Bengal has seen the classic example of left sine curve. From its glory days pre-independence, to the state of decay and eventual rot which we see today. Why is it so that in a nation with so much to do, so much poverty, social inequality and injustice, the left parties, which were essentially meant for the masses according to their ideological gurus, today are struggling to even make their presence felt? What happened? Where did it go wrong?
17th century France was an exciting time to live. Poor had just got a voice to represent themselves in the Parliament which was till now dominated by the rich and elite. When the two groups met in Parliament, it was obvious that both wouldn’t see eye to eye. Elite didn’t want to mix with the poor for they feared their silken dresses would be ruined. Rich huddled up and sat on the right side of the Parliament. Poor grouped up and sat on the left side. Rich didn’t want to change their ways because of obvious reasons. Poor wanted policy changes and pro poor outlook in governance. That process stuck. And soon world over, people with pro poor outlook started to be grouped under the ‘Left’ banner.
Back home, Bhagat Singh was one of the most prolific leaders of HSRA. He was of openly leftist leanings. So were Sukhdev, Azad and many other prominent freedom fighters. Netaji Subhash after leaving congress formed Forward bloc which worked on communistic or pro-poor lines. They are still heartthrobs of the nation, especially of the youngsters. Why then, is the left movement in ruins today?
When Czar fell and Lenin took over, it was an ideological victory for all the leftists world over. It was to be this newly rechristened nation that was to be a shining example of what left politics or philosophy meant. The founders of Soviet Union had looked west towards Karl Marx and Engels for guiding them in their affairs. The duo of Marx and Engels had already established how capitalism is the problem which was suppressing bourgeois. Soviets had already become inspiration to millions of oppressed and poor by now. So when USSR transitioned from being pro poor to anti-capitalist, the entire left perspective started to change.
Leftists were, by the virtue of their thought process, mostly thinkers and educated people who galvanized masses. The left which had started on grand ideals of helping the poor started using elaborated philosophical thought process on how capitalism is bad and why its spread should be stopped. Post independence, Indian leftist intellectuals and thinkers had already been looking up to USSR for ideological guidance. And why not! It was a superpower and an utopian land where nobody was rich or poor. State looked after everybody, regardless of their caste culture or creed. Everybody was catered for in the grand scheme of things.
This is where Indian left intellectuals let the masses down. Rather than being pro-poor, they started becoming anti-rich. Elevation of poor out of poverty stopped being the goal and thwarting the progress of rich started taking over it. Soon it was realized that keeping the mass poor and enraging them against the classes was an easier way to stay in power. And once the primary objective changes into becoming powerful, perspectives change. More importantly, the outcome changes. Power was now required to cull the growth of capitalistic forces. While I am not a capitalist, it’s mere common sense that poor don’t want to stay poor. Everybody aspires to leave masses and join the classes which in turn dilutes the class structure and a further migration to something better is aspired. That is how it is, for good or for bad.
The left experiment in Bengal went from sad to horrible. In the 3 decades of continuous and uninterrupted power, left parties did nothing to absolve the poor of their poverty. But they did everything to stop the capitalistic juggernaut. Industries destroyed, unions made, bandhs organized, everything unimaginable and unpardonable done just to stop the spread of capitalism! It was supported by the central government and Left killed, maimed and silenced everybody. A local army of goons was cultivated which was affectionately known as cadre. It was cadre’s job to make sure that no rebellion at local gram or taluka level ever emerged. All this while the intellectuals were busy rewriting the narrative.
Left narrative did not accept faith, idol worship or any religion. After all Karl Marx had famously said, “religion is the opiate of masses”. But religion was the lifeline of this nation since time immemorial. Give Indians atheism and Indians will consider atheism as a religion! What started as a movement against religion, ended up being movement against the majority religion, once again, just to be in power. Thought process involved was on the lines of, “let the smaller one counter the larger one and then we shall see how it goes from there.” That meant blatantly appeasing members of one religious community to counter the other. Religious harmony meant nothing as long as religion was destroyed. What you are seeing in Bengal today is the manifestation of that evil.
The state is corrupt with every institution of checks and balances destroyed. Moreover, a land of once industrious people are now addicted to mediocrity. Poor is being loathed by the rich and suppressed by the politicians. In the end, gareeb is left with nothing but more poverty, anger, sense of loss, faith and is rudderless. Who is going to pull him out of his misery? Not the state, of course.
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