1. Global capitalism remains trapped in a protracted recession which has been widely acknowledged as the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Even though the Obama administration now talks of a growing recovery and ‘the beginning of the end of the crisis’ five years on since the spectacular collapse of several gigantic financial firms in the US, the crisis shows no sign of abating. The epicentre of the crisis has been the US economy, still the biggest in the world, but in the era of global capitalist integration the crisis today is being felt across the world. In sectoral terms, finance was where the crisis erupted with great intensity, but since contemporary capitalism is predominantly financial capitalism, the crisis has affected every major aspect of the global economy. What began as a financial crisis has grown into a protracted and comprehensive economic crisis.
2. The method adopted by the US, and now increasingly by the European Union, to combat the crisis has been to bail out banks and other financial firms tottering on the verge of bankruptcy while imposing harsh austerity measures on the working people. As a result while on the one hand many big corporations have been saved from certain collapse at the cost of increased public debt of governments, the working people have been hit hard by growing joblessness and declining wages. The latest annual Global Employment Trends report of the International Labour Organization (ILO) forecasts that jobless numbers around the world will rise in 2013 to 202 million people, topping the erstwhile record of 198 million in 2009 and will continue to grow till 2017. This however is a gross underestimation because the figures do not include the millions of unemployed in countries like India who are not officially registered as unemployed. The ILO estimates that in 2011 unemployment affected 75 million young people aged 15–24 worldwide, representing more than 12 per cent of all young people.
3. The economic crisis has triggered powerful popular protests across the world against ruling policies, challenging the neo-liberal dogma and even toppling governments. Three movements in particular have attracted global attention: the Occupy movement in the US, the Arab Spring and the anti-austerity protests in Europe. More recently the movement against sexual violence that erupted in India in December 2012 also seems to have struck a global chord promising a new wave of women’s political assertion moving away from an increasingly NGO-led appropriation of the women’s movement. In the case of the Arab spring, the economic crisis served more as a backdrop while the quest for liberation from deeply entrenched authoritarian rule in these countries served as the most powerful trigger. The protests peaked in 2011 and are still continuing under changed circumstances. In the US, Obama reaped the short-term benefit of the Occupy movement, winning his second term defeating the prospect of a more rabid rightwing restoration under the Republicans while in the Arab world four governments have already been toppled and large-scale unrest and even civil war continues to rage in several other countries. Using the turbulent situation the US has deepened its politico-military intervention in the region even as Islamist parties seem to have emerged as the most powerful political trend throughout the Arab world. For the communist and other progressive forces in different parts of the world, the current crisis of global capitalism certainly opens up a great opportunity to rise and press ahead against the forces of authoritarianism, war and capitalist devastation.
4. The so-called ‘war on terror’ (it should really be renamed as war of terror) launched by the US in the wake of 9/11 continues to spread to newer areas in Asia and Africa even as the war is now more than a decade old in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the two countries which were the first to be invaded. With the plea of combating terrorism and aiding democracy, the US and its NATO allies have made it into a permanent war with ever newer excuses and targets. After finishing off Saddam Hussein and occupying Iraq, the US-NATO axis targeted Libya and eliminated Muammar Gaddafi, the once formidable ruler of Libya, and is now busy securing a regime change in Syria. Likewise, after killing the al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the US and its allies, France and Britain, are now busy discovering the ghosts of al-Qaeda all over Africa. Western troops have already entered Mali and Niger ostensibly to ‘protect’ the rulers and ‘guard’ the mines and oil fields. The Pentagon already has an African command (AFRICOM) with American military presence spread over as many as 35 countries in Africa. Grabbing Africa’s rich resources and countering China’s growing economic ties with African countries lies at the heart of the aggressive US strategy being pursued in active collaboration with France and Britain, the former colonial powers which once controlled large parts of Africa. The US is also threatening military action against North Korea in the wake of the nuclear test recently carried out by the latter.
5. Contrary to the popular expectation of securing an early end to war which had helped Obama become the first Black president of America at the end of the disastrous Bush era, the war has thus kept spreading under the Obama presidency. Obama has of course effected certain changes in Washington’s war strategy. He has been trying to invest less in direct occupation, laying greater emphasis on so-called ‘targeted killings’ by bombing from unmanned aerial vehicles – the infamous drone strikes – and assisting various Arab rebel groups in the American project of regime change. The drone strikes are being carried out in utter secrecy and in flagrant violation of the sovereign rights of countries including long-time US allies like Pakistan and the number of people killed in drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia runs into thousands, most of them common civilians including women and children whose names do not figure even remotely on the lists of ‘targeted terrorists’. Obama has now vested himself with the power of ordering the execution of even US citizens without any transparency or reference to any process of law.
6. The continuing ‘war on terror’ has also cast a long and dark shadow on the state of domestic affairs in the war-mongering countries, the US and Britain in particular. The diverse Muslim communities in these countries are being criminalised and terrorised by repressive legislation and media hate campaigns. Basic civil liberties have been undermined in the name of fighting terrorism, and measures such as secret evidence, secret courts, extradition, revoking of citizenship and extraordinary rendition have led to deaths, disappearances and unlimited incarcerations, often without even the pretence of trials, whether inside the US, in Guantanamo, or in the US network of secret prisons across the world.
7. Next to the US and supported to the hilt by it, the other source of war and aggression in the world is Israel. Israel serves as America’s most reliable military arm in Asia and the staunchest ideological ally in its construction of Islam as its main enemy and particularly in policing the Arab world. Defying all peace agreements and UN resolutions Israel continues to occupy Palestine and perpetrate endless war-crimes. In fact, with Iraq and Libya under US control, Syria tottering on the brink of yet another US-led regime change and Iran encircled by the US and other NATO powers, Israel sees the present juncture as a great political and military opportunity to expand its occupation of Palestinian territory. The recent attack on Gaza, the killing of innocent Palestinian people and the massive and systematic destruction of essential services clearly smacked of Israel’s motive to flatten all of Gaza and drive Palestinians away by expanding exclusive Jewish settlements on their land. Palestine has virtually been turned into a vast concentration camp – an ironic re-enactment of the Nazi era holocaust on the land and people of Palestine. Against this background, the recent UN General Assembly resolution according Palestine the status of a “non-member observer state” thereby implicitly recognising the sovereignty of the state of Palestine, a motion passed with 138 votes in favour, 9 against (including US, Israel and Canada) and 41 abstentions (including Britain and Germany), however belated and symbolic, marks a moral and psychological victory of the Palestinian people. The US-Israel nexus remains the greatest global enemy of peace and freedom, and anti-imperialist forces across the world will therefore have to sharpen their struggle against this nexus. In this context it is heartening to note that rebuffing America’s desperate attempts to isolate and coerce it, Iran successfully hosted the 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran in August 2012.
8. Alongside the economic crisis and the US-led campaign of permanent global war, the world today is also acutely experiencing the third dimension of capitalist devastation – the energy crisis and ecological disaster. The US and its western allies are desperately trying to tighten their grip over key energy resources like oil, gas and coal; they are also increasingly grabbing land in third world countries and pushing for cultivation of bio-fuels to secure their own energy needs while destroying the agricultural economy and food security and sovereignty of the developing countries. The so-called war on terror is very much a war for grabbing resources and securing a monopoly control over the global energy economy. Meanwhile, even as the inherent danger of nuclear energy is widely acknowledged in the advanced capitalist countries and almost all of them are moving away to other sources of safer and cheaper energy, yet despite the alarming experience of Chernobyl and Fukushima, the US and other big nuclear powers are busy selling their outdated nuclear technology to countries like India.
9. Global warming or climate change is no longer just a threat for the future; it has already assumed ominous proportions for all forms of life in the planet. The Kyoto protocol of 1997 had fixed targets for the advanced countries – the main players responsible for the developing ecological disaster – to reduce their per capita emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. But the US and some other advanced countries derailed and sabotaged the Kyoto process and finally in the climate change conference held in Durban in 2011 they succeeded in transferring a disproportionately heavy burden on to countries like China and India by dumping the parameter of per capita emission and thus sacrificing any notion of equity and justice in combating the climate crisis. The advanced countries are also trying to use the third world as the dumping ground for all their toxic waste. The battle for an ecologically sustainable model of development must therefore squarely challenge the continuing injustice being inflicted by the advanced countries.
10. The phenomenal rise of information technology, especially the tremendous growth of the internet as a medium of communication and mass dissemination of information has opened up huge possibilities of anti-corporate anti-imperialist resistance. The enormous potential of this new medium has already begun to be felt as a weapon of revelation of corporate-imperialist secrets, as a tool of social and political mobilisation in physical as well as ideological terms and as a mode of resistance to the very basis of capitalist monopoly in the realm of knowledge and information. This is why the power of capital and the state is desperately seeking ways to curb and subvert internet freedom. Foiling this conspiracy and expanding the horizons of information technology and internet freedom to deliver bigger blows to the offensives of capital and corporate-imperialist state has emerged as a key challenge for people’s struggles across the world.
11. The US dream of absolute and permanent domination in a unipolar world faces its most serious challenge in the economic arena. While the US has been hit hard by the current recession, China, now the second largest economy in the world, has been affected much less and is slated to overtake the US by 2020 as the world’s largest economy measured in terms of purchasing power parity. The economic rivalry between the two powers is understandably sharpening despite a high degree of interdependence. European Union, if recognised as a single entity as in the WTO, is already bigger than the US. Driven by China, BRICS (Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa – South Africa has been included in the group since the group’s third summit held in China in April 2011) has emerged as a powerful economic group – even though the crisis has stolen much of its initial shine. The countries listed as emerging economies (different institutions have different lists – the World Bank recognises South Korea and Indonesia apart from Brazil, Russia, India and China as the six major emerging economies) are widely acknowledged as a major power rivalling the old G7 countries (US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and Japan) and hence G7 has taken the initiative to accommodate a number of emerging economies in G20. The biggest economic weapon in the hands of the US is the exclusive global recognition of its currency as the international standard for exchange and the day the dollar is pulled down from this position of supremacy the balance of the world economy will change drastically. Ending the domination of dollar and replacing it with some alternative arrangement is the most urgent global economic reform that the world needs.
12. In the military and political arena the US however still retains its supremacy even though an objective trend towards multipolarity can also be discerned. The trend towards multipolarity – as evidenced primarily by the emergence of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) comprising China, Russia and four other countries emerging from the disintegration of the USSR and the expansion and consolidation of the European Union – had slowed down in the wake of the rise of the US-led global alliance against terrorism. But with the US getting bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan and its economy taking a heavy beating in the ongoing crisis, the American grip has started loosening. Concerted and sustained opposition by Russia and China has prevented the US from having its way with regard to Iran and now Syria. The SCO is steadily evolving into a powerful bloc with both economic and military cooperation, and its domain is expanding with the induction of Iran, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan as observers. Turkey, a NATO nation, participated in the 2012 SCO summit as a dialogue partner.
13. While the trend towards multipolarity works through the complex web of international relations, the renewed spurt in mass resistance and popular protests across the world – reflecting a simultaneous intensification of two basic contradictions, viz., the contradiction between labour and capital in advanced capitalist countries and the contradiction between imperialism and the third world – has the potential to overcome the spiral of terrorism and imperialist intervention and tilt the political balance against the US-led neo- liberal order with its disastrous trajectory of severe economic crisis, permanent global war and growing ecological disaster.
14. Since 1978 China has increasingly moved in the direction of a regulated market economy with strong state intervention which it calls building socialism with Chinese characteristics. The large- scale adoption of market economy has considerably aggravated social as well as regional disparities within China even as it has emerged as the second most powerful economy of the world. In our Eighth Congress we had observed that in course of pro-market, pro-private capital reforms China has “moved further away from any meaningful progress towards socialism”, with “[r]apidly growing capitalist relations in the base… naturally having its impact on the superstructure – on the politics, policies and priorities of the ruling party as well as conduct of its members.” The drift has continued since, marked by growing cronyism and corruption; forcible land acquisitions and horrible working conditions and low wages in private (including MNC-owned) factories and mines, frequently leading to rural rebellions and workers’ strikes which are, as a rule, sternly dealt with and sought to be kept secret; marginalisation of national minorities resulting in incidents like the Xinxiang clashes (2009); cultural degeneration including spread of bourgeois consumerism as well as feudal-patriarchal trends in society and state institutions; and similar maladies.
15. The CPC has, of course, been trying to cope with the problems under a series of guidelines like “Socialist Core Value System” and “Socialist Harmonious Society” issued previously and “Scientific Outlook on Development” issued in its latest (18th) party Congress, but in the absence of a thoroughgoing ideological-political course correction, there is hardly any evidence that China’s spectacular economic growth is contributing to democracy, equality or, to use an old slogan, “Socialist Spiritual Civilisation”. What is worrying about China is not its departure from the established 20th Century patterns of socialism or its innovative attempts to cope with new challenges in a very difficult international setting, but the conspicuous absence of the essential emancipatory vision of a revolutionary social transformation – one that reduces social disparities and elevates the basic masses from a position of mere recipients of benefits from a state power standing above them, to one of real rulers of the land. However, it is significant that even while practising increasing integration with the global capitalist economy, China has dealt with the inevitable negative impact of the current recession in a far better manner than the US, the EU and Japan by means of prompt policy decisions that have become widely recognised reference points for other countries. We should continue to study the developments in China and stand for improved ties between India and China bilaterally and also through multilateral platforms like BRICS and SCO while resolutely opposing the US policy to use India as its pawn in the US gameplan of encircling and containing China.
16. While China today hardly inspires or reflects the global anti-
imperialist and socialist imagination, Latin America has emerged as a vibrant bastion of the Left movement in the global arena. Latin American people, in the recent past, have elected several governments that boldly oppose neo-liberal policies and have strong anti-imperialist leanings. Bolivia and Venezuela have nationalized key industries and Ecuador has closed a US military base. This is noteworthy in a region that was known for violent implementation of neo-liberal policies under US supported dictatorships from Chile to Argentina just a few decades ago. Cuba and Venezuela have co-founded the Bolivarian Alliance for our Americas (ALBA) that now has eight member states, including Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. ALBA is building an alternative to the US dominated trade with the aim of regional economic integration based on mutual social welfare, bartering and economic aid. To further deepen Latin American integration and challenge American domination, ALBA has been followed up with CELAC, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, comprising 33 sovereign countries in the Americas excluding USA and Canada.
17. Cuba continues to be the greatest source of inspiration for Latin American people resisting imperialism and building solidarity in the region. The towering presence of Fidel Castro at the helm of the Cuban state and the Communist Party ended after five decades, with Fidel paving the way for Raul Castro, the current President of Cuba and also First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 Cuban agriculture in particular was deeply affected. Starting in the 1990s, Cuba developed ecological methods in agriculture and is moving towards a path of food sovereignty. Cuba recently implemented some economic reforms, including limited private entrepreneurship, that are of concern but it is too early to assess the impact. It has increased trade relations with China making it the second biggest trading partner of Cuba after Venezuela.
18. The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has posed a new challenge for the Venezuelan people and the Bolivarian revolution. Chavez had recently won yet another emphatic victory with a margin of 10% in a landslide election with a voter turnout of 80%, winning 20 out of the 22 states. His successor Nicolas Maduro Moros now faces a fiercely fought election this April (which he eventually won by a narrow margin). The socio-economic reforms started in Chavez’s first term have started to show results. Venezuela has the lowest inequality level in the region and poverty has been reduced from 70.8% (1996) to 21% (2010). Barrio Adentro, the primary health-care programme that involves more than 8,300 Cuban doctors in 7,000 clinics, has saved 1.4 million lives. With the declared goal of establishing 21st Century Socialism, the Bolivarian revolutionary process in Venezuela has started reforming and challenging the capitalist system from within. Chavez’s death has provided an opportunity for the Venezuelan oligarchy working in concert with imperial powers to try and destabilize the country. US President Obama’s statement at Chavez’ demise that avoided offering condolences and instead extended US support for Venezuelan people at what he called ‘a new chapter in (Venezuela’s) history,’ clearly indicates that the US which was thoroughly rebuffed by the Venezuelan people during the failed coup attempt of 2002 is now desperate to secure a ‘regime change’ by other means. But the deepening of democracy since 1998 has intensified the political participation of the Venezuelan people and serves as a powerful deterrent against destabilisation. For instance, communities are now empowered to debate and allocate budgets according to their local social needs in over 30,000 communal councils.
19. Bolivia has emerged as another key pillar of the ongoing leftward shift in Latin America. President Evo Morales, who first won office in December 2005 with 54% vote share and retained office in 2009 with 64% vote after the country adopted a new constitution through referendum, is only the second person of indigenous origin to become a President in Latin America. The indigenous people’s movement continues to play a big role in Bolivia.
20. Confirming and strengthening the continuing broad-based popular momentum for the Left in Latin America, Ecuador’s incumbent President Rafael Correa has secured a thumping victory in the Presidential elections held in February this year. Dedicating his victory to the then Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez who had returned to Venezuela after weeks of cancer treatment in Cuba, Correa has called for still greater unity of Latin America to counter a ‘very cruel neo-liberal globalisation’. Apart from achieving a significant reduction in poverty through increased social spending and defaulting on millions of dollars of foreign debt declared illegitimate, the Correa government has taken a bold stand against US intervention as reflected in its decision to refuse permission to US forces to use an airbase in Ecuador, expel American diplomats for meddling in Ecuador’s internal affairs and offer asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange who remains at the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
21. The ongoing Leftward shift in Latin America is rooted in a long legacy of anti-imperialist and socialist mobilisation. However, the threat from US imperialism has not abated. The military coup in Honduras in June 2009 against President Manuel Zelaya could not have taken place without the overt or covert support of the US. Zelaya was implementing some pro-people policies like raising the minimum wage and affiliating with ALBA. The people of Latin America are however quite vigilant. Trade unions, peasant organizations, women’s organizations, and social movements of Afro-Latin Americans and indigenous people are organizing and mobilizing against their oligarchies and imperialism. In spite of the possibility of setback in individual countries the overall assertion of the Latin American people and the Left continues to gather momentum.
22. Parts of Europe too have been witnessing a resurgence of youth movement and working class struggles lending strength to a potential revival of the Left. This is happening against the backdrop of a severe Eurozone crisis (17 countries of the European Union use Euro as their common currency while 10 EU members still have their own currencies) and governments enforcing harsh austerity measures even as the Eurozone experiences a youth unemployment rate of 22% (more than 30% in Italy, Portugal and Slovakia and more than 50% in Greece and Spain). The best performance of the European Left in recent elections has been witnessed in Greece where Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left, a coalition of more than a dozen Left groups and trends now registered as a party) came close to emerging as the leading party – its vote share increasing from 3.3% in 2004 (the first election it faced) to 16.8% in May 2012 and 26.9% in June 2012. Currently it is the main opposition party with 71 members in the 300-member Greek parliament. The PCF, the French Communist Party too put up a notable performance in the 2012 President election polling 11.10% votes, the highest since 1981. Large sections of the Left in Europe have also come together to operate as the Party of the European Left and it has already held three Congresses since its foundation in 2004.
23. Historically, periods of severe economic crisis have however also been witness to the rise of the extreme right – and the European Left does have to confront the racist anti-immigrant and anti-Islamist politics of the radical right. The elections in Greece for example also witnessed the rise of the Golden Dawn, a neo-Nazi outfit which won 7% vote and 18 seats in the Greek parliament.
24. In Africa, the Left had secured a crucial victory with the overcoming of the apartheid regime in South Africa. The South African Communist Party (SACP) is in a tripartite alliance with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). But in spite of organic ties with the SACP and COSATU, the ANC-led government is vigorously implementing the neo-liberal policy trajectory and workers’ struggles are facing severe repression. The shocking massacre of 34 striking platinum mine-workers in Marikana near Johannesburg has brought back memories of the brutality of the apartheid era. Adding insult to injury, the ANC government, instead of taking action against the police, chose to invoke an apartheid-era law to implicate fellow strikers for the state brutality that left 34 miners killed and another 78 seriously injured. With the SACP and the COSATU-affiliated National Union of Mineworkers stigmatizing the strikers and the breakaway independent union they have joined, South Africa is now witnessing the birth of a new phase of radical trade unionism and genuine communists are now faced with the task of resisting not just MNCs and the corporate-imperialist drive of recolonisation but also the government that runs with communist support.
25. In Asia, the biggest recent mass advance of the communist movement was witnessed in Nepal where the communist-led mass upsurge succeeded in abolishing the monarchy and initiating the process of republican transition. But the process of constitution-making has made little headway since 2008 even as four Prime Ministers have already held office and almost all possible combinations have already been tried out. Apart from the complexities of coalition/consensus politics, two issues have proved to be particularly thorny – the process of incorporation and rehabilitation of the Maoist military cadre and the mode and degree of federalism to be envisioned in republican Nepal. The first issue has been more or less resolved but the second issue is being hotly debated as hitherto deprived/underrepresented regions and social identities look for a better deal under the new arrangement. Meanwhile, the Maoists in Nepal have undergone a split even as all major parties have agreed to have an interim government headed by the sitting chief justice to oversee fresh elections to the Constituent Assembly. We stand for warm and equal relations between India and Nepal and wish to see the people of Nepal consolidate the gains of the anti-monarchy upsurge and advance as a democratic republic under the leadership of our Nepali comrades. We must also remain vigilant and determined against any possible intervention on the part of the Indian state obstructing the process of Nepal’s republican transition or imposing any kind of Indian domination on Nepal.
26. Pakistan has been passing through extremely tough and turbulent times. The Afghan crisis has spilled over into Pakistan and even as Pakistan collaborates with the US in combating terrorism, the US continues to violate Pakistan’s sovereignty and pulverise the country with deadly drone attacks. The Shia community in Pakistan, especially in Baloochistan, faces relentless violent attacks from different quarters. The judiciary in Pakistan has assumed a highly pro-active role – last year it ousted and disqualified Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani of the Pakistan People’s Party on charges of contempt of court for not prosecuting President Asif Ali Zardari in corruption cases and this January it ordered the arrest of the incumbent Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on corruption charges. Meanwhile, with the next general elections approaching, which if held on time will be the first instance of an elected government completing five years and paving the way for its successor, a Pakistani cleric holding Canadian citizenship has suddenly surfaced from Canada promising to turn Pakistan into a corruption-free moderate state. The Tahir-ul-Qadri phenomenon, likened by some to the Anna Hazare phenomenon in India, is widely believed in Pakistan to have been propped up by the Army. Former cricketer Imran Khan has also emerged as a significant political player in Pakistan, raising his voice against US drone strikes taking Pakistani lives, but also maintaining an ambiguous relationship with the Army establishment.
27. The US-NATO military campaign in Afghanistan has now been going on for more than 11 years. Even as US-NATO forces are now talking of an exit plan and withdrawing forces by 2014, US has already signed an Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement with Afghanistan which will allow the US to access and use Afghan facilities and also grant the possibility of keeping US forces in Afghanistan beyond 2014. As an ally of the US, India has already been heavily involved in Afghanistan. The scaling down of western involvement in Afghanistan is likely to pave the way for a heightened India-Pakistan rivalry over Afghanistan. With India and Pakistan already locked in a permanent conflict situation over Kashmir, any intensification of rivalry on the Afghan front will further vitiate India-Pakistan relations and deepen American intervention and turn the entire region increasingly volatile. Complete withdrawal of US-NATO military involvement from Afghanistan and Pakistan and restoration of the full sovereignty and right of these two countries to determine their future is a fundamental prerequisite for enduring peace in the region. We consider peace and friendship between India and Pakistan of paramount importance and must remain ever vigilant against the constant anti-Pakistan campaign of jingoistic forces in India.
28. The Rajapakse government of Sri Lanka decimated the LTTE through an unmitigated genocidal war campaign. An internal inquiry report of the UN released in November 2012 estimates that the civilian casualties could go up to 70,000 while a World Bank population data finds a hundred thousand Tamils missing since the final war against LTTE rebels in 2009. The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution urging Sri Lanka to address the issue of war crimes but the ‘Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’ set up by the Sri Lankan government has given a clean chit to the Sri Lankan army saying it adopted a ‘zero civilian casualty’ policy and any loss of civilian lives should be treated as ‘collateral damage’. Recent photographic evidence gives the lie to this claim dramatically, indicating that the LTTE chief Prabhakaran’s minor son was shot dead by Sri Lankan Army in cold blood. Recently the UNHRC adopted another resolution that stopped short of suggesting an international probe in spite of the obvious bias and chauvinism in the functioning of the Sri Lankan Government’s Commission, but Sri Lanka has rejected even this diluted resolution. The Sri Lankan government’s concept of ‘reconciliation’ calls upon Sri Lankan Tamils to accept Sinhala supremacist domination even as Sri Lankan Tamils are still counting the dead. Reconciliation in Sri Lanka cannot proceed on the basis of subjugation of the Sri Lankan Tamil community, the international community must make sure that the ghastly war crimes against Sri Lankan Tamils are probed in full and exemplary punishment is awarded to the guilty.
29. Indian foreign policy vis-a-vis Sri Lanka has been utterly inconsistent. From promoting LTTE and other pro-Eelam groups at one stage India went to the other extreme of sending Indian forces to Sri Lanka in the name of peace-keeping. India also maintained an intriguing silence even as the Sri Lankan state waged war on the Tamil community to decimate the LTTE. And now on the issue of investigation of war-crimes, punishment for the guilty and justice for the war-ravaged Sri Lankan Tamils, India is doing nothing more than toeing the US line in the UN. While raising its voice forcefully in the international arena to rally the international community for justice for Sri Lankan Tamils, India must ensure that its initiatives in this regard do not lead to any hostile approach to the common people of Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, the competitive campaign between DMK and AIADMK to outsmart each other in posing as the champion of the Tamil cause has already begun to acquire an anti-Sinhala sectarian tone with a Buddhist monk being regrettably beaten up in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lankan players being debarred from playing in Tamil Nadu. We cannot overlook the fact that while trying to cash in on the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils in Sri Lanka, these parties and the governments at the centre and in Tamil Nadu are doing nothing to improve the pitiable conditions faced by Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in Tamil Nadu.
30. India’s relations with her eastern neighbours, Bangladesh and Myanmar, are also of crucial importance. The ‘Look East’ policy being pursued by the Indian Government over the last two decades has emerged as a key aspect of India’s foreign policy. While India uses this policy to reach out to the ASEAN countries, secure greater economic leverage and contain the insurgencies in the North-East by preventing the rebel groups from taking shelter in Bangladesh and Myanmar, there is also an unmistakable convergence with the US policy and its strategic goal of containment of China. India’s relations with her eastern neighbours must be independent of the US policy and priorities and based on ties of equality and mutual cooperation. India must positively address the concerns of Bangladesh of which India is almost the exclusive neighbour (with the exception of the small border that Bangladesh shares with Myanmar).
31. While initially supporting the movement for restoration of democracy in Myanmar, ever since the adoption of the Look East policy, India began to develop close ties with the military rulers there. Following the release of pro-democracy movement leader Aung San Suu Kyi from house arrest in 2010, her party has been re-registered and it won 43 of the 46 seats where by-elections were held in 2012. But democracy in Myanmar continues to be fragile and under the continued shadow of the military. Another challenge democracy in that country is the question of the rights of religious and ethnic minorities. Ethnic violence has forced tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims to flee Myanmar and look for refuge in neighbouring Thailand, Bangladesh, India or Malaysia. The newly elected Government of Myanmar is yet to come out with an unequivocal commitment to the rights and safety of the Rohingyas.
32. Bangladesh is currently witnessing a powerful mass awakening calling for punishment of the culprits of war-crimes committed during the liberation war of Bangladesh four decades ago. Resurrection of the spirit of the liberation war in today’s environment could potentially not only effectively isolate the rightwing and fundamentalist forces but also challenge the neo-liberal economic framework which threatens to reduce the whole of Bangladesh to a sweatshop of cheap labour and a laboratory of corporate plunder. But the large-scale confrontation between the state and the Jamaat-BNP camp, the killing of scores of people in police firing and reports of violent attacks against Hindu and Buddhist minorities as well as journalists and progressive voices have tended to overshadow the protests and vitiate the atmosphere, posing a serious challenge to the movement that seeks justice, democracy and progressive resurrection of the liberation war ethos in Bangladesh.
33. While supporting the cause of greater regional cooperation among countries of South Asia, we must try to forge closer ties among the forces of the South Asian Left and solidarity among people’s struggles against imperialist intervention and corporate plunder. Recent bilateral exchanges with comrades of Nepal and Bangladesh have strengthened our mutual understanding. While defending the immediate and basic interests and aspirations of the working people, the Left movement in Pakistan is faced with the challenge of waging simultaneous struggles against the machinations of imperialism, the military-dominated authoritarian state and terrorism-inspired disruption. We wish the Left and progressive forces in Pakistan every success in this difficult battle. The communist movement in India and all over South Asia must make its fullest contribution to the process and prospect of the resurgence of the Left in international politics.
1. India is passing through turbulent times. On the one hand we have a growing crisis of the neo-liberal policy regime and a desperate corporate/state offensive to transfer the burden of the crisis on the people; on the other hand we are witnessing massive outbursts of people’s anger. In the onslaught of pro-corporate, anti-people policies combined with severe state repression, we are witnessing a virtual war on the people waged by the State. However, whether we look at struggles against corporate land-grab, against corruption, against sexual violence or for workers’ rights, we can see an encouraging upswing in popular assertion. The historic upsurge of the youth in Delhi against the December 16 incident of gang-rape has triggered a countrywide awakening among women and in the society at large for women’s rights. We also witnessed a powerful assertion of the working class in an unprecedented two-day all-India strike on February 20-21. In spite of the economic hardship and repressive offensive of the state, the present juncture is pregnant with great possibilities for the democratic movement of the Indian people.
2. Two decades of uninterrupted pursuit of the economic policy regime of reckless liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation have pushed India into a deep economic crisis. All these years the ruling classes sought to justify the policies by pointing to the increased rate of economic growth, but now the growth balloon has also been deflated with the growth rate hitting the lowest point in a decade. Agriculture and manufacturing sectors are in deep stagnation, and the much celebrated service sector has also begun to slow down.
3. Taking a cue from the US and other crisis-hit countries, the Indian ruling classes have also adopted the two-pronged approach of bailing out the crisis-hit corporations while inflicting greater hardship on the common people in the name of maintaining austerity and
checking fiscal deficit. Two decades ago, Manmohan Singh had introduced the neo-liberal policies in the name of rescuing the Indian economy. Now when the policy trajectory has led India to a deeper morass, Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister is trying to use the crisis as an opportunity for imposing the neo-liberal agenda of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation still more recklessly.
4. Instead of reducing India’s dependence on foreign capital and erecting safeguards to protect Indian economy from the aggression of global finance, the UPA government is desperately opening up every sphere of the economy to increasingly unrestricted operations of foreign capital. Defying widespread opposition, the government has decided to allow FDI in multi-brand retail sector and pension fund. In the 2012-13 budget, India had for the first time talked of introducing provisions (General Anti-Avoidance Rules) to plug the loopholes whereby foreign investors operating from tax havens like Mauritius and Cayman Islands lawfully avoid paying any tax. But the government soon deferred it, first for one year and then for three years. And now this year’s budget has virtually been dedicated to foreign investors with the Finance Minister saying the country has no choice but to invite foreign investment.
5. The phenomenon of state-sponsored subsidisation of the corporate sector has been going on in multiple forms in India. Exemptions handed out to the corporate sector in annual budgets gives us one straightforward indication and the amount works out to more than Rs 5 trillion in the last eight budgets. It is also well known that the corporate sector is the biggest recipient and defaulter of loans extended by Indian public sector banks – and despite the global financial crisis banks are loaning out huge amounts to their corporate clients, the total volume of highly risky corporate debt running into Rs. 3.6 trillion.
6. Most of the recent mega scams like 2G, Coalgate, K-G Basin scam (the gas reserves in the Krishna-Godavari basin were discovered by the ONGC and then handed over to the Reliance Industries) etc. furnish examples of huge losses inflicted on the national exchequer in corporate interest. State patronage of the corporate sector or collusion and complicity in corporate plunder also takes the form of blatant pro-corporate legislation like the SEZ Act 2005 or the Land Acquisition Bill that has been approved by the UPA cabinet or systematic subversion of existing laws and parliamentary procedures to promote the PPP model.
7. The phenomenal growth of corruption in recent years can only be understood as an organic feature or upshot of the growing state-corporate nexus. Mega scams unearthed by the CAG clearly show that corruption is essentially an expression of corporate subsidy or corporate plunder. And corporate plunder is as much an act of defrauding the national exchequer as of looting the resources of the country and robbing the people of their rights. While the ruling classes and their ideologues seek to camouflage and legitimise this plunder in the guise of development, Marxist scholars and people’s movements across the world rightly identify it as accumulation by dispossession, over and above the normal process of capitalist exploitation, whereby enormous amounts of wealth are amassed in a few hands by dispossessing and depriving vast sections of the population.
8. Price-rise, which along with corruption has emerged as the other most burning issue, is also a direct outcome of the government’s economic policies. Prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas have been deregulated and now the latest rail budget has also proposed to deregulate passenger fare in the railways by linking it to variable fuel prices. Coupled with increasing commercialisation of basic services like education, healthcare and other civic amenities, the rise in prices of all basic goods and services constantly reduces the purchasing power of the working people, pushing more and more people deeper into poverty and even starvation. Instead of taking urgent measures to check prices and providing some cushion to the poor with effective subsidies, the government has responded by fudging figures and ridiculously lowering the poverty line itself and now it proposes to further reduce subsidies and reach it to fewer beneficiaries through direct cash transfer methods while leaving the vast majority of the working people at the mercy of the market.
9. The corporate-market onslaught is accompanied by a relentless truncating of the democratic space. Just as corporate plunder is sought to be camouflaged as development, the systematic assault on democracy is sought to be legitimised in the name of national security. The Indian state’s current doctrine of national security is nothing but an Indian extension of the American doctrine of global hegemony disguised as ‘national security’ and anti-Islamism camouflaged as the ‘war on terror’. It internalises the American prejudices and priorities, combining them with India’s own traditional contention with Pakistan and China, the habit of running Kashmir and the Northeast at gun-point and the assessment of the Maoists as the biggest threat to internal security. This has now become a self-perpetuating cycle with terrorism and state terrorism reinforcing each other.
10. The doctrine of ‘strong state’ – a euphemism for making India virtually a police state with increasing involvement of the Army in civilian governance – is shared by almost all major parties of the ruling classes, particularly by the Congress and the BJP among national parties and the Shiv Sena among regional parties. Lathicharge, firing, and wholesale arrests have become the default setting of Governments and police in dealing with any people’s movement or working class movement. In tandem with the US ‘war on terror’, counter-terrorism measures in India have become a pretext for Islamophobia. In spite of rapidly mounting evidence of widespread framing of innocents by intelligence agencies, the witch-hunt of minorities continues unabated. Even as the government had to withdraw the draconian POTA in the face of growing resistance, democracy continues to be systematically trampled under draconian legislations like the AFSPA, UAPA and the sedition law left behind by the British colonialists. Every suggestion to repeal or even amend AFSPA has been rejected by the government on the plea that the armed forces do not favour it, and the armed forces say they cannot possibly contain civilian disturbance without the special powers of immunity granted under AFSPA. The UAPA provides the legal weaponry for Operation Green Hunt and similar repressive campaigns, enabling governments to detain without trial while the sedition law (section 124A of IPC) continues to incriminate dissent and kill freedom of expression. In the wake of the recent Hyderabad blasts, the UPA government is again trying to push the idea of setting up a National Counter Terrorism Centre on the lines of the NCTC in US. Armed with the arbitrary provisions of UAPA, such an agency will give extraordinary powers to the IB, and by implication also to its American counterpart, FBI, to arrest and harass anybody without any transparency or accountability. The Unique Identification (UID) project, launched with the involvement of corporations including US companies with close linkages to the US intelligence agencies, will facilitate intrusive surveillance on citizens, and will make available sensitive personal information databases to Indian and foreign intelligence agencies and corporations. Defence of democracy in India today demands above all an urgent repeal of all such draconian laws and increasingly extra-judicial repressive measures.
11. Faced with growing popular opposition, the scam-tainted and thoroughly discredited UPA government is trying to manage its crisis by appeasing the BJP, the most glaring example being the hanging of Afzal Guru carried out most secretively without even informing his family and without giving him the due opportunity to question the rejection of the mercy petition. In the context of Kashmir, this unjust hanging, carried out two days before the 29th anniversary of the execution of Kashmiri leader Maqbool Bhat, has immeasurably deepened the sense of alienation of the Kashmiri people. In the overall context of Indian politics, this act of appeasement can only be likened to the Congress capitulation to the BJP’s Ayodhya campaign which had led the Sangh Parivar to get away with the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Defying a concerted campaign by the Congress and the BJP and the dominant media to whip up a celebratory frenzy over the hanging of Afzal Guru, the revolutionary democratic opinion in the country has courageously exposed the ominous political implication of the execution. The incident has also rightly strengthened the demand for India to abolish the death penalty or at least honour the UN resolution to uphold a moratorium on death penalty with a view to its eventual abolition.
12. Militancy has long been touted as the rationale for the Indian State to justify military deployment and AFSPA in Kashmir. Since 2008, however, this claim stands completely discredited, with the Indian State and security forces in Kashmir facing a series of popular mass protests by ordinary Kashmiri people – following the Amarnath land row (2008), the Shopian rape-murders (2009) and against the killings of 115 civilian protestors in firing by security forces on funeral processions and protest marches in 2010. These protests have had an especially large presence of women protesters. Youth arrested for stone pelting have been booked under the draconian Public Security Act. Fresh evidence has emerged, corroborating the existence of mass graves, which point to extra-judicial killings of Kashmiri youth picked up and ‘disappeared’ by armed forces. The UPA Government’s much-touted process of sending a team of interlocutors could not prove to be much more than window-dressing. Kashmiri students and youth have always been vulnerable to victimisation by intelligence agencies, but following Afzal Guru’s hanging, there have been instances of organised attacks by Hindutva groups on young Kashmiris outside Kashmir even as protesters have been gunned down by the armed forces within Kashmir. We must stand by the aggrieved people of Kashmir at this hour of anger and pain, support their fight for democracy and justice, for withdrawal of AFSPA, and affirm their rightful aspiration for self determination.
13. With the ruling classes pushing the country into an all-encompassing crisis and declaring a veritable war on the livelihood and rights of the common people, the people everywhere are up in arms against the governments and their policies. Presiding over the most scam-tainted government ever in Indian history, the Congress has steadily lost ground. The BJP too has been exposed to be equally corrupt and consequently the loss faced by the Congress has not exactly translated into gains for the BJP. Yet, in states where there is no major presence of any third force and electoral politics revolves primarily around the Congress and the BJP, either the BJP has continued to retain power (as most notably in Gujarat) or the Congress has staged a comeback in spite of its otherwise shrinking profile (as witnessed in recent elections in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh).
14. Karnataka is one state where the BJP and the Congress gained simultaneously in the last Assembly election by squeezing out the third party, the JD(S). In 2004, the BJP had already emerged as the single largest party and four years later, Karnataka became the first state in south India to have a BJP-led government. But the BJP rule has become notorious for massive land and mining scams and the rise of the mining mafia and attacks on women and religious minorities, Christians in particular. Indicted by the Karnataka Lokayukta on corruption charges, BJP strongman Yeddyurappa had to resign in 2011 and after repeated revolts in the party eventually he had to quit the BJP and form his own party. It now remains to be seen where the BJP stands after Yeddyurappa’s exit from the party. In many ways, Congress-ruled Andhra Pradesh has emerged as the mirror image of BJP-ruled Karnataka. The Congress still runs the government on paper, but the breakaway YSR Congress seems to have emerged as the real Congress while Congress is trying unsuccessfully to make up for the loss by acquiring the erstwhile Praja Rajyam Party led by film star Chiranjeevi and exploring the possibility of striking another merger and acquisition deal with the Telanagna Rashtra Samiti.
15. Karnataka apart, the other state where the BJP has managed to increase its strength and acquire greater prominence in recent years is Bihar. In fact, between November 2005 and November 2010, the BJP almost succeeded in doubling its tally in Bihar Assembly, raising it from 55 to 91, just 24 short of its partner JD(U). If the RJD misrule in Bihar gave the BJP its first big break in Bihar, catapulting it to power, it is the alliance with Nitish Kumar which has really helped the BJP to expand and consolidate its influence in Bihar in a big way. Nitish Kumar has been trying to keep up his secular image by drawing a line of demarcation with Narendra Modi, but within Bihar the BJP enjoys a free hand to play its communal card. The BJP has also been emboldened by the Nitish regime’s complete surrender to the feudal lobby in Bihar as evidenced by the dumping of the Bandyopadhyay Commission’s report on land reforms at the first opportunity and the continuing appeasement of the Ranveer Sena. By contrast, conditions are tougher for the BJP in its traditional stronghold of Jharkhand where the party has to face stiff competition from the breakaway Jharkhand Vikas Morcha and other regional forces.
16. Regional parties constitute a growing phenomenon in Indian politics. While some of these parties are rooted in powerful regional or social identities, or in long-standing struggles for statehood or greater autonomy, many have emerged in recent years as a result of fragmentation of the Congress and the BJP or the erstwhile Janata Dal. The proliferation and consolidation of regional parties in last two decades must be seen largely as a political fall-out of the policy regime of liberalisation and privatisation and the rise of powerful regional economic interests as big corporate houses and global capital try to acquire strong footholds in resource-rich regions. While regional parties offer stiff competition to the Congress and the BJP in the states, in all-India politics they usually play second fiddle in lieu of the regional advantages they can secure through a hard bargain with the Centre. The UPA government employs a carrot and stick strategy to deal with powerful regional parties, making full use of central agencies like the CBI and the financial power of the centre vis-a-vis the states. On the issue of FDI in retail we once again saw parties like the SP and BSP bail out the UPA government while NDA constituents like the JD(U) and Shiv Sena too voted for the Congress nominee at the time of the Presidential elections. Meanwhile, DMK leaders faced CBI raid the moment after the party withdrew support over the issue of the UPA government’s refusal and failure to push for a stronger resolution in UNHRC over the issue of war-crimes in Sri Lanka and justice for the Sri Lankan Tamils.
17. The Left bloc led by the CPI(M) has faced a major debacle in its strongest bastion of West Bengal. Even though the CPI(M) by and large retains its strength in its other two strongholds of Kerala and Tripura – the party lost narrowly in Kerala while retaining power for the fifth consecutive term in Tripura – the party’s decline in West Bengal has considerably weakened its national profile and the strength of the CPI(M) and its allies has dropped drastically from the highest ever tally of sixty-plus in 2001 to its lowest ever strength of 24. Like the proverbial ostrich, the CPI(M) however refuses to admit, let alone address, the real reason behind its debacle in West Bengal. While everybody familiar with the political reality in West Bengal attributes it to the CPI(M)’s attempt to embrace and enforce the neo-liberal agenda in West Bengal and its growing arrogance of power, the CPI(M) sees it primarily as a fall-out of political realignment following its belated withdrawal of support to the UPA government in the wake of the Indo-US nuclear deal. Even though the CPI(M) has been forced to return to an oppositional role, nationally and most crucially in West Bengal, the party remains soft on the Congress and it broke ranks with its long-standing allies like the CPI and RSP to vote for the Congress nominee in the Presidential election.
18. The CPI(M)’s emphatic defeat in West Bengal has emboldened bourgeois ideologues and the corporate media to step up their anti-Left campaign. But within the Left camp it has also encouraged considerable debate and rethinking even though the CPI(M) officially refuses to introspect and draw any lessons. While countering the anti-Left campaign and the physical violence and state repression being unleashed on Left activists and leaders in West Bengal under TMC rule we must also simultaneously sharpen the struggle against the opportunist line of the CPI(M). Two recent incidents – the killing of former CPI(M) activist and leader of Revolutionary Marxist Party Comrade TP Chandrasekharan in Kerala and the support extended to Pranab Mukherjee in the Presidential election – have also contributed to the sharpening of the struggle against the CPI(M) leadership’s opportunism. Incidentally, West Bengal has also exposed the political bankruptcy of the Maoists who allowed themselves to be used by the TMC in its bid for power only to be taken for a cruel ride. Before coming to power Mamata Banerjee had demanded judicial inquiry into the killing of Maoist leader Azad in Andhra Pradesh and promised to release political prisoners, but now her government has killed Maoist leader Kishenji in a similar fashion and refused to release any of the 500-odd political prisoners languishing in jails. Sharp struggle against opportunism and bold resistance to the increasingly authoritarian character emerging from behind the ruling TMC’s populist mask holds the key to the revival of the Left movement in West Bengal.
19. With the Lok Sabha election getting closer, we are witnessing a growing clamour within the BJP to project Narendra Modi as the next Prime Ministerial candidate. Modi is also the hot favourite of corporate circles who are hoping for a replication of the Gujarat model of unrestricted corporate freedom on an all-India scale. Imperialist forces too are changing their signals towards Modi: earlier, they had responded to anti-communal campaigns by denying Modi a visa, while now they are making fresh overtures towards him. The British High Commissioner visited Gujarat and met Modi, while a team of US Senators visited Gujarat on what turned out to be a trip sponsored by the Gujarat Government itself. The Congress on the other hand hopes to benefit from a grand anti-Modi polarisation, waiting for a rift within the NDA over the issue of projection of Modi as the Prime Ministerial candidate as well as for a possible return of the estranged allies of the first phase of the UPA government. While opposing the pro-Modi campaign with all our might, we must clearly understand that Modi today is an icon of not just aggressive communalism but of unbridled corporate rule in a police state. In fact, communalism itself has acquired a new dimension in the wake of the US-led anti-Islam campaign. The sense of insecurity that never really ceased to haunt Muslims in India, and got seriously aggravated since the late 1980s when the Sangh Parivar launched its aggressive campaign of communal mobilisation in the name of Ram Janambhoomi, has now been reinforced by a relentless state-sponsored campaign of a veritable anti-Muslim witch-hunt, in states ruled by BJP-NDA and Congress-UPA and so-called ‘secular’ parties alike. Gujarat under Modi’s leadership has not only witnessed the horrific genocide of 2002 but also a spate of staged encounter killings in the name of combating terrorism. More than ever before it is now crucial to understand that the battle for secularism can only be waged as an inseparable part of the larger battle for democracy. The findings of the Sachar Committee have also made it clear that the anti-communal or pro-secular rhetoric often goes hand in hand with a systematic marginalization and deprivation of the Muslim community. Yet, the UPA government and most state governments, including those run by non-BJP parties swearing by secularism, continue to show profound apathy in implementing the recommendations made in the reports of the Sachar Committee and Ranganath Misra Commission. We need to wage a sustained battle for implementation of these recommendations.
20. Once we recognise that Modi today derives his power not just from the communal politics of the Sangh Parivar but from the corporate world hungering for unrestricted power and plunder, it follows that the battle against the Modi model cannot proceed merely on communal versus secular lines; rather it must draw it strength from the anti-corporate resistance of the working people and from the whole gamut of struggles for democracy. Struggles against communal terror, corporate capital and state repression and criminalisation of Muslims as part of the imperialist war on terror, which are all inextricably linked in Modi’s brand of politics must all be combined to effectively combat the Modi model. Only a heightened assertion of the people and a powerful intervention of the Left and other democratic forces can save the country from the danger of an outright corporate-fascist takeover.
21. There is mounting indication that the Sangh Parivar has expanded its repertoire from mass communal politics to covert terror attacks. The presence of former Army personnel in these Hindutva terror outfits raises the question of penetration and subversion of the country’s institutions by the Sangh. The Sangh’s terrorism differs from other brands of terrorism in its devious political objective; while terror groups generally proclaim their ‘strikes,’ the Sangh’s effort has been to misdirect the responsibility onto the Muslim community. This tactics fosters communal sentiment, providing political dividends to the BJP. The country’s Home Minister first made the irresponsible statement linking terrorism to religion – terms like Islamic terrorism and Hindu terrorism are equally misleading – and then, in complete capitulation, gave a virtual clean chit to the Sangh-BJP, absolving them of any involvement in terrorism. Democratic forces must demand a thoroughgoing probe to reveal the entire saffron terror apparatus including its political linkages. We should also vigorously resist the BJP’s mischievous design to try and turn selective issues of sectarian violence and discord into a generalised communal campaign as witnessed recently in the wake of Kokrajhar violence in Assam and the sinister sms-campaign that followed resulting in an atmosphere of wider communal disharmony and mistrust.
22. The central political task of resisting the corporate-fascist offensive and opposing the Congress and the BJP must be combined with the state-specific political targets and priorities depending on the diverse political situations and conditions obtaining in different states. Majority of the state governments are being run either by the BJP/NDA or Congress/UPA – the two coalitions that remain our main targets nationally. Most state governments run by parties not directly associated with these two coalitions – for example, the TMC in West Bengal, BJD in Odisha, SP in UP or AIADMK in Tamil Nadu – have an equally bad anti-people anti-democratic track record and we must oppose them vigorously.
23. To strengthen mass and class struggles against anti-people pro-corporate pro-imperialist policies and resist social oppression, state repression and communal and feudal/patriarchal forces, it is imperative to promote unity in action with other fighting forces. The formation of the All India Left Coordination has marked an important step forward in this context. The AILC has brought together several Left organisations, including organisations coming out of the CPI(M) following programmatic and tactical debates, on the basis of a shared agenda and common political approach and tactical understanding. While strengthening AILC we must continue to reach out to other Left forces and explore possibilities of political cooperation and united struggle. With the CPI(M) pushed into an oppositional role in West Bengal and also in national politics, the prospect of issue-based broader Left unity has improved objectively. But signs of the CPI(M)’s renewed tactical proximity to the Congress, especially in the wake of the recent Congress-TMC split-up, and the CPI(M)/CPI record of privileging unity with bourgeois parties over Left unity remain major hindrances.
24. While almost all bourgeois parties and their governments exhibit a veritable policy consensus, it is encouraging to see popular protests gather momentum on a whole range of issues. Some recent agitations, like the resistance of adivasis against land acquisition for POSCO in Odisha or Nagari in Jharkhand, protests against Jaitapur and Kudankulam nuclear plants, against Paramakudi police firing in Tamil Nadu which killed 7 dalit labourers, the acquittal of the perpetrators of Bathani Tola massacre in Bihar and the massacre of Dalits at Dharmapuri, rapes of Dalit women in Haryana, and struggles of Maruti workers in Gurgaon have stirred the democratic opinion across the country. Organising and strengthening the range of such struggles by all means is a task of crucial importance at the present juncture. Movement for human rights and citizen activism on various issues is a growing trend and while demarcating ourselves from the narrow and avowedly apolitical or anti-political framework of many >NGOS espousing such causes we must have no hesitation in welcoming and supporting various democratic concerns and citizen campaigns.
25. Unresolved statehood demands too continue to give rise to powerful popular agitations. The struggle for Telangana has witnessed massive participation of students and youths. Faced with a popular upsurge the UPA government had promised to accept the demand only to go back on the commitment. The report submitted by the five-member Justice Srikrishna committee on the Telangana statehood issue has also kept all options open. Two other statehood demands have been lying unresolved for years in the hills of West Bengal and Assam. The tripartite accord replacing the erstwhile Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council by the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration has failed to satisfy the Gorkha people and the demand for a Gorkhaland state to resolve the identity crisis of the Gorkha people remains very much alive. We support the CPRM, which broke away from the CPI(M) in the 1990s over the issue of Gorkhaland and is now a constituent of the AILC, in its attempts to keep the red flag flying in the Darjeeling hills in the midst of the movement for a separate Gorkhaland state.
26. The hill districts of Assam – Karbi Anglong and NC Hills, now renamed as Dima Hasao – have also been home to a protracted people’s movement demanding the creation of an Autonomous State as promised under Article 244 A of the Constitution of India. With successive governments refusing to heed the voice of the democratic movement, the peaceful movement gave way to armed insurgency and the demand for a separate state under Article 3 gained in strength. The government has responded by signing separate tripartite accords with two rival factions of DHD in Dima Hasao and with UPDS in Karbi Anglong. These accords have however proved to be utterly inadequate and deceptive and the situation on the ground has not improved at all. The aspirations for democracy and development of the people remain unfulfilled and the movement continues for an Autonomous State or a separate Hill State. While strengthening its independent and comprehensive political role, the CPI(ML) is ready to cooperate with other forces of the statehood or autonomy movement in the interest of harmony and democracy in the region and rights and welfare of the people.
27. Statehood demands in Vidarbha and Bundelkhand also have a long history and considerable popular support. While rejecting the thesis of small states invoked usually in the name of better governance, we support the cause of federal restructuring including formation of new states to fulfil longstanding popular demands. The formation of a second states reorganisation commission can be the best way of resolving these demands in a time-bound and holistic manner. We also call for special urgent measures to address the issue of growing regional disparity and promote employment-generating agricultural and industrial development in backward states and regions.
28. With corruption crossing all limits, the slogan of a corruption-free order has emerged as a popular battle-cry. The agitation for a Jan Lokpal under the leadership of Anna Hazare acquired widespread support in 2011. The movement eventually branched in two different directions with a section of Team Anna forming a new party called Aam Aadmi Party under the leadership of Arvind Kejriwal and targeting the crony capitalism being patronised by the Congress and the BJP. This also marks a departure from the established pattern of NGO politics which has remained non-party and stayed away from participating in elections. But both Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal treat corruption primarily as a governance issue and fail to address the policies that have been promoting corruption and corporate plunder. By contrast, we have advanced the call for reversal of pro-corporate policies, protection of agricultural, forest and coastal land, and the rights of gram sabhas, confiscation of black money and illicit wealth and nationalisation of mineral resources as the central plank for the anti-corruption movement. Also, we insist on treating the anti-corruption campaign as an integral part of the larger democratic movement.
29. Our Party has been playing an energetic role and taking sustained and multi-dimensional initiatives to advance the developing mass movements on different fronts and issues. The mass organisations led by our comrades have been in the forefront of several major struggles. The lone Party MLA in Jharkhand has been commendably using the Assembly and allied platforms to raise the voice of the people and assist a whole range of struggles of the adivasis and other working people. In Bihar we suffered major reverses in the 2010 elections, but undeterred by the electoral reverses, the Party has expanded its political role and initiatives, and has emerged as a dynamic and consistent opposition to the feudal-communal regime of Nitish Kumar.
30. The web of corruption ensnaring the corporate-state nexus has seriously dented the legitimacy of the system. The judiciary has stepped up its role to rescue the system and various reforms are being mooted to save the system from lapsing into deeper crisis. In the name of economic reforms the ruling classes have pushed the country into corporate plunder and deep economic crisis, now in the name of political reforms they are desperate to curtail people’s rights and restrict popular participation. If the ruling classes are allowed to have their way, India will become a victim of corporate-fascist takeover. On the contrary, if we can grasp the depth of the disillusionment that has set in, and seize every opportunity to channelize the people’s anger in a progressive direction, the present juncture may well yield major victories in the battle for justice, democracy and social transformation. The Ninth Congress of the Party must resolve to make the most of the evolving situation and move ahead in bold steps.