Friday, 20 May 2011

Man of the Match - Achuttanandan

As Mamta Rolls into Red Bastion
Achuttanandan emerges ‘Man of the Match’ 

Joseph Stalin, also  known as ‘Uncle Joe in certain circles emerged as a great WWII hero when his army steam rolled into Berlin in the face of a fierce Natzi resistance. However, Mamta rolled into the Red Bastion of West Bengal without any resistance despite self deluded Buddhdeb Bhattacharya’s ludicrous  claim of victory on the eve of counting of votes. In fact, this was one of the worst humiliating defeats plunging the CPI (M) below the Congress with a record low of 40 seats since 1967 when it forged the left coalition under its leadership. In sharp contrast, in spite of a narrow defeat in assembly election and internal sabotage, charismatic veteran leader Achuttananadan emerged as ‘Man of the Match’ in the game of bourgeois democracy. The wafer-thin UDF victory in Kerala was largely attributed to prolonged feud between two factions in the CPI-M led by Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan and party state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan backed by Prakas Karat, Brinda Karat, Sitaram Yechuri, and the NRI ‘mafia’.  The infighting among front partners before the poll has  undoubtedly contributed to the LDF reverses. Although Achhutanandan was branded as old fashioned hard line Marxist, he proved his opponents wrong both in and outside the CPI (M). Left front got 68 and was short of only 4 seats to form the government. Some supporters of outgoing chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan have reportedly complained to the central leadership that the anti Achhutanandan group led by state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan had sabotaged the party's chances, especially in Vijayan's district Kannur where at least 5 seats were lost with a narrow margin of 500-700 votes. In fact, UDF will be forming the Govt with a margin of 1456 votes. [Yechuri, CPM Politburo].                                
The election debacle in W.B. was obvious to everyone with the exception of the CPI (M) leadership. Arrogance of the leadership and nepotism in the CPI (M) run government in West Bengal had left the party with very few friends. In fact, both the Right (BJP) and the left CPI (M) were facing the isolation in electoral  politics. Obviously, given right wing ideological position of the BJP it couldn’t warm up to the Congress, but CPI(M) still had something to hang on to for renewing its flirtation given the so-called secular and progressive face of the Congress which it did resort to albeit with no corresponding result.  Surprisingly, the issue of Civil Nuclear deal did not figure at all in the election campaign. The CPI (M) prospects of success in the assembly elections were badly marred due to government’s poor performance and takeover of the CPI (M) politics in WB by the lumpens and goons. Flirtation with Congress (became obvious with Sita Ram Yechuri's remark that Manmohan Singh had on the whole performed well)  as well as Karat’s attempts to capitalize on the interview with well known Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm backfired (What is the difference between the CPI and the CPI(M)? Answer: None).  Instead of concentrating on good governance and enhance connectivity with the people by reigning in the party cadre’s excesses the CPM tried to take recourse to gimmicks.  “How come he is defeated even after throwing out of WB in order to get Muslim votes was most apt observation was made by Bangladesh exile writer, Taslieema Nasreem.  [Buddhdeb after Election Results].  

In West Bengal, the CPI-M-led Left Front managed just 61 seats, of which the CPI-M got 40, in the 294-member assembly. Mudslinging has already begun, not only against the capital-based leaders, but also against the Bengal-based ones. Razzak Mollah, a senior party leader and former minister who has been reelected, stated that Nirupam Sen, a politburo member and West Bengal's outgoing industry minister, was the main culprit for the Bengal defeat as he had ignored earlier warnings by colleagues. In fact, Sen continued to defy party’s own criticism of handling situation in Nandigarm and Singur and instead pledged to acquire land for capitalists for so-called industrialization. In his address to Chamber of Commerce, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, said, “I am against strikes. Unfortunately, I belong to a party, which calls for strikes. I have been silent for a long time. I will not remain silent anymore.”  No wonder he lost his safest seat by a wide margin in the recent elections. Although after the parliament and civic poll this was the third defeat in West Bengal the CPI (M) central leaders tried to interpret the defeat in an illusive manner.                  
"It was a vote for change in West Bengal," said politburo member Sitaram Yechury, attempting to explain the absolute rout in the state. "The people desired a change and the main beneficiary of the people’s desire for change has been the Trinamool Congress," he said with a grin trotting out a facile analysis of the most crucial question for the party’s destiny.
This was not the first time Sitaram Yehcuri came out with a clever repartee. In 1989 he was in Romania when the mob stormed President Ceausescu's palace. Yechuri was reported to have said, "It happened so fast that I couldn't understand". I guess he does not understand now either. 
Further, the left parties, particularly, CPI (M) has not come forward with an honest self criticism except either rationalizing its wrongs or lashing out on senior comrades. In contrast, CPI leader Gurdas Dasgupta admitted openly that the left has failed to read the mood of people for a change. It is shame that CPI (M) has not been able to consolidate its mass base although it has been in power in West Bengal since 1977 and in Kerala and Tripura too over a long period. Rather it has bogged down into bourgeois democracy in which every time the Ruling click beats them which was clear even from Yechuri's own public admission following defeat of their cut motion in  parliament. Even their potential third front partners JD, SP and BSP betrayed them. In fact, Mulayam Singh was with Late Com Surjeet Singh, not because of any ideological alliance but due to close business partnership between their grand children in Canada. That alliance is over since the sad demise of Com Surjeet. However, regardless of the hobnobbing, senior CPM leadership had been quite seasoned and  articulate. It had a public stature that no one could dare to ditch them once a deal was struck by them. Rather than using the bourgeois democracy for the cause of the proletariat it has used the CPM and kicked them out. 
In contrast Maoists in Nepal have made best use of bourgeois democracy and not only consolidated their militia but increased their ranks although they were in power only for a brief period. Recent call for an ongoing Bundh till government steps down confirms their commitment for the cause of people. This was only possible because unlike the CPI (M) Maoists in Nepal did not completely rely upon the false premise of bourgeois democracy. Hopefully, CPI (M) leadership, particularly those coming from Ivory Tower Marxist background will learn lessons from Nepal rather than being the brokers for the bourgeoisie to persuade Maoists to join into ‘national main stream’.  Although Yechuri said that the Maoists needed ideological introspection recent events have sent a loud and clear message that it is he who needed ideological introspection.     
Time has come when the Ivory Tower JNUINE leadership comprising Karat-squared and Yechuri get a grip on hard reality on the ground and take the following genuine course:
1. Ask the Party members to declare their shares in companies;                                 
2. Come out with genuine self criticism for their election debacle;
3. Tender genuine apology to people for their anti people and pro-capitalist stand in Singur and Nandigram;
4. Apology for ongoing recent pledge by Nirupam Sen and others to bring Tata back to Nadigram;
5. Forget the idea of creating special economic zones and take the lead from Achhutanandan;
6. Develop a mechanism to oversee the Central Committee and Politburo and under go ideological introspection, if leadership is alienated from the people.
Not only CPI (M) became stagnant it is finding difficult to hold its mass base in its strongholds in West Bengal. In fact, so far CPI (M) appears to have worked for Corporate Socialism (acquiring land for bourgeoisie, ban on Hartals and Bandhs, CPM leaders/members trading shares, and collecting protection money) rather than preparing for a peoples' democratic revolution
Hopefully, steps will be taken to rectify the wrongs rather than rationalizing them and humiliating veteran members for the leadership's failures. Earlier CPI (M) expelled Com. Nipen Chakraborty of Tripura and other senior leaders in WB who contributed to sustained trouble free Left Rule for decades with public mandate, Abdullah Kutty, CPM (MP) and then Com Somnath Chatterjee Speaker (MP). Surprisingly, CPI (M) accepted its own investigation into corruption charges against Vijayan. Moreover what we have been often taught as students of Marxism that communists have nothing to hide. They owe transparency to the people. It is not simply a routine organizational matter when you are dealing about a comrade whom you had projected before them to repose faith in him. The credibility of the whole organization is at stake. Even if one does not go by the bourgeois definition of corruption still the reasons and findings with supporting material including answers to Achutnandan's stand should be made public.
Prakash Karat, CPM, GS
Despite my friendly advice and forewarning to Prakash Karat way back in September 2007 and suggestion to sideline Buddhdeb Bhattacharya, his colleague like Nirupam Sen, a Politburo member continue to pledge to acquire land for industrialization should they return to power. In contrast, Achuttanandan stood firm against special economic zones and land acquisition for industrialists. Sitaram Yechuri and Prakash Karat reflect two seemingly opposite views, but both are far from reality. Now Karat is trying to look for a safe exit from General Secretaryship by proposing a two terms tenure. Rather than offering to resign to show a gesture of responsibility, Karat emphatically said, "I am alone not responsible, “elections are neither the beginning nor the end for us.” Then one wonder why his party spent so much time this process?  He added an insult to peoples' mandate. I am not a big fan of bourgeois democracy, but it behoves a leadership which has spent so much time in practicing bourgeois democracy opt for elections by secret ballot within the Party to make it transparent.
If CPI (M) wants to consolidate its cadres and reemerge with credibility it should elect Achhutanand as next General Secretary, which will be a befitting tribute to the last remaining veteran leader who still continue to enjoy the trust of the popular masses.

By Dr S Deman, Editor

I am grateful to Prof Devendra Kaushik, Professor Emeritus  for constructive and very helpful comments which has improved the quality of the election analysis to a great deal.

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