Tripura elections 2018: Fall of the last revisionist Bastille

Posted on March 4, 2018

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manik

Train to nowhere

*Damodar

The electoral rout of CPI (M) in its last stronghold of Tripura seemed to be the culmination of the long rot which was faced by this revisionist party. After being in power for 25 years, the BJP manged to dislodge it without any pain. In a way the election of the state was a litmus test for both the contending parties, for CPI(M) it was an electoral battle that it was fighting to keep itself relevant in the parliamentary politics, while for the RSS-BJP Hindutva brigade it was a do or die battle to erase the last vestige of what they term as “Communism” from the country, an aim that is espoused by all right-wing forces the world over. Since its foundation RSS in its various official publications has vowed to get India rid of Communists. Tripura gave them the chance, a chance they took it with full vigour.

On the other hand CPI(M) presented a poor alternative. The party that had since its inception been a revisionist grouping serving the interest of the bourgeoisie and acting in most anti-Marxist method had seen its rot deepening. Since the loss of their traditional stronghold of West Bengal they have never been able to overcome the ideological confusion besieging them. The confidence of the leadership is at lowest so is the enthusiasm of the cadres. The set back of Bengal has still not gone so is the factional crisis in Kerala and even at the central party level. In other parts of the country it was hardly any force to reckon with, but there also it has lost its confidence to lead mass movement. The net result is the party is grappling with severe identity crisis.

It entered into the electoral battle as medieval Indian kings, who were completely clue-less how to fight against highly motivated enemy, and like those mini mughals and their courtiers, it was also found to squander time and strength not in strategising war techniques but indulging in quibbles, and like those medieval kings these flag-bearers of revisionism surrendered in front of the marauding force of right without any fight. This is the crux of elections.

It would also be pertinent to analyse the 25 years of “Left” rule in the state and what have they done? It is a strange character of this party to keep on harping on single success and try to reap its fruit for ever. As we saw in Bengal, the party till it was dethroned, kept on harping on the success of its land reform program and its effort to give land to the tillers, though this ‘reform’ had its own drawback.

In Tripura, it was seen harping the same paean of removing the AFSPA by ending terrorism and bringing peace and stability. Something for which its efforts were praised and hence given 5 terms. Of late, it started to sing a different song, about the simplicity and honesty of its Chief Minister. The political projection of its CM was completely missing, so was the vision from the election campaign. On the other hand the BJP has mastered the art of what public wants to hear, it has become adept in weaving dreams and selling them. They did it in 2014 and then in subsequent elections, and it Tripura it went all out to decimate a crumbling ‘left’ mud fort.

So apart from ending the internal rebellion, what had been the achievements of CPI-M? Let’s look at some of the data.

The state is the third smallest state of the country, covering an area of 10,492 sq km and a population of 36.73 Lakhs (census 2011). The economy is agrarian and characeterised by high rate of poverty, low per-capita income, inadequate infrastructural facilities, low progress in industrial field and high un-employment. More than 42 percent of its population is dependent on agriculture & allied activities.

This small state has the dubious distinction of having the highest unemployment rate in the country hovering at 19.7 per cent. According to Tripura government’s own admission,

The un-employment situation in the State has assumed alarming position. Total job seekers in the Employment Exchanges of the State were 6,62,756 on March 2015, which further increased to 6,93,516 in March 2016. Increase in population and consequent addition to the labour force, the supply side of labour force continues to outstrips the demand resulting in rise of un-employment and under employment at an alarming rate in the State.” (Economic Review of Tripura 2015-16, at http://ecostat.tripura.gov.in)

Further the state’s industrial sector is one of the most backward in the country, and there has been low capital formation in the state, resulting in a low growth and job formation. The CPI (M)’s apathy towards development could be gauged from the fact that during its 12th plan outlay covering the period between 2007 and 12, the data for which we have; a paltry 1.38 per cent of total state’s budget was devoted to the Industry & Mineral sector. This converted into Rs. 43381.00 lakhs.

To counter the unemployment issue Sarkar government gave job in government sector, but here too this boomeranged. The government servants in other parts of India, get the pay scale of 7th pay commission, in Tripura it was still 4th pay commission that is in effect. Something that Modi exploited to the core.

That this non development was evident from the statement of various leaders of CPI (M), politburo member Subhashini Ali said “There could have been more development and better job creation, but despite this state’s financial constraints, so much has been done,” (https://theprint.in/2018/02/14/jobs-development-graft-to-be-key-factors-tripura-polls/).

Alas this realisation came too late for them.

Even by the government’s own admission, the state lagged behind in every sector of basic amenities.

BASIC EMINITIES CENSUS 2011

Sl. No Item Unit Tripura All
India

1

Proportion of households having telephone connection including Mobile

In %

3.3

6.0

2

Proportion of Single married Couple households

In %

76.8

70.1

3

Proportion of households having bathroom

In %

18.9

42.0

4

Proportion of households having Television

In %

44.9

47.2

5

Proportion of households having Scooter etc..

In %

8.2

21.0

6

Proportion of households having Radio / Transistor

In %

12.8

19.9

7

Proportion of households having Computer / laptop with internet

In %

1.0

3.1

8

Proportion of households having Computer / laptop without internet

In %

6.3

6.3

Source: Tripura Economy in Brief, http://ecostat.tripura.gov.in/Tripura_Economy.pdf

Tripura also has another dubious distinction, it topped the list in the number of suicides according to the data compiled by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) in 2016. The rate of suicides in Tripura was 19.68% as opposed to the national rate of 11.08%. what is glaring in this is though agriculture being the main source of employment for about 42% of the state’s population, the rate of farmer suicides was zero. Most of the suicides have been attributed to various categories of causes but not “farmer suicides”, leading one to ponder that did not the honest ‘Left’ government also resorted to same statistical jugglery as is evident in other states? To attribute the fall in farmer suicides being in the “others” category – a phenomena described as the Slaughter of suicide data by eminent rural journalist P Sainath.

With such dismal economic and social indicator another factor that merits some discussion is about the complete dominance of Bengali population over the state.

Historically Tripura was an independent kingdom and a princely state during the times of Raj. The local Tribal population comprising about 31 per cent of the population, saw their status relegated to second rug in their own state, with the influx of Bengali population after the partition of the country. Bengali custom and culture dominated the entire spectrum, to an extend that the language of hinduised Tripuri tribe Kokborak received no state support. The autonomous tribal council that was created to protect the tribal identity and social way of life was also seen as an appendage to the ruling bengali elite. CPI (M) did nothing to bridge this cleavage, on the other hand the party itself was dominated by Bengali diaspora. The way BJP exploited this chasm and allied with the tribal party to exploit the social discontent that was always rubbished by the state CPI (M) who were so engrossed in enjoying the power that they forgot the bitter lessons of history!

So much was the Bengali influence that even English was introduced late for the larger population. As a result the youths from the state was found lagging behind their counterparts from other NE states in the highly anglicised job market.

Revisionism is a strange phenomenon, it makes one delusional and to indulge in grandeur. Since the party practices something and preaches something else, it is condemned to be in a quagmire of confusion and disarry at the first sign of strong opposition. It happened in the CPGB, it happened with the French, Italian and Spanish parties (when they were hailed as adopting new form of Marxism sans Leninism termed as Euro Communism) and above all its severest extreme was found in the Soviet party.

CPI (M) could be no different, its entire machinery is geared towards election process, yet it does not think it to be the end, and so the confusion. If one is contesting a bourgeois parliamentary election then the rule of the game has to be the same. One cannot be revolutionary and revisionist at the same time. In state power they harp on words like petty- bourgeois attitude of the masses. The State general secretary Bijan Dhar blamed the discontent amongst the general masses and youths in particular due to non-existent job market and other issues on the “petty bourgeois attitude among the new generation”. He said, “Yes, the middle class may have some problems but it has to be solved democratically, not through bourgeois politics. This is a pro-people’s government.” (Scroll.in)

So it is fine for the party to contest whole heartedly in a bourgeois electoral process but if the masses demands something it becomes petty-bourgeois attitude. What a new brand of revolution, these mandarins of A.K. Gopalan Bhawan are doing in India!

The Indian parliamentary left apart from becoming direction less have also lost their ability to provide alternative and imagination. When Modi came with high promises like job growth and development the party had no answer to counter them. It had only the simplicity and honesty to portray. The CM doesn’t have a property does no good to a person who sees no future for him in the state. The RSS-BJP machinery utilised all the available modes of communication from booth level committees to using internet and latest communication, whereas CPI (M) again lacked in this. It was expected too, with a leader who doesn’t have even mobile and flaunts this as an achievement, would be of no use in formulating strategies of connecting via new technologies. In this country being anachronistic is seen as a virtue. Again going to history a major reason of defeat of Indian kings during their war against the invading hordes of Muslim from West, was the lack in adaption of new war methods and technologies. In front of new the old has but extremely slim chance of victory. This election campaign reasserted this age old theorem.

The creation of a state patronage and non development of the productive forces by the CPI (M) has been discussed ad infinitum by us as well as others since the days of its formation. Today those who are sulking at the debacle needs to think again, was this party truly representing the interests of the proletariats and poor peasantry?

It is hoped, that this debacle would rekindle the flames of discussion on the strategy and tactics of the party, if not, in the leadership then amongst the cadres, who have given their all for the cause of the revolution. Nothing could serve the cause of revolution better than an open polemic conducted by the grassroot workers of CPI(M) and all other left parliamentary parties, for if this is not done, then the rot of revisionism would continue to haunt a bigger portion of the working masses. Today, CPI(M) and its partners are giving the greatest assistance to the strategy of imperialism for the suppression of revolution by their revisionist, collaborationist trends which is fully serving their masters interest.

The alarm is ringing for the cadres of CPI(M), either raise the banner of revolut against the leadership or be condemned to rot eternally.

*This is first of several commentaries that is planned on analysing the current situation of the Communist Movement of India.
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