Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Singur was a mistake, says Prakash Karat

NEW DELHI: In a graceful debate, punctuated by occasional swipe at each other, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat has responded to historian Ramchandra Guha's lengthy essay in a monthly on the decline of Left's influence and the end of West Bengal's Left Front government as a case in point.

While Karat admits that performance of the Left front government in the field of education and health was not satisfactory and acquiring land in Singur - under a Trinamool MLA and majority of rival gram panchayats - was a mistake, the CPM general secretary disagrees with Guha's criticism about the theory and ideology of Indian Communists. Guha praises Karat for showing "care and courtesy" and admits his factual inaccuracies like writing that Communist leader B T Ranadive was a Brahmin, but does not agree with the CPM general secretary calling him a bourgeois liberal democrat. "I am a sceptic and anti-Utopian. I do not idealise anything or anyone (not even Sachin Tendulkar)," Guha says in response. He says his study of history has made him aware of the deficiencies of left wing as well as right wing alternatives to liberalism.

Referring to Guha's reliance on a 1978 text written by late B T Ranadive, one of the tallest Left leaders, in which BTR reviewed Spanish communist Santiago Carrillo's famous Eurocommunism and the State and called him a renegade for abandoning the path of revolution in favour of softer option of reform. Guha had cited BTR's criticism of Carrillo to prove how Indian Communism is dogmatic. Karat counters by saying that BTR's vision of Carrillo, who once fought in the Civil War against Franco and the fascists, was correct, as the Spaniard in later years abandoned Marxism. Chiding Guha for not displaying "historical rigour" and relying on only one text of BTR, Karat refers to writings of Ranadive on caste, Jyotiba Phule and Nehru to prove that he was not the type of Marxist being portrayed. Karat says, that unlike what Guha accuses, BTR was not "trying to foment a Chinese type of revolution". "On the contrary, BTR was known for his disapproval of any Maoist tactics at that time," Karat writes in reference to Left's struggle against the Nizam.

Karat also disputes Guha's claim that Razakars - owing allegiance to the Nizam - worked in tandem with Communists. He cites that Communist militia fought against Razakars and the Nizam's police liberating 6, 000 villages. In his rebuttal, Guha says Razakars came to the fore in 1947 and advised Nizam not to join the Indian union, a demand communists were sympathetic to.

Guha's criticism of E M S Namboodiripad in which he had said that the first Communist chief minister did not have any theoretical significance or intellectual achievements.

Guha's criticism of the Left dwelt on how it has not evolved. He had given example of CPM's reluctance to join the central government in 1996 and 2004. Karat counters it by saying that Left would not have been able to raise and implement issues close to its ideology in a "predominantly bourgeois coalition". Guha cites how Madhu Dandvate, an avowed Socialist, after becoming railway minister in the Janata government could bring a small change of adding two-inches of foam to hard wooden sleepers of third class compartment. Karat insists that the Left in India has evolved, and is in favour of a multi-party government.

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