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Mainstream, VOL LV No 51 New Delhi December 9, 2017

Way to Socialism through Socialist Unity

Sunday 10 December 2017

by Prem Singh

This comment is about the situation that has arisen after the split in the Janata Dal (United). The comment is made by me as a citizen with a socialist background, and not as a member of the Socialist Party (India). The National Election Commission of India has decided in favour of Nitish Kumar’s faction on the party symbol dispute. The Sharad faction, however, has gone to petition the High Court in order to challenge the decision of the NECI but is simultaneously engaged in an exercise of forming a new party. It is very likely that soon another ‘Janata’ outfit will be born from this exercise.

 After the split in the Janata Party in 1979 most political outfits, formed time to time by various socialist leaders of mainstream politics, retained the word ‘Janata’ while naming or renaming their parties. This includes Chandra Shekhar (Samajwadi Janata Party Rashtriya) and Surendra Mohan (Socialist Janata Party). The only exception was the Samajwadi Party (SP) formed by Mulayam Singh Yadav in UP in 1992.

 The Socialist Party was merged into the Janata Party in 1977, and thus lost its original glory and national image. It would be interesting to analyse why and how the word ‘Janata’ still haunts the socialists! When Surendra Mohan parted ways from the JDS, I had a discussion with him about the name of the new party he was planning to form. I tried to convince him that the word ‘Janata’ should be avoided and the original name of the Socialist Party of 1977 should be revived and strengthened. That would have certainly helped in regaining the lost glory and national status of the original party in the long run. But he was not convinced with arguments and named his new party with the prefix of ‘Socialist’.

Recently M.P. Veerendra Kumar, who resigned from the Rajya Sabha a few days back, has given indications of reviving his old outfit namely Socialist Janata (Democratic) Party.

 In this connection, I would like to forward a suggestion to the Sharad faction, M.P. Veerendra Kumar particularly, and individual socialists in general. Forming another leader-based State-level ’Janata Party/Dal’ with a ‘Samajwadi’ pre-fix or suffix will contribute little in the direction of much needed socialism and socialist unity. It will be more appropriate if they should join the Socialist Party (India) and take up its leadership. The Socialist Party was revived as Socialist Party (India) in 2011 in Hyderabad in a two-day foundation conference by several senior and young socialist groups/leaders after having countrywide meetings/discussions at the initiative of Surendra Mohan and Justice Rajindar Sachar. The foundation conference was attended by around 600 delegates from 19 States. The SPI was formed to creatively carry forward the inheritance of the Indian socialist movement and ideology propagated by its leaders and thinkers such as Acharya Narendra Dev, Jaya Prakash Narayan, Dr Rammanohar Lohia, S.M. Joshi, Yusuf Meherally, Kamala Devi Chattopadhyaya, Kishan Pattnayak and other genuine socialist leaders. The Samajwadi Yuvjan Sabha (SYS), the youth wing of the Socialist Party, was also formed simultaneously as Socialist Yuvjan Sabha.

The sole aim of the SPI and SYS is to provide an elaborate alternative political ideology to counter and thus replace the nexus of neo-liberal-communal forces. The party, through its varied programmes, is trying to create a space for socialist politics at the national level within its limited resources. This uphill task/responsibility should be shared by all those socialists who really believe in the socialist legacy. If the Sharad faction and M.P. Veerendra Kumar decide to join the Socialist Party (India), several socialist individuals/groups can join. Workers and leaders who feel suffocated in dynasty-based State-level parties can also come forward to join the SPI. The party can be renamed as Indian National Socialist Party (Bharatiya Rashtriya Socialist Party) or Socialist Party of India (Bharatiya Socialist Party).

 I would further suggest that persons like Dr G.G. Parikh, H. Hanumanthappa, Kuldip Nayar, S.P. Shukla, Michel Fernandez, Dr Sunilam, Subhash Ware, Suresh Khairnar, Dr Raj Kumar Jain, Qurban Ali, Dr D. Sreekumar, Ravikiran Jain, Surendra Kumar, Vijay Pratap, Subhash Bhatnagar and many other concerned socialists should take the initiative in this direction. Friends of small parties, who participated in the unity meeting held at Tara, Mumbai, and later in the SPI’s National Executive Committee meeting held at Delhi should also speed up their efforts. They are Prabodh C. Sinha (Socialist Democratic Party), Brajkishore Tripathi (Samata Kranti Dal), Arun Kumar Srivastav (JD-U), Manju Mohan (Socialist Janata Party), representatives of Socialist Party (Lohia) and Loktantrik Samajwadi Party. Incidentally, senior SPI leaders Bhai Vaidya, Pannalal Surana, Justice Rajindar Sachar have already started dialogue with leaders of the Sharad faction and M.P. Veerendra Kumar.

Dr Prem Singh, a former Fellow, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, is the President, Socialist Party (India).

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