Communalism and the Indian Left – Thoughts at a Critical Juncture

June 5, 2018

This interview of Sumanta Banerjee was conducted by Sanhati.

Sanhati: Question 1

In your EPW article in 1993 (Sangh Parivar and Democratic Rights), you had asked the following question about the Indian State and the Sangh Parivar:

“What is the priority expected from the Indian state which is constitutionally committed to democracy and secularism? To protect its citizens from the onslaught of forces which make no bones about their anti-democratic and anti-constitutional objective of persecuting a particular religious minority and establishing a theocratic state? Or to allow these forces to consolidate their base and power under the benign umbrella of democratic tolerance ? ”

You had answered that the umbrella of democratic tolerance must stop short of the Parivar, which should have been fought using every means possible.

Twenty five years later, do you think your assessment was correct?

Sumanta Banerjee: Answer  to  Question   1 

Twenty  five  years  later  today  in  2018,  I think  that  the   assessment   and  critique  that  I  made  of  the  Indian   state’s  going  soft  on  Sangh  Parivar  in  1993   was  absolutely  correct.  I  still  maintain  that   the  leaders  and  cadres  of  the  Parivar  do  not  deserve  `democratic  tolerance.’   Let  me  quote  again  Herbert  Marcuse,  who  in  his  essay  ‘Repressive  Tolerance’  written  way  back  in  1965  lamented:  “Tolerance  towards  that  which  is  radically  evil  now  appears  as  good…”  and  then  warned:  “ In  a  democracy  with  totalitarian  organization,  objectivity  may  fulfill  a  very  different  function,  namely  to  foster  a  mental  attitude  which  tends  to  obliterate  the  difference  between  true  and  false,  information  and  indoctrination,  right  and  wrong.”   Isn’t  that  what’s  happening  in  India  today ,  with  a  totalitarian  organization  (RSS-led  BJP)  running   a  government  under  a  parliamentary  democracy  ?     

I  reiterate  that  the  forces  of  fascism  represented  by  the  Sangh  Parivar  must  be  `fought  using  every  means  possible’    ranging  from  electoral  and  judicial  means   to  physical  resistance  on  the  streets.  Sadly  enough,  the   Left-liberal-secular  forces  failed  to  launch  such  a  multi-level  fight  against  L.K. Advani’s    notorious   `ratha  jatra’  in  1990,  which  left  a  bloody  trail  of  killings  of  Muslims,    and  finally  led  to  the  Parivar’s   goal  of  the  demolition  of  Babri  Masjid  in  1992    the  puss  from  which  continues  to  flow  and  contaminate  our  body  politic. 

To  narrate  a  personal  experience,  when  Advani  was  on  his  `ratha  jatra’  in   1990,   some  of  us  (journalists  and  human  rights  activists  in  Delhi    including  my  friend  Dilip  Simeon)   met   Vinode  Mishra ,  the  then  leader  of  the  CPI(M-L)  Liberation  group,  at  their  party  office.  A  few  months  ago  that  year,  his  party  had  organized  a  huge  mass  rally  of  his   cadres  from  Bihar  (their  main  base)  and  other  parts  of  India  at  Delhi’s  Boat  Club,   on   demands  of  farmers  and  peasants.  We  asked  him  why  couldn’t  he  rally  his  cadres  to  organize  a  human  chain  to  prevent  Advani’s  ratha-yatra.  Vinode  Mishra  (who’s  no  more)  shame-facedly  admitted  that  while  it  was  easier  for  his  party  to  rally  its  cadres  on  their  immediate  economic   demands,  it  was  difficult  to  persuade  them  to  give  up  their  religious  faith  in  Ramjanambhumi     which  was  the  trump card  of   the  Sangh  Parivar.   

I  feel  sad  observing  the  trends  during  the  last  two  decades.   If  we  believe  in  progress,  my  opinions  about    the  communal  forces  that  I  made   25  years  ago  should  have  been  obsolete  by  now.  Instead,   I  find  that   that  our  worst  fears  that  me  and  my  friends  expressed   in  the  early  1990s  have  turned  out  to  be  true.  I  feel  that  I  am  also  guilty  of  our  collective  failure  to  resist  the  march  of  the  Hindutva  fascist  forces  in  the  early  years of  1990s,  and  to  build  up  a  counter-offensive    both  in  terms  of  wide-spread  ideological  campaign  among  the  public,  and  physical   resistance  against  the  goons  of  the  Sangh  Parivar.   

But  in  answer  to  your  question,  I’d  like  to  extend  my    response  to  a  more  fundamental   area    something  which  Vinode  Mishra   touched  upon  during  our  talks  with  him  in  the  1990s.  It’s  the  prevailing  popular  socio-religious  psyche  of  Indians ,   rooted  in  fissures  that  fragment  class  alliances    based  on  narrow  caste  loyalties,  patriarchal  customs ,  devotion  to  superstitions  and   prejudices ,   and  selfish  ambition   of   members  of  these  respective  groups  for  upward  mobility  by  hook  or  by  crook  through  the  available  avenues ,  like  getting  elected  to  legislatures   in  the  political  arena,  and  getting  lucrative  jobs  in  their  professional  careers.  

This  common  Indian  mentality  paves  the  way   for  the  consolidation   of  a  neo-fascist  social  order  in  harmony  with   a  neo-liberal  economic  system  in  India  today.   It  can  be  described  as  the  `mass  psychology  of  fascism ‘,   the  term  used  by  Wilhelm  Reich  as  the  title  for  his  book  that  was  published  in  1933.  It  traced  the  rise  of  fascism  in  Europe  at  that  time  to  a  combination  of  several  factors:  (i) popular  desire  for   an  authoritarian  political  system,  which  was  encouraged  (by  the  fascist  leaders)  by  appealing  to  their  domestic  habit  of  putting  absolute  trust  in  the  patriarchal  head  of  the  family  to  maintain  peace  and  solidarity  within  their  domestic  space    Hitler  and  Mussolini  being  projected  as  the  state replicas  of  their  family  heads;    (ii)  a  chauvinist  pride  in  a  hegemonic  nationalism  that  inspired  the   youth  towards  aggressive    self-assertion  (directed   towards  minorities  like  Jews  and  dissenters  like  Communists )    and  (iii)  all  the  above  two  impulses,  bolstered  by  promises  of  economic  prosperity  under  a  capitalist  regime  by  the  fascist  leaders.  

Don’t  we  find  eerie  parallels  of  these  tendencies  in  the  Indian  situation  today    with  the  BJP  running  the  majority  of  state  governments  in  India,  by  being  voted  to  power  by  people  who  trust  Modi  as  `mai-bap,’  (the  term  which  reflects  the  Indian  traditional   habit  of   being  obedient  to  the  father  of  the  family  – who’s  supposed  to be  both  mother  and  father)  ?   Don’t  we  find  the  Indian  descendants  of  the  European  fascists  of  1930s  today  in  towns  and  villages  of  India ,   asserting   a  state-patronized  Hindu-hegemonist  nationalism   and  killing  Muslims,  Dalits  and  rationalists    echoing  the  happenings  in  Italy  and  Germany  in  the  1930s  ?   

 The  challenge  for  us  is  how  do  we  detoxify  the  `mass  psychology  of  fascism’   that  is  being  brewed  up  under  the   ruling  Sangh  Parivar  ?  As  I  indicated  earlier,  it  has  to  be  fought  at  various  levels    at  the  grass  roots  level  by  ideological  campaign  for  communal  harmony,  through  judicial  and  civil  society  fora,  and    not  the  least    organized  physical  resistance  to   the  fascist  goons  of  the  Sangh  Parivar.   It  is  by  a  combination  of  these  means  that  we  can  detoxify  the  `mass  psychology.’  We  should  understand   that   part  of  this  psychology   had  been  shaped  by  the  Parivar  brainwashing,  and  part  of  it  had  been  coerced  by  the  Parivar  musclemen  (from  Bajrang  Dal,  Vishva  Hindu  Parishad  and  other  such  militant  outfits  of  the  Sangh  Parivar).  The  elimination  of  these  goons   from  the  scene  could  reassure  the  common  people  and  revive  their  trust   in  a  secular  and  democratic  administration.



Sanhati: Question 2

We would like to better understand the relation between the Indian State and communal forces. One critique of your position on the relation between the Indian State and communal forces in the context of Indian capitalism could be that the Indian State is  structurally predisposed to slide into communal fascism in the current era, appeals to the Constitution notwithstanding. Do you think this position has any merit?

Continuing this line of thinking, one sees, for example, in the December 2000 issue of Peoples March (Towards Understanding the Indian Variety of ‘Fascism’ – India/PeoplesMarch/PM1999- 2006/archives/2000/dec2k/ towards.htm), the argument that

The fact that [Hindutva chauvinism] has now emerged as a strong social force is not merely because Hindutva revivalist propaganda is more effective today but because if finds favour with the material needs of the dominant classes”.

The article identified the economic, political and cultural bases for the revival of this politics in India since the 1990’s. Do you agree with the position that the growing strength of the Parivar can be attributed to fundamental structural forces of the economy and political needs of the dominant classes,  first and foremost?


Sumanta Banerjee: Answer  to  Question  2:

As  for  the  relation  between  the  Indian  state  and  communal  forces,  it  should   be  traced  to  the  birth  and  nature  of  Indian  nationalism  itself.  The  concept  of  Indian  nationalism  from  the  beginning     19th  century  onwards  -was  heavily  shaped  by  Hindu  religious  values  (e.g.    identification  of  the  nation  as  the  mother  goddess  through  slogans  like   `Vande  Mataram’),  and   an  exclusivist  interpretation  of   history   by  stereotyping   all  Muslims  as  foreign  invaders.  This  Hindu-dominated   nationalism ,  got  further  sanctioned  by   Gandhi  with  his  Hindu-oriented  slogans  (Ram-Rajya,  etc.)   while  giving  leadership   to  the  national  movement  in  the  pre-Independence  period.  

Following   this  tradition,  the   post-Independence   Indian  state  (born  of  a  communally  based  Partition)   inherited  to a  large  extent ,  this  legacy of  Hindu  nationalism.  Even  when    fanatic  groups  like  the  Hindu  Mahasabha  and  RSS  became  intolerant  of   a  `sanatani  Hindu’  leader   from  their  own  community  like  Gandhi  (whom  they  killed  because  he   refused  to   go  the  whole  hog  with  their  violent  means  of  eliminating  the  Muslims) ,  the  then  home  minister  Sardar  Patel,  after  a  temporary  ban  on  the  RSS,  soon  lifted  it  and  let  off  Savarkar  who  was  the  brain  behind  Gandhi’s   assassination.  

This  inaugurated  the  process  of  what  we  describe  as  `soft  Hindutva’,  which  has  been  followed  by  the  Indian  state,  whether  under  the  Congress , or  the  brief  intervals  under  the  Janata  or  United  Front   or  the  two  UPA  regimes.  This  process  paved  the  way  for  what  we  see  today  as      `aggressive  Hindutva’   under  the  present  BJP  ,  both  at  the  Centre  and  the  different  states  which  they  rule.   Let  us  remember  that  it  was  a  Congress  prime  minister  Rajiv  Gandhi  who  permitted  the  opening  of  the  doors  of  the   Babri  Masjid  to  allow  the  entry  of  Hindu  pilgrims  to  worship  a   Ram  image  that  was  installed  there.   It  was  again  under  a  Congress  prime  minister  Narsimha  Rao’s  benevolent  regime   that   the  Sangh  Parivar  goons  were  allowed  to  assemble  in  Ayodhya  in  1992   in  camps  for  weeks  together,  to  be  trained  to   demolish  the  Babri  Masjid.       

It  is  not  a  co-incidence  that  the  inauguration  of  the  neo-liberal  economic  reforms  in  1991  was  accompanied  by  the  anti-Muslim  agitation  on  the  Ram  Janambhumi  issue.  I  therefore  agree  with  the  argument  made  in  the  December  2000  issue  of  People’s  March,  as  quoted  by  you.



Sanhati: Question 3

Another critique of your position, coming perhaps from an opposite angle compared to Q2 and Q3, is the one articulated by K Balagopal (Democracy and the Fight against Communalism, EPW 1995). According to Balagopal,

We can on the other hand try to convince the oppressed and exploited classes, castes and other social groups that Hindutva is contrary to their material and cultural interests. We can work for organising such people to resist the forces of Hindutva physically if necessary; and we can try to appeal to the democratic, humanist and antiauthoritarian values that all human societies possess side by side with values of domination and suppression. The first of the three tasks has been attempted on a sizeable (if still inadequate) scale by the left parties, the dalit groups and other democratic organisations. The second is yet to be attempted on a significant scale, as Sumanta Banerjee rightly complains. But the third is a vital task whose necessity is insufficiently understood by progressive forces because it is not adequately comprehended by radical political philosophies, including Marxism which is the most comprehensive of them all.

Balagopal’s third point – an “appeal to the democratic, humanist” values – can that be the basis of an actual political program? What would such a program look like?

 Sumanta Banerjee: Answer  to  Question 3:

I  of  course  agree  with  the  point  made  by  my  friend,  the  late  K.  Balagopal  (in  what   he  called  a  `belated  response’  to  my  earlier  EPW  article)   that  we  (Marxists  in  particular)  should  “appeal  to  the  democratic ,  humanist  and  anti-authoritarian  values  that  all  human  societies  possess  …a  vital  task  whose  necessity  is  insufficiently  understood  by  progressive  forces  because  it  is  not  adequately  comprehended  by  radical  political  philosophies,  including   Marxism…”

To  put  it  in  historical  terms,  the  “democratic,  humanist  and  anti-authoritarian  values  that  all  human  societies  possess”   that  Balagopal  refers  to,  have  had  a  long  tradition in  Indian  society, represented  by  an  alternative  religious  current.  Starting  from  the  atheist  Charvaka  followers  of  the  ancient  days  to  the  later  day  Bhakti  movement  and  Sufi  preaching,  there  had  always  been  a  parallel  stream  of  anti-authoritarian  challenge  to  the  orthodox  clergy  of  the  established  religions,  of  a  democratic  and  humanist  urge  to  overcome  caste ,  communal   and  gender  barriers.  It  is  sad  that  the Communist  parties   did  not  give  due  recognition  to  these  progressive  trends  in  our  socio-religious  history    the  practitioners  of  which  are  still  to  be  found  among  the  folk  religious  Bauls  and  Fakirs,  and   popular   Sufi  sects.  Only  a  few  Marxist  scholars  like  the  late  Rahul  Sankrityan  (who  researched  into  the  Buddhist  radical  tradition)  and  Debiprasad  Chattopadhya  (who  delved  into  the  Charvak  tradition  and  folk  religions  of  India) ,  tried  to  discover  empathy  with  this  current  in  our  socio-religious  life.  The  Communists  should  reach  out  to  this  living  tradition  and  accommodate  its  humanist  and  progressive  aspects  into  their  political  programme.   



Sanhati: Question 4

In your EPW article from 2003 (Naxalites: Time for Introspection) you had issued the following warning to the radical Left:

When will the leaders of the PWG, MCC and other similar groups realise that it is [the Sangh Parivar] who pose(s) the real threat to them, since they are steadily hollowing out the potential mass base of these very Naxalite groups?

Standing in 2018, would you say that the mass base has been further hollowed out? Is the radical Left in a position to counteract this, and what would it entail?


Sumanta Banerjee: Answer  to  Question 4:

Yes,  the  mass  base  of  the  Naxalites  has  been  further  hollowed  out  during  the  last  15  years.  Except  in  a  few  isolated  forest  areas  of  Chhattisgarh,  Odisha  and  neighbouring  states,  where  they  are  trying  to  mobilize   the  rural  poor  against   mining  by  industrial  houses  which  deprive  them  of  their  rich  mineral  resources,   the  Maoists  hardly  have  any  following  among  the  vast  majority  of  the  Indian  masses.   The  shrinking  of  their  base  is  due  not  only  to  the  Indian  state’s  aggressive  military  offensive  against  them,  but  also  to   their  own  mistaken  tactics  of  indiscriminate  killings  of   common  villagers  (on  the  suspicion  of  their  being  police  spies),  and  extortion   from  petty  traders  and  contractors   among   other  similar  anti-social  practices,  which  have  rendered  their  guerilla  squads  to  the  position  of  roving  bands,    trying  to  survive  by  petty  criminal  acts.   Many  among  those  who  joined  the  movement  from  ideological  impulses,  are  repulsed  by  such  acts  and  are  surrendering  to  the  police.  

The  leadership  of  the  radical  Left  will  have  to  overcome  the  sectarian  differences  among  themselves,  and  evolve  a  common  strategy  and  set  of  tactics  to  oppose  and  defeat  the  main  enemy    the  RSS-led  Sangh  Parivar.  Along  with   ideological  campaign  against  the  divisive  and  anti-democratic  politics  of  Hindutva,  they  should   divert  their  armed  cadres  to  protect  the  dalits ,  Muslims,  rationalists,  theatre  artistes  and  writers  among  others ,  whenever  they  are  attacked  by  the  goons  of  the  Parivar  (like  the  Bajrang  Dal   `go-rakshaks,’  or  the  ABVP  student  gangsters  in  the  university  campus).  



Sanhati: Question 5

Finally, coming to the realm of electoral politics. We read your recent interview in about strategies for the Left in the wake of the defeat in Tripura ( 870701/post-tripura-loss-left- must-ditch-karats-line-to- save-democracy-historian-sumanta-banerjee).

You discuss the need for the electoral Left to forge a united front with the Congress and other regional parties. After the official Emergency in 1975 the JP movement emerged in defense of liberal democracy. Do you see any similarities between 1970 and today? Are we in another moment of defense of liberal democracy?

Given the vicious attacks of the TMC on all political opposition in West Bengal, do you think such a political coalition is feasible?

And finally, one can say that the anxiety with communalism is most evident in the political domain when communal forces have come to power. In 1999 CPM had supported Congress to defeat the Vajpayee Government. Prior to this CPM had supported the Janata Dal government in 1989 which was supported by BJP. This had resulted in the loss of trust in CPM as the electoral face of the Left. Aside from the loss of face what impact do you think this emphasis on electoral alliances away from the mass movement will have on the Left — both for electoral politics and grassroots activism?

Sumanta Banerjee: Answer  to  Question  5:

As  in  1975,  today  also  we  face  an  authoritarian  ruling  order  (heavily  oriented  in  the  direction  of  one  single  leader  worshipped  as  a  dictator)  that  is  imperiling  liberal  democracy.  For  the  Left  today,  the  primary  task  therefore  is  to  prioritize  the  immediate  need  for  saving  liberal  democracy  over  the  distant  goal  of  a  communist  society.  If  we  lose  the  little  space  that  we  still  enjoy  in  a  liberal  democracy,  not  only  the  political  Left,   but  the  entire  community  of  academics,  intellectuals  and  artists  will  be  totally  decimated  under  an  RSS-ruled  fascist  dictatorship,  as  happened  in  Europe  and  Japan  in  the  1930-40  period  under  the  Axis  powers.  Today  in  India,   echoes  of  such  threats  are  being  heard  in  official  instructions   by  the  Modi  government,  restricting  independent  research  in  universities    accompanied  by  physical  assaults  on  dissident  academics  and  killings  of  rationalists,  by  the  Sangh  Parivar  gangsters.    In a  similar  situation  in  the  1930-40  period,  during  World  War  II,  the  Soviet  Union  and  the  international  Communist  leadership  chose  to  ally  with  their  erstwhile  enemies,   the  Western  capitalist  powers ,  in  order   to  defeat  a  more  dangerous  enemy,  the  Nazi-led  Axis  powers .  The  issue  of  class  conflict  between  the  workers  and  their  capitalist  exploiters  was  shelved  in  the  back  burner  during  that  period    to  defeat  a  more  dangerous  common  enemy.                   

               Similarly,  it  may  sound   ironical  today  that  the  Left  has  to  come  together  with  the  Congress  on  the  same  platform  to  fight  the  BJP.  But  that  is  the  need  of  the  hour.  The  2019  Lok  Sabha  elections  will  be  decisive.  The  national  mainstream  Opposition  parties,  as  well  as  the  various  regional  parties,  will  have  to  come  to  an  understanding  on  the  national  level  to  avoid  triangular  contests  among  themselves  as  far  as  possible,  and  try  to  put  up  or  support  single  candidates  to  defeat  the  BJP  candidates.  This  pre-poll  understanding  is  necessary  to  prevent  the  splitting  of  anti-BJP  votes –  that  marked  the  2014  elections  which  allowed  the  BJP  to  get  away  with  30%  of   votes  in  its  support,  while  ignoring  the  verdict  of  the  majority.

In  this  context,  the  CPI(M)  general  secretary  Sitaram  Yechury’s  insistence  on  an  alliance  only  after  the  polls  (to  form  the  next  government),  sounds  a  bit  impractical.  One  can  understand  his  party’s  reluctance  to  ally  with  the  Trinamul  Congress  party  in  West  Bengal  (which  rules  the  state  led  by  the  chief  minister  Mamata  Banerjee,  who  is  as  dictatorial  as  prime  minister  Narendra  Modi,  and  has  unleashed  a  reign  of  terror  that  has  almost  decimated  the  CPI-M) .  Such  conflicts  within  the  Opposition,  between  mainstream  parties  like  the  Congress  and  the  CPI(M)  in  Kerala,  or  with  regional  ruling  parties  like  the  Telugu  Desam  in  Andhra  Pradesh,  or  rivalries  between  Mayavati’s  BSP  and  Akhilesh  Jadav’s  SP   in  Uttar  Pradesh    are  likely  to  damage  the  prospect  of  a  united  Opposition  putting  up  common  candidates  in  a  fight  against  a  more  organized  BJP  in  the  2019  Lok  Sabha  election.  

I  agree   that  the  Left’s  shifting  loyalties  in  the  past    with  one  section,  CPI  supporting  Indira  Gandhi’s  Emergency  in 1975,  then  again  in  1989,  the  CPI(M)  willy-nilly  joining  ranks  with  the  Jana  Sangh  to  keep  the  Janata  Dal  government  in  power,  and  particularly  their  shameful  record  as  a  government  in  repressing  the  Nandigram  and  Singur  peasants’  movements  in West  Bengal    have  totally  eroded  the  CPI(M)’s  credibility  not  only  in West  Bengal,  but  elsewhere  also.          

In  such  a  situation,  where  the  demoralized  ranks  of  the  Left  fail  to  resist  the  armed  onslaught  of  the  forces  of  Hindutva  (who  dare  to  come  out  on  the  streets  with  swords  on  Ramnavami    a  demonstration   unseen  and  unheard  of  in  Kolkata),  and  their  Left  leaders  are   not  in  a  position  to  influence  the  electoral  scene,  or   even  put  up  winnable  candidates  in  West  Bengal,  isn’t  it  better  for  the  CPI(M)    to  withdraw  from  the  2019  Lok  Sabha  electoral  battle,  and  watch  from  the  sidelines   a   straight  contest  between  the  Trinamul  Congress  and  its  main  rival  in  West  Bengal  today,  the  BJP  ?   Sad  to  say,   but  let’s  admit  that  both  the  Congress  and  the  CPI(M)  are   today  reduced  to  political  non- entities  in  what  used  to  be their  stronghold    thanks  to  their  record  of  misdeeds  over  the  decades   which  have  alienated  them  from  the  masses.   So,  instead  of  setting  up  candidates  in  all  West  Bengal  Lok  Sabha  constituencies,  which  would  lead  to  split  in  anti-BJP  votes  (that  would  go  to  the  advantage  of  the  BJP),  the  CPI(M)  should  put  up  symbolically  a  few  winnable  candidates  only  in  their  strongholds  (if  they   still  have  them  !)  and  leave  the  rest  of  the  seats  to  be  fought  over   between  the  two  parties  of   gangsters ,  the  Trinamul   and  the  BJP.  If  the  Trinamul  goons  can  eliminate  the  BJP /VHP goons  during  the  election  campaign   (which  is  going  to  be  violent )   in  the  2019  Lok  Sabha  polls,  we’ll  have  to  be  thankful  to  them   for  doing  the  dirty   job   that  the  Maoists  should  have  carried  out. 

Let’s  be  honest.  Since  the  early  2000s    elections,  whether  parliamentary,  or  in  state  assemblies      had  never  been  fought  on  the  swelling   tides   of  mass  movements  that  used  to  mark  the  elections  of  the  1970-80   period.  The  task  of  the  Left  should  be  to  ensure  the  defeat  of  BJP  candidates  in  the  2019  Lok  Sabha  elections  (by  asking  its  voters  to  back  non-BJP  Opposition  candidates),  and  to  concentrate  on  mass  movements  in  the  rural  and  urban  areas  (e.g.   Left-led  recent  farmers’  demonstration  in   Maharashtra  which  saw  a  unique  demonstration  of  solidarity  with  the  urban  middle  class  of  Mumbai      reminding  me  of   similar   demonstrations  of  farmers-peasants  who  used  to  march   to  Calcutta  voicing  their  demands  in  the  1950s,  when  urban  middle  class  people  joined  them  under  the  banner  of  the  Left  (in  1959  such  a  demonstration  was  brutally  attacked  by  the  police  resulting  in  the  death  of  many).  Only  such  mass  movements  can  resurrect  the  image  of  the  Indian  Left. 


2 Responses to “Communalism and the Indian Left – Thoughts at a Critical Juncture”

  1. K SHESHU BABU Says:
    June 13th, 2018 at 18:55

    Last four years have not only seen communalism rise but also violence of all forms has sharply increased with lynchings of subalterns and the dalits being worst sufferers. The right wing has been allowed to tresspass all constitutional norms with impunity and virtually little opposition from mainstream parties . Even the left has not projected people’s problems and carried awareness programs . Only civil society and human rights activists have tried to point out the glaring weaknesses of the system and the apathy of the rulers. In these turbulent times, proactive mass mobilisation of opposition forces is necessary to stop fascism and bigotry from gaining control

  2. Jane Doe Says:
    May 19th, 2021 at 02:08

    It is 2021 and the BJP has won the 2019 general elections and intensified their crackdown on democratic rights.
    The electoral and revolutionary left have both failed to stem the tide of the fascist onslaught. The popular front has failed to stop fascism even electorally and the left is organizationally weak.
    India is in a unique position of having a “protracted peoples war” carried on by a maoist party that has largely failed in its general aims for over fifty years. Indeed, aside from its weakness (or perhaps the cause of it) the maoist movement is deeply flawed, acting very anti democratically at times, as Banarjee points out in the interview, behaving like any other goon at times, having deep rooted issues with patriarchy and completely failing to address the struggles of LGBT+ people.

    In a face of a plethora of supposed “vanguard parties” that seem to be incapable of defending working class people, women, dalits, nationally oppressed people, muslims, and LGBT+ people, what do the masses do but create their own vangaurd and organizations that can work together in a genuinely democratic manner to defend (and eventually offend) against the Brahminical-patriarchal-fascist aggressive in coalition with civil liberties activists and intellectuals? (criticism welcome)

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