The Telegraph has an editorial in its edition of 15 May. It points to the coalition government between the Tory Party and the Liberal-Democrats in Britain, and contrasts this with the attitude of the left in India. The left is evidently too unbending, too stuck in its old ideas, and does not recognize the need to give up pigheadedness in the greater national interest.
The point is made with reference to the first UPA. As a revolutionary Marxist, my criticism is normally in the opposite direction. The Left, i.e., the parliamentary cretinist left, yielded far too much. It argued that there was a need to fight fascism, i.e., the BJP. From this it concluded that there was a need to support a Congress-led government at the centre, even though that government was following an aggressively neo-liberal policy. (For details, any interested reader can look up the article written at that time by Soma Marik and myself). It allowed the government to push forward with its neo-liberal agenda, with only very limited resistance. But yes, it did present some resistance. As a Social Democratic force (the biggest components being Social Democrats of Stalinist origin and Stalinist organizational practice) the parliamentarist left cannot entirely ignore its basic constituencies. All too often, the far left mistakenly sees the actions of the Left Front government in West Bengal and assumes that that is the entirety of the parliamentary left’s outlook. But it is not so simple. Outside West Bengal, the CITU remains a major component of militant trade unionism. It is not possible to think of any serious all-India struggle while entirely ignoring this left. And that is exactly where The Telegraph has its objections. It wants the Left to give up all ties with the workers and peasants and become, not a social democratic party but a bourgeois party plain and simple. Without having any illusions about the CPI(M) as a revolutionary party, or even as a left reformist party, in this debate, I would support Prakash Karat against Aveek Sarkar’s editorial writer.