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Left Must Unite

Tuesday 8 May 2007



This communication appeared in the Mainstream issue of May 6, 1967. In view of its abiding relevance it is being reproduced after exactly forty years. —Editor

History once again beckons the progressive Left forces to play their historic role in the destiny of our country. Many past opportunities have been thrown away but time and again the historical process has inevitably placed the progressive Left in a decisive position. This is true once more.

More than ever, reaction, today poses a great challenge to the future and well-being of our country. The Right forces, either in the overt shape of obscurantism or in the guise of spurious enlightened free enterprise and democracy, have gained a renewed and stronger foothold in the shaping of the affairs of India. It is not without significance that these forces which have no popular base have nevertheless managed to beguile large masses of people into supporting them even to the extent of their being able to form governments in collaboration in some States. Ironically, some of these manifest representatives of anti-people forces have actually been able to pose as the champions of popular aspirations and desires. On the other hand the disarray in the Left progressive forces has led to disastrous consequences in many areas, whereas the unity of the Left forces, wherever achieved, has led to impressive victories. The message is simple and clear. If Right reaction is to be rebuffed, as it must be, the Left must unite.

The Left must unite for a positive goal also, to give a clear, unambiguous vision of a society and social and political order where all men may have a place of justice, opportunity, honour, achievement, reward and freedom where this nation may fulfill itself in the greatness that is its due. The Indian peoples have never in their long history been aggressively chauvinistic. They do not in exercising their greatness intend to encroach upon other peoples but it is their right equitably to earn the fruits of their toil and to have their proper place in the sun.

The Right forces, in spite of all their promises, can never achieve for the country this position and lift it from its sunken fortunes. All they can offer India is a today that is a shadow and a tomorrow that is a mirage, an inevitable wandering through time, brother to despair and anguish while their elite batten upon the striving of the people.

On the contrary, a union of all the progressive forces in a rally with the peasantry, working class, youth and the enlightened bourgeoisie can give our peoples a faith to live with, a vision of live for, a dream to build on, and a goal to surge toward in a mighty Herculean endeavour.

Every hour as the old order with its outmoded and irrelevant attitudes and approaches totters helplessly towards the brink of collapse, the need for Left progressive unity becomes ferociously imperative.

The reactionary forces which have no record of participation in the people’s struggles in half- a-century, nevertheless, today stand expectantly to wrest initiative in a bid for power through every means at their command. Progressive forces must rally quickly to thwart this hope and decisively crush this ambition by its superior ideology and popular appeal. All parties of the Left without exception must unite. As far as the Congress is concerned, its total and summary destruction should not be an objective of the United Left. It still plays a congnisable role which will recede under the sharpening conflict of Right and Left; to it, also, large sections of the people with a progressive outlook still owe loyalty. They must not be alienated. The Congress can act as a brake on the depradations of the Right, and within the Party progressive elements with encouragement can swing the organisation towards progress.

The foremost task is to call an immediate moratorium on all inter-party and intra-party polemics which without advancing the progressive cause of the Indian people, have only sapped the strength of the Left parties, and aggravated unnecessary and avoidable conflict. Inter-party and intra-party discussion must continue but only within the framework of immediate, meaningful issues.

The Left parties must meet without delay to work out a common, minimum, radical, principled programme of national extrication and liberation, understandable, achievable and acceptable to the broadest progressive sections of the nation. This programme can be enlarged in successive phases to encompass wider and longer ranged issues and to provide the superstructure for a powerful edifice of popular prosperity, peace and welfare.

The Left parties must create conditions for maximum popular participation in national tasks both within the ranks of the parties and without. Working cadres must be raised throughout so that disciplined task forces are available. A sustained recruiting programme must be undertaken forthwith.

Peasants and workers must be guaranteed that they will cease to be exploited and equitably benefit from the common good.

The youth of the country must be assured that they are not considered a liability to the nation but that their dedication is an asset for the present and a reward for the future when they come into their own.

The intelligentsia must be enabled to offer their enthusiastic and unfettered support to the Left progressive movement. They must be given the inspiration and uninhibited opportunity to provide intellectual and ideological tone and content to the movement.

Creative artists from every discipline must be enlisted to help in enthusing the people in the programme of the Left.

In a country of the size of India, historically held back in development and faced today with colossal and ever-growing problems, progress can only come when every single individual identifies himself with the national efforts. Such an identification can manifest itself only when every one sees a tangible, feasible social goal in which he is an equal partner and beneficiary. Then alone can the massive reserves of the people’s will and power be released to carry the country forward.

The next five years and the decade to follow offer an unparalleled challenge and opportunity to all true, enlightened and progressive Indians in concert to save the country and take it to the high crest of victory.
The choice is ours, the decision is ours.

I know that a call for unity of the progressive forces has been made by a number of people and organisations. The value of this appeal is that it comes even from one who has not been in active politics.

New Delhi Som Benegal

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