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Light and Shadow

The new year dawns in darkness. With Bathanitola-Hybaspur-Bathe lurking behind and the threat of a saffron takeover looming ahead, 1998 comes as a big challenge to all progressive and peace-loving people.

1997 was the year that exposed the utter inadequacy of bourgeois coalition politics— so shamelessly upheld by the official communists as their very own — in checking the drift towards anti-people policies and forces. It also saw the myth of foreign-funded, export-driven, privatisation-inspired growth exploded, with recession stalking the industrial scene and the Rupee hitting a record low. Reflecting the eco-political crisis, the oldest ruling party finds itself in a shambles, while in the JD and the UF, centrifugal forces strike with ruthless unpredictability to make these the most pitiable creatures. The ruling classes are desperately trying to utilise the current instability to effect a decisive right ward shift under the saffron banner.

Thwarting this immediate threat and learning from ’97 to chart a new course of struggle for ’98 — such is the responsibility the Left owes the people today. But the CPI and the CPI(M) are asking the people to repeat 1997, i.e., to repose faith in yet another Congress-supported UF government. They want us to believe that with a larger Left presence in the Lok Sabha, and perhaps with the direct participation of the CPI(M) in the government, this time the latter will be less dependent on the Congress. But on whose support do they expect to gain -- say, in Bihar? And even if that happens, will not the gain be more than offset by losses likely to be suffered by a truncated JD and other partners, given the growing tendency of sections of them to tie up with the BJP or the Congress?

Any reincarnation of the UF government is thus destined to be perilously dependent on the Congress, whose penchant for pulling the rug is bound to reassert at the very first opportunity. In fact, in the given balance of political forces it is foolish to expect a really pro-poor (that is, anti-rich) and progressive government to emerge and work in the parliament. This hard reality the masses should be made conscious of, rather than being spoon-fed on illusions of an improved UF government. Your interests can be safeguarded —the Left should tell them— only through movements and, therefore, in the parliamentary arena, only through a fighting left opposition. Do reject the BJP and the Congress, do elect others to form a coalition government — not as your true representative but because that type of weak and unstable formation leaves a larger scope for exacting concessions from the rulers through struggle.

Darkness is always pregnant with light. But in the social arena it requires the midwife of people’s struggles (parliamentary and extra-parliamentary combined) to be born. If the memory of our martyrs of ’97 makes our hearts heavy, it is in their ongoing valiant struggles that the light of ’98 shines. As Nazim Hikmet sang,

“For if I shall not burn, And you shall not burn, If we shall not burn, Then who will dispell the dark?”



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