The “Poll Boycott” by MCC and PWG

gone are the days when formations like MCC and PWG issued poll boycott calls with a proclaimed purpose of weaning people away from parliamentary politics. Or for that matter, to prepare for launching armed struggle to seize power, rejecting the ‘parliamentary path’. Of course, this time too there were incidents of attack on policemen during the election period, as for example in Aurangabad of Bihar, Giridih and West Singhbhum of Jharkhand, Bastar and Surguja of Chhattisgarh and Guntur in Andhra by MCC and PWG squads. But no one can deny the fact that there is a palpable change in the attitude towards elections on the part of both PWG and MCC, notwithstanding regional variations in implementation of their tactic.

For example in Andhra, the PWG attacked the TDP Supremo Chandrababu Naidu and later his parliamentary leader Yerran Naidu, and announced that they would enforce boycott only on BJP and TDP and allow the bourgeois opposition parties to conduct their election propaganda campaign. The PWG ranks supported the opposition candidates openly, playing a role in the Congress-TRS sweep in the Telengana region. Not that it was an entirely new thing for PWG to support this or that party in a clandestine way during the earlier elections. They have been using this opportunist tactic in all elections since 80s. But the difference this time is that they have done it openly after a formal announcement by their Central Committee.

As for MCC in Jharkhand, one of its zonal commanders, now in jail, contested parliamentary elections from Chatra, and another leader from Lohardagga. Although MCC was loudly proclaiming that they have expelled these violators of their line, most of the onlookers wondered whether this was an MCC experiment to probe chances of entering parliamentary politics. In fact, the jailed commander did enjoy support of MCC cadres in the area and even after the elections some of them staged a dharna before the authorities complaining rigging in Chatra polls.

In Bihar, MCC launched attacks on the CPI(ML) candidate’s propaganda campaign in Jehanabad and burnt a vehicle in this course. In this area MCC had earlier announced its intention to kill Comrade Kunti Devi, who had defeated the MCC-backed candidate in Zila Parishad elections.

As is generally known, MCC used to extend its support to RJD in Bihar and JMM in Jharkhand during earlier elections. In the last elections some of their commanders were seen openly canvassing for the RJD candidates in Bihar. Their violence or the threat of poll boycott never resulted either in active boycott, or in a decline in the vote percentage. In fact, it helped the administration to complete polling even without setting up a booth, amounting to a booth capture by the administration itself, generally in favour of the ruling party. Such incidents were witnessed in Koderma constituency of Jharkhand, the only constituency from where a ruling party BJP candidate, the ex-chief minister Babulal Marandi could register victory with a good margin.

Deeply frustrated at their own tactic of poll boycott call in election after election, the PWG and MCC have thus started improvising it in a pragmatic and thoroughly opportunistic way. But such ‘negative participation’ in the elections can never serve a real left-democratic political assertion. It simply plays into the hands of bourgeois political parties. In effect their violence produces the same result as the violence resorted to by the bourgeois parties themselves, when they go for booth capture. In the present electoral system even a genuine boycott in selective booths goes in favour of a particular candidate, whose rival has a vote bank in those booths.

Whether to boycott the elections or not depends on the concrete political situation at hand. In the first phase of the Marxist-Leninist movement in India, the Party led by Comrade Charu Mazumdar gave a call for boycott of elections under conditions of a revolutionary high tide to put the maximum energy of the new generation of revolutionaries to building armed struggle of the peasantry in the countryside. But to carry on boycott of elections blindly even after the revolutionary situation had ebbed is nothing but a mockery of this Marxist-Leninist tactic. And this departure from the correct Marxist-Leninist course has engendered opportunism and degeneration in their ranks. It seems that some sort of rethinking has begun on this question even within the groups like MCC and PWG as well.

However, if the PWG and MCC really want to rectify themselves, they must understand that it cannot be effected in an opportunist or pragmatic way. They must understand the necessity of political assertion of the proletariat and rural poor in the given conditions. They must not be fooled by the sensational media headlines about their isolated acts of violence. They must also open their doors for unity with other left streams in the country.