fact, they have the mandate of the ruling bourgeoisie, and not the mandate of the people. Within this system of multi party representative democracy, the workers and peasants have no choice other than to vote one or the other party or coalition of the ruling class to power. Once their votes are cast, the people have no say in what the new government does or over the elected representatives. The bourgeoisie carries out massive manipulation of public opinion through rival parties serving its interests as well as through the media it controls, to determine the outcome of the elections. However, the bourgeoisie covers this up and propagates the lie that "people have decided the outcome of elections".
The bourgeoisie is assisted in this by parties like the CPI and CPM, who also give credence to this same propaganda. These parties carry out the propaganda of the bourgeoisie by targeting, not the system, but this or that party or coalition as the "greater evil", while doing propaganda for some allegedly "lesser evil". In these elections, the CPI and CPM promoted the AIADMK coalition of which it was a part in Tamilnadu. These parties neither exposed the system of multi party parliamentary democracy, nor put forth the alternative of political power in the hands of the working class. Instead, they gave credence to the bourgeois propaganda that through elections, by replacing one bourgeois party or coalition with another, the working masses can defend their interests.
We communists must clarify to the electorate that the new governments will without exception continue to implement the same program of the bourgeoisie. We must expose the false propaganda of the CPI and CPM, which paints the elections as a "setback" or a "victory" for the working masses. It is only certain political parties of the bourgeoisie that have won or lost. The working people have neither won nor lost in these elections. The working class must continue to fight for its own program - the Navnirman of India, for an India in which the working people will decide their own future.
Significance of the result of the elections in West Bengal
The fallout of the results of the elections in West Bengal deserves special attention, as they hold important lessons for communists.
As expected, the Left Front Government has suffered a massive defeat at the hands of the Trinamool Congress - Congress alliance. After 34 years of continuously being in power in West Bengal, this has meant a huge setback to the CPM and its allies. The rule of the CPM led front had generated increasing dissatisfaction amongst masses of workers, peasants, tribal people, the youth and other working people. Their aspirations were being stifled. Workers’ struggles were being suppressed in the name of encouraging capitalists to invest in Bengal. After the land reforms in the first 10 years of the Left Front rule, through which the landless peasantry and share croppers were given small bits of land, the conditions of the peasantry failed to improve and their livelihood became increasingly precarious.
In order to satisfy the interests of the rich peasants, the CPM refused to organize the millions of agricultural workers. It refused to organize the millions of workers in small industry and services, in order to serve the interests of the regional bourgeoisie. Moreover, since the nineties, the CPM has more clearly begun to reveal itself as a party of the big bourgeoisie, guaranteeing favourable conditions to the biggest Indian and foreign capitalists to exploit the land, labour and resources of West Bengal. The developments in Nandigram, Singur and Lalgarh brought out into the open the contradictions between the workers, peasants and tribal people on the one hand, and the bourgeoisie and Left Front government on the other.
For 34 years the CPM wielded influence in the national arena on the basis of being in power in West Bengal and subordinating the struggles of the working class all over the country to the needs of the bourgeoisie. It is this ability to sabotage the struggles of workers and peasants which it used as a bargaining point with the bourgeoisie to retain power in West Bengal for so long. However, this very role that it played discredited this party in the eyes of the masses of people.
Following the defeat in West Bengal, the CPM and its Left Front allies are in crisis. CPM is under pressure within the party and from the bourgeoisie to further go down the road of betrayal of the interests of the working masses. It is being pressurised to give up even any pretensions of opposing globalization through liberalization and privatization, as the condition for it to come back to power.
The spokespersons of the CPM are declaring that they will act the role of a "responsible opposition party" now that they are no longer in power. By "responsible opposition party" the bourgeoisie means a party that will play by the rules of parliamentary democracy. It means to carry on extra-parliamentary agitations and say what the working masses want to hear, while waiting for the next elections to offer itself to the bourgeoisie as a better choice to fool the masses and carry out the program of the bourgeoisie. This is what all the bourgeois parties do all the time, and CPM is no different. Revolution is out of bounds for a "responsible opposition party". But then, revolution has never been on the agenda of the CPM.
There is deep dissatisfaction within the ranks of the CPM. Many cadres and supporters of this Party from the working class and toiling peasantry can increasingly see the corrupt, faction ridden, pro-capitalist character of the Party. There is open factional infighting at different levels within the party, which will only intensify after the electoral reverses. None of the factions fighting each other are Marxist-Leninist.
The workers and peasants and progressive intelligentsia, who have been misled into thinking that CPM is a party that defends their interests, must be told the truth. These workers and peasants and progressive intelligentsia are looking for a communist alternative.
We must continue to carry out vigorous exposure of the worshippers of parliamentary democracy, who are working in the service of the bourgeoisie. We must step up our work of building the unity of the working classes and toiling masses around the alternative program of fighting for political power in the hands of the working class and for the Navnirman of India.