We publish here the second part of our analysis of the recent elections in India and the state of the Left in the world’s second most populous country. The election of Modi will only be a prelude to a future of crisis and class struggle in India.
The discrediting of Congress, mass discontent in the country, a developing economic crisis and an anti-corruption mood led to a realisation by the ruling class that Congress could no longer be relied upon. Over the past period, when in power, Congress had been carrying out wide ranging liberalisation of the economy. However, it was too weak to carry out the tasks that the Indian capitalist class requires today.
The world economic crisis has sharpened the contradictions and competition between the nations. In this India has fallen behind China and other competing countries in the region. Thus, in order to raise productivity to be more competitive, the Indian bourgeois need to further intensify the exploitation of the working class. It is with this in mind that we must analyse the rise of the BJP and not in any personal qualities of Narendra Modi.
It is this fundamental need of the system that explains why big business threw its weight fully behind Modi and his campaign which is estimated to have cost close to $1billion – although this figure does not count the millions (or billions) of dollars spent by large companies in indirect funding of the Modi campaign. Modi’s close friend, Gautam Adani, for instance put his private jet at Modi’s disposal throughout the campaign period.
In the main national TV channels, Modi had nearly 7.5 times more primetime coverage than Congress candidate, Rahul Gandhi. At the same time the corporate media clearly avoided asking any seriously probing questions or pointing out the clearly dishonest claims made by Modi about his “successes” in Gujarat.
Instead throughout the campaign, the experience of BJP rule in the State of Gujarat was constantly highlighted as a model for the rest of the country. However, what was not mentioned on the posters and ads was the massive exploitation of the working class, the widespread land grabbing and the bankruptcy of thousands of peasants that flowed from this, the wholesale privatisation of infrastructure and other public services, the massive state funded and subsidised infrastructure projects as well as the vast amount of outright corruption which are behind this growth.
In a recent article, Forbes.com explains the relationship between Modi and Gautam Adani, one of India’s richest men estimated to be worth around $2.8 billion and running India’s largest port, a power company and a commodities trading business. The article goes on to explain:
“Adani has, over the years, leased 7,350 hectares–much of which he got from 2005 onward–from the government in an area called Mundra in the Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat. FORBES ASIA has copies of the agreements that show he got the 30-year, renewable leases for as little as one U.S. cent a square meter (the rate maxed out at 45 cents a square meter). He in turn has sublet this land to other companies, including state-owned Indian Oil Co., for as much as $11 a square meter. Between 2005 and 2007 at least 1,200 hectares of grazing land was taken away from villagers.
“Under Indian law land meant for grazing cattle can be used for something else only if it’s in excess. There’s a formula applied to calculate. Even then the village chief has to give permission to take the land. Villagers in Adani’s SEZ say their grazing land was signed away by earlier village chiefs without their knowledge. They have filed multiple cases in the Gujarat High Court to contest the government’s actions, going back to 2005 and even earlier. Several cases are still pending.
“On that cheap land Adani has built his cash cow–the country’s largest private port by volume–as well as a 4,620-megawatt coal-fired power plant(…)
“At a political rally in distant Lucknow in early March, Modi said farmers were his friends and he would stand by them. He also said he would ‘not allow anyone to loot the exchequer.’
“But spend time around the villages of Kutch and a vastly different picture appears. This region was famous for its crops of sapodilla, a brown, fleshy fruit slightly smaller than a tennis ball, as well as dates, coconuts and castor. Area farmers say that that’s no longer the case. (Official stats seem to end in 2006.) Fly ash and saline water from Adani Power and a nearby Tata Power Co. Ltd. plant are spoiling the crops and making the soil less fertile, they say. For miles at a stretch the chimneys of the two power plants are visible against the horizon. Gajendra Sinh Jadeja, the 28-year-old head of Navinal village, says the Gujarat government took some 930,770 square meters of his village’s grazing land for Adani’s SEZ. Adani got it for 19 cents a square meter.
“Traversing a couple of nearby barren fields, Jadeja says he had been growing alternately cotton, millet and castor there. Now patches of white salt are easily visible across stretches of the fields and have become a common sight across farms. ‘The saline water ruined the soil, and the poor production now is just not worth it,’ he says.
“Zarapara was once famous for its sapodillas. ‘In season five trucks filled with [sapodillas] would go every day to the market from this village,’ says Zarapara resident Naran Ghadavi, whose farm is 3 miles from the Adani power plant. ‘Now we only produce enough to fill one small van.'” (Doing Big Business In Modi’s Gujarat).
At the same time Modi has leaned on sectarianism and religion to divide and pacify the masses. Modi and his party, the BJP, are deeply interwoven with the extremely reactionary and violent Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) organisation. Through their thugs and militias, and with the full support of the state apparatus, they have provided the backbone to the most brutal sectarian violence over the years.
In 2002 the group, clearly in coordination with the Modi government, orchestrated sectarian rioting which resulted in the deaths of thousands of people, mainly Muslims. In fact the Muslim population of the state live as secondary citizens with few rights. The same applies to the Untouchables [dalits] who are increasingly being attacked and humiliated.
Between 2010 and 2012 there was an 18 per cent increase in registered cases of violence against dalits. In 2013 the figure was even higher. The results in Gujarat have been clear. With respect to the average wages paid to regular workers in urban areas, Gujarat is at the very bottom of the table among Indian States. In 2011-12, average daily wages received by a regular-salaried male employee in Gujarat’s urban areas was Rs.326, way below the Indian average of Rs.470 for similar categories of workers.
This is what lies at the heart of the “Gujarat model”. Despite his own tendency to exaggerate, it is clear that for a decade Modi has been able to attract investments because he, through sectarian violence a general crackdown and wide-ranging attacks on living standards, has been able to hold down the wages and offer “stability” to the bourgeois. Thus, during the Suzuki strike Modi provokingly offered to facilitate the moving of the factory to Gujarat. This is what the ruling class is asking of Modi. In order to compete with China, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, the working class and the peasantry must be pacified and wages pushed down to the minimum.
The ruling class needs Modi to force its agenda onto the working class. However, this will not be a straightforward task for Modi. In fact the example of Gujarat is clear on this point. While Modi managed to keep the workers down and thus attract a series of investments in technologically advanced industries to Gujarat, at the same time all this led to the building and strengthening of an advanced working class which is already beginning to move. In fact in 2011 The Economic Times said Gujarat topped the labour unrest chart of the country. Over the past years the state has witnessed several big strikes in big industries such as GM, Bombardier and Hitachi.
Why did Modi win?
A superficial analysis of all this would lead one to wonder how come such a situation has allowed Modi to emerge so strongly. It is true that Modi’s victory was very much exaggerated by the bourgeois media, as it did not highlight the real force that the BJP represents. However, he did manage to get those 170million votes, which although a minority, is still a significant result.
Obviously we cannot reduce this simply to the need of the bourgeois for a strong government. What the bourgeois needs or wants is not always possible. Although the RSS and BJP did spread their anti-minorities hatred throughout the country, large sections of the population, including some layers of the working class, voted for Modi. We have to understand that these large numbers who turned to the BJP were not votingfor its reactionary Hindutva ideology, but against the corruption and waste of the last ten years under Congress rule, which failed to solve any of the basic problems of the masses.
Some people on the left have gone as far as to make claims that the coming to power of Modi means that fascism now rules India. However, this is statement that ignores one important factor: the Indian working class is a powerful force with revolutionary traditions and has not been defeated. It may be going through a temporary lull, for the reasons we have outlined, but its labour organisations are intact, and it also has vast reserves of hundreds of millions of workers who are just moving into the arena of struggle. The anger and frustration which exists amongst the working class will constantly threaten to destabilise the Modi government.
At present, there may be a wait-and-see mood amongst the workers, but sooner or later the class contradictions will rise to the surface and haunt the BJP with a vengeance. The programme of the BJP is nothing but an all-out attack against the masses. However, the Indian masses will not sit back and accept this situation without a struggle.
The Challenge facing the Communist movement in India
For the Communist movement the elections were a major defeat. For the left to go from the 24 seats it had in 2009 to the 10 it now has in the new Lok Sabha is a disaster of historical proportions. That explains why this blow came as a shock for many activists on the left.
There is a tendency among the reformist leadership of the labour movement to blame the masses for their so-called “backwardness” or “lack of consciousness”. However, the truth is always very concrete. The crisis of capitalism has been reflected with particular force in India where the plight of the masses is in stark contradiction to that of the corrupt and rotten bourgeois. On the basis of this, the class struggle, generally, has been on the rise over the past period.
However, the Communist Party leaders have not addressed the crisis of the system from a Marxist perspective. Over the past 20 years, basing themselves on the Stalinist idea of Popular Frontism (i.e. that socialist revolution is delayed until some distant future date and today what is required is an alliance with the so-called “progressive” bourgeoisie), they have supported all the reactionary policies of Congress as the “lesser evil” against the BJP coming to power.
In this way they effectively became a left-wing cover for the right-wing policies of the Congress party. After being kicked out of the alliance with Congress, the Communist Party leaders reverted to promoting an ostensibly “anti-BJP, anti-Congress” Third Front comprised of various right-wing regional and caste-based parties that had previously been allied with the Congress, the BJP or in some instances both. This alliance with different right-wing parties served to further discredit them in the eyes of the masses.
The lifestyles of the CP leaders, with their private chauffeurs, air-conditioned houses and servants, are very distant from the lives of workers and poor of India. Their language of “investment” and “growth” is miles away from the reality of working people. In fact the past two decades have seen relatively high growth and investment rates in India. However, none of this growth has benefited the masses. This is in the nature of the capitalist system.
Instead of fighting against this system, the Communist leaders have themselves been sucked into it. This was clear in the statements of the last CPI-M chief minister of West Bengal, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who told a meeting of investors, “I am against strikes. Unfortunately I belong to a party which calls for strikes. I have been silent for a long time. I will not remain silent anymore.” And then went on to lose his safest of CPI-M seats in the West Bengal state elections that year.
In 2006 during a four-day strike against airport privatisation, he offered his apologies to Indian industrialists for the actions of his party-members in bringing the Kolkata airport to a halt.
Bhattacharjee’s statements were clearly intended to distance the party from the strikes that were taking place, a clear indication of the direction its leaders had been moving in for some time. A prolonged period in state government accelerated the process, and the so-called “modernisers” were strengthened.
This explains why in West Bengal the Left Front government – which was led by CPI-M leaders – followed the same line as the bourgeois governments in the rest of India: the creation of Special Economic Zones to appease large companies, land grabbing, attacks on trade unions and even, as we have explained above, violent suppression of protests. These were the “achievements” of the Left Front.
As we have seen, on the basis of these policies the Left Front government was heavily defeated in the state elections in 2011. This should have been a warning to the leaders of the Communist parties, but they preferred to ignore them and they continued to defend the same unpopular line.
During the elections this year, the main thrust of the left was the same as before: an alliance for “secularism” and “democracy”. On this basis, all talks of a struggle against capitalism and the struggle for better living standards was muted or pushed aside to make room for nationalist bourgeois demands.
At the same time Modi and the BJP cleverly used the economic issues and the corruption of the incumbents, demagogically promising jobs, infrastructure and alleviation of poverty as the main election stunts. Modi tried to use his humble beginnings and poor background – being from a lower caste – in a pretentious campaign, claiming to be part of the poor people. Obviously, Modi’s main objective is not creating jobs or alleviating poverty. He is only there to serve capital in its hunt for profit, but the fact that his speeches did strike a certain chord with some layers clearly shows the limitations of the tactics of the Communist Party leaders.
A real Communist campaign would have denounced the bourgeois and their system which spawns the corruption and decay which is visible in every corner of India. At the same time Modi would have been attacked and exposed, not simply for being a Hindu fundamentalist, but for being a ruthless bourgeois whose interests are directly opposed to those of the working masses. This would then have been combined with a clear revolutionary socialist programme for nationalisation of the commanding heights of industry, the lowering of working hours, raising of wages, etc.
All the ills of present day India are inherently tied to capitalism and only a socialist revolution can show a way out. However, this perspective has not been presented by the left leaders. None of the election manifestos of the Communist parties went beyond the narrow boundaries of Indian capitalism. In fact, the words Capitalism and Socialism did not even appear in the manifestos.
At the same time the louder the Communist Party leaders criticised the UPA (United Progressive Alliance), the more they merely drew attention to the fact that the Communist-led Left Front had been members of the UPA until 2008 and that they had been supporting the Congress government from outside since then.
Thus the defeat of the Communist Parties in the elections was not at all an indication of a right-wing turn by the masses, but more disillusionment with and rejection of the class collaborationist policies of the Left leadership. In a period of steeply rising class contradictions, the class struggle did not find an echo in the leadership of the very same organisations which were supposed to lead the masses. While the masses have been yearning for a radical opposition to all the privatisations and cuts in social spending, the leaders of the Communist Parties have turned to the right.
In their evaluation of the election results the CPI-M concluded that, “The absence of a credible non-Congress secular alternative at the national level benefited the BJP. It could project itself as the only alternative to the discredited Congress.”
The discrediting of Congress in fact was a golden opportunity for a new alternative to develop. The Communists also had the traditions and the following to take on this role, but why then did the Communist Parties not become that “credible alternative”? It was because they had been discredited through the actions of their leaders over the past period and because their programme did not reflect the interests of the working masses.
Without a clear channel through which the masses could express their aspirations, many people looked for answers elsewhere. This is the main reason behind the atomisation of the vote throughout the country and ultimately the reason behind the coming to power of the BJP.
The theoretical roots of the crisis
This is the logical conclusion of the erroneous theory developed by Stalin in the 1920s of “socialism in one country”, in violation of the traditions of genuine Marxism and Bolshevism. This was a reflection of the bureaucratic degeneration of the revolution, which in turn was a consequence of the isolation of the Soviet Union after several revolutions in other countries were defeated, in particular the German.
Under Stalin, not only was the reactionary and utopian idea of “socialism in one country” foisted onto the whole of the Communist International and its national sections, but the very perspective of socialist revolution was eventually relegated to a distant future, as the idea of the alliance with the so-called “progressive bourgeoisie” became the central idea of the Communist Parties around the world. Trotsky had fought against this theory and predicted that it would result in the collapse of the Communist International and the national degeneration of its sections.
When Trotsky raised this idea he was calumnied and ferociously attacked by the Stalinists. But what Trotsky predicted eventually was confirmed by history. Look around the world and you will see ex-Communist Parties that have all moved in a social-democratic direction, and in the case of Italy the old Communist leaders went so far as to fuse with openly bourgeois elements to form the Democratic Party.
In India today we see where the erroneous theoretical conclusions of Stalin have led the Communist Parties. They have for decades sought alliances with bourgeois elements and have ended up participating in state governments, where their behaviour has been hardly distinguishable from that of bourgeois parties. In fact, in some instances they have attempted to outdo the bourgeois parties to prove their trustworthiness to the Indian bosses.
In a Press Release from S S. Bhusari, the Office Secretary of the CPI, on the 17th May it was stated: “…the results have come as a serious setback to CPI and the Left. There is a need for introspection. There is a need to rejuvenate and to rework the functions and strategy of the Party and the Left in the emerging situation.”
That was an easy statement to make after the elections. In fact, this is what thousands of honest, revolutionary Communists have fought for in recent years as dissatisfaction with the leadership has been mounting.
The present defeat will plunge the party into an even deeper crisis as the voices of dissent will be further emboldened. In Nandigram the elections led to protests being organised outside the party headquarters to protest against the incompetence of the CPI(M) leadership. In recent days the pressure has led to the resignation of a whole layer of leaders who stood at the helm of the party during the massacre of 2007.
The fact is that Bhusari and the other Communist leaders have been ferociously fighting against all criticism from the ranks of the party. To make such a statement today merely means that they have wrecked the party to such a degree that a change of direction is an absolute necessity.
Such is the remorseless attitude of the CPI(M) leaders, that General Secretary Prakash Karal refused to resign after this historic defeat, although all other leaders of major parties including Congress, had offered their resignations on the back of their defeats. However, even if the leadership is changed, the fortunes of the CPI(M) will not really change unless the party is decisively turned onto the revolutionary path.
The only way to save the movement is to go back to the fundamentals and to rebuild it on the ideas of genuine Marxism with a genuine socialist and revolutionary programme.
For the immediate period the Communist movement has suffered a major defeat and has been largely discredited in the eyes of many workers and youth. Thus, with the political road blocked, the struggles of the working class in the next period will likely be fought on a trade-union basis around economic demands.
However, the disillusionment with the leadership and the setbacks for the Communist movement will not mean that the next period will be a calm one. Indian capitalism is moving towards a very unstable period with sharpened class contradictions and where the bosses will move onto the offensive.
The Crisis in the Economy
Within the limits of the Capitalist system, the room for concessions is narrowing. Whilst the world economy was booming India was able to provide a “shining light”. Alongside the growth of China, Brazil, Russia and others, India was able to mark up record growth of over 10% of GDP in the period leading up to 2010. At its highest point India was able to hit 13% growth in the first quarter of that year.
However, since the world economic crisis began in 2008 signs of weakness in the economy have started to show. In 2013 growth stood at 4-5% and the future is not showing any signs of this development changing.
The public debt stands at about 69 percent of GDP and is rising fast. For every Rs.100 of state income (from taxes and profits of state-owned companies) Rs.156.6 is spent. Inflation is also being pushed up, officially at around 10 percent.
Last year, after the announcement that the US Federal Reserve would begin “tapering” its bond buying programme – i.e. that it would start printing less money without backing in production– the Indian Rupee went into a steep fall. This highlighted the nature of the previous economic boom which was essentially based on speculative, short term, foreign direct investments and not on investments in actual production.
This is also shown in India’s high current account deficit, which in 2012-13 stood at 4.7 percent of GDP. This figure fell to below 2 percent in the past year, but the fall was more due to restrictions on imports – especially gold and silver – than a rise in exports.
25 years ago the India was hailed together with China as one of the two great developing economies. Today however the balance of forces has drastically changed. As was pointed out by the Financial Times:
“Yet despite its large domestic market, India’s industrial weakness means it depends on China and other exporters for goods from industrial machinery and mobile phones to more basic products such as lights and toys. The country is largely absent from the global supply chains for mass-produced items. According to Baba Kalyani, Bharat Forge’s chairman and managing director, India imported $580bn of capital goods in the past seven years. By the end of this decade it will be importing about $400bn a year of electronic items as the middle class expands.
“In the 60s the Indian Economy was 20 per cent bigger than China’s. Today China’s economy is seven times bigger than India.”(FT, 6/5/14)
The fact that the Chinese state owned and planned a large part of the economy as it moved towards capitalism gave it an edge over the anarchy of Indian capitalism. Thus, while China on the basis of massive state intervention could raise their industrial capabilities above its initial labour intensive character to a more capital intensive one, the Indian economy was left behind in the competition.
At the same time, as some industries, such as textile and other labour intensive industries, are now moving out of China due to rising wages – and into countries such as Cambodia, Bangladesh, etc. – the Indian economy is yet again being left behind because production costs are considered too high in India.
Thus Indian capitalism has become increasingly dependent on two sectors for exports. One is the service sector, which is a labour-intensive industry dominated by the export of IT services, and the other is raw materials, which it exports mainly to China. However, as the growth of the Chinese economy has slowed, imports of raw materials have also come under pressure.
The Indian economy is under pressure from all sides and the Indian bourgeoisie is fully aware of this. It is in this context that Modi has been brought to power in order to carry out the necessary attacks.
As the Financial Times explain:
“[Modi] is supported by nearly all industrialists but they do not agree on the strategy India should adopt. According to Mr Kumar, there are broadly three schools of thought.
“The first – which he deems “completely mistaken” – says India has little future in manufacturing, should abandon that role to China and focus entirely on services such as software outsourcing instead.
“The second idea is the high-tech manufacturing strategy espoused by Bharat Forge’s Mr Kalyani, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumnus who paid off 2,000 unskilled workers and hired 700 engineers when he modernised the company in the 1990s. Nearly 70 per cent of the 3,500 employees now at the Pune plants are graduates and Bharat Forge has plans to increase its turnover tenfold to $10bn over the next decade. (…)
“The third approach recommends that India, far from abandoning manufacturing or focusing purely on high-tech industry, should now redouble its efforts to create millions of jobs in labour-intensive industries such as food-processing, clothing and leather, as well as in construction for housing and infrastructure.
“‘I don’t believe in this nonsense that we missed the boat,’ says Arvind Panagariya, an economist at Columbia University whose ideas have been influential in developing the BJP’s economic thinking. ‘If Bangladesh and Sri Lanka can do this, we can do this. If the government wants to do it, it is very do-able, but only if they tackle labour reforms’.” (FT, 5 May 2014)
The choice is clear for the Indian capitalists. In order not to fall further behind in competition with other capitalist countries, they must bring down the cost of production in India to the same levels as in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. This means mainly attacking the working class through labour “reforms”.
Already the new government has signalled that it will change the labour laws, starting with the Factory Act of 1948 which restricts overtime hours and nightshift work for women. At the same time the new budget will only be increased by 8 percent, which is below the inflation rate. The government will also set in motion a privatisation plan of a record $10.5 billion – four times what the previous government collected from privatisations last year. It has further signalled that it will attempt to curb the government subsidies programme which keeps the price of basic goods lower than the market rate. This, along with the privatisation of the banks and the deregulation of the financial sector, has long been the plan of Reserve Bank of India Governor, Raghuram Rajan, who developed the idea in the period before the BJP came to power.
This is the basis upon which the events of the next period will unfold. It is clear that the ruling class is preparing to go onto the offensive. Modi’s character fits well with these aspirations. He will use his comfortable majority to push through major attacks on living standards.
After his landslide victory the bourgeois in India and around the world were jubilant. As the Financial Times reported on May 17th: “Indian Stocks jumped more than 4.5 per cent to hit record highs in early trading, before closing up 1 per cent after weeks of gains in anticipation of a Modi victory. The rupee moved above Rs59 to the dollar, its highest point since mid-2013.”
But such jubilation will not last forever. In spite of the attacks which the bourgeois are planning, the Indian economy cannot defy the laws of gravity. With the continued slowing of the Chinese economy and the general crisis of world capitalism it is clear that sooner or later India’s own crisis will erupt. Once this happens the Indian bourgeois will attempt to unload the full weight of the crisis onto the shoulders of the masses.
Millions of people who voted for Modi did so not in support of his reactionary ideas, but in opposition to the rotten Congress government and in the hope of a stable and more prosperous future. However, they will soon be very disappointed. As discontent rises against the attacks of the BJP government and as the lure of power and prestige takes its toll, we will see scandals and corruption involving Modi and his hangers-on. In spite of the rhetoric, the BJP is just as corrupt as the other rotten elements in the Indian ruling elite. Any “stability” it offers will be economic stability for big business based on crushing the middle classes, the workers and the poor.
No need for Despair
“Fear is not a political response. In a state of fear, it is impossible to say or do anything intelligent. One must understand causes and deduce methods of action from them.” (Leon Trotsky, Petty Bourgeois Democrats and Moralizers)
However, Modi’s attacks will not go unopposed. The past period has seen the gradual reawakening of the working class. At the moment – after the huge electoral defeat – the movement is in a state of shock, but sooner or later it will be forced to fight back against the offensive of the bourgeois. However, the present situation will condition the character of this struggle.
Congress also received a drubbing, its worst electoral result since independence, from which it will not quickly recover. Ten years of corruption and Congress rule will not easily be forgotten.
Congress has ruled India for 54 of its 67 years of independence and to this day the basic aims of the national independence movement have not been completed. Agricultural reform remains incomplete, with the continuing impoverishment of farmers and rural labourers; the democratic, independent political system is stalled to say the least, with civil war and infighting at the polling booths along with domination by international capital and foreign investors. Even the basic task of the national unification of the country continues to remain in peril as the crisis of capitalism sets in motion centrifugal secessionist forces with their own logic. For example, the recent attempt to set up a new state in one area of the country of the national question. All of this has led to widespread demoralisation with the party.
On top of this the Communist parties are also entering a crisis. This means that temporarily, due to the crisis within the Communist and the Congress movement, the class struggle will be reflected within the trade union movement in the form of economic struggles and in an increase of struggles, similar to the anti-corruption mass protests, erupting through other channels and outside the traditional organisations.
As the crisis develops, the parliamentary majority of the BJP, presently considered a source of strength, will turn to its main weakness. Blame will not be easily diverted onto the shoulders of coalition partners who are not needed for government, all of the responsibility for the continued deprivation of the masses and for the effects of their labour market reforms will rest solely on the shoulders of the BJP. This will act as a factor to galvanise and unify the revolutionary movement of the future.
At the same time the narrow basis which won the party a majority will shrink even further. This could lead to severe crises within the regime and at a certain stage lead to serious divisions within the ruling class itself. The imposition of Amit Shah, a close aide of Modi, as the president of the BJP was a manoeuvre of Modi to strengthen his grip on the party. But this can have an opposite effect. At a certain stage the contradictions of the party can reveal themselves in the form of open infighting and internal revolt. This will be the beginning of the rapid disintegration of the present uneasy alliance of warring Hindu fundamentalist factions.
Rebuild the Communist Movement on the Ideas of Marxism
As we have seen, the defeat of the left parties in the recent elections has plunged them into the deepest crisis for years. The task of Marxists is to understand why this came about.
Some of the Communist leaders are blaming the BJP victory on the backwardness of the masses. However at every step in the past period the masses, and the ranks of the parties, have been far ahead of the leaders. In a decade of rising class struggle the leaders of these parties have drifted further and further to the right. They have given up all pretence of being socialists or revolutionaries, and have adopted the most right-wing positions. Millions of the most class conscious workers have been repelled by the party which they saw as theirs. They are in despair and do not feel represented by any political tendency.
If the Communist leaders had waged a consistent revolutionary struggle on the basis of a socialist programme, the class struggles of the past period could have been turned into a revolutionary struggle to overthrow Capitalism.
The main weakness of the Communist party leaders was to accept the confines of capitalism in India. As long as the economy was booming the contradictions of this position was to a certain extent concealed. However, the crisis of 2008 meant that there was no more room for any concessions. The capitalists demanded attacks against the working class and whoever accepted the system was forced to carry out these attacks. The Communist leaders did this as well as taking up the task of defending the system against the backlash from the masses.
These are the roots of the crisis within the movement and ultimately also the reason behind the coming to power of Modi. By following this line the movement gradually lost all credibility in the eyes of the masses it was supposed to represent.
The only way to save and rebuild the movement now is by recognizing and correcting these mistakes. A full and frank discussion must be organised and all theoretical and tactical questions evaluated.
The present leadership of the Communist movement have abandoned revolutionary Marxism and the traditions of Bolshevism on which the early Movement was based on. The task is to begin the rebuilding of the movement by going back to exactly this basis – Marxist theory and a revolutionary socialist programme.
The crisis of capitalism is being reflected, not only in growing misery and instability, but also in the emergence of revolutionary movements in one country after another. The system has nothing left to offer the masses of working people but death, destruction, pain and sacrifice.
This is becoming clear to millions of people around the world. Sooner or later the Indian masses will move in the same direction. The period opening up for the whole of the subcontinent is set to the most turbulent in all of its history.
The task of revolutionaries in India today is to prepare for such a development. The ideas of Marxism are the only ones which have been able to explain the crisis of Indian capitalism and to show a way out of the dead end facing society. Once the masses begin to move, they will inevitably gravitate towards these ideas which have strong traditions in India. As opposed to the past period, our ideas are being proven by events every day. At the same time the Communist party bureaucracies have been thoroughly weakened and do not have the same authority as in the past.
The first step towards re-establishing a genuine Marxist Tendency within the Indian labour movement is to build a core of revolutionaries, educated and trained in the theory and methods of Marxism. Once this has been established, it will be able to connect with the radicalised layers that are emerging among the workers and youth.
The International Marxist Tendency encourages all class conscious workers and youth to organise workers’ educational groups and youth groups to discuss the classics of Marxism, the ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky and to revive the revolutionary traditions of Bhagat Singh. This is what is needed today.
As the Indian Working class picks up its old weapons, of class struggle trade unionism and Revolutionary Marxism, forged in the battles of the past and steeled and hardened in the battles which are sure to come, there will be nothing in the world that can stop it from playing its historic role in the socialist transformation of society and we can once again shout with confidence: Inqilab Zindabad! Long Live the Revolution!