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Mainstream, Vol XLV No 22

On Left Expansion in Hindi Speaking Region

Saturday 19 May 2007, by Syed Shahabuddin

[(COMMUNICATION)]

Apropos Shri Chaturanan Mishra’s article on the possibility of Left expansion in the Hindi speaking region [“For Left Expansion in the Hindi Region”, Mainstream Annual 2006 (December 23, 2006)], I have noticed the causes of stagnation mentioned by the writer. But behind it lies the fundamental lacuna in the approach of the Left movement which fails to recognise the primordial importance of religion and caste as deeply rooted social factors particularly in this region. To the Left this may appear to be a sign of ideological backwardness. But no progressive idea is likely to get across the inbuilt barriers in this region. At least it will fail to attract the support of those sections of the people which feel that either the problem does not affect them or the leadership is confined to other groups and does not have their representation.

I endorse the suggestion of Shri Mishra that the Left should take up the cause of the people living below the poverty line. Similarly, in my view, the Left should clearly differentiate between the small landholders/cultivators and the landless and take up the cause of the landless on a priority basis. Today all parents wish to educate their children and therefore proper implementation of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and universalisation of primary and secondary education should be taken up by the Left. In the same way, the Left should struggle at the level of panchyats, blocks and districts for distribution of the benefits of all government programmes of welfare and development which target individuals, among identifiable and conscious groups proportional to their population and not reject this approach as communalism or casteism in the zone of distribution.

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PEOPLE have become used to the system, to the prevalent nepotism corruption, judicial delay, and criminalisation and they are not likely to be moved by agitation at the national or State level on such national issues. However, like education, every village wants to have potable drinking water and electricity supply or post-cum-telephone facility. Such universal demands can also be taken up by the Left in order to build its capability as a force that seeks to serve the whole community at the level where such services are missing. Shri Mishra has correctly stated that the Left parties pass resolutions, issue statements, organise rallies but there is no sustained struggle. If the Left, instead of taking up international or national issues of general concern, focus on the social demands of the people at the grassroots level, it will be able to build up is cadre as well as its credibility.
If the Left parties engage in introspection, they will find that by emphasising ideology and merit and standing in the party, they have allowed a monopoly by people who belong to specific social groups, for example, Brahmins in West Bengal, Bhumihars in Bihar, Ezhavas in Kerala. A deliberate effort must be made by the Left parties, through struggles on issues of benefit to all sections of the people, so that its cadre in the long run represents every segment of the Indian society and its multi-religious, multi-caste and multi-language face is reflected in the party hierarchy. It does not today.

Syed Shahabuddin
- President, All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat
- D-250, Abul Fazal Enclave, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi 110 025

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