Irrelevant ‘Left’

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 31 Mar 2018 10:39:16


 The Leftist ideologues in Kerala are beginning to realise that their realm is counting its last days. But now it is too late for them to take control of things and mend matters. For, the people in Kerala, too, are realising the hollowness in Leftist ideals that have failed to deliver the goods. This is certainly a danger bell ringing for Leftist ideology.

Congress leader Sonia Gandhi got engaged in dinner diplomacy to promote her idea of a United Front of Opposition parties to defeat Bharatiya Janata Party in the next general elections in 2019.

West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Bannerjee travelled to New Delhi to meet various Opposition leaders to push the cause of another Opposition joint front to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party in the next elections. She also called on Congress leader Sonia Gandhi in her bid to enlist Congress party’s support. She said, she did not find it necessary to meet Congress President Rahul Gandhi at this stage.

THESE political moves have generated much interest in common Indian people since they are being woven around the central idea of defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government in the next general elections. Media has reported the names of most Opposition leaders in the news items in this regard. However, the names of Left leadership have not figured prominently in news items about both the moves. This is because the country’s political community does not find Left parties with much relevance in today’s context. This is one reality the common Indians might miss but the political community would not. For, anybody who understands even a little bit of politics knows that the Left parties in India have worked hard in the past few decades to travel into the zone of political irrelevance. This reality may be hard to digest for the clutch of Left parties with terribly truncated cadres and popular base, but factually speaking, all the Left parties have been engaged in making themselves more and more irrelevant in Indian context in the past few decades. Slowly but surely, they have made themselves undesirable in India’s changing political scenario.

Until the Left parties lost Tripura in the legislative elections a few weeks ago, they could claim that they had power in their hands in Tripura and Kerala, and a considerable influence in West Bengal. Now, with Tripura having slipped from their grip, the Left parties have only one citadel left in their control -- Kerala, indicating that the Leftist thought does not have much influence in national politics. This journey from a fair prominence to oblivion needs to be studied in detail so as to understand why certain ideology loses its relevance in any context. In fact, similar is the story of the Congress party as well -- from tremendous prominence to shocking obscurity. It would be worthwhile to study the downward trajectories of both the ideological streams in Indian political arena. And both these studies will have to be undertaken separately and in full detail.

Limiting this discussion for the moment to only Leftism in the country, it must be noted here that the journey of the Leftist parties into the current irrelevance is of their own making. Even though the Leftist movement has had many intellectual and political stalwarts as leaders of the ideology, their influence continued to wane in a slow but sure manner over the past fifty years. In spurts, the Leftist ideology did win many an encomium during this tenuous journey. Yet, on the whole, it kept losing its sheen and therefore its appeal with the Indian public, as was happening almost everywhere in the world. The collapse of Soviet Union, and regression of Communism in China to a big extent in favour of capitalist idea, led to the collapse of Leftism in India as well. And even though India’s Leftist leadership could see the disaster in the distance, they did not sense danger of they themselves getting trampled upon in the changing current of history. Slowly but surely, Leftist parties in India kept losing their popular base everywhere in the country, Kerala being the only exception.

In Kerala, too, things do not seem to go totally in Leftists’ favour. Their politics of one-upmanship is losing its shine and their violent cadres are becoming millstones around the neck of the organisation. The Leftist ideologues in Kerala are beginning to realise that their realm is counting its last days. But now it is too late for them to take control of things and mend matters. For, the people in Kerala, too, are realising the hollowness in Leftist ideals that have failed to deliver the goods. This is certainly a danger bell ringing for Leftist ideology.

In sharp contrast, the BJP and its mother institution, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), realise the importance of pragmatism to stay afloat without loss of ideological base. It is this pragmatism that is going to be the hallmark of the BJP and other nationalist parties’ conduct of their politics in the days to come. Not because it is in power in most States of the country, but because of its pragmatism, because of its willingness to adopt and adapt to newer methods of politics, the BJP is going to be the clear leader of the nation in the years to come. It may face tough challenges, but it would never be irrelevant to national politics.

This in-built resilience that is the BJP’s basic virtue has been lost totally by the Left parties in the past fifty-odd years. The reasons could be many, but the most important of those was the stress on old people’s continuance in leadership positions. Young people rotted in the cadres and the old people with old ideas continued to dominate the organisational scene. On the political front, too, the Left parties kept singing the very old and very same songs which the world did not want to hear. The story of the collapse of Leftism in India can be long. For the present, however, it is good enough to realise that Leftism has lost its relevance in political context only because the Leftist leadership lost its sense of purpose and relevance.