West Bengal: Collapse of the Left Front government and the way ahead for India's left

West Bengal's defeated chief minister, the CPI (M)'s Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, addresses a mass rally.

By Dipankar Bhattacharya, general secretary, Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation

[This article is the editorial in the forthcoming June 2011 issue of the CPI (ML) Liberation's journal Liberation. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.]

May 24, 2011 -- The inevitable has finally happened. The Left Front government of West Bengal, the longest-serving government in India’s parliamentary history [34 years], has been trounced quite miserably in the recent assembly elections. The defeat certainly has not come all of a sudden – all recent elections, including the 2008 panchayat elections, 2009 Lok Sabha [national parliament] elections, 2010 municipal elections and several by-elections had clearly revealed that the Communist Party of India (Marxist) led dispensation had been losing ground quite alarmingly. The April 18-May 10, 2011, state assembly elections marked the culmination of this process of decline of the CPI (M) in West Bengal.

Large sections of the mainstream media, in West Bengal as well as elsewhere, have tended to treat the defeat of the CPI (M) and its allies in West Bengal as a turning point signifying an end of sorts for the left in India. They also understandably rush to attribute it to the left’s dogmatic opposition to neoliberal policies and Indo-US strategic partnership. The advice naturally follows that if the left has to stay relevant it will have to shed its dogma and reduce left politics to just providing better governance without challenging the policy environment and the politico-economic direction chosen by the ruling elite.

'Brand Buddha'

The problem with this analysis is that it has nothing to do with what has actually happened in West Bengal. In fact, the Left Front government of West Bengal had precisely begun to follow this much advised path of ruling-class wisdom. A few years ago, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was the greatest darling of the corporate media, much like Chandrababu Naidu [chief minister of the state of Andhra Pradesh from 1995 to 2004] in his heyday or Narendra Modi [current chief minister of Gujarat state, from the Hindu-chauvinist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)], Naveen Patnaik [chief minister of Odisha state] and Nitish Kumar [chief minister of Bihar state] in their current phases. Some media houses had even enthusiastically elevated Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to a new brand of left politics in India, "brand Buddha" as they fondly called it. The CPI (M) has not gone down in West Bengal resisting the LPG policies, it has just paid the price for daring to implement those policies by trampling upon the rights and interests of the rural poor and the labouring peasantry.

Let us look at the context and circumstances of the CPI (M)’s ouster in West Bengal. Its government has not been toppled by a hostile central government. Nor has the ouster been scripted by the Tatas [the Tata Group is a huge Indian multinational conglomerate company headquartered in Mumbai] or some major corporate lobbies for being denied entry into West Bengal or being driven out of West Bengal through militant trade unionism.

Peasant rebellion

What has cost the CPI (M) its flagship state is not a feudal backlash against the party’s much-trumpeted record of land reforms. Nor is it a revolt of an upwardly mobile middle class angered by the non-fulfilment of its consumerist dreams of globalised grandeur. On the contrary, it is essentially a peasant rebellion on the good old plank of land, livelihood and democracy which has gone on to produce this most spectacular electoral drubbing for the CPI (M).

If the dominant media analysis of the CPI (M)’s West Bengal debacle is totally misplaced, and the therapy suggested mischievously motivated, the CPI (M)’s own response is nothing but characteristically evasive and hollow. Ever since the peasant protests started in Singur five years ago, the CPI (M) dismissed them as an anti-industry campaign and accused whoever stood by the protesting peasants of Singur of being a Narodnik or Luddite. When Nandigram happened, the CPI (M) called it an anti-left conspiracy hatched jointly by  the far-right and the ultra-left. When Lalgarh revolted against police atrocities, the CPI (M) made common cause with the national Indian government to unleash a combined paramilitary campaign. It is only after the drubbing in Lok Sabha elections that the CPI (M) started admitting that something had gone wrong and promised to rectify and bounce back.

But there was never any clear admission of major political mistakes, no sincere apologies tendered for the forcible land acquisition in Singur or the massacres in Nandigram and certainly no attempt at course correction. This is why Nandigram was repeated in Netai and CPI (M) leaders continued to make arrogant boasts and several leaders went on to deliver vulgar sexist speeches, reflecting a feudal-patriarchal mindset, all through the election. The debacle in the Lok Sabha election was reduced to a simple statistical deficit of only 11 lakh votes [a lakh is equal to 100,000] and words went around that the deficit could easily be neutralised by ensuring a few additional votes in every booth!

Even now CPI (M) leaders talk in terms of bringing back the "deserters" and regaining the confidence of the people who have been "alienated". There is absolutely no recognition of the sense of derailment that all sincere left activists and well wishers feel so acutely and of the fact that what the CPI (M) is now confronting is its own increasing isolation and even insulation from the broad masses of working people and large sections of the progressive democratic intelligentsia, and not just the problem of managing a few "dissidents" or "deserters"!

CPI (M)'s 'impregnable fortress'

Trying to put up a brave face, CPI (M) leaders now present the West Bengal debacle as a mere defeat in one election after seven victories in a row. They would like us to believe that the people of West Bengal had desired change just for the sake of it, perhaps because of some time-induced fatigue and there is nothing more to it. They also tell us that elections are just a part of their overall political activity, and a poor showing in one election has therefore no political implication. But however much they may try to downplay the impact of the Bengal blow, the fact remains that West Bengal is not just any average state for the CPI (M). For three and a half decades now, West Bengal was the biggest bastion of the CPI (M) and what the CPI (M) has just experienced in Bengal is not a normal election defeat as it experiences in Kerala in every alternate elections, but a veritable collapse of its "impregnable fortress".

We are reminded time and again by CPI (M) propagandists of their achievement in carrying out land reforms in West Bengal and establishing the panchayati raj in West Bengal. This inspires little conviction today when the CPI (M) is being indicted by the rural poor precisely for reversal of land reforms, eviction of peasants and sharecroppers and large-scale denial of routine panchayat benefits to the deserving and the needy. It is quite like the Congress party talking of bringing independence and parliamentary democracy at a time when the people experience growing US domination in every sphere and systematic assault on democracy through draconian laws and military campaigns!


Ironically, the West Bengal elections have not only extracted a heavy price from the CPI (M) for its shameless acts of opportunism and renegacy, they have also exposed the utter political bankruptcy of the "Maoists". In the wake of the peasant revolt of Nandigram and the adivasi resistance of Lalgarh, Maoists had found a fertile political ground in the forested areas of the western region of West Bengal called Jangalmahal. They flowed with the growing tide in West Bengal, declared their support for Mamata Banerjee as the next chief minister and got sensational and often sympathetic coverage in the West Bengal media. But they were only interested in their kind of armed actions, indiscriminately targeting CPI (M) leaders and activists and derailing the powerful militant mass upsurge of Lalgarh in the face of heightened state repression.

When Chhatradhar Mahato, the main surviving face of the Lalgarh movement, decided to contest the assembly election from Jhargram, the Maoists virtually disowned him and many of them projected it as a diversion that would help the CPI (M) and damage the Trinamool Congress prospects! In the event, while the TMC candidate won the seat, Chhatradhar finished third with an impressive support of 20,000 votes. 

The Mamata Banerjee-led TMC-Congress party has now taken over West Bengal's government. As reflected in the thumping win of the TMC-Congress combine, one can clearly see expressions of a massive popular euphoria on the streets of West Bengal. Perhaps such early euphoria is quite understandable at this hour of change and transition, and there is undoubtedly an element of spontaneity in it, but one can also clearly discern the beginning of a very conscious, concerted and comprehensive campaign by the right to use this euphoria as a veritable licence to launch all kinds of attacks on all streams of left politics and ideology. An aggressive rightward shift would of course be out of tune with the overwhelming spirit of the West Bengal verdict and revolutionary communists will have to boldly invoke and nurture the popular democratic core of the protest movements of the recent past to challenge and confront the unfolding rightwing agenda.

'Time for fighting left to regroup'

It remains to be seen how the CPI (M) proposes to reinvent itself as an opposition party in West Bengal. After 34 years of government-centric existence, the implications of the party being forced to go back to the people as an opposition party, and what is more, as a professed party of class and mass struggle, will be quite interesting to watch. For revolutionary communists and all sections of sincere left forces, the present juncture is surely an hour of profound possibilities and challenges both within West Bengal and on the national political plane. The CPI (M) model of government-centric "left unity" has suffered an unprecedented blow and the time has surely come for the fighting left to regroup and march ahead with the agenda of people’s struggles.

In December 2007, the CPI (ML) Liberation’s 8th congress held in Kolkata had issued the clarion call: “People’s resistance, left resurgence”. There has been no dearth of powerful struggles in the country during the last two decades of neoliberal offensive, the left can move forward only by forging stronger ties with the people and organically championing and leading the struggles of the people through to the end. And with the government-centric, CPI (M)-centric image of the left getting a body blow, it is indeed time that the role of the left as a consistently democratic and fighting force acquired greater prominence and the revolutionary left came to the fore as the driving force of the left camp in India.

Submitted by deepak roy (not verified) on Thu, 05/26/2011 - 23:12


This article on Left Front debacle in recent Assembly Poll in West Bengal has overlooked or side lined some important points that have comtributed to 'great rise' of invisible lumpen forces in West Bengal Politics led by Mamata Bannerjee.

I would like to point out some factors among many others ,which might have been responsible for down fall of Left front Government in West Bengal.
These are :

1 The collapse of left electorial politics became inevitable after left had opposed Indo-USA Nuclear Deal in Indian Parliament in 2008. USA started supporting actively and more vigously anti left movement in ruthless and vindictive manner.

2 There is not a single crsis manager in the stature of Promod Dasgupta or even Anil Biswas who could resolve Nandigram or Singur situation from correct ideological standpoints. This has given evenful rise of confusion among CPM leadership that resulted manyfold dissidents in the Party
and Left Front Government

These are, I am sure, two main reasons for political and ideological downfall of left front in West Bengal

April 24, 2011

By Partho Sarathi Ray

http://sanhati.com/excerpted/3491/ -- The West Bengal elections are appearing to be fought in the intellectual space as much as in the cities and villages of West Bengal. As the CPI(M)-led Left Front increasingly stares at the scenario of being out of power after thirty four years of ruling West Bengal, the desperation of its leaders is increasingly portrayed by the ridiculous pronouncements and daily antics of Gautam Deb, the CPI(M) central committee member and West Bengal housing minister, the architect of the land grab that is Rajarhat (http://sanhati.com/excerpted/945/), and the person the CPI(M) has put its reliance on to combat the opposition. At the same time, the CPI(M) has mobilized its intellectual brigade, in India and abroad, to write thoughtful pieces expounding on the “virtues” of Left Front rule in West Bengal, and lamenting the fate of the state that is fast going out of their grips. One such preposterous piece recently appeared in the CPI(M)-run website www.pragoti.org, written by US-based academic and CPI(M) apologist Vijay Prashad. In a desperate attempt to stand reality on its head, the author has presented a litany of lies about the record of CPI(M) rule in West Bengal, and has tried to anoint the CPI(M) with the mantle of the “Left” in India, a mantle that has been torn to shreds by its abject adoption of neo-liberal capitalism as its governing policy in West Bengal.

However, it is just not after Singur and Nandigram that the real face of CPI(M) rule has been exposed to the people. The entire “positive record” of Left Front rule in West Bengal that Vijay Prashad so proudly refers to is a record of abject surrender of the party to vested interests in the countryside on one hand and to the industrialist-promoter-real estate developer nexus in the cities on the other. What does this record show? Vijay Prashad beats again on the oft-beaten drum of land reforms in West Bengal and states that “till January 2010, the seven Left Front governments have distributed over 11.3 lakh acres to 30.4 lakh poor peasants.” This is a complete falsehood, as out of the 11.3 lakh acres of distributed land, 3.76 lakh acres have been distributed during the Congress regime and 2.5 lakh acres during the United Front rule. Therefore in the 34 years of rule by the “peasant-friendly” Left Front, the total area of land distributed to poor peasants, around 5 lakh acres, is less than the combined area of land distributed by the prior, apparently “peasant-unfriendly” regimes. How can Vijay Prashad unabashedly attribute this to Left Front rule?

And what has been the consequence of the “land reforms” by the West Bengal government over the last 34 years? The total number of landless peasants has more than doubled from 33 lakhs in 1971 to 78 lakhs in 2001! According to the West Bengal human development report, 4 lakh of the peasants who had received titles (pattas) for redistributed land had lost their land by 2004. What has been rampant in the countryside of Bengal over the last twenty years and more, is the phenomenon of reversal of land reforms, as poor peasants unable to bear the high input costs for agriculture and facing unremunerative returns have increasingly sold off their land to rural big and middle peasants, who have made the greatest gains during the Left Front rule. And this rich peasantry, which has grown fat during Left Front rule, forms the main support base of the CPI(M) in the rural areas and has a stranglehold over the rural economy. In village after village, it is this class which owns the shops for seeds and fertilizers, pump sets for irrigation, cold storages, PDS shops, in short everything that is needed for making a living out of agriculture; this has gone completely out of the reach of the poor peasantry.

More insidious, and dangerous, has been the way the CPI(M) has used land reforms as a means of controlling the poor peasantry. In village after village you will hear how the actual title-holders (pattadars) of the distributed land do not have the title deeds (patta) with them, the patta being kept at the local party office of the CPI(M), and efficiently used by the party bosses to bring any rebellious peasant in line. Doesn’t it sound more like the rule of the erstwhile zamindars than that of the “enlightened” Left Front?

And ever since the Left Front government under Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee took up “industrialization” as its mantra by adopting a completely neo-liberal economic model, the land belonging to the peasantry has increasingly been handed over to corporations and real estate developers on a vast scale. Abdur Rezzak Molla, the West Bengal land & land reforms minister, went on record to say in the state assembly in 2006, at the time of the Singur land acquisition, that in West Bengal about 1.20 lakh acres of farmland had been diverted for ‘urbanization’ and industrialization programmes in the previous five years. These policies have brought the poor peasant in West Bengal to her knees, making West Bengal sixth among the states in the number of farmer suicides, according to the records of the National Crime Bureau.

Vijay Prashad writes “The TMC’s (the opposition Trinamool Congress party – Ed.) paribartan (change) is to reverse course and welcome with open arms the takeover of agriculture by big capital that has doomed farmers from Vidharba to Warangal.” What has been the course taken by the Left Front government? It proposed a new agriculture policy in 2002 (http://sanhati.com/articles/198/), closely following the recommendations made by the notorious US consultancy firm McKinsey in its report on the “Problems and Prospects of Agriculture in West Bengal”. This new policy envisaged a shift from agriculture to agribusiness, which was touted as “central to West Bengal’s 2010 agribusiness vision.” And over the last eight years the Left Front government has done exactly what Vijay Prashad has alleged that the TMC would do if it comes to power. It has opened the agricultural sector to big capital, adopting various measures such as allowing contract farming by corporations, amending the agricultural produce marketing committee (APMC) Act to allow big corporates into agricultural product marketing and reserving space in cold storages for agricultural products used by big corporations. Recently there were protests in Hooghly district by farmers who protested against the reservation of huge space in cold storages for the potato used for making Lay’s potato chips by Pepsico (locally called “Pepsi aloo”) while their potatoes were rotting outside in the summer heat.

The Left Front government has gone to the extent of amending the Land Reforms Act, incorporating the infamous 14(Z) amendment in 2005, which allows it to change land use patterns at its whim (http://sanhati.com/articles/1307/). This has allowed land alienation not only from agriculture, but also from industries into real estate, as evidenced by the proliferation of malls such as South City on industrial land (http://sanhati.com/excerpted/1183/). If Mamata Banerjee really wants to welcome the takeover of agriculture by big capital, she just needs to follow the course set by the Left Front.

In his article Vijay Prashad presents some statistics on death rate and birth rate and infant mortality in West Bengal as evidence of what he calls “social effects of the land policy, and of the provision of social services”. These numbers are directly picked from the Left Front manifesto, where the source of the information has not been stated. On the other hand, data from the Planning Commission shows that in 1974, the infant mortality rate in West Bengal was 51 for every 1000 live births. In 2004, this has come down to 41, a decrease of around 20%. During the same period, the infant mortality rate in Tamil Nadu has come down from 106 to 41, a decrease of 61% and in Maharashtra from 57 to 36, a decrease of 37%. Why has West Bengal, which had a head start over other states in this important marker of social wellbeing, fallen back over the years of Left Front rule, if there has been “provision of social services”? In nearly every social sector, the record of Left Front rule has been one of failure.

In West Bengal, only 24% of the population has access to government health services, which is lower than the national average of 29%. According to WHO recommendations, there should be a bed in a hospital or primary health centre for every 350 people; in the case of India this number is 800 whereas in case of West Bengal it is one for every 1100 people. And in the backdrop of this miserable condition of state health services (http://sanhati.com/excerpted/946/), the Left Front government has gone on a privatization spree, handing over state hospitals and health infrastructure to private players, transferring a state tuberculosis hospital in south Kolkata to private ownership for Re 1 (for setting up a private medical college) (http://sanhati.com/excerpted/1164/) and recently trying to similarly hand over a state general hospital to a private trust (http://sanhati.com/articles/3290/). And while more and more people are turned back from government hospitals for lack of infrastructure, CPI(M) leaders from Jyoti Basu to Subhash Chakrabarty have received five star treatment in super expensive private hospitals owned by industrialists.

Vijay Prashad has asked whether “the policies and administrative practices of the Left Front [should] be judged solely on the basis of Singur and Nandigram?” I agree with him in saying an emphatic “No”. It should be judged on the basis of all this, on depriving and exploiting and terrorizing a people for 34 years, and giving rise to a promoter-developer-mafia raj which has grown rich and powerful during this period. The position of the CPI(M) in the eyes of the working class was succinctly described to me by a worker from a locked out factory in Howrah district. He told me that the real expansion of CPI(M) is “Camai Party of India (mithyabadi)”, which can be roughly translated into “income party of India (liars)”. The working class of Bengal might not have any illusions about the Trinamool Congress, but it definitely wants the CPI(M) to go (http://sanhati.com/excerpted/1233/).

And what about Singur and Nandigram? Vijay Prashad writes that the CPI(M) has learnt a lesson from Singur and Nandigram that “even the most generous compensation package is not sufficient unless people are truly convinced that their well-being and that of their fellow citizens will be improved by the sale of their land to the state.” The resolutions taken by the party at its Vijaywada plenum said the same, but its central committee member Gautam Deb emphatically said in Kolkata that during land acquisition the government cannot distinguish between willing and unwilling farmers, because if it does that, land cannot be acquired for industries. He even said that the government should have been more proactive in destroying the opposition to land acquisition in Singur. Gautam Deb is the right person to make these pronouncements, being the mastermind behind the forcible acquisition of land and eviction of thousands of farmers in what is today Rajarhat Newtown. Therefore, the CPI(M) has not learnt anything. It will mouth such platitudes for the sake of its image, but its real face in West Bengal are people like Gautam Deb and Lakshman Seth, the latter being the mastermind behind the failed attempt to acquire land in Nandigram. Interestingly, Lakshman Seth, after being miserably defeated in the Lok Sabha elections, has ensured the candidature of his wife Tamalika Panda-Seth in the current assembly elections.

According to Vijay Prashad, the Left Front “is programmatically committed to the widest forms of democracy and to the promises of social justice.” Unfortunately its record in West Bengal shows just the opposite. The CPI(M) has systematically strangled democracy in West Bengal, completely constricting the space for any popular organization outside the ambit of the party, from the para (community) to the university. Experience shows that even as mundane an action as a few kids getting together to clean up a pond in a locality will be prevented by party bosses if it is against the latters’ wishes. And a little investigation yields the information that the party bosses’ interest in keeping the pond dirty is to ensure its filling up so that a promoter can take it over for building an apartment complex. In colleges and universities, year after year the CPI(M)’s student wing has won elections uncontested, as anyone in opposition has been prevented from even filing nomination papers. In villages ranging from Keshpur-Garbeta in West Midnapore to Sashan in north 24 Parganas, local CPI(M) strongmen have ensured that all votes polled goes to the CPI(M). The programme that the CPI(M) has been committed to is one of patronization and intimidation, used in parallel, and alternatively to keep a stranglehold over the population. If you vote for the CPI(M), you might get a BPL ration card, if you do not, you might lose a hand.

Vijay Prashad writes in conclusion: “In the Indian political scene at large, the Left is a crucial pillar of rational politics, and a singular hopeful sign for the future…Without a strong Left, the Indian polity would be morally weaker.” It could have been, but alas, its 34 year rule in West Bengal has eaten into its core and destroyed any potential that it had in that direction. Today, power is the glue that holds the CPI(M) together, loss of power might lead to its breaking up into fragments. That might be good for the party as it might be the only way to get rid of the baggage that it has accumulated over the past 34 years.

Whatever be the fate of the CPI(M), it is clear that without the CPI(M), the Indian Left would be morally stronger.

Submitted by Indian Red (not verified) on Fri, 05/27/2011 - 22:18


Tuesday 24 May 2011


In a minor replay of 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Indian media have been gloating at the defeat of the Left Front in West Bengal especially and have repeatedly suggested that this signals the ’end of the Left in India’. Even at the best of times our news channels tend to avoid serious analyses of the underlying trends within the country, since they have transformed the news itself into a form of entertainment on models surpassed only by the U.S. news networks.

For its part the CPI(M) leadership has been at pains to minimise the significance of the defeat (in Bengal especially) and said that it would be wrong to write off the Left. For them ’the Left’ means the Left Fronts in Bengal and Kerala and of course chiefly the CPI(M) itself. They stress the fact that they still retain a considerable vote share, just over 40% in West Bengal for example, and there is indeed some truth in this claim. We the undersigned beg to differ sharply from both the positions stated above.

To begin with, the Left in India is not the Left parties alone and therefore the defeat of the Left parties does not mean the defeat of the Left. The Left in India has never been reducible to these large parliamentary fronts and party machines, much less to the groups embattled in the forests of India, but has always been a much wider spectrum of organisations, movements and forms of struggle that range from the hundreds of left-wing trade unions that exist in the country in all the major industrial centres, unions that are essentially independent of party control and seeking today to form a national federation, down to the dozens of popular campaigns and the organisations connected with them.

These campaigns have fought consistently on issues such as displacement at major sites like the Koel Karo dam, the Baliapal missile range, the Hirakud dam, the Sardar Sarover project, etc., and there has been and continues to be mass opposition to the forced acquisition of land by industrial capital (POSCO, Vedanta, Jindals, the Tatas, Ambanis, and so on) in different parts of the country. There have also been militant resistance movements to SEZs, most notably in Bengal itself (at Nandigram and Singur).

There have been grassroots campaigns for the Right to Information (RTI) and for rural employment schemes. There have been movements and campaigns against communal violence and for justice for the victims of the violence that politicians have repeatedly instigated, notably, the horrific massacres in1984 (Delhi), 2002 (Gujarat) and 2008 (Kandhamal in Orissa).

There have been movements of resistance to the hideous injustices and violence of the caste system; to the oppression of women; to homophobia; and against the forcing of millions of children into wage-slavery. There has been a strong culture of human rights organisations in India and fearless investigations into the atrocities committed at all ends of the political spectrum. There are many cultural and political groups that exist that have never identified or associated with the politics and the peculiar left traditions of the CPI(M) that are still largely moulded by the discredited legacies of Stalinism.

We feel that the defeat of the parliamentary left should mean space for a stronger left movement, a ’new left’ if you like, that reflects the aspirations of the mass of people more creatively, with more imagination and greater integrity. There is too much deprivation and misery in the country for the media or the middle classes to seriously be able to delude themselves into thinking that popular resistance will cease with the defeat of the Left Fronts. As long as ordinary people are subjected to violence, to oppression and the most appalling poverty, as long as they are denied homes, health services, proper nourishment, decent jobs, denied land for survival, and denied social,political and sexual equality, there will be resistance and opposition. Indians will not settle down passively into the dream images purveyed by TV advertisements, and with the massive depletion of public policy in areas like health and employment they are certainly not about to become one big smiling middle-class family.

The reality is that dispossession continues on a large scale; the culture of communal hatred, violence and conspiracy still thrives in the background waiting to strike again; and large parts of the country are under military occupation. Police brutality continues unabated, lakhs of court cases lie unattended, thousands of people remain in jail as under-trial prisoners, and hundreds of victims of caste and communal violence wait hopelessly for justice. Communal, caste and sexual bias is still endemic at various places in the state apparatus. And by all the social indicators India remains one of the worst performing countries in the world.

So it is premature of ’write off’ the Left but not because the Left Front has retained substantial vote shares in Kerala and Bengal. Votes have never been a real marker of the strength of a political movement and its culture. Indeed, the Left Front parties now have a historic opportunity to transform themselves, starting with a conscious effort to introduce more democracy in their ranks and a culture of open debate. Whether their leaderships want such a radical overhaul is doubtful, since even the elementary requirement of accountability for the recent debacle is currently being evaded.

However, regardless of their evolution, it is clear that as long as Indian democracy survives and survives in its broken state as a system unable to nourish the mass of its population or live without violence and the subjugation of whole communities, the Left outside parliament, the left as a culture of democracy and resistance, a network of movements and organisations, and a new more vigorous set of campaigns, will continue to flourish. A younger, more radical generation will undoubtedly be attracted to it and to its values of solidarity, equality, freedom and opposition to capitalism both in India and worldwide.

Dilip Simeon, Jairus Banaji, Sukumar Maralidharan, Satya Sivaraman, Rohini Hensman.

The statement, issued on Facebook on 19th May 2011, has also been signed/endorsed by:

Omen Achom, Levin Ahmad, Nesar Ahmad, Riaz Ahmed, Suhail Akhter, Haroon Akram-Lodhi, Aniket Alam, Arshad Alam, Mahtab Alam, Julian Alford, Anjuman Ali, Sharib Ali, Anirban Bandyopadhyay, Arindam Banerjee, Debabrata Banerjee, Partha Banerjee, Sreenanti Banerjee, Sanjay Barnela, Madapathi Channa Basavaiah, Amita Baviskar, Peter Beattie, Cedric Beidatsch, Moggallan Bharti, Preeti Bhat, Varuni Bhatia, Sayan Bhattacharya, Debashish Bhattacherjee, Sandeep Bhushan, Abhisek Bisoy, Madhumita Biswal, Samarendra Biswas, Ishan Bose, Satya Brata, Vivek Chachan, Baidurya Chakrabarti, Indranil Chakraborty, Uday Chandra, Garga Chatterjee, Sandeep Chatterjee, Bibek Chattopadhyay, Kamal Chenoy, Ajith Cherian, V. K. Cherian, Mayur Chetia, Ramachandraiah Chigurupati, Bennet D’Costa, John D’Souza, Karthikeyan Damodaran, Hari Das, Meghna Dass, Vidyadhar Date, Anisha Datta, Dayita Datta, Mihir Desai, Meena Dhanda, Robin Dharmaratnam, Pranoo Deshraju, Elliott Eisenberg, Rajkumar Eligedi, Pradeep Esteves, Dave Ankit Ferri, Paul Field, Vikram Gaadida, John Game, Satya P. Gautam, Ammar al-Ghabban, Arundhati Ghosh, Pothik Ghosh, Rupen Ghosh. Sikha Ghosh, Sandhya Gokhale, Meena Gopal, Rama Hansraj, Bonojit Hussain, Jamil Iqbal, Ashutosh As Is, Ajit Ithikkat, Akash Jha, Ammu Joseph, Minto Joseph, Apoorva Kaiwar, Sanjay Kak, Kalpana Karunakaran, Sreekanth Kappillil, Harsh Kapoor, Ravinder Kaur, Rauha Khalid, Sabah Khan, Rajiv Khanna, Abdul Haleem Kidwai, Jamal Kidwai, Prakash P. Koshy, Koteswar Rao Kota, Michael R. Kraetke, Shekhar Krishnan, Suchita Krishnaprasad, Uma Krishnaswami, Karthik Krishnaswamy, Sławomir Królak, Mangesh Kulkarni, Avinash Kumar, Kundan Kumar, Manmohan Kumar, Rajiv Kumar, Sahil Kumar, Bobby Kunhu, Rebecca Kurian, Christopher Laffernis, David McInerney, Shalini Mahajan, Sampad Mahapatra, Beni Majaw, Deity Majaw, Abhik Majumdar, Arnab Majumdar, Sadique Pk. Mampad, Freny Manecksha, Rajses Mala, Mukul Mangalik, Anant Maringanti, Feroz Mehdi, Hormazd Mehta, Nivedita Menon, Bindu Menon, James Michael, Amitabh Mishra, Anand Mishra, Rasmi Ranjan Mishra, Shibaram Mishra, Srimoy Mitra, K. G. Mohan, Anjali Monteiro, Sumathi Murthy, Luddite Ned, Tarun Guha Neogi, Smriti Nevatia, Aditya Nigam, Alf Nilsen, Bhargav Nimmagadda, Chittibabu Padavala, Dharam Pal, Rajiv Pandey, Himanshu Pandya, Sudarshan Papanna, Prashant Pastore, Sujeet Patil, Mike Pearn, Gautam Pemmaraju, Jahnavi Phalkey, Charlie Post, Suman Poudel, Aseem Prakash, Shree Prakash, Ananta Prasad, Sundaram Pugwash, Bharat Punjabi, Chandramani Raj, Shamik K. Rakshit, M. V. Ramana, Lalita Ramdas, Dwijen Rangnekar, Ranjit Ranjith, Adhiraaj Ray, Bodhisatwa Ray, Chandrashekar Reddy, Arka Roy, Indrajit Roy, Rahul Roy, Saroj Sabat, Anoop Saha, Lawgaone Sahara, Cssalil Salil, Jillett Sarah Sam, Anindya Sanyal, Aditya Sarkar, Dwaipayan Sen, Jhuma Sen, Sukla Sen, Uditi Sen, Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Chayanika Shah, Svati Shah, Siddharth Shanbhag, Jyotirmoy Sharma, Mansi Sharma, Rakesh Sharma, Surabhi Sharma, Aaditto Shen, Ajinkya Shenava, Cubbykabi Sherman, Maria Shipka, Jaya Shobaneshwari, Medha Shriram, Ruchita Shrivastava, Ruchi Shroff, Garima Singh, Mahesh Kumar Singh, Richa Singh, Subir Sinha, Sriram Srirangam, Megha Sud, Ashwini Sukthankar, Sulekh Suman, Chirag Suvarna, Daniel Taghioff, J. Jagadish Thaker, Prativa Thomas, Rashmi Varma, Umesh Varma, Deepak Verma, Vidya Venkat, Kandamath Manayilvalappil Venugopalan, T. K. Vinodan, C.K. Vishwanath Vishwanath, Rustic Wanderer, Judy Whitehead, Tahmidal Zami, Maung Zarni, Sanil Zenbuddha.