Statements of Radical Socialist


The JNU Elections: Challenges before the Radicalising Students


Statement of Radical Socialist 22.09.2012


The formation of a separate organisation  -- the SFI-JNU, was the result of a bureaucratic fiat by the All India leadership of the SFI. The CPI(M), during the Presidential elections, had decided to support the congress candidates for both the President and the Vice President posts (in India, unlike most other countries, the two are elected separately, by different electoral colleges). The decision to support the Congress candidate for president was particularly obnoxious, as this was no other than the till then Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee. The only reason for this craven display of class collaborationism was the hope that this would drive a wedge between Trinamul Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee and the Congress. The whole action was based on low-grade petty bourgeois psephology. In 2011, the 34 year long rule of the Left Front in West Bengal had came to an end. This was because in 2011, there had developed an opportunist, but clearly discernible left-right alliance. It included the radical right, the traditional right, ex-Naxalites and current Naxalites of various persuasions (including of course, the CPI Maoist). Those all too numerous seeming ultra-leftists had based their support on the revival of a discredited Stalinist theory – the theory of Social-fascism, according to which reformists are now the worst fascists.

The CPI(M) led Left Front had managed to win over 41 per cent of the votes in the 2011 elections. The simple calculation of Alimuddin Street is, if the Congress can be prised away from the TMC, it will take away a good bit of the votes – at least 5-6 per cent. In addition, the ex- and present Naxalites, or large chunks of them, will no longer be so much in love with the TMC. As a result, the vote share of the TMC might even come down to below the LF’s votes next time round.

This amazing dream is little more than a dream. The CPI(M) had over the years become the establishment party and had attracted all manner of corrupt elements who have deserted it for the TMC the day after the election results came out. The 41 per cent was the best they could muster. A real understanding of the class struggle is way beyond the understanding of people who had provided left wing cover for the policies of the ruling class. It is essential, if we are serious about working class politics, to understand that any governance in the name of development, without a Marxist and socialist environmentalist assessment of what is meant by that term, That factory closures in West Bengal had cost tens of thousands of jobs, that tea garden workers had starved to death, were events that touched their consciousness barely all these years. Even the struggles in Singur and Nandigram, which cost them their rural base, were put down to little more than conspiracies.

The desire for little buts of power and position, the free cars with red lights on top, the material goods that can come, was just too open and blatant this time round. The ideological fig leaf was missing. CPI(M) cadres and supporters reacted in various places. Dr. Ashok Mitra wrote a sharp critical piece in The Telegraph. This was the context of the JNU unit of the SFI taking a publicly critical stance. The young people thought that since they were acting in the name of the SFI, there would be some autonomy. As their statement shows, this belief, or illusion, was soon dispelled. See

The authoritarian action of expelling them from the SFI however boomeranged. They took their politics to the student community. They fought the JNUSU elections. And the result was a nightmare for the official SFI. Out of four office-bearer positions three went to the AISA (student wing of the CPIML – Liberation) and the President post went to the “rebel” SFI. Worse, that organisation won five representatives, and beat the official SFI into a corner.

Having won the first round, however, the SFI JNU will have to face many theoretical and political questions.

·         Can one simply criticise the CPI(M) for supporting Pranab Mukherjee in 2012, and not probe the basic theoretical flaw behind it? This flaw, we argue, lies in the Dutt-Bradley thesis, the adaptation for India of Dimitrov’s so-called united front against imperialism and fascism, which in fact called for lining up behind the “progressive” sections of the bourgeoisie. Ever since then, mainstream communist politics has been all about finding the progressive bourgeoisie and forging the correct alliance – like CPI supporting Indira against fascism in 1974-5; CPI(M) supporting JP Narayan  and even accepting that they would march without banners with him in 1974; the bloc with BJP and Janata Dal in 1989 to stop the Congress, the calling off of the national Campaign Committee’s agitations in order to build an anti-RSS/Hindutva alliance within a few years, supporting the UPA-I in 2004.

·         The second lesson that needs to be drawn is that in a bourgeois democracy, communist strategy has to be rethought seriously. If we say we are opposed to the boycott of institutions, including parliaments, then we have to also ensure that we do not get integrated into the bourgeois system. For this, it is necessary to build the party among workers and the rual workers and semi-proletarian masses, ensure a growing proletarianisation of the party, and making extra-parliamentary struggles the focus, even 90 per cent of the work, or a revolutionary party. Winning elections at any cost means doing just the reverse.

·         What will therefore be the future of left politics in India? Every generation faces this question in its own way. Lessons of the past are vital. But history cannot replace real, direct experience. In fact, the long history of growing reformism, of the politics of multi-class blocs and the “theoretically conceived” need to not go beyond the bourgeois democratic (“national”, “peoples’” or “new” democratic) level, has meant that even rebels against the reformism of the top leadership focus on tactical errors, as they see it, rather than on any fundamental malaise. At some point, lived experience and history and theory must be brought together so that cadres emerging from the CP tradition can understand that a fundamental break with that tradition, a focus on class struggle and working class unity, and a bloc of all the exploited and oppressed rather than blocs with bourgeois sectors, must be the basis for building a really revolutionary alternative.

Given the unique position of JNU, the SFI-JNU can create ripples across many parts of India, in other campuses. History has given them an opportunity to carry out what Marx called “a ruthless criticism of everything existing”. Only a new and alternative left, committed to proletarian independence, working class democracy, and genuine internationalism rather than nationalism disguised as anti-imperialism, can lead real fight-backs. We urge the SFI-JNU to rise to the occasion and play an active role in the forging of such a left.