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Mainstream, VOL LIX No 51, New Delhi, December 4, 2021

Congress and Left Parties Should Consider an Alliance in Some States | Bharat Dogra

Friday 3 December 2021, by Bharat Dogra

The political situation in various states or provinces of India can differ. The analysis presented here is mainly in the context of the following states—Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh, Punjab, Haryana,Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi. These states are mainly located in North and Central India where Hindi is commonly spoken, even though this may not be the main language in all the states. Some of these states are due for Assembly elections next year.

In these states the Congress should consider entering into a principled alliance with left parties while contesting assembly and parliamentary elections (due in 2024). Of course the CPI and the CPM should be approached, but in addition the smaller left groups and parties which express their commitment to the Constitution ( which itself provides for amendments ) and to peaceful methods of change should be contacted. As far as possible, this electoral alliance should be based on a common minimum program based on justice, equality, peace, communal harmony and environment protection.

At the present juncture of the political scene in India, even the CPI and the CPM should not insist on too many seats. The smaller groups should generally avoid demand for seats but insist on implementing pro-poor policies and providing them conducive conditions for their activities if the alliance emerges successful in elections. Similarly the CPI and the CPM should place more emphasis on increasing their impact for more pro-poor policies.

The left parties are generally not in a position of winning elections on their own in these states, except perhaps in very few constituencies. So they will not lose much in terms of seats by aligning with Congress. It will be considered a success for these parties if they manage to push the Congree towards more pro-poor policies.

Some in the left may find such a course of action problematic keeping in view the record of the Congress and UPA during 2004-2014. The Manmohan Singh led government was unable to have an agenda of opposing imperialism and Mr.Singh was particularly unsuitable and uninspiring in terms of mobilizing the poorer sections. When his regime faced a conspiracy in the name of anti-corruption movements, he failed completely to unmask it despite having all the resources to do so and instead sent four ministers, including a future President, to receive Baba Ramdev!

Nevertheless the UPA government implemented important pro-poor steps and democratic reforms including right to employment, right to information and forest rights legislation, even though in implementation these fell short of expectations. The Congress-led UPA government was more responsive to various social movements, although not to the desire extent. Above all, it was much more committed to communal harmony.

Hence keeping in mind the communal and crony-capitalist agenda of the BJP led NDA government, it may be a rational course of action for the left to have an electoral alliance with the Congress Party which is the leading political opposition force if all these states are taken together. It is currently also the ruling party in three of these states.

For Congress it is important to retain its place as the leading national opposition country, and despite several shortcomings of this party, currently it is also in the wider national interest for the Congress to retain its position as the leading opposition force at the national level. To make this possible, it is also important for the Congress to contest most of the seats in these states, despite its obvious organizational weakness now in several places. It cannot afford an alliance with those parties which deny it a very large number of seats. On the oher hand an alliance with left parties which demand very few seats is feasible. In such a situation it makes sense for the left to be supportive towards the Congress at least for some time.

The left may not be in a strong enough situation to win elections on its own, but it has ability to punch above its weight, with its various strong wings of trade unions, women and student organizations. These have members capable of making more enthusiastic contributions than many Congress members. On the whole it appears that an alliance of the Congess and the left in these states will be mutually beneficial and will also be beneficial for the larger interests of the country, for strengthening socialist, secular and democratic genda of the country in tune with constitutional impertives.

The Congress Left alliance should maintain friendly relations, even in the wave of provocation, with all other parties which constiture the opposition at national level.

In 2022 state elections are due in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Himachal Prdesh. A Congress Left alliance can win in the last three states on its own. In Uttar Pradesh too it can win a number of seats which are significant enough to help in forming a government of present day opposition parties.

(The writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Eaerh Now. His recent books include Protecting Earth for Children and Man over Machine-A Path to Peace ( Gandhian ideas for our times))

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