By D. Raja
We just saw two election results. One was the defeat of the blatantly anti-people, pro-corporate, racist right-wing authoritarian Donald Trump in the US presidential elections by the Democrat Joe Biden. This should send a huge message to all right-wing parties and leaders who try to divide the people on the basis of race, religion, community and colour in order to capture political power. Trump is accused of destroying the three pillars of American democracy namely Liberty, Rule of Law and Free and Fair elections.
The other election in the Indian state of Bihar, where a coalition of secular, democratic forces almost defeated the communal, venom-spewing, Hindutva machinery of the RSS-BJP combine and their alliance partner the Janata Dal (United). However, the NDA managed to form the government using all the resources at its command making Nitish Kumar as the chief minister, who had announced that he would hang his boots after the 2020 assembly elections.
Both these elections have taught many lessons and have opened many opportunities and challenges for the left, progressive and secular forces all over the world, especially in India. These two events clearly exposed the views expressed by many ideologues about the end of ideology and ideology-based politics.
The remarkable fact about the US elections was the mobilisation of left-progressive voters by the campaign run by presidential-hopeful left-leaning Bernie Sanders which helped Joe Biden capture the presidency through victory in key states like Michigan and Georgia. In India, the Left proved its mettle by winning 16 out of the 29 seats it was allotted in the Mahagathbandhan alliance in Bihar, though as many observers pointed out that the seat share of the Left was much less than its strength on the ground and its connect with the people. It has become evident with the results. Still, the left parties, CPI, CPI (M) and CPI (ML) aligned with Mahagathbandhan because of the grave danger of the RSS-BJP claiming power. The Left stood firmly with secular-democratic forces.
Donald Trump and his officiating the high office of the US created much havoc domestically and internationally and divided the US on racial and class lines. The victory of Joe Biden and his programme will be closely monitored by the leftists in the Democratic Party like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. They will also keep a close watch on the Biden administration. The world hopes that they will work towards a more stable international order for common good for all nations which will ensure peace and development.
The Left’s programme in India has been to be the voice of the voiceless, the marginalised, the downtrodden toiling people of the country. It can be claimed with certainty that ever since the RSS-BJP combine captured the high office in India, it has been the Left that uncompromisingly opposed all their divisive, anti-people policies and moves and has been giving leadership to popular movements. Be it the discrimination against the Dalits and women of the country, posing one community as anti-national or the anti-farmer, anti-worker, anti-student policies of the government, the Left has tried to galvanize them as popular protests against the right-wing communal forces in the country and it was these movements and protests that have resulted in the spectacular electoral performance of the Left in Bihar.
These victories have enhanced the expectations of the people from the Left. The emerging situation has thrown many challenges before the Left in India. The victory of Joe Biden and the impressive performance of the Mahagathbandhan have shown that the rise of right-wing forces throughout the globe since the financial meltdown of 2008 can be halted if progressive forces come together on fundamental issues of democracy and rights of the people. However, with Trump giving a tough fight to Biden and the BJP emerging as a major force in Bihar, it can be said that there is much work to be done by progressive forces to undo the polarisation and fragmentation of the population on communal, caste and racial lines.
Coming to India, the pro-corporate BJP, by getting many more seats than its alliance partners, will now claim to be a pan Indian Party with more presence in all states and regions. However, it is clear that the BJP’s programme for the country is to convert Indian Republic into Hindutvarashtra. It has already created divides amongst religions, castes, states and regions of the country.
The Left, after gaining significant seats and vote share in a major North Indian state like Bihar, should focus on creating a larger unity of secular-democratic forces. Not only in Bihar but across the country, the regional and national level secular and democratic parties should do serious introspection with regard to their ideological, political positions. They cannot afford to take right or right of centre positions. Even if they do not take left of centre positions, they should remain at least with centrist positions. They also should introspect on their positions on the neo-liberal economic policies which have brought the county to the present disastrous position and pushing the economy into recession.
Left, independently and also along with other secular democratic forces should intensify the struggles against the destitution laid by those ruling with a disastrous agenda. It is the duty and responsibility of the Left to bring together and galvanize popular movements against the anti-people and polarising policies of the BJP across the country. Left should be the binding element of what is democratic, secular and pro-people in the Indian political and social arena by rising against class, caste and gender-based discriminations with more vigour and sensitivity. (IPA Service)