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“The CPI Is Committed To The Goal Of Communist Unity” —AB Bardhan General Secretary, CPI

Updated: December 10, 2011 3:25 pm

After the fall of the left in West Bengal and Kerala, no man is as worried as AB Bardhan, General Secretary of CPI. Today he is restless at the age of 88, despite the fact that his party did well in comparison with the other left parties. But this legendary comrade needs no excuse. He is the man at work with a new framework to retrieve the CPI. In an exclusive interview with Atul Kumar Thakur, he shared a future road map of left politics in India and also spoke on many new issues. Excerpts:

Which factors are blocking the potential integration of Communist parties?

The last four-five decades have seen the growth of many divisive factors, such as communalism, casteism, regionalism and others. Parties have exploited these factors and divert the attention of peoples. We have not been able to overcome these divisive factors and are rallying the working people behind us. This is especially true in the vast Hindi belt. In particular, I am refering to our weakness among the rural masses, which are decisive in elections. We are working to overcome these hindrances by decisively turning our faces to the rural India. Caste vs caste requires a sensitive approach to the problem of castes, particularly with the oppressed castes and the marginalised sections.

As I think, there has been an erosion in many of our old existing rural bases, therefore expanding and consolidating such rural bases is our priority task. Taking up the issues like land, water, employment and a stand against the price rise will be a start of our fresh struggle, which have badly affected those, who have miserable access to food, health and education. The CPI is in the process now of holding conferences at branch, anchal, district, and state levels culminating in the All India Party Congress by March/April 2012. In all these conferences, the issues mentioned above will be top in agenda. We are also working towards joint work and action between the two major communist parties rallying along them all other left-oriented parties and movements for strengthening left unity. Communist unity will be the core of left unity; only then can we advance towards setting of left and democratic unity which can be the framework for a real alternative to both the major bourgeoisie parties, namely Congress and BJP. Such a combination will be a true secular and democratic front. Any other ad hoc combination, solely based on electoral arithmetic will not inspire confidence among people.

In my view, the time is right because, the credibility of the Congress and BJP are at low level; people are looking forward to an alternative to replace them. Mobilisation of all these forces requires also the development of unity and united action among the mass organisations. The coming together of all central trade unions, whatever political colour of leadership is, is a case in point. They have taken up the issues confronting the common man all over the country. Kisan organisations are also moving in that direction.

In the past, CPI leaders, including Chaturanan Mishra tried to unify the progressive Trade Union Movement but that couldn’t be substantially materialised. In this direction, do you see any constructive development in the days ahead?

The CPI is committed to the goal of Communist unity but this cannot be done in a hurry. It’s true that, the reaction to our moves have not been very positive but issues like, the programme, the organisational principles and the tactical line requires to be discussed and agreed upon. After all we have to fight back the legacy of a split that kept us apart for more than four decades. However, it’s a welcome sign that the perceptions of the two Communist parties are almost the same on national and international affairs and also on economic and political issues. This, I think created a good atmosphere, though a sense of rivalry still persists. As far as the ideology is concerned, both the parties are committed to Marxism/Leninism and to the goal of socialism. The point is to apply the scientific theory in the complex and changing Indian and global conditions. As far as Trade Union Movement is concerned, we are working together now and very closely. It’s making good impacts. Things will be more visible very soon.

Why is CPI’s stronghold in Bihar and Jharkhand receding consistently? Once way of life in north Bihar, now Communism is becoming an alien ideology. don’t you think, CPI failed to forward the next generation leadership after Comrade Bhogendra Jha and Chaturanan Mishra?

Bihar has been a relatively strong support base of CPI. This base was built through a tremendous struggle and sacrifices led by Comrades Chandrashekhar Singh, Indradeep Sinha, Suryanarayan Singh, Bhogendra Jha, Chaturanan Mishra and many others. I have already said that erosion took place when this base was subjected to the caste politics. In Bihar the ugliest caste politics was led by Lalu Prasad Yadav and others. The communal politics of the BJP, and not to our own failures and shortcomings equally accounted in this fall. Bihar is a state, where there is a huge mess of agricultural and marginal workers on the one hand and landlords on the other hand. There is still a huge scope and need for a class struggle between the two. It’s for the Communists to lead the battle of class vs class and take the focus away from caste vs caste.

Why is Communism still being determined by the texts rather than contemporary contexts?

The world has changed but imperialism and capitalism continues to exists. What we see today is a big crisis that has overtaken capitalism. It can’t solve the problem of unemployment, poverty and even illiteracy and disease. India is also changed in the course of last six and a half decades since Independence but facts reveal that the capitalist path of the government, that’s being pursued and the so-called new liberal policies of privatisation, liberlisation and globalisation have only aggravated all our problems. Disparities between the filthy rich and affluent section, which is only 10per cent of our population, and the overwhelming mass of poor and vulnerable sections have deepened and widened as never before. They talk of growth but if development means that, all sections are benefitted. We find that there is actually no development for the majority, particularly SCs, STs, minorities and the most backward sections are excluded from all this talk of growth. That’s why, we find outburst of discontent, indignation and so forth. The free market, the so-called trickledown theories have all proved to be for the benefit of the top layer, while mass remains excluded. Today, mass of the people have alienated from the present system and its governance. In this scenario, text and contexts, both are equally imperative for us.

AITUC has introduced labour class movement in India; it has been doing a remarkable work for the years albeit new conditions after the market reform now necessitate policy changes. What framework has CPI adopted has to go deep into both the conventional and neo-workers?

I am happy to say that AITUC has taken the initiative in forging unity of Central Trade Union organisation and I am glad that the objective situation has forged all of them towards a united action. We should first know that government has virtually banned any Trade Union or association among IT/ITES and many other sectors. Their workers are being kept isolated. But I am confident that, this move by the government and corporate houses will be defeated sooner rather than later.

What’s the CPI’s official position on market reform? Is there any possibility that CPI will support the reform with progressive clauses?

There is some confusion about markets. Markets existed even before capitalism and there will be markets even under the socialism. The point is under which system that markets operate? The motive the so-called market economy that’s functional today is to extract and maximise profits—without limit by foreign and indigenous corporate houses and big businesses. It’s an instrument of imperialism for exploitation of the developing countries and of capitalist exploitation of the poor within each country. To call this reform, is not only misnomer, it’s a cruel joke.

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