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News & Views on the Revolutionary Left

Prachanda’s lessons from Singur

The Maoists of Nepal have made history. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) and particularly its two leaders Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury helped them make it, most of the help coming in at the final stages of the transition from monarchy.

However, it would be a big mistake for the Maoists to take any further guidance from Indian leftists, whose ideological confusion has landed them in controversies such as over Singur in West Bengal. Armed revolutionaries have achieved a peaceful transfer of power and proved willing to take part in multi-party democracy.

This is the fist time something like this has happened in the history of the communist movement across the world and that is the significance of the Nepalese Maoists’ feat. Of course, that ‘peaceful’ has to be qualified. Much blood had been shed by the king’s armed forces and by the Maoists, before the king was finally forced to hand over power to the people. Only the final regime change was accomplished without bloodshed.

For the Maoists to depart from the traditional communist mould, it mattered that the regime change took place in a historical context where democracy rather than single-party dictatorship has gained acceptance as relatively the most participative and sustainable form of government.

It also mattered that Nepal’s powerful neighbour India, while capable of cooperating with entrenched non-democratic regimes, as in Myanmar, would have found it difficult to help found a non-democratic alternative to the crumbling monarchy of Nepal.

The UPA government’s dependence on the CPI(M) for its parliamentary majority helped it appreciate, ignoring American and related opinion, the need to include the Maoists as full-fledged partners in the successor regime to the tottering monarchy.

In any case, the tired, old, in-bred groupings that pass themselves off as political parties in Nepal would have hardly inspired popular confidence, if they had not joined hands with the actively insurgent Maoists.

Given the seeming clout that the Indian Left has in New Delhi and, given, also, its electoral success in West Bengal and Kerala, it is tempting for the Maoists of Nepal, when they begin to wade into the untested waters of democratic politics, to try and seek further help from the Indian Left.

The temptation could prove fatal. To see why, the Maoists just need to look at the controversy over acquisition of farm-land in Left-ruled West Bengal for industrial purposes. The CPI(M) is finding it difficult to explain why the Left, traditional champions of the displaced and the dispossessed, have turned dispossessor on behalf of big capital — the Tatas and Indonesia’s Salim group.

Why does the party, whose cadre and followers routinely shout themselves hoarse demanding the downfall of capitalism and popular resistance to globalisation now behave like the henchmen and middlemen of unabashed global capitalists?

The problem lies in the CPI(M)’s programmatic blindness to the reality of vibrant capitalism in its current phase of globalisation. The party and the movement it leads still blindly oppose capitalist development.

The problem really goes back to a sleight of hand practised by the erstwhile communist party of the Soviet Union in the glory days of Sputnik, Vietnam and the Socialist counterweight to imperialist over-reach. Read More>>

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posted by Bimal 30.1.07,


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