Left not in decline but on back foot: Gurudas

Veteran CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta is a fighter, who has not lost his heart at recent electoral reverses. He believes the Left has its relevance and space in Indian politics. Dasgupta, who chose not to contest Lok Sabha polls citing his advancing age, is candid about the Left’s failings and roadmap. I spoke to Dasgupta.

The numbers in Parliament show that the Left is in decline. Why is it that the Left is on the downslide?

Left is not in the decline but we are on the back foot. This is a temporary phenomenon. It might have arisen because of our organisational weaknesses and failure to build mass movements. We shall overcome it because the government is pursuing anti-people policies. There is a contradiction with the policies of the government and the interests of masses. This hostility will give rise to new opportunities. In this process, Left will re-emerge with greater strength.

Can you elaborate the reasons?

We could not develop mass movements. We were more concerned about Parliament. But this struggle of basic masses, particularly toiling masses, we could not reach out to them. Secondly, we could not bring broad unity. It is not among the Left alone. We need other democratic forces. We got isolated. These could perhaps be some of the reasons.

Is it the leadership to be blamed for Left’s isolation?

Conducive situation for having unity did not mature. That has had its impact. This is not a subjective failure alone but it an objective failure.

CPI(M) is the major partner in the Left Front. Smaller parties have complaints against CPI(M). Has CPI(M)’s big brother attitude to be blamed for this situation?

It is the entire Left that has to be blamed, not CPI(M) alone. We may criticise some of the actions of CPI(M). But I am not prepared to hold CPI(M) alone responsible for this debacle. It is the failure of the entire Left. It is not the time for apportionment of blame. It is time for corrective introspection to go to the depths and find out the reason. We have to come up with a new orientation. Deep introspection is there. It is a long run process.

CPI has been demanding a merger with CPI(M). Will it strengthen the Left?

We believe in Communist unity. But there is a perspective. In the short run, it is not in the agenda.

Why is it that the Left could not grow beyond Kerala, Bengal and Tripura?

It again speaks about our inability to expand, particularly in the Hindi belt. Reasons are both political and organisational. Some how, we could not identify ourselves with the feelings of the masses of these areas. The social agenda did not attract our notice. We had been concentrating on economic agenda. Social issues were neglected. Only economic issues got upper hand.

There are many splinter groups in the Left. Has it weakened the Left?

Of course. We believe that the Left unity should be expanded. New forces should be inducted. All the splinter groups who believe in the common ideology should be brought together.

Do you think Left has lost its space with the rise of Narendra Modi and rightist tilt in politics?

Left, definitely, has a space. If you say it was a Modi wave, it cannot be a permanent phenomenon. There will be recycling of the situation. New opportunities are bound to come because the Modi government is moving in the direction UPA government had been moving. They are amending labour laws, weakening public sector, they are making it free-for-all for private capital. Their agenda does not coincide with the interest of masses. For example, few months have gone by after the new government came in but inflation does not seem to be its concern. Therefore, there is bound to be a reversal of the situation. Today, tomorrow or day after. Communal forces are raising their heads. RSS is expanding its tentacles. Wait for sometime. It will backfire. It is a fight and it will take its own course and time.

What should the Left learn from parties like AAP?

Left must learn and unlearn simultaneously. We will take lessons from everyone though AAP is a temporary phenomenon as it is a child of journalism.

What are the immediate steps you are looking at for strengthening the Left?

We are trying to relook strategy and tactics. We will reorient ourselves. With a new vision, we will go into mass work. That will give us the dividend.

(Excerpts appeared in Spotlight of Deccan Herald on August 10, 2014)

OTHER VIEWS

**P Rajeeve/CPI(M) Deputy Leader in Rajya Sabha

The challenge before us in Bengal is to regain the confidence of the people, who have developed discontent towards the Trinamool Congress government. It will take some more time. Nationally, we have to use new propaganda tools to reach out to more people.

**D Devarajan/National Secretary, Forward Block

Left could not communicate its issues and intention clearly to people at a time anti-Left and extreme Left forces have joined hands to target mainstream Left like you witness in West Bengal. What the Left needs is a new leadership with a new vision to take on new challenges.

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