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Mainstream, VOL LII, No 13, March 22, 2014

Best Homage to Shahid Bhagat Singh is to Build Unity of Left Forces

Sunday 23 March 2014, by Bharat Dogra

Search for a Genuine Political Alternative Continues

The people of India observe the martyrdom day of Shahid Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev every year on March 23. This year this day comes at a time when the nation is engrossed in hectic campaigning for the general elections.

In the middle of all the intense pre-election activities, the increasing marginalisation of the Left parties is all too evident. This is also the saddest aspect of the election scene that genuine alternatives to the capitalist path are not at all evident. The best homage to Shahid Bhagat Singh is to strive hard to strengthen the Left forces and build a broad unity of these forces.

Pre-election analysis is all-too-often obsessed with the narrow focus of who will win how many seats and who’ll align with whom to capture political power. Beyond such considerations of power politics, however, clearly there is a need for analysing the elections in terms of their impacts on such crucial aspects of welfare as peace and harmony, prospects of reducing poverty and protecting environment.

Approximately one-sixth of all the people in the world live in India. The world is passing through extremely sensitive times and very significant decisions have to be taken on crucial issues like climate change and disarmament to avoid irreversible damage to life-giving conditions on earth. In this context India’s elections have a wider impact relating to these stand on critical world issues that will emerge from the electoral verdict given by the people.

There are fairly widespread concerns that the situation regarding some important aspects of people’s welfare and democracy may deteriorate after the general elections. More specifically, these concerns are about communal harmony and human rights (particularly the rights of minorities, women, Scheduled Castes and tribals). There are also concerns about an even more corporate-driven development agenda which can displace and marginalise many people and further push away the concerns relating to the poor.

There is thus a clear need for genuine political alternatives which can fight these threats while also presenting a well-formulated programme of mutually consistent policies which provide hope for tackling major national and inter-national issues and problems.

Two such alternatives have been presented recently. One of these alternatives is in the form of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Unfortunately, any careful evaluation of this party’s record so far would reveal it to be rather poorly equipped in terms of alternative policies. The Delhi election was fought by the AAP mainly on the basis of vote-catching promises of various concessions and reliefs which it was eager to implement during its short tenure. An over-emphasis on single-point measures like Jan Lokpal doesn’t speak highly of its understanding of the important role of well-integrated and mutually consistent policies.

The second alternative has been proposed in the form of some Left parties trying to link up with some regional parties. However, some of these regional parties have themselves been thoroughly exposed due to their lack of principles and policies as well as various irregularities and corruption.

Therefore, the search for genuine alternatives in India’s politics is still not over. This search for genuine alternatives continues.

It has to be a Left-of-Centre alternative to which a wide range of Left political parties as well as various people’s movements dedicated to peace and harmony, justice and equality can contribute.

Apart from various socialist and communist parties, all organisations and movements which have been struggling for justice and equality should be a part of this mobilisation. This should be able to include the concerns and movements of increasing importance relating to environment protection, gender and peace. Commitment to peace as well as opposition to war and highly destructive weapons is an essential part of creating a better world.

As various Left parties and organisations are likely to retain their separate identities for at least some time, a co-ordinating agency should be created to draft a common minimum programme which can provide the basis for broad left unity. This co-ordinating role will extend to various initiatives and joint actions as well as electoral alliances. In this way the creative energy of all the Left parties and groups can be harnessed for the common good of all and for providing a genuine socialism-based alternative at the national level.

Bharat Dogra is a free-lance journalist who has been involved with several social initiatives and movements.