With Lok Sabha elections less than a month away, we are seeing feverish political realignments all around. It is open season for the opportunists, with aya-ram-gaya-ram politicians switching parties at dizzying speed.
The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) of Raj Thackeray has declared its support for Modi as Prime Minister. MNS will field candidates against its rival and BJP ally Shiv Sena, but not against BJP.
The Modi campaign has taken the shape of a united front of a variety of unsavoury forces: the RSS and its constituent communal outfits; thugs of various hues including moral policing brigades, organisations implicated in Dabholkar’s killing, regional-chauvinists like Raj Thackeray and Shiv Sena, and khap panchayats; and corporate houses. This gang-up includes godmen like Ramdev and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (unfortunately Asaram has been eliminated from this line-up thanks to his being in jail charged with rape of a minor girl). Among the various opportunists who have made a timely strategic shift and joined this gang-up, we can also count the imperialist US Government, which has made an about-turn in its position and extended its tacit blessings for Modi.
Modi’s campaign has essentially been dominated by ‘theme Gujarat’ and ‘team Gujarat’, and the Gujarat Government’s resources being put at the services of Modi’s Prime Ministerial campaign. With Raj Thackeray’s support in addition to Shiv Sena’s, Maharashtra’s might has been added to Gujarat’s fuel power. Gujarat and Maharashtra are both arenas of corporate assertion and the corporate model of ‘development’, and Modi’s campaign has taken on the overtones of the corporate home base against more backward regions. Modi indicated as much by declaring that the ‘eastern’ states, associated with left and non-Congress non-BJP parties, needed to be brought in line with the ‘developed western states.’ It is ironic that Modi, bragging to the people of Bihar about the development model of the ‘western states’, forgets that his allies in Maharashtra are responsible for thrashing the migrant labourers from Eastern India, whose labour contributes in no small way to the corporate-led ‘development’ of those states!
Recent realignments are also revealing the hollowness and insincerity of the ‘Third Front’ being peddled by the CPI and CPIM. In less than a month since the 11-party grouping met in Delhi on 10 February, the Front is showing tears and strains. The AIADMK has coolly walked out of the Front leaving CPIM high and dry: clearly because Jayalalithaa would like to keep the option of supporting Modi (or Mamata), as the situation may demand, post elections. Clearly, such a Front cobbled together with parties without the slightest consistency or secular-democratic principles, cannot possibly offer any resistance to the BJP. In other states too, including Bihar and Odisha, the seat-sharing arrangements with JDU and BJD are seeing the CPIM and CPI cut a sorry figure. These developments hold a lesson for the CPI and CPIM. Time and again, their model of essentially opportunist alliances covered by the fig leaf of ‘secular front,’ ‘common minimum programme’ or ‘third front’ have not only discredited and tarnished the cause of struggles against communal forces and neoliberal policies. They have also contributed to a steady marginalisation, and erosion in the strength and credibility, of the Left. The fact that such alliances yielded some seats for the CPI and CPIM has helped to disguise it, but with time, the erosion and marginalisation has become unmistakeable.
To confront Modi’s united front of communal-corporate thuggery, we cannot possibly rely on political opportunists with a track record of promoting corporate plunder and complete lack of consistent anti-communal principles and practice. People’s movement forces and the Left, instead of passively relying on such opportunist and unprincipled forces and alliances, need to unite and boldly assert a robust agenda of democracy, justice, people’s rights, and reversal of anti-people policies.