Bihar Elections: The Battle Remains Unfinished

Tejashwi-led Alliance However Seems All Set To Win

Shekhar //

[This is the third and final piece in the Bihar Elections article series. The first and second articles have been published in the September (#5) and October (#6) 2020 issues of The Truth.]

Bihar Elections have already begun with polling complete for some constituencies on 28th October itself in the first round. When I am penning these lines, the electioneering campaign has already vigorously begun for the next phase to be held on 3rd November. With this, very strong indications suggesting that Tejashwi seems all set to become the new Chief Minister of Bihar are emanating, though mainstream media is still forecasting NDA victory. The main reason of Tejashwi’s victory, to our mind, is that on the one hand, BJP’s ploy to communalise and poison the people’s minds and deviate their attention by resorting to divisive politics based on Hindu-Muslim narrative, diatribe on terrorism, Kashmir, Pakistan and China etc. is not working. While, on the other hand, a very strong anti-incumbency is underway. Anger against Nitish Government rule is sweeping all over the state. But the main factor is however that vast majority of people are facing the worst spell of unemployment and a very hopeless situation of hunger like conditions due to incessant ruin of their livelihood sources that anyway existed before the lock down. That’s why when Tejashwi Yadav started his campaign chiefly based on his main promise to provide ten lakh government jobs and regularise all those who are working with the Bihar government on contract basis, it immediately resonated in the minds and imagination of the people, particularly the youth. There are other numerous big and huge promises that he is making in front of the restless masses all day round, but, his main promises to fill and create lakhs of government (permanent) jobs, eradicate unemployment on the whole, alleviate poverty and hunger, open industries to stop migration of workers, regularise all the contract jobs including those of Asha, Anganwadi and other such workers, and above all, his last days extended promise to waive all peasant loans have caught up with the people’s imagination. It seems like a New Modi is emerging in the conditions of Bihar. What it means is that the promises done by Tejashwi for the past few weeks in his mass meetings is creating the same effect as Modi’s promises did in 2014. In this condition, when anger was already simmering, growing and taking an ominous shape just few inches below the ground against NDA rule in Bihar, Tejashwi’s high flown promises and declarations have turned this into a hurricane blowing across Bihar that may uproot BJP-JDU rule on 10th November when the results come out.

In our view, it is now only a miracle that can prevent NDA’s defeat. Modi’s every counter on this issue is fueling further disenchantment of the people from Modi and NDA. Nitish’s frustrations at routine hootings in his own mass meetings has added popularity to Tejashwi who is showing extraordinary patience and maturity of a bourgeois leader in handling whatever (including the tag of Yuvraj of Jungle Raj) is being hurled at him. Even when his mother’s dignity was challenged by Nitish’s diatribe on the number of sons and daughter she gave birth to, he was more than sober. The general mood is that Modi’s words can’t be trusted. He is now widely identified as a liar, cheater and a friend of the big capitalists like Ambani and Adani. And when such are the issues, as expected, BJP is clueless. BJP hoped as usual to bank upon Jungle Raj rhetoric built around communalising the atmosphere by raising Ram Mandir construction issue, removal of articles 370 and 35(A) etc. in Kashmir, jingoistic rhetoric on Pakistan and China etc. But even Hindu-Muslim hate politics is not paying. People themselves are retorting back by giving counter logic against whatever nationalistic and communalistic propaganda is being spread to entice them. The only thing that NDA can base upon is the caste-based calculations and equations that seems to favour NDA if the old pattern is still believed to be operative. But there is no doubt that Tejashwi’s promising ten lakh government jobs apart from announcing openly to regularise another few lakhs of contract jobs and calling upon the youth to come forward to build New Bihar seems to have unsettled NDA’s above-mentioned cart, too. The signs are that damage recovery for NDA is impossible now. There is no chanting of ‘Modi-Modi’ in the crowd. Youths are coming out to openly attack him, too, quite scathingly. The ‘dislike of Modi on twitter campaign’ had already hinted about such an outcome.

But will the accession to power of Tejashwi in Bihar will accomplish the anti-fascist tasks? Will his government, that will also be joined by CPI, CPI(M) and CPI(ML)-Liberation, be able to deliver on his promises? Will the people’s problems be over after Tejashwi becomes chief minister? Will the unemployment problem be solved and poverty alleviated? Will the education and health sector be improved? When such questions were posed to youth, they answered that ‘now we will not let peace to them (the governments and leaders) if they backtrack on their promises.’ And this is the general mood of the people, particularly the youth.

Economic Crisis And Tall Promises, Can Anyone Deliver If Capitalist System Is Not Overthrown?

Everyone agrees that the Indian as well as the global capitalist-imperialist economy is in deep crisis and there’s no hope for any kind of escape in near future. This crisis will increase and certainly not decrease the burden on the shoulders of the toiling masses including up to the middle class. Naturally, if the economic crisis stays longer, the world economy will be getting more and more battered and bruised. Even bourgeois economists don’t see any hope of recovery with certainty. Policy makers have themselves started to believe that this crisis can be fatal for them. Seeing this possibility long ago, they have been preparing for shifting towards a draconian fascist state structure to handle (suppress) the rising ire of the people. That’s why we see that almost all capitalist countries have taken a fascistic turn. The capitalist class is itself very desperate and have been forced to go down the fascist path to ensure their rule and make sure that they can continue with their loot to maintain the rate of maximum profit. Same situation exists in India as well as in the whole world. That is why the Indian masses along with the democratic progressive sections are facing fascist onslaught day in and day out.

So it is difficult to believe that any future government will deliver on their promises.    

Failure Of Communist Revolutionaries To Grab This Opportunity  

Since the very announcement of election in Bihar, CR camp as a whole, barring a few, was first of all not in receipt of the real ground situation and simmering anger and therefore was not in a mood to grab and utilise the restlessness present in the situation to push the revolutionary agenda. This was never on their agenda. ‘The Truth’ has been trying to propagate this that an urgency is needed on the part of the revolutionary movement to jointly go for a political intervention among the masses on a large scale which carries a revolutionary alternative slogan and program that can be put forth in front of the masses. We have also noted that only after forming a joint front of the CR forces on the basis of a revolutionary program against fascism can we force the parliamentary left parties to join their strength together in a single platform. But for this, the first step that is needed the most is that the CR forces must come together with a united voice on the question of defeating fascism.

If these two things would’ve been possible in Bihar i.e. firstly a joint revolutionary voice of the CR forces and then compelling the left parties to also join together in a single block and further also approach and strategize with the non-BJP, non-NDA forces on the question of defeating the NDA alliance in the upcoming elections while keeping our command in our own hands and thus asserting our independent position in own way, then surely, seeing the people’s outrage, the scenario of Bihar would have been completely different.

As we can see, in Bihar the masses are enraged and dissatisfied with the present regime. They are also dissatisfied with the kind of politics (naturally the bourgeois politics they mean) the leaders are pursuing.  The choice of people for Tejashwi is thus not a very natural choice. People have chosen him because of absence of any revolutionary alternative present before them. 2014 is being repeated in limited sense when Modi became the choice because there was no other choice. The issues of unemployment, education and healthcare are reverberating among the enraged masses and their dissatisfaction is brewing below the surface against every bourgeois party. The answer is revolution, but there is no alternative being put forth, either jointly or individually by a single revolutionary party. There is total absence of a revolutionary alternative, while on the other hand, the imminent danger of complete fascist take over has further complicated the situation.    

From the very beginning, we were of the opinion that this dissatisfaction urgently needs to be given a revolutionary direction and line so that the present exploitative regime altogether is overthrown once and for ever. For this, two things were necessary. First, the capability of providing, propagating and taking an ideological-political direction to the restless masses and secondly the structural capability of gaining their direct support and channelising the restless masses on to the revolutionary path and politics. To fulfill these two necessary criteria at the present moment, a joint front of the revolutionary forces was necessary and it was all the more necessary to jointly utilize the bourgeois tool (of election) itself that lay at the moment at our disposal. But we miserably failed in this.

We believe that fascism cannot be defeated by simply swapping governments. Especially now, when in the whole world bourgeois democracy has undergone a regression and is fast converting into the breeding ground of fascism. This phenomenon is rapid, rampant and sort of permanent because the crisis is seemingly permanent and unsolvable, unlike the previous capitalist crisis which was of a periodical nature. And when the entire capitalist system is moving towards fascism the only way to defeat fascism once and forever would be to come up with a revolutionary program against fascism in a way that unites all the genuine anti-fascist forces, classes, community and combinations and even utilize the cracks within the bourgeois camp. For this to be operative and to really turn it into a formidable tactics, the first and foremost task was to well and exactly delineate the whole process into stages and layers, the core layer being those of the revolutionaries.

Let us again say that we are witnessing a huge election-based upheaval and the ground reports are also corroborating the fact that the people of Bihar are completely against the sitting Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, JDU as well as BJP. Since the very beginning NDA leaders were being booed on their faces. Sitting ministers were unable to visit their constituencies. They have been abused, chased away and even beaten at some places. The anger is so deep that even PM is not being spared. Since the campaign kicked off, NDA mass meeting are drawing flak with even PM Modi addressing a lot of empty chairs along with a very moderate audience. On the other hand, Mahagathbandhan’s rallies and meetings are gathering strong crowds of tens of thousands and it is still continuing when the campaign has entered the second round. The under current seems to have turned even stronger in the favour of Mahagathbandhan and it can be palpably felt. It’s not hard to figure that the presence of the left forces and their cadres who are active on the ground day in and day out, apart from Tejashwi’s high flown promise of 10 lakh jobs, have enabled this mass turnout in Mahagathbandhan’s favour. The communal and jingoistic politics of BJP is finding no buyers among the masses. Till now, the ground report suggests that the results on 10th November will mark the end of Nitish Kumar’s reign.

A Glimpse Of Post Election Scenario And Our Call

The question, however, remains before us as to what should be our call in the above described situation. What should we say to the masses? No doubt, we wish, hope and are trying that the BJP-JDU led NDA alliance is voted out of power. But beyond this, there are other important things that need to be stated and demystified.

If Mahagathbandhan wins, the left parties within the alliance, namely CPI, CPI (M) and CPI (ML) Liberation will also be part of the coalition government. Ripples can be seen among the masses in response to the possibility of this fact that those really working among the people will be in the government as ministers. The people’s optimism has risen due to this, too. Though it shows their political backwardness and a sheer lack of revolutionary training due to revisionism being practiced by the parliamentary left, yet it is true that this is giving new hopes to the masses and thus both, the unrest and the participation among the masses are multiplying. The left cadres are therefore fully active on the ground.

This raises the question that if Mahagathbandhan forms the government, which will include the left parties, will it be able to work to serve the agenda of blowing a defeat upon fascist forces, at least in Bihar? Are their policies such that make us believe that the BJP-led regressive fascist forces can be defeated and uprooted from among the masses? Yes and no. It is true that the first step of the anti-fascist struggle, that is, to ensure their defeat in the given elections seems like moving in the positive direction, but the rest of the way that lies after this victory has been left unattended and undecided. 

Surely, when issues of education, employment, healthcare, etc. have become the demands of the people and the Mahagathbandhan wins on this plank, then it is clear that after the victory of Mahagathbandhan, the democratic spirit and morale of the people will be raised and their hopes will spike to the sky. But we know that these hopes and dreams will shatter once again; the reasons behind this have already been explained above. What does it mean to us?

It means that after the elections are over, another important test awaits the CR forces. Surely, we’ve failed the first test as we could not present a revolutionary political alternative to the masses amidst the current elections on a large scale. The left parties in Mahagathbandhan have submitted the reins of the alliance since the very first day to RJD, a bourgeois party, and its alliance leader Tejashwi Yadav. They’re not even in the position to say out loud their own understanding, particularly about the tasks of fighting fascism that remain unfinished even after the victory of Mahagathbandhan. They know that if they outline the limits of this alliance in this regard, then this alliance will get derailed. Their purpose of making this alliance, which undoubtedly was just to win a few more seats, will be defeated. They also fear that if Mahagathbandhan gets enough seats leading to a comfortable majority and forms the government without the support of the left forces, their condition will worsen further and they may not be included in the government. As the ‘left’ is not equipped with any revolutionary program, even in a limited sense and manner, for the current election scenario, such things are haunting the left circles very badly. The ground is only echoing with the slogans of defeating BJP-JDU, taking Tejashwi to the throne and making RJD-Congress led Mahagathbandhan victorious. But in this, no program for a real political or ideological fight against fascism can be seen. And thus, in spite of having a brilliantly favorable objective situation on the ground of massive unrest and dissatisfaction among the masses, the left has given up the reigns completely and in this weakened condition, whatever little revolutionary campaign is being done by scattered communist revolutionary groups has a very limited reach bringing no real impact on the ground. Even those CR groups who are contesting elections, they are inflicted with serious right and revisionist tendencies. This can be easily discerned from their campaign literature and speeches. 

On the other hand, after elections the ground will become ripe for a rapid growth of mass movement owing to the massive unrest  and the conditions of the people deteriorating further, because if NDA loses and Mahagathbandhan wins, which is likely given the conditions on the ground (given that no underhand tactics is taken up by Modi-Nitish), the hopes and movement of people will objectively move forward further. But subjectively, it is clear that their hopes will not be fulfilled. Maximum of the promises being made, like putting an end to starvation, stopping migration of workers to big cities in search of work, filling up of all vacant positions in government and semi-government departments and opening up new vacancies, eradicating unemployment and stopping floods, setting up factories, etc. are those which cannot be fulfilled under the capitalist system based solely on profit and reeling under deepest crisis. In the context of Indian Capitalism, Bihar historically serves as a hinterland which provides a pool of cheap labour for big industrial centers like Gurgaon, Noida, etc. So, it is certain that the promises made are not only hollow but also false and completely misleading. Even if BJP wins, we know what the outcome will be. These forces are desperate to gain power by any means possible.

In either of the outcomes, a new wave of mass unrest is waiting for us in Bihar in post-elections time and scenario, especially if Mahagathbandhan emerges victorious. And though we’ve not jointly presented a revolutionary alternative program in front of the disenchanted masses during the election, the question arises; are we ready to take this up after the elections? Are we, the CR forces, ready for a political intervention among the masses, given the favourable situation of further mass unrest as a result of unfulfillment of the promises made by both the camps, in a situation that is expected to develop from bad to worse after the election is over?

The Queer Situation Confronting The ‘Left’

We should also be clear that if the left parties refrain from joining the Tejashwi-led Government after the victory of Mahagathbandhan, it’ll backfire because they’re in a pre-poll alliance and the masses will blame them for this. The possibility of them joining the Government has led to a massive upsurge in their support base, and if they decline to join, they will be held responsible for the unfulfillment of their promises. On the other hand, if they participate in the government donning ministerial posts and then keep silent over the non-fulfillment of the promises made to the people by them or the Mahagathbandhan leader Tejashwi Yadav, then the people will not spare or forgive them. In such a situation, the left which completely failed to present a revolutionary program, even in limited manner or in the manner that suits and is convenient to their politics, will once again shy away from presenting a ‘left revolutionary’ program to the masses after forming the government and based on that stage a rebellion.

If RJD and Congress get a comfortable majority without the left, then there is an even lesser chance that their voices will be heard in the cabinet. And if they keep silent then their survival on the ground will be threatened. The Left as a whole irrespective of their colour will be the loser and red flag will further lose its shine.

In the present situation, the only scenario possible is the same which Modi phenomenon presented after 2014 election, where the masses were duped by hefty promises and not a single promise was fulfilled in the end. Mahagathbandhan, especially RJD, is treading the same path.

Wither the CRs?

We believe that the revolutionary sections are up for a big challenge after elections, if they are ready to accept that. We can see that the elections campaign has thrown this fact out in the open for everyone to see that there is a wave of mass unrest, to say in a limited (bourgeois) sense, among the people, particularly the toilers and the youth. This wave is currently being used to give power in Bihar to Tejashwi Yadav. We can sum this up by saying that the hopes of the people pinned upon and tied to Mahagathbandhan is misplaced, false and baseless, but the unrest, anger and rage of the masses is not false, rather it is real and very much exists with ferocity on the ground. Since the anger and dissatisfaction are real, the main task that lies ahead in front of the CR forces is to take into account this, grasp its importance and transform this into a vigorous political mass movement on the basis of which we can expect a decisive revolutionary upsurge in the upcoming decade that may have decisive results because almost similar situations exist in the entire country and thus have revolutionary potential because it is certain that not a single real issue of the people will find a solution in the present exploitative and oppressive capitalist-fascist system reeling under severe permanent crisis.

There’s almost no space left for any reform. Hence, the space for so called left parties is also heavily contracted and they have no future. They often raise a slogan of pro-people development as opposed to Modi’s call of progress and development. This slogan exposes them and their fallacy as it is meaningless to talk of development of people, because in a monopolistic capitalistic era, the development can never be for the people, it’ll always be the development of or in favour of big capital. Development for all in general is a hoax in capitalism. Under capitalism, it is the capital that grows and develops through concentration and centralisation which, under as fascism rule, is all the more rampant and takes place violently by expropriating, uprooting and destroying the lives of millions of economically backward classes and sections of the people, the majority of the population is thus sent into a situation of penury at one stroke, very rapidly. That’s why there is no scope of rolling back of attacks on people. All social wealth is getting concentrated into fewer and fewer hands with this development under capitalism, which means that the majority masses are being pushed into pauperisation and are being rapidly proletarianised. This phenomenon can be seen in the entire world, be it America, Bolivia, Europe, etc. Massive unrest and mass movements can be seen all around the globe even in times of Covid. In India also, the ground for such mass movements turning into class struggle is fast preparing and situations of revolutionary upsurge is ripening. On the one hand, there is the fascist onslaught and increasing attacks on democratic laws and democratic rights; democracy is being severely attacked upon; workers’ rights are being snatched in order to enslave them. The entire civilisation is being pushed towards the dark barbaric ages. But we also see that the counteracting forces required to tackle this are also getting ready and slowly advancing. The upcoming decade is going to be a challenging time for capitalist-imperialist powers and fascism because now mankind is faced with the question of life and death. And we know that mankind will not decide against itself. It’ll never decide against the forward movement of history, let there be untold repression. In order to destroy fascism, which is sitting right on our chests and stifling us, the current unrest will have to multiply and increase manifolds whose possibility is very much present. In the upcoming decade, either we will plunge into the depths of medievalism where mankind will face the danger of extinction not only of human values but also of the whole humanity, or fascism, monopolistic capitalism and imperialism will give way to socialism, the only most egalitarian society.

Kicking Out The Fascist In The Election Brings Only Temporary Respite

Historically we are passing through a time when we can witness the advent of humanity into an era of decisive struggles and mass movements against fascism and capitalism-imperialism. It can be seen in the entire world that the problems faced by the people owing to the rotten and crisis ridden capitalist-imperialist-fascist system can be solved only by completely replacing or uprooting capitalism, the very basis of emergence of imperialism and fascism. The swapping of governments in between can however bring a temporary respite only; a temporary relief and nothing more. And this temporary relief is also important to us and we should strive to achieve it and this is why all the progressive democratic forces have the solemn duty to kick the fascist organisations out of power in elections and wherever they get a chance to do so. We should smash them out from among the masses.

But the real question, which is related to this, is that in what way is this temporary relief important for us? And the answer is that we must utilize this temporary relief from fascism to realign our forces and give a revolutionary direction to the entire unfolding unrest and people’s uplifted morale and democratic spirit by using the most resolute forces that the revolutionary movement has at its disposal. Beyond this, it has not much importance. The objective conditions are also in our favour, as already explained. It is true that the temporary relief is also important, but we should know exactly in what sense it is important. It just provides us with an opportunity to prepare ourselves and realign our forces, and nothing more than that. 

So, we need to solve the dilemma surrounding the strategy to defeat fascism. We need to overthrow the old ‘left’ strategy of defeating or making alliance against fascism by tailing behind the bourgeoisie. We need to create scope of instilling a revolutionary alternative program among the masses, even if it is incumbent upon us to temporarily form an election block with the ‘anti-fascist’ bourgeois camp. We know that if we want to defeat fascism once and forever then we need to bring forward the question of building a system which can solve all the existing problems faced by the masses. If we don’t challenge and overthrow the omnipotence of capital which restricts the flow of relief to the people and in its place build a new society of all the exploited, deprived and oppressed classes and community in the leadership of the proletariat, if we cannot instill this in the imaginations of the people and present this as an alternative in the fight against fascism, then no real fight can be started against the fascist forces. And ultimately the masses will get fed up with this and distance themselves from us as well, because for them, any kind of respite is out of question in the present circumstance of permanent crisis that has surrounded the world capitalist system.

Be Ready To Unite To Overthrow Capitalism

Though it amounts to repeating, it is worth repeating that there existed favourable situation before the election and now a new situation is emerging after the elections, as explained above. And we must intervene in the new scenario after elections no matter what the results may be, that is, whether Mahagathbandhan wins or NDA comes in power. Everyone will agree with the analysis that there is a strong sense of dissatisfaction prevailing among the masses all over India as well, though the unrest is somewhat deeper in Bihar as it is mainly the land of toilers, particularly the migrant labourers who have been worst hit. Further, here there is a long history of people’s repression and the destruction of public facilities. And today the condition is such that the Nitish government has not only not done any basic foundation work for any people-oriented relief, but in turn has built such a state machinery which is blatant and too much oppressive. He doesn’t meet any people’s representative. Bihar police makes no difference between men and women while beating them on the road during their demonstrations.  BJP’s objective here is to clear the rest of obstacles that lie ahead and thus gain complete and independent control over Bihar’s state machinery and then make Bihar, like UP and other BJP rules states, a rabid hunting ground of the fascist against the democratic voices and toiling masses in order to facilitate the unhindered corporate loot.

So, there is an immediate task of defeating the fascist NDA alliance in the ongoing Bihar election, but with this is immediately intertwined the long-term task of riding on the crest of the mass unrest that will further accentuate and as a result will give rise to tremendous mass movement after elections, no matter whoever wins. It is the duty of the CR forces that although we are not united today, we need to unite tomorrow and ride on the crest of the mass unrest and transform the upcoming decade into a decade of revolutionary upsurges and thus launch a decisive struggle against the fascist-capitalist-imperialist forces. 

Down With Fascism!

Down With Capitalism and Imperialism!!

[Originally published in The Truth: Platform for Radical Voices of The Working Class (Issue 7 / November 2020)]

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