CPI(M) Theory & Practice - Retrospect and Prospects sign now

CPI(M) Theory & Practice - Retrospect and Prospects

Dear Readers:

We enjoyed reading a debate on Prabhat Patnaiks piece regarding Nandigram incident which we consider an over simplification of the reality on the ground. We find it appalling that he chose to label everyone who does not subscribe to an official line, as belonging to the Camp hostile to the interests of 'the people'. Hopefully, he would not put us into his generic categories of Two Camps theory (see below, Suresh Deman's letter).

Although we do share some of Prabhat Patnaik's concerns about the role of the intellectuals from right to the far left using the Nandigram issue to grind their axes against the CPI(M) we reject his idea of two Camps theory which sounds like US President George Bushs slogan before the invasion of Afghanistan, either you are with us or your are against us. More recently similar statement was made by Mrs Sonia Gandhi to the Press in Haryana in relation Nuclear Civil Agreement, "...those who are oppose to Civil Nuclear Agreement are enemies of the people". Frankly speaking Patnaik's two Camps theory is not qualitatively different from the above statements and could easily be construed as religious prophecies rather than guide to Marxism. Further we do not consider everything written about the Nandigram issues could be considered by an independent observer (commonly defined as one who is familiar with the issues but who is not overly sensitive) as 'the revolt against the CPI(M)and hence revolt against politics'. We are also somewhat concerns about the intellectuals who take liberty to decide their role for the left movement in general and the working class in particular by themselves. Perhaps, a reading of Regis Debarys 'Revolution in the Revolution' & 'Prisons Diary' might be of some assistance in understanding the role of intellectuals.

Prabhat Patnaik also talks a lot about fight against communal fascism by the same intellectuals (enemies of the 'people') who are now expressing their critical views on Nandigram incident, a term often very loosely used by Indian intellectuals and politicians. However, recent defeat of Sonia Gandhi Congress in Gujarat and Himachal has proved that the people did not find UPA slogan of "secularism" quite appealing. We dare question, Patnaik might say the 'people' are wrong?

We are also concern why Indian Intellectuals including the Marxist look out for answers to Indian problems at Oxford-Cambridge-JNU. Is it because of lack of self-esteem or intellectual bankruptcy as if every thing that grows at the Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard (or at JNU)is intellect and rest is fruitless?

In the middle of September 2007 Suresh Deman wrote to Prakash Karat who India Today has portrayed as Full Marx as follows:

Centre for Economics, Finance & Politics P.O. Box 17517-London-SE9 2ZP, Tel & Fax: 020-265 0536, Tel. & Fax: 020 88594657 & 07877008095 E-mail: [email protected], [email protected]

15 September 2007

Com. Prakash Karat General Secretary, CPI (M) A.K. Gopalan Bhawan 27-29, Bhai Vir Singh Marg New Delhi 110 001 Fax: (91-11) 23747483

Dear Comrade Prakash:

Perhaps you will recall I wrote to you when you became General Secretary of the CPI (M). I was incredibly impressed with your speech when you refer to CPI(M) was not going to be a tail of anyone. The time has come when CPI (M) should be a leader rather than a follower. I wish this should have happened sometime back. Since I wrote to you earlier a sequence of events have taken place, which prompted me to write to you again. Although I am not a Party Cadre I consider myself a sympathizer and one who has ongoing interest in the left movement, particularly when the legacies and memories of the former Soviet Union are fast fading away. I outline my concerns as follows:

1. Firstly I became concern during my visit to India in January 2006 when I came across an unnecessary controversial debate surrounding Baba Ramdeo on the ZEE TV. Although issues voiced in the debate may have had some relevance (though non-antagonistic), I was not convinced about the significance of the debate to the Party, mass movement and the people. I am also not so sure, if the debate was ever resolved, to date no one knows who were the winners and the losers? However, what I know is that the Hindu fundamentalist exploited the issue and since then Baba Ramdeos fees for personal audience to people living overseas have tremendously increased. Further Mr. Kofi Annan, a former Secretary General of the US led UN gave him official platform to become a goodwill ambassador for carrying out the message of Yoga all over the world as if that was the cure for all problems. When Baba Ram Deo returned to Delhi he appeared to have emerged an avant-garde champion of opposing discrimination on the basis of caste and religion, which has overshadowed UPA message of secularism under Mrs. Sonia Gandhi. In my view this entire issue raked up while there was no dearth of issues related to, antagonistic contractions far more vital purposes of mass mobilisation for a revolutionary transformation of society. Having said this, I am not trying to undermine Brendas positive contribution to parliamentary debate and for mass movement.

2. Second issue that concerned me is Nandigram incident regardless of who instigated it, I am told it was Naxalite led. The incident in which more than 19 people had been killed in police firing ordered by Mr. Bhuddhdeb Bhattacharya led left front government, should not have taken place under any circumstances. No Marxian theory can justify such an action and it was least expected of a Left front government, in defence of illegitimate land acquisition for SEZs to cater the needs of industrialists under the umbrella of globalisation rather than for a proletarian revolution. Ironically, the CPI (M) was already condemning somewhat similar incident in Rajasthan which led to the police firing killing a number of CPI(M) peasants and an unlawful imprisonment of Comrade Hetram Beniwal of CPI (M) by the BJP Government. While defending left front government action, one of my friends, Com. Vesudev Sharma, General Secretary, CPI (M) in Rajasthan tried to persuade me that Stalin had taken even more drastic action against the Kulaks for the sake of collectivisation than Bhuddhdeb Bhattacharya. You know as well as I do, two wrongs do not make one right. Besides, the two actions are not comparable as the former was taken for the advancement of socialism and the latter for promoting global capitalism. The Nandigram incident also reminded me the dismissal of the first Left Front government led by Namboodripad on the recommendation of Mrs. Indira Gandhi, then President of the Congress. Well, we could not save the Left Front government then but succeed this time although with the forewarning of UPA Chairperson, Mrs. Sonia Gandhi who reportedly told Com. Sita Ram Yechuri in a patronizing manner, it should not be repeated [I heard on the Zee TV]. As to Mrs. Sonia Gandhis ideological position one should not forget it was she who went to the United States to see President Clinton following her Partys defeat in general election 1999, virtually asking her to give her a chance too and she got it. In contrast, when Henry Kissinger was asked his opinion about Mrs. Gandhi when she was assassinated, his reply to ABC news was, She was an arrogant lady. Although I was one of the victims of Mrs Gandhi when she declared the state of emergency in 1975 I was happy at this generous assessment of her by an arrogant former American Ambassador & the Secretary of State, as she appeared not to have bowed down before the US hegemony even after having accepted CIA money to fight Kerala elections. In my view, although CPI (M) by now should have sidelined Buddhdeb Bhattacharya to regain public confidence, I am wiling to accept your public statement making distinction between the actions of the Government and the Partys position. However, criticism of Buddhdeb Bhattacharyas government was somewhat less visible compared to Mukherjees coalition government in West Bengal in 1967-69.

3. One of the most disturbing issues I find in the CPI (M) position is its stand on Civil Nuclear Agreement with the United States and recent joint naval exercises. As a student of Marxism I have learned that there is a dialectical connection between the domestic policy and the foreign policy. Although one can see a clear connection between UPA governments domestic policies supporting globalisation under the World Bank programs [SEZs, Multinational investment, rapid expansion of private sector through divestment of public sector, etc.] and collaboration with the imperialists in the foreign policy, I wonder how could CPI (M) not see this and continues to support the UPA government? I believe the partnership in the UPA on the basis of common minimum program [mainly secularism] is fundamentally flawed. Had the basis of the partnership been on the common minimum economic program it would have addressed twin objectives, namely, the domestic and foreign policy. The CPI (M) was in the position of strength to negotiate with the Congress a common minimum economic program rather than minimum program to join the UPA. I wonder why CPI (M) did not do so although it was then in a position of strength to negotiate. After the complete sweep by BSP in UP elections clearly the CPI (M) negotiating position appears to have been somewhat compromised.

4. In my opinion the CPI (M) can take cue from the successful experiment carried out under leadership of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela by optimally combining the task in the sphere of domestic and foreign policies to usher in a socialist revolution. In the South Latin American Countries they have successfully harnessed anti imperialist feelings of the masses to promote the cause of social transformation. The argument of holding the communal forces at bay under the pretext of secularism in defence of UPA Govt. does not hold water. It is only through an effective implementation of a radical common economic programme that a secular polity can be built and anti imperialist foreign policy course meaningfully pursued. In Venezuela Hugo Chavez [no Marxist] and Ortega in Nicaragua have effectively used anti imperialist feelings to enhance the appeal of socialism and won the elections. In fact, I recall a telecast during the elections in Venezuela when a reporter asked a layman on the street who are you going to vote for? He told him, Chavez, he will bring socialism. When the reporter asked him what is socialism? His telling reply was, I know what is socialism, freedom for poor. No reading of Marx & Lenins works could have conveyed the meaning of socialism to a common man in such simple terms. On the other hand we continue to have a honeymoon [although there are signs of it being over if one goes by media reports] with a government, which has been openly collaborating with the United Sates The only imperialist Superpower. I am disappointed to see one of the oldest and most experienced Communist Party of the World after the collapse of USSR still dragging it feet in this matter.

5. The Partys failure to pursue the anti imperialist line stands out in glaring contrast with the Venezuelan experiment. While the party was right in standing up (albeit belatedly) against US Imperialism on the ground that the nuclear deal was pushing the country into the strategic embrace of the United States helping it to proposed the name of Pranab Mukherjee as the UPA consensus candidate for the office of The President forgetting that he was the chief architect for the military cooperation agreement with the United States. This created a big credibility gap about its sincere commitment to anti imperialist course. The Party is not known to have taken up cudgel in the public against Pranab Das Speech at Carnegie Foundation a couple of years back where he had talked about, Total convergence of values and interests between the US private sector and open collaboration with the imperialists, which had not happened even during right wing Hindu fundamentalist government led A. B. Bajpai. On the hindsight what is the rational of change in the CPI (M) attitude towards Congress? One might say the character of Congress has dramatically changed since Mrs Gandhis era. However, Mrs Gandhis Congress then was also a break away group from the Old Congress although after V.V. Giris election as President the Old congress was annihilated by the New Congress.

On a positive note I am very pleased that you have taken a hard line in view of recent developments. In my view early election have become inevitable and this is the most opportune time to say goodbye to UPA. At this critical juncture it is important not to unnecessarily kick up non-antagonistic contradictions over the Ram Setu. Hopefully you will take my comments in constructive sprits.

With regards,

Suresh Deman B.Sc., MA (India), MA & ADB (US), MPhil (UK), PhD (Japan) Director of Centre for Economics, Finance & Politics & Visiting Professor at the Markfield Institute PO Box 17517, London SE9 2ZP

Although we would have very much liked to agree with Prof. Patnaik & his colleagues mild criticism on Nandigram incident since Deman wrote the above letter few other developments have taken place.

(a) Some CC members of the CPI (M) proudly claimed that over 100,000 CPI (M) militant supporters (were told some of them were armed) entered into Nandigram and got the trouble makers removed before Buddhdeb Bhattacharya could enter into Nandigram to apologies to those who were leftover [there is no notion of safeguard against what is known as oppression by the majority. Perhaps, this notion would sound like a bourgeois concept), (b)Baba RamDeo, an arch enemy of Branda Karat, if not of the CPI(M), not only came out in supported of Mrs Sonia Gandhi for signing of Nuclear Civil Agreement but he has also repeated her words that anyone who opposes the agreement is an enemy of the people [i.e., CPI(M)]. (c) Last month again Pranab Mukherjee continued with his rhetoric in support of Nuclear Civil Agreement while addressing NRI entrepreneurs with some Chief Ministers present, (d)Com. Joyti Basus statement in support of Industrialisation in West Bengal under the private ownership of means of production and opposition to the same idea in non CPI(M) states for being exploitative speaks volumes in light of collapse of Soviet model of socialism, (e)Again 5 people got killed in a recent firing resulted in a call for a Bengal Bandh.

Clearly CPI(M) once again fell into it's own let alone blaming the enemy of the 'people'. It is to be noted CPI(M)s major partner in the UPA i.e., Sonia Gandhis Congress called for a Bandh with BJP, Forward Block, Trimul Congress and others. All this flies into the face of CPI(M) for which no one could be criticised but the CPI(M)intellectuals themselves. To date no response is forthcoming any quarter of the CPI(M).

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