Prasenjit Bose at the meeting on Sunday
New Delhi, Jan. 13: Five Left outfits held a public meeting at Jawaharlal Nehru University today to project themselves as the “progressive and democratic Left” and tear into the CPM leadership.
The attack was led by Prasenjit Bose, expelled from the CPM last July for opposing the party’s decision to support Congress candidate Pranab Mukherjee for President despite the last party congress pledging to fight both the Congress and the BJP.
Bose, who was once apparently being groomed for higher responsibilities by party general secretary Prakash Karat and politburo member Brinda Karat, ripped into the CPM brass in Bengal and Delhi without taking names.
“Red salute to comrade Abdul Rezzak Mollah…. He dared to go out and face the Trinamul goons and did not stay indoors like the leadership in Alimuddin, which wears a dhoti and only shakes it (the dhoti),” he said.
Encouraged by applause from students gathered in the open area beside one of the hostels at JNU, Bose hit out at the CPM’s top two leaders, Karat and Sitaram Yechury, without naming them.
“Struggle is not about holding the hand of some leaders like Mulayam Singh Yadav,” Bose said, accusing mainstream Left leaders of sitting in their offices and only issuing statements.
Karat and Yechury had held Mulayam by the hand and posed for the cameras on Parliament Street during the protest against FDI in retail.
The choice of the JNU campus as venue was obvious. The JNU unit of CPM student wing SFI had witnessed mass resignations in protest at the party decision to back Mukherjee, following which the unit was dissolved. The expelled members styled themselves the “SFI-JNU”.
One of them, V. Lenin Kumar, won the election for the JNU students’ union president while the SFI performed badly. This came as a shot in the arm for the rebels, who are trying to unite the “principled and democratic Left” to challenge the “mainstream Left” (the CPM).
All the five outfits that held today’s meeting are CPM splinter groups. These are the Left Coordination Committee from Kerala, the Mangat Ram Pasla-led CPM Punjab, the Marxist Party of Tamil Nadu, the Collective Left (which Bose represented) and a fifth outfit from Maharashtra.
Bose was the last speaker, implying he was the topmost leader, and the most vitriolic. He spoke in Hindi. In the CPM, he had been a backroom boy at party headquarters A.K. Gopalan Bhavan, mostly doing research and rarely addressing public meetings although he regularly expressed the party’s views on TV.
Today, he advised CPM leaders to “introspect and rectify” but praised Tripura chief minister and politburo member Manik Sarkar.
“My red salute to comrade Manik Sarkar. He is one of the best chief ministers in the country, a complete opposite of Narendra Modi. We will ask people to vote for him in the Tripura elections next month,” Bose said.
The other speakers attacked the CPM’s policies but not its leaders.
K. Gangadaran of the Marxist Party criticised the Left’s failure to address caste issues and accused the party of supporting the Kudankulam nuclear project just because the reactors had come from Russia.
P. Kumara Kutty of the Left Coordination Committee sent a written speech accusing the CPM of murdering rebel Marxist T.P. Chandrasekharan, whom he described as a fighter against the “decadent neo-liberal leadership”. He termed the CPM in Kerala a “feudal Stalinist” party.
All the speakers vowed to build a genuine democratic Left in the country and work for mass movements.
The development came on a day the CPM women’s wing, the All India Democratic Women’s Association, kicked off a three-day agitation at Jantar Mantar under Brinda Karat’s leadership protesting government apathy towards rape victims.