ENSUING PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS

April 10, 2014

ENSUING PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS   : A SERIOUS CHALLENGE TO

THE PREAMBLE OF INDIAN CONSTITUTION

“We the People of India” gave us this Constitution, it describes itself when it was adopted on Nov 26th 1949 by the Constituent Assembly and the Preamble as it originally existed was India is a Sovereign, Democratic Republic.  The parliament by 42nd Amendment included the words Secular and Socialist and it was done in 1976 when then opposition leaders were behind the bars and the fundamental rights were suspended during the internal emergency.  Yet it stood the tests after the emergency was lifted.

Even though the Constitution as it was framed by the Constituent Assembly, did not have the word Secularism included in the preamble in so far as the Articles were debated by the Consituent Assembly Secularism was very much a part of the concept of Union of India.  We cannot forget the fact that as India gained independence a great communal divide took place by formation of Pakistan and there was migration from both parts acroos the boarder and India has declared its intention to contain all the religious communities like Hindus who was in majority, the Muslims, the Christians, Sikhs, Parsis and so on.  The very concept of India existed on the unity of various communities and separation of religion and state.  India was founded  on this basis and survived so long on that basis.  Therefore when in 1976 the Co nstituion was amended to include the word SECULAR in the Preamble it was not an act by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. It was the reiteration of the principles for which India stood so far and will stand united in future also.

Similarly the word SOCIALISM was also included in the Preamble of the constitution by 42nd amendment.  Although it was also not there when the constitution was framed by the Constituent assembly, the principles contained, especially in the Directive Principles of State Policy dictated a socialistic pattern of ownership, functioning and contained strong measures of a welfare state.  The 1956 Industrial Policy Resolution, which was adopted two decades before the 42nd amendment had envisaged effective control of natural resources by the PUBLIC SECTOR with the words Public Sector having the COMMANDING HEIGHTS OF THE ECONOMY.  In fact Public Sector Development was the mainstay of the process of Planning in India and in the post independence period the Public Sectors were developed to make substantial gains in the economy of India.

During Indira Gandhi’s rule, besides Bank Nationalisation, and Abolition of Privy Purse certain other steps were taken such and Restriction of Monopoly, Foreign Exchange Regulation Act etc.  All these had given a direction to the administration of the state and the 42nd amendment apart from including the word Socialism in the preamble had further amended the Constitution to enable the State to curb even the fundamental Rights to enact any piece of legislation to implement DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY.  Along with the Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties was also enacted.

All these are recalled here to say how the ensuing parliamentary elections pose a challenge to all the four pillors of THE PREAMBLE OF THE CONSTITUION, i.e. SOVERNEINITY, DEMOCRACY, SECULARISM, and SOCIALISM.

The Congress party always worked against the Leftist parties, in the name of deriving support for their programmes they encouraged a section i.e. Dangeists to go along with them.  And even though the Congress Party fought the resolute section of the Communists the CPI(M) they did not fail to grant support to the Congress when they wanted to pass progressive legislations and when it came to Non Aligned Movement and .foreign Policy.  Yet the congress party did not allow the leftists to remain at least in areas where they were strong like Kerala and Bengal and therefore there could be no unity in action except when the communists gave the congress unstinted support in National Interest and progress. These aspects are written to emphasise independence was of maintaining a one party rule.

Except for a breach in 1957 when CPI formed EMS Ministry in Kerala which lasted till it was dismissed in 1960, the Congress Rule continued till 1967. The period between 1967 for another decade was of great turmoil.  Eight states had gone out of control of the Congress in 1967.  Yet they went on dividing the opposition and making use of an advantageous position a Bye-election to the Parliament was conducted by Smt.Indira Gandhi raising the promise of Garibi Hatao.  This election succeeded the Bengla Desh Liberation War as well for which the communists also extended their support. Even as Mrs.Gandhi had been dabbling in destabilizing the Left Front Governments of Kerala and repeatedly in West Bengal.

By 1973 the JP Movement started in Bihar joined by similar movement in Gujarat, by liberal democrats and socialists.  The Allahabad High Court Judgement of declaring Smt.Indira Gandhi’s elections null and void made her to adopt an authoritarian line. By opposition, jailed many of them varying from Jan Sangh Organisation Congress Socialist and Swathanthra Party.  She jailed one and all who openly opposed the emergency.  The press was gagged and fundamental rights were suspended.

Those days all of us who were in jail held continuous discussions and brought about a unity of all opposition parties (except the communists) and formed the Janata Party which was announced openly as soon as Indira Gandhi announced the elections.  The Congress Youth led by Sanjiv Gandhi had alienated the people throughout North India and the elections held in March defeated Congress throughout North India.

The Janata Party which came to power with a massive majority could not retain the power beyond 1979 July.  The Socialist initiated question of dual membership i.e. both RSS & Janata Party brought the Govt finally down.  The 1980 elections once again brought back Indira Gandhi.  Her own failure in tackling the Khalistan Question finally resulted in her assassination by her own Sikh bodyguards.  Rajiv Gandhi who was sworn in got a good majority in 1985, but could not complete the five year term. There was a big challenge in the Boforms deal.  The 1989 elections brought a hung assembly.  With the opposition parties support VP Singh Government had ran the administration during one of the toughest situation in the history of our country.  He had to act to stop the Rath Yatra undertaken by Advani leading BJP which adopted an openly communal line demanding construction of Ram Temple at Ayodhya.

Even as Rajiv Gandhi was about to win the 1990 elections he was assassinated and the Congress Party nominated Narasimha Rao to be the Prime Minister.  He had a as finance minister the present PM Man Mohan Singh.  The duo imposed on our country the New Economic Policy and New Industrial Policy which brought in the Liberalisation Privatisation and Globalisation.  The BJP which had a sizable representation in Parliament in 1990 had accused the congress of stealing their programme of Liberalisation.  BJP simultaneoushly unleashed the weapon of communalism as a political instrument.

Even as the working people resisted the LPG Policies, the BJP harped on the Ram Janma Bhoomi Movement and finally on Dec 6th 1992 they Demolished the Babri Masjid which led to several communal clashes in the country.  BJP consolidates the Hindu Votes and made serious attempts to capture power.  Initially they could not succed in the effort.

The country voted in strength not giving a mandate to Congress or BJP.  The country expected Jyoti Basu to assume the office of the Prime Minister at the head of a United Front Government.  As CPI(M) CC decided against such a proposal Shri Deve Gowda who had just been elected as the CM in Karnataka and did not complete one year was made the Prime Minister and that Ministry lasted for less than one year. The Congress once again pulled the rug below the UF Govt and the bye-elections brought a 19 day old Vajpayee Ministry, which had been then voted out.

In  BJP formed NDA and won the elections and remained in power for a full term till 2004.  They implemented the very same LPG policies and even went to a serious disinvestment and accelerated form of Liberalisation.  In the meantime they had won Gujarat and the notorious 2002 Communal Riots of Gujarat took place during their regime.

The 2004 elections produced such a result that neither NDA nor UPA had the majority.  The Left had increased their strength and with the support of the Left United Progressive Alliance I was formed with a common minimum programme, a coordination committee of the left and UPA together.  However the Congress Party did not function its Government to implement the commitments made in the Common Minimum Programme. Moreover they signed a nuclear deal with US mortgaging the country’s interest.  This made the Left to withdraw the support to UPA.  Still they could win the confidence vote with cash for votes policy which was exposed in the parliament.

The UPA II won a comfortable majority in the parliament in 2009 and the liberalization policy was vigorously pursued by them.  A numb er of scams came out openly the base for which was laid during NDA Govt itself and vigorously followed by UPA I.  The 2 G scandle, Common Wealth Games Scandel, The Coalgate scandal, the Gas Scandel etc sullied the images of the UPA.

The country witnessed serious protests and the so called neutral civil society groups intervened to fight the corruption and to demand a genuine Lok Pal Bill.  The agitation led by Anna Hazare and in part by a Maharshi finally led to formation of the AAP, its decisive victory at Delhi.

By then the RSS has succeeded in foisting Narendra Modi as the BJP Prime Ministerial candidate and since one year his image is being boosted up.  US Administration which was earlier denying a Visa for Narendra Modi took active steps to please him and to declare their support to him.

Narendra Modi and his men have exuding confidence of a Modi Wave and most of the people opposed to communalism finds their camp divided.  The Congress Party which has become an embodiment of Corruption, and yet even some well meaning persons are backing it only because of the danger to the Secular fabric of the Country.  The fact that the BJP is also corrupt, as Yediyurappa and his MInisters have shown to the whole Nation. Modi is trying to project himself as an uncorrupt efficient and strong man etc.

The efforts made by left parties as they have themselves suffered weakness in their traditional strong hold like Bengal, did not result in creating any effective Alternative to both Congress and BJP.  The Regional parties are in effective strength in various regions and yet they could not combine to present an effective alternative together with the Left.  The Left had been consistent in taking up the PEOPLE ISSUES, like policy fault resulting in price rise, increasing the misery of the working people, the peasantry, the escalation of living costs of education health care and so on.

The BJP even as it projects Development as a Plank during this elections, they are intolerant to any criticism of Modi and their party for their communal attacks which they are continuing even now as can be seen In recently staged communal riots at Mussafarpur from which they benifited in the Assembly elections by consolidating the Jat Belt/

Now, they expect a gain in UP by Modi being fielded from Varanasi, apart from Baroda a safe seat.

Let us consider the threat to the four pillars of the Preamble to the Indian Constitution.

First let us consider the threat to Sovereignty posed by imperialist forces.  The IMF World Bank dictates made the fiscical accountability enactment forcing the Central Government and State Governments  to statutorily limit their freedom to raise finance and to spend it to provide relief for the people, to develop physical and social infrastructure by the planning process.   It is to stress these points we have very briefly traced the history our country since the independence.

Both the camps of NDA and UPA are openly subservient to the US Imperialist camp, although BJP Manifesto declared no FDI in retail, the BJP is openly for FDI in all other sectors.  Therefore we cannot expect that the Sovereignty of our country will be safe with either of these camps.

Democracy as it is practiced in the country is so sham.  The combined votes of BJP & Congress has not exceeded 50% and yet one or the other camp had been ruling us continuously for the last twenty years.  The BJP is hoping to win the PM post and every one else knows clearly the threat to Democracy.  Though in 1975-77 it was the Congress which acted as Authoritarian, as CPIM 10th Congress in Jullunder analysed Authoritarianism cannot be attributed to one or the other party and it is an attribute of the class nature of exploitation.  It has warned that Authoritarianism is by nature denial of democratic rights to the exploited to people to fight against exploitation, and the legalizing illegal activities of state is resulting in Authoritarianism.  By nature RSS/BJP/NaMo does not stand for Democracy and any chance for them to form the Govt is sure to endanger democracy in our country.

Secularism is in great danger. The NaMo brigade leaves no opportunity to attack any one critical of them as anti-National, Muslims and so on irrespective of their religion.  They have theorized that whatever Secularism others say is Psuedo Secular.  For them Hindurashtra alone is secular, as according to them no muslim country tolerates other religions.  They fail to understand that just because Islamic republics are not secular the secularism the world is practicing ie. Separation of religion and state is pseudo.  Even as they theoretically oppose secularism dubbing it as pseudo secularism, the scienctific policy of separation of state and religion is bound to suffer in their hands.

SOCIALISM the word itself is not being debated these days, in the name that it is outmoded.  But neither UPA nor NDA has the courage to remove this word from the Preamble of the constitutoion.  In fact the Alternate Policy of the Left is a guarantee to advance towards guaranteeing that India has got to adopt that policy and nothing else.

THUS THE 2015 ELECTIONS IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE TO PROTECT THE BASIC STRUCTURE OF INDIAN CONSTITUION, to protect our sovereignty, democracy, secularism and socialism.  Neither UPA nor NDA can protect these aspects.  Only a post electoral understanding with regional parties and the left can guarantee these. And their lies the importance of the need to send our representatives from Karnataka as well.  The left has fielded six candidates and the people will do well in sending adequate number of left representatives from Karnataka for enabling them to not only participating in the Nation building but also raise their voice whenever the interests of the people of the state is threatened by any ruling combine.

EVERY VOTE FOR THE LEFT IS A VOTE FOR PROTECTION OF THE FOUR PILLARS OF INDIAN CONSTITUTION and to advance the interests of the people.   …………VJK NAIR

 

 

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Jyoti Basu

January 27, 2010

JYOTI BASU: A RARE MODEL FOR ADOPTION IN POLITICS

Jyothi Basu breathed his last on 17th Jan., 2009 around noon, after completing 95 years, and going on  96.  He bequeathed not only his life but also his body in the service of the People. He has done the utmost he could: Thus was full filled a life’s mission.  It is a model anyone should justifiably adopt and try to emulate, whatever may be the sphere of activity.

. In just one week we have witnessed the response the People, the Nation and our own Bangalore in paying tribute to his memory.  The fact that it has triggered a sense of dedication in senior citizens to queue up to donate their bodies and our premier institution NIMHAS express a desire to research on his brain, make him a rare human being, successful people’s politician.

While brain researchers, at NIMHANS expressed a desire to have his brain for research for posterity, the SSKM Hospital in Kolkatta has got the entire body.  The life he lived and created is more important than the body and even the brain.  This is not to belittle his desire to donate his body for research and the scientists and humanity no doubt will be benefited by that.  But the gigantic achievement he made at the head of the working class movement in the country and  succeeded in transforming the rural Bengal free from the exploitation, the Bengali peasants suffered for centuries, the model his party with him at the collective leadership in Kolkatta could bring about in Indian Politics are all should attract more attention for those of us who are dedicated to understand and apply such a line to bring about people oriented changes in our Parliamentary System, Nation, and in our own areas of attention / specialisation.

 His life was fully dedicated to and acting only in the interest of People.  Thus he became the embodiment of the hopes and aspirations, spirited commitment, the resolute activity and whatever achievements or failures the People could make.  He had no life other than that for the People, particularly of Bengal and generally throughout the Country.

There are a number of notable achievements made by the People of West Bengal through the collective leadership of the working class party and rare quality and personality of Jyoti Basu.  Of them the Glorious Path Bengal has trodden, in extra-parliamentary activities, of mass movements, of workers playing the leading role and in carrying with them the peasants, in the result making notable achievements for them and for the people in general. And this distinct path is incomplete without the usage of such strength of the working people, peasants and democratic segments in conducting repeated foray into parliamentary arena only to make use of that strength of `constitutional governance’ in the interest of the people and towards this to strengthen further the mass movement. The multiplier effect of this dialectical approach had laid the Path for ever to be a role model.  And Jyoti Basu became the quintessence of this distinct line.

                                                            II

It was not a Garden Path, and as all paths to eternity it was strewn with so much thorns, challenges, blockades, all of which were surmounted successfully By the People, for the People and thus Bengal Became the advanced post of democracy of the People. Under Jyoti’s determined leadership, acting coolly the People faced all these challenges and shaped their lives: Whatever sacrifices the People of Bengal had undergone in this half a century. The crucible of mass struggles and mass empowerment, also contributed immensely to shaping such a line for the rest of the country. The fact that such a line could not be applied for several other states or for the Country as a whole, is not his failure, but of the collective, of which he was a decisive part, acting regionally making others to raise the alert, `EAST IS RED’ in the early seventies itself.

This in essence is the skill in combining the Extra Parliamentary Activity which is the main force, and in utilising the Parliamentary Opportunities.  And facing the challenges and surmounting all the opposition against the People’s Interests, step by step and sometime by leaps and bounds. In Bengal the formation of  UF Ministry of Bengal, with Ajoy Mukherji of Bengla Congress as CM, and Jyoti Basu as the Dy.CM and Home Minister in1967 was such a leap.  It resulted in laying down the police policy, in unleashing the power of the working class struggles, both to shape their own lives, not to rest on the oars but to row faster to benefit Rural Bengal.

 The challenges of 1969, 1971 facing which the Party doubled its strength each time the Ministry was dismissed and re-elected. A small step by Working People of Bengal but a Giant Leap for the entire country, achieved during this period of turmoil in Kolkatta was the establishment of Centre of Indian Trade Unions, having come out from the mother organisation AITUC, unable to bear the self-defeating collaboration, and denial of internal of democracy by then collaborative leadership of the premier working class organisation in the Country.  Needless to say that CITU’s formation was resisted by then AITUC’s leadership by refusing to hold the 1970 session at Kolkatta by then leader S.A.Dange openly refusing to hold the AITUC session at Kolkotta saying that Jyoti Basu’s Police will forcibly take over AITUC.  Dange knew that it was not the police but the delegates of Bengal and the rest of the country who would have taken over AITUC and saved it as unified, democratic organisation acting in the interests of the working people and the country. The very policy of CITU was contained in its birth mark of UNITY and STRUGGLE coined by the founding fathers, BTR & PR.  While BTR gave the resounding slogan of inner organisational democracy in that he declared that `the unions shall be the fortress of its members and not the fiefdom of its leaders”.  Although, the immediate aim of making such a declaration was facing the challenge of then AITUC leadership which considered it as their fiefdom, and in denying the working people democratic rights to shape their own organisation. This slogan is so vital for any union or mass organisation it was such a line by the collective leadership of the working class party, which helped Jyoti to make such massive achievements.   

  The stakes during this period was facing the tremendous opposition, of the entire ruling class of the country.  It was represented by the `progressive’ Iron Lady, acting with the help of a divided left opinion in the country, the CPI going whole hog with her, the naxalites wielding the open daggers behind the necks of thousands of CPI(M)’s cadres.  And the ruling class of the Country created the Chatra Parishad of which the firebrand Mamta was the leader, (presently as Trinamool Chief) and the misguided left and mamta’s chatra parishads, launched and sustained the physical attacks as Jyoti’s Police were prevented from attacking the People.

 Even though in 1971 assembly elections held after Ajoy Mukherji Govt’s dismissal on the pretext of the CM himself sitting on protest against his own Ministry, CPI (M) won as the single largest party with 118 seats, they not only foisted PC Sen’s minority ministry making use of the Authoritarian action by Governor Dharma Veera, but unleashed such a terror on the working people by turning the police against them joined by hoodlums of the left and the right. And they consummated it  by `subverting parliamentary democracy’ in Bengal in 1972, after PC Sen’s Govt could not last long.  They found an apt leader in Siddhartha Shankar Ray, another Barrister, as opposed to Jyoti Basu the Barrister of the People, who abandoned the robes and became the Tribune of the People.  Ray not only led the opposition to the people but also brought together all the reactionary forces from Chatra Parishad to Naxalites and succeeded in weaning away the CPI with him.  And thus the counter leap, or reactionaries success in subverting Parliamentary Democracy in 1972 was achieved.  CPI(M) which had won 118 seats in 1971 elections, were declared to have been defeated in all the 118 seats, including Bara Bazar Jyoti’s Fortress like Constituency, in which, except in this Terror and subversion of parliamentary democracy, he was never defeated. The period thereafter was characterised by the Party as the period of Semi-Fascist Terror.  For five years Bengal had an eclipse of Democracy and free run of terror.  CPI(M) lost almost 2000 cadres to the knife wielding naxalites, chatra parishat hoodlums, aided and abetted by what was then called the right communists and the socialists had  abandoned the left and joined the rightists in the Grand Alliance all over the country.  Thus was completed mahajyot of the right and left of leftists, the left and right of the rightists, all to isolate, beat the Jyoti and his movement. They declared through the pronouncement of Ghani Khan Choudhry of Malda, the modern war lord from the erstwhile Navabdom of Bengal based then at Murshidabad, to throw out them to `The Bay of Bengal’.

There are certain issues, considered by the party of the working class then. It must be remembered that the National Sentiments expressed in the form of `Sonar Bengla’ which led to defeat of the West Pakistan’s forces at East Pakistan, the defeat of the Pak Army and surrender of Niazi with then General Manekshaw leading the Indian Army, the release of Bangabandhu from Pakistani Prison and his installation as the Prime Minister of Bengla Desh etc had been a synchronous happenings in the life of Bengal `National insurgence’.  While the ruling classes acted to help the Bengla Desh to liberate itself, these very forces continued to oppress the People of West Bengal. Naturally, the party considered the relevancy of right to self determination of Nationalities, which was ingrained in the Party Programme of 1964.

It goes to the credit of Indian Marxists to have debated this very National Question and to have amend in 1972 at the 9th Congress of the Party held at Madurai  the Party Programme by declaring that the Right to Secession is inessential for a Marxist Programme, that Right to Secession is to be exercised only against an Empire, which free India is not, that the Indian People are not oppressed by any single nationality in India, that the ruling classes as also the people are from the entire Nation and not a single Nationality is the oppressor and hence no single Nationality is the oppressed and therefore in essence Bengal cannot take the mite of the entire State Machinery on its people and any thought and deed in that direction would pave way for dismemberment of the Nation.  Bengal Movement was thus held back from the brink of disaster, and Sonar Bengla remained a distant dream.  Had it not been for unified and correct understanding of the Party the later experience to counter the imperialist plot of `balkanisation of India’ could not have been effectively met by the People unitedly of this Great Nation?  If this had not been done the Assamese agitation, the Khalistan Movement, and presently the separatist forces of J & K could not have been effectively neutralised.  That Jyoti Basu was one of the nine PBMs, fondly referred to by `committed’ Marxists of cpim as Nava Ratnas, which collective acted in defence of the unity and diversity of our Nation.  This no way relaxed their vigil in the interests of the People and they did not slip into worshipping the Nation and surrendering the Rights of the People, as several others do.  

The extension of semi fascist-terror in West Bengal, did not receive wide support of Indian Democrats or Civil Rights activists, except Jayaprakash Narayan.  Even C.Rajagopalachari who condemned the dismissal of EMS Ministry in 1957 was not effective this time.  The Syndicate Congress, the Swatanthra Party, the Lok Dal of Charan Singh and Socialists came together, as also the Janasangh the forerunner of present day Bharatiya Janata Party.  However they did not protest the butchery in West Bengal. Rather they were happy that their sworn enemies are being finished of by Indira whom they considered as a Renegade for their cause. One of such leading character the whole thing is like two snakes trying to swallow each other for tail.

  And the Nava Nirman Movement of Gujarat led by Indulal Yagnik, the Sampoorna Kranti of JP in Bihar etc coalesced into the JP Movement and helped the metamorphosis of Civil Rights Movement and effective resistance to Internal Emergency of 1975-77.  The emergency, suspension of fundamental rights and the excesses at Turkmen gate, the forcible family planning operations by Sanjay Brigade together with the combined opposition of democratic forces, helped the grand alliance to turn into Janata Party and the temporary effacement of `Authoritarianism’ from the Nation.  It must be remembered that it was the Semi-Fascist Terror at Bengal by Mahajyot against Jyoti Basu led Bengal Movement, which finally turned into Authoritarianism in the Country.  Just as the Mahajyot did not oppose subversion of Parliamentary Democracy in Bengal, although historically the Janata party which was in essence substantial portion of the grand alliance were committed to restore democracy, but it remained formal. And the authoritarianism, rightly described by tenth congress of cpim (Jullandar April 1978) as the `arbitrary, legitimisation or legalisation of illegal actions against a people to suppress their struggles for existence and against exploitation in which they exercise the democratic rights: And the suppression cannot be done democratically. Hence, the basis of Authoritarianism will end only with the end of Bourgoisie-Landlord System.’

CPI (M) and Jyoti had no illusion on the anti-authoritarian claims of then Janata Party, but he was as the Bengal leadership was fully committed to the vague alliance of the Janata Party and the left to be maintained and flourished.  This was very clear from the stand the Bengal Leadership took on the issue of facing the `July crisis’ of 1979 taking the Vijayawada congress to be a battle ground for this line. Jyoti was specially permitted by the PB then to put forth his stand and explain it to the 11th party congress at Vijayawada in 1981, the Bengal Unit distinct stand on the July crisis.  The July crisis is the name given by the Party to withdrawal of support to Janata Party mainly on then raging controversy of `dual membership by Veteran UP Socialist and Lohiaite Raj Narayan. There is a line of arguments that the erstwhile Jansangh when forced out of the Janata Party in 1979 and just got only two members elected in the 1980 parliament. Thus a party which toyed with democracy and Vajpayee the Foreign Minister in the 1977-79 Ministry singing in praise of Soviet Union etc took to an All India-line being developed on extra parliamentary activity and their case it was the communal agenda, which could gain substantial votes of an illusory unity of Hindoos.  Thus they concentrated on ‘Babri Masjid’: The RSS resolution till then was silent on this controversial ~Ram Janma Bhoomi / Babri Masjid” and was concentrating only on Gyanavyapi Mosque of Varanasi and Imam Bara of Mathura.  One they extended the scope of `creating a unified God of Rama’ starting the Ratha yathra from Somnath Temple and the `brick yatras’ all over and came close to win power in 1991, numerous controversial spots were spotted all over India, like the Maidan at Hubli where they raised the National Flag, the Bababudangiri etc.  A process of National level and local level `communalism’ was unleashed.  They benifitted from it Bombay, Gujarat and so on.  Wherever the Communal virous was spread the `Bharatiya’ People’s Party could reap the thorns they have swon.

Jyoti Basu’s leadership earlier in 1977 had offered 50% of the assembly seats in Bengal for Janata Party, but upon their insistence for 75% seats, the Left Front went ahead and won substantial majority in the West Bengal Assembly: This was a giant leap for Bengal, yet the opposition continued in various forms, in  imposing Governors as overlords, of continuous denial of a democratic central state relations, of freight equalisation policy, and suffocating credit squeeze policy, coupled with encouraging flight of capital and de-industrialisation of Bengal.

While all these were going on Jyoti’s Movement ensured that the crisis in the electricity system in Bengal is rapidly overcome, ensuring Bengal to be the surplus producer of electricity.  Of, effectively implementing the Leninist norm of `Soviets and Electricity’. In Bengal it was achieved through the powerful movement under the leadership of the working class who went into the villages and organised the Bargadars, registering them, in providing leadership that the crops they cultivated were not harvested by landlords and rich peasants, the owners of the land, as also the occupation of surplus lands and distribution to the poor in the Land to the tiller movement, just as Lenin passed and got the `Decree on Land’ and `Decree on Peace’ implemented. Jyoti could not decree so, for he had no State Power, which vested only at the Centre.  He effectively carried out the mass struggles and implemented the Land Reforms.  And in place of the `soviets’ visualised and implemented by Lenin, Jyoti got the Panchayat Raj (the Indian form of self governance as soviets were) implemented throughout Bengal.  It is no wonder that a state like Karnataka tried a cut and paste of the Bengal Model in Panchayat Raj by Janata Party led by Ramakrishna Heggade and Naseersab.  The cut and paste did not do the Bengal wonder, just as the Bengali white tiger cannot be bred here, and the tigers of Karnataka in the form of landlords and rich peasants, did control not the forests, but the entire lands, despite the well intentioned efforts  but incomplete results of erstwhile congress led land reforms of Deva Raj Urs, and continuation of voicing farmers’ interests in Karnataka by one and all not to forget the role of the `Son of the Kissan’ from Hassana being catapulted  to PM’s position, by quirk of  `destiny’ according to him.

Jyoti ensured production and distribution of Electricity, in abundance. It transformed Rural Bengal to the extent to which it had developed today. This writer remember afresh when Jyoti ordered all the delegates attending the fourth CITU Conference at then Madras in 1979 to levee the conference and rush to then Calcutta, to restore electricity immediately.  Thus the working class was not only employed in the struggles, but also in organisation.  Be it in organising the peasants for unleashing and sustaining the struggles of the peasantry; be it organising the Panchayat Raj or even in production and distribution of electricity successfully. It should be an effective role model for anyone wanting to usher prosperity to rural areas, to note that the Bengal Government of Jyoti never starved Rural Bengal of electricity.  It thus became not a surplus producer of electricity but a surplus producer of Rice, Potato and so on i.e. it produced food for the millions. All this it shall not be forgotten was by ensuring the leadership of Working Class and firmly bonding the working class peasant unity. The success lay in combining the power of mass movement and transforming through self-governance and parliamentary democracy functioning only in the interests of the working people and even making use of the sections of ruling classes in the service of the people, through Joint Venture and building of the Industries etc.

Earlier  Jyoti and CPI (M)’s collective leadership faced the situation in clarifying their position at the 12th congress in 1985 his effort to bring about joint venture.   The 12th congress debate and CPI(M) resolution on Joint venture in 1991 preceded the Liberalisation by five to six years.  

Haldia Petrochemicals remains as a Jewel in the crown of Modern Bengal, effectively built by Joint Venture and People’s Participation.  Needless to say several thousands donated their blood to build Haldia, when Indira’s regime refused any help.

Jyoti’s period was the period when the internecine wars between Indian Ruling Classes never willing to accommodate the aspirations of the people, stifled democracy, subverted it, them by union government’s policy led the de-industrialisation of Bengal.  Jyoti alone could not have faced these challenges. He faced them bravely and confiding himself in the working people of Bengal, and appealing to the sections of democratically conscious people, not only in Bengal but throughout the Country and even the World Over. Thus, during his regime neither the working class could be satisfied for their demands for better living standards without rapid industrialisation, which was denied to him.  He has stood firm upto the twenty first century, wading through the period of Liberalisation.  He and his party, the CPI (M) made its policy clear, to take advantage of the liberalised economy but under their own terms in the National Interest.

  Thus, grappling with every situation, and applying the line flexibly hard the undefeated stint of Jyoti Basu continued till he retired voluntarily prior to the 2002 assembly elections after remaining as CM for five full term before completing the sixth term only to put Budhadeb Bhattacharya into the saddle.

Efforts at rapid re-industrialisation was again portrayed by vested interests as Bengal adopting Liberalisation and inviting multinationals etc.  They never examined the details objectively, but dished out `sensational’ and `controversial’ points all with a single minded commitment to somehow end the rule of the Left Front in West Bengal.  Even as they were happy about and showered praises on the successor to Jyoti, and relished his industrial friendliness, they expected him to carry out the trade union bashing more effectively and relished the reports about his mannerism in this regard.  According to them all these attracted Ratan Tata to Singrur with the one lakh rupee a car project. It was truly a National Venture challenging the Foreign Monopoly car manufacturers in the country who got entrenched in the Nation. Even this National Interest the mass media did not campaign for. Instead they gave boost to the orchestrated efforts to thwart the Bengal Government’s efforts and finally made effectively made Tata to shift to Gujarat the small car project.

Before we deal with the crisis at Nandigram, one crucial aspect of the working class party’s policy effectively implemented in Bengal through the single minded devotion of Jyoti Basu has to be restated.  It is never to use police against the struggling people, whoever they may be, whatever the compulsions are.  The bedrock of the police policy of the UF Government of 67-71, of Left Front Government from 1977 through to 2002 was that the Police is a civil militia which should act just to maintain law and order, not to misuse the `concept of law and order’ to suppress the people.  Thus the concept of police being the civil / people’s militia, never to act against the people’s interests, truly intended an element of state machinery of the people, by the people, and for the people.  Together with the twin concept of the Military being the force only to defend the borders, to defend and if necessary to wage war with the aggressors, the civil militia, the police and the professional military shall not be `politicised’ except in the interest of the people. 

The Nandigram episode of 2006/07, of police firing against the `so called liberated zone’ with such notorious slogans like `aaj Nandigram, kal sare-gram’ could not be justified by the genuine Marxian concept of not employing the Police against the People.  Even unintentional or mistaken violation of this principle evolved so painfully by Jyoti Basu, Bengal’s collective leadership of CPI (M) and Left Front, backed by the All India Leadership and the conscious elements of People all over the country was the error for which the government of the day suffered a set back, apart from other causes. Although, it was done in the cause of the people, for meeting the challenge of the mahajyot against the orderly governance, for resettling the people who were driven away from their homes, for industrialisation, it could not stand the stringent leftist norms of pro-people governance. Even the undeniable fact that no Government could have tolerated the `liberated zones’ being established challenging the writ of the government, and the union government, the so called democratic parties and the mass media which is supposed to be the guardians of democracy, should have supported the Bengal Government in nipping in bud such provocations and possible challenges and should have campaigned against perpetuating violence on the supporters of the Government.  But none of these `expectations’ about the conduct of the opponents of the leftist government could sanction the very use of police, even under compulsion. It was not sanctioned by the Party Policy, i.e. getting into governance in a state was never to be used to use the police against the people of the state.  The deviation from party policy was bound to be visited in the form of retribution.  This statement is not made in anyway of facilitating the evil designs of Mahajyot from fundamentalists  `green’ `white’  `saffron’ and `blood-red’ terrorists and communalists and all reactionaries. In fact, the entire spectrum of politics, with only common ground of anti-Left Front acted in consort. . Mamta Banerjee who had has her life mission in anti-communism and who had violently clashed with Jyoti Basu’s efforts to bring in land reforms, suddenly turned into the opposite fighting for land reforms after Jyothi remitted the office.  It is not out of place to note that in 2003 Came the results of the MacArthur Foundation study of Political Econmy of Land Reforms in West Bengal which related the implementation of land reforms to the political success in successive elections from 1977 onwards and that once the opportunity to distribute land has ended, where after the left cannot distribute land, but has to take land for industrialisation, at such a stage stealing the slogan of land reforms from the left will enable all anti-left forces to come together and to discredit the left.  This exactly is the turning into opposite seen in politics dialectically. Even under such trying circumstances, under failing health Jyoti acquitted well in trying to restore confidence of the People and strengthened the efficacy of the Party to resolve each and every issue.

A portrayal of this rare leader in Indian Politics is incomplete without examining the pros and cons of his oft repeated statement of `Historic Blunder’ in the party rejecting the pleas of entire secular parties for Jyoti to take over the leadership of the Country in 1996. This was due to the fact even when the entire opposition had never supported Jyoti, in his efforts they could openly acknowledge the fact that he alone was poised to run a coalition in the interest of the People.  The results of 1996 general elections produced a sort of a secular front, as against the trials of anti-congress VP Singh Government supported by left and BJP together.  No doubt it fell when the BJP in their selfishness advanced the Rath Yatra and paved way to the later day demolition of Babri Masjid.  VP Singh then had resigned after declaring that the broken hearts of the people can never be put together. 

But in 1996 it was a different situation.  Even Congress was lying low and would not have been in such a position as they later removed Deve Gowda by a no confidence motion.  The situation would have been different if they had done so with Jyoti Basu who was projected to be the Prime Minister, and would have taken the challenge, but for the party’s collective decision to deny the offer. 

Jyoti’s leadership, as it always had, the skill of combining the Extra Parliamentary Activates, in the main and utilising the Parliamentary opportunities in subsidiary interest. Thus this line could transform the Parliament even momentarily or for a brief period from reversing its role of being an instrument of oppression to an instrument to ensure that the constitutional guarantees are implemented in favour of the people.  If only he and the possible secular united front could ensure that the Directive Principles of State Policy was effectively tried to be implemented, he and the government could not have survived but the process of struggle would have developed to the entire country:  This is why he had consistently called it Historic Blunder.  And the CPI (M) leadership had never rebuked him for this statement, though they could have easily found fault with him for having gone openly against the decisions of the Party.  No doubt he did carry out the Party CC’s decision if refusing to be drawn further into the controversy and readily supported installing Deve Gowda as the Prime Minister.

However, he never thrust his ideals under the protection of the principles of voicing only the opinion of those who mustered the majority.  The fact that the party had a clear line that unless there is substantial majority, it shall not share power in any ministry was literally applied.  Even the fact that at 1967 the UF Ministry, in which Jyoti became the Dy.CM and Home Minister did not have substantial majority was not remembered. The majority for establishing during 1967-71 was built brick by brick through 1967, 69, 71 suffering the set back in 1972 and achieving the substance in all manner in 1977.  This possibility was not considered and hence Jyoti went on calling it a historic blunder.

He considered, as some others including the General Secretary of the day, Com.Harkishen Singh Surjeet that it was a historic blunder.  Yet the party sailed through all this period, his continuing as the CM and ushering in the twenty-first century. His Story is History, and the History is nothing but the History of Class Struggles.  It is so clear even from this episode.  Marx who conceived this truth, that the history of hitherto known society is history of class struggles, also had also said that History never repeats, except in the form of farce.  This he said with respect to his analysis of in the classic work Historic materialism of Class Struggle in France, which made the Democrats who beheaded the Emperor and Queens and Lords using in the name of Liberty, Fraternity and Equality, crowning of Napoleon Bonaparte as the Emperor. And we had our own repetition of history as farce in 2009 set back of the Third Front, which was expected to make even CPI (M) to possibly participate in the Government.   

More than all the transformation of the Bengal of 1947 being the most communally divided place in the country to which Gandhiji had to rush avoiding Independence Day Celebration, has been turned into communally amiable place by Jyoti Basu and the Party.  Even the self-justifying statement of Rajiv Gandhi when Sikhs were killed in hundreds in Delhi and other places, as a retaliation to Indira Gandhi’s assassination, that when a Benyan Tress falls it destroys several other plants, etc. had become a misnomer under Jyoti Basu’s leadershgip. Not a single sikh was attacked or killed.  Although the fall of Barimasjid and after the Gujarat Pogrom the crying man with folded hands found refuge at Kolkotta goes to record Jyoti’s and Left credentials in this regard.  Not that it has any problems, with the Bengla Deshi infiltration and so on; Jyoti managed the best the Secular credentials of any government.

This tribute, from Karnataka to the Gigantic Jyoti Babu will be incomplete without referring to his role and foray into whatever little he could for our Karnataka.

Jyoti had been frequent visitor to the beck and call of the working class movement of Karnataka starting with the immediate post independence days.  Com.N.L.Upadhyaya the leader of the party in Karnataka fondly referred as Upa by Jyoti and Kaka Abu (Muzafar Ahmed) had good working relationship.  Jyoti Basu those days could get into the Haw rah-Madras Mail and catch the Bangalore Mail later with his hold all and reach Bangalore to help the railways workers movement as also textile workers movement.

What was started in Bangalore by the Public Sector Workers as a movement to get the minimum wage of Rs.200/- per month in 1970 along with linkage in consumer price index, as was conceded by UF Govt of 1969-71 in West Bengal developed in the post emergency period first as challenge to the failure to keep up the promises by the Janata Party Government in 1977-79, got show balled into the Great Public Workers Strike of Bangalore in 1980-81 ably guided by P.Ramamurthy for enforcing the Rs.500/- minimum wage he ensured for the BHEL Workers all over India. Thus the 1980-81 struggle which successfully combined with the Malaprabha Agitation, the Naragund-Bangalore Jatha and opposition to continued authoritarian rule by Gundu Rao ended for the first time the congress monopoly in Karnataka.  This definitely was the result of the leading role of the working class movement in Bengal flowering into working class and peasantry getting combined to ensure democratic governance.  The fact that a similar developed ushered in at Andhra Pradesh the NTR Government, as here in Karnataka of Ramakrishna Heggade’s Government.  Together with these the National Conference success in J&K and bringing around all opposition parties led to the formation of VP Singh Government.

Needless to say, that his role immediately after becoming the Chief Minister, continued this through 1978-1981, when he campaigned against the continued authoritarian regime in Karnataka. His visit to 3rd conference of CITU at Harihar, the visit to Mysore Kirloskar Plant, his appreciation of the work done by Kirloskars for self-reliance, having examined the gears produced by them, and having enquired into the relations they had with the CITU union and asking CITU leaders to ensure industrial peace as long as collective agreement is in force, his laying the foundation stone for Mysore Kirloskar Employees’ Association, which is the only foundation stone bearing his name in Karnataka, his addressing the Public Meeting there at Harihar, all paved way for the ongoing struggle of working class and peasantry in Karnataka.  The Nargund Bangalore Jatha, which originated at Nargund and negotiated the entire stretch of NH4 through, Dharwad, Hubli, Haveri, Harihar, and Davangere and so on, had been facilitated by the developing working class movement of the area, and the great reception the Bangalore Working Class provided to them.

No doubt soon the monopoly of congress was broken and the Janata Party assumed power first in 1983, and then in 1985 and until 1988 it was a honey moon with Jyoti Basu’s Left Front Government.  Their partial but successful emulation of withdrawing all police cases foisted by the Gundu Rao Government, then stint with the Policy Policy of non-interference in Industrial Dispute, as had been practiced initially. The police refused to take action against unruly masses at Whitefield in 1984 was a case in point; unlike the Hejjala Firing by Janata Dal Government in 1977, the BPL episodes etc, which had by then reversed its roles and distanced by Bengal Model even as a policy perspective. 

Jyoti’s guidance in initiating the Panchayat Raj in Karnataka has been already mentioned.  As Karnataka had a pro  labour Minister in the person of S.K.Kantha, who had been partisan to the cause of labour, and informed pro-labor opinion wanted him to understand the Bengal logic in matters relating to Labor, Jyoti called him had a free and frank discussion and later sent him to Soviet Union to study the Labor elations there.

Jyoti’s relations with Janata Party being so fine tuned, he found a good ally in then government to conduct his campaign on the role of Governor, the Centre State Relations conclaves etc which had united almost the entire opposition.

Thus while we really grapple with the loss of such great personality and our Bangalore NIMHANS wanting to study the nonagenarian’s brilliant brain, with all humility to the scientific community let us declare that it is not merely his brain, which no doubt is the embodiment of thousands or at least hundreds of years achievement of his lineage, in the Kayashta Traditions of being Administrators, his own environment of Freedom Movement, anti-imperialism, the great cultural traditions of Bengal and Kolkotta, which according to BTR was the cradle of revolutionaries, and above all the extra-parliamentary struggles and combining with making use of the opportunities parliamentary democracy provided, by the collective wisdom and knowledge of the navaratna the nine member polit bureau, the contributions above all under the able leadership of Promod Das Gupta, the Bengal Party, the working class under the leadership of Niren De, Kamal Sarkar, Krishnapada Ghosh, the fighting working class of railways led by Samar Mukherji, the Engineering workers of Howra under the leadership of Harisadhan Misra and Shanti Ghatak and above all the Durgapur workers among leaders still living legendary leaders of Jeeban Roy etc. had brought this result. Equally strong was the role of Hare Krishna Konar, his brothers Binoy Konar and host of Peasant leaders, who were guided by among others AK Gopalan, Har Kishnan Singh Surjeet, Sundarayya and even EMS, who all had well entrenched as peasant leaders.

  Just as Brain Research will benefit the People, the Research in Philosophy, Economics and Politics will no doubt benefit all of us and the Humanity.

He was the last of the nine PBMs who founded CPI (M), the first to pass away was AK Gopalan on March 22nd, the day Indira was defeated, and through this period of 33 years, we lost all of them, P.Sundaraiah, B.T.Ranadive, Basavapunnaiah, PDG, Harkishna Sigh Surjeet and after 33 years with Jyoti’s exist a void is created, which no doubt will be filled by the Jyoti he lit in thousands throughout the country.  The coming days of turmoil is bound to face the leadership to collectively emulate Jyoti and the nine members of Polit Bureau, who are the embodiment of the People of this Great Nation. 

            This is rare in Politics, as practiced in our country, practiced mainly to advance self/group, or sectional narrow minded opportunist interestes especially by mainstream political parties.  Not that these parties have policies which are in the interests of the people.  Many of them follow no policies or programmes only in the interests of people unlike Jyoti Basu and his movement have had.

            Let us pay respects thus in emulating Jyoti Basu’s principles, commitment, dedication and achievements, for none can be parallel to him or his movement so long as it does not deviate from the principles scrupulously follwed by him under the guidance of the party. .

                                                                                    VJK NAIR

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January 27, 2010

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