The resurgence of the Left, especially the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, or simply ‘Liberation’, in the just-concluded assembly elections in Bihar is a highly disturbing development that bodes ill for the country’s security and integrity.
The Left — the ‘Liberation’, CPI and CPI(M) — won 16 of the 29 seats they had jointly contested, their high strike rate is triggering a lot of surprise and also alarm.
While the CPI and CPI(M) won two seats each, the ‘Liberation’ won 12 seats. In the 2015 assembly polls, the ‘Liberation’ had won only three seats while the other Left parties drew a blank.
In 2010, the CPI was the only Left party which could win, and that too just one seat. In the October 2005 polls, the Left won nine seats (five by Liberation, three by CPI and one by CPI-M).
The state elections in February 2005, which threw up a hung assembly, saw the Left parties bagging eleven seats, with the ‘Liberation’ winning from seven. In 2000, the Left won 13 seats with ‘Liberation’ bagging six, the CPI five and the CPI(M) two.
In the elections before that, too, the Left parties have been bagging seats. But this year’s booty has been big.
Bihar’s Left Legacy
The Left, especially the radical left, has had a presence in Bihar for many decades. The Naxalites established their presence in what was then undivided Bihar (Jharkhand was part of Bihar then) in the late 1960s.
A revolt against upper caste exploitative landlords by poor backward caste peasants led by a school teacher, Jagdish Mahato, at Ekwari village in Sahar block of Bhojpur district adjoining Patna in 1967 sowed the seeds of the radical left in Bihar.
This revolt, called the ‘Bhojpur movement’, soon spread to the other districts of Bihar and within a few years, large swathes of central Bihar (now South Bihar) spread over Patna, Gaya, Nalanda, Jehanabad, Aurangabad, Arwal, Nawada, Rohtas, Bhojpur, Buxar, Munger, Jamui, Sheikhpura and Lakhisarai districts came under the influence of the red terrorists.
The ultra-Leftists also spread their tentacles to West and East Champaran, Sheohar, Sitamarhi, Madhubani, Muzaffarpur and Darbhanga districts of north Bihar bordering Nepal.
Bihar’s Maoist menace also spread to Nepal and engulfed that Himalayan country in a devastating decade-long insurgency from 1996 that left over 17,000 dead and displaced lakhs while achieving nothing.
But getting back to Bihar, a deeply entrenched caste system with its attendant social ills, a feudal economy controlled by rich and exploitative landlords, traders and businessmen that left a huge majority in excruciating poverty, exclusion of the backward classes from the political structure, and an apathetic, rapacious and deeply corrupt state machinery led to the radical left gaining mass support, especially in the rural areas.
Bihar’s radical left, which had close links with the red terrorists of Bengal, also found support from many in the academia and intelligentsia.
The underprivileged and exploited backward castes and classes, encouraged by the Maoists, started asserting themselves and that led to retaliation by their exploiters — the upper castes and classes.
The exploiters formed their own army of hired mercenaries who, backed by the state, launched gruesome attacks on the backward classes and castes as well as the poor.
The latter, backed by the Maoists, also retaliated and Bihar sunk into a spiral of gruesome violence characterised by massacres and targeted killings. The violence was sought to be explained away as ‘caste wars’.
The violence subsided by the early part of this century, which also marked the advent of Nitish Kumar to power.
The blatant exploitation and economic deprivation of the backward classes and castes is largely a thing of the past, and the Dalits and other socially and economically disadvantaged groups have found adequate political space.
And, to be fair, that has been largely due to the Leftists in Bihar leading the fight for the rights of the underprivileged sections.
The Left Smokescreen
Much as the horrific exploitation of socially and economically underprivileged in Bihar stopped due to their aggressive mobilisation by the Left, it remained a fact that championing the cause of the underprivileged was only a means to grab power by the radical left.
Bihar’s ultra leftists launched the overground Indian People's Front (IPF) in the early 1980s. The IPF metamorphosed into a political outfit and contested parliamentary elections for the first time in 1989.
IPF’s Rameshwar Prasad won the Ara Lok Sabha seat (in Bhojpur district) that year. In the assembly elections the next year, the IPF won seven seats.
The ‘Liberation’ owes its origins to the Naxals and to the IPF. The Maoists (or Naxals) formed these overground political outfits upon realising that a ‘revolution’ in the Maoist sense — an armed uprising that would overthrow the state — is impossible in India.
They also saw how the Naxal movement petered out in neighbouring Bengal and how the state crushed the Maoist insurgency there.
Hence, the Maoists decided on the subterfuge of appearing to accept multi-party democracy and participating in it while attempting to subvert the system from within.
Multi-party democracy is the sheep’s clothing the Maoists wear to gain power. The ultimate objective is to gain absolute power and then establish a communist dictatorship in the name of ‘one-party democracy’, ‘partyless democracy’, ‘peoples democracy’ and other euphemisms that the Left is brilliant in composing.
The ‘overground’ Maoists who are active in the ultra-left political outfits like the CPI(ML)-Liberation are also suspected of having close links to their ‘underground’ friends, the terrorists.
Explaining The Danger
It is covert and deep links between the overground radical left outfits and the Maoist terrorists that poses a danger to the country’s security.
The fact that the Maoists who are engaged in the ‘armed struggle’ to overthrow the Indian state are loyal to external forces who aid and abet them.
The Maoists, and their ‘overground’ support groups and political activists, are being used by these external forces — including China which now poses the biggest threat to India — to attempt to destabilise India and weaken the country from within.
Like the Islamists, the loyalty of the communists lies not to the Indian state and the country’s Constitution, but to their ideology and the countries (like China) which, in the view of the leftists, embody that ideology.
The bagging of a large number of seats by the ‘Liberation’, which stands justifiably accused of having links with the Maoists, has to be seen and understood in this context.
A look at the seats that the ‘Liberation’ has won will also send alarm bells ringing. All the seats are in Patna’s neighbourhood or border UP, Jharkhand and Nepal.
The Maoists’ war strategy is to strengthen their support base in areas around major urban centres where the levers of power that are in the hands of ‘class enemies’ are concentrated.
Once the areas around the major urban centres become Maoist strongholds, the final assault is launched and the urban centres overtaken, following which communist dictatorship is installed.
In the present context, the gameplan of the ultra-leftists (Maoists in clothing of politicians falsely swearing by multi-party democracy) is to bag seats around major urban centres (like Patna), entrench themselves there, facilitate entry of Maoist terrorists there and then facilitate the ‘revolution’.
A politician with hidden ultra-Left sympathies becoming an MLA from a constituency that borders Jharkhand that is affected by the Maoist scourge has obvious security implications.
In the all-India context, the electoral gains of the ‘Liberation’ will provide a morale boost to the Maoist terrorists and ultra-left subversives in academia and among the so-called ‘left intelligentsia’.
Why The Electorate Chose Leftists
The ‘Liberation’ had a strong presence in only two of the 12 assembly seats that it won this time. It had a moderate presence in only three others and has been a weak political force in the rest.
Though the Left parties contested the elections as part of the Mahagathbandhan, it would be too simplistic to attribute that to their handsome gains this time.
It is inconceivable that the core supporters of the Rashtriya Janata Dal or RJD (the Yadavs) or of the Congress (the upper castes) voted for the CPI(ML)-Liberation since it was part of the Mahagathbandhan.
A more plausible explanation would be that many voters had become disillusioned with the non-Left parties.
Anti-incumbency against Nitish Kumar and memories of the jungle raj under the RJD would have led to many voting for the ‘Liberation’ candidates. Angry with both the major parties, the disillusioned voters supported the Left.
A close analysis of the results reveals that the Janata Dal United or JD(U) was the runner-up in half the 16 seats won by the Left. The BJP was the runner-up in four of those seats, Independents in three and the Vikasheel Insaan Party (VIP), a constituent of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), in one.
And the margin of victory in the eight seats where the JD(U) was the runner-up was more than 20,000. This only proves the extent of popular anger in those constituencies against Nitish Kumar and his party.
The victory of the ‘Liberation’ in 12 seats will also boost the morale of the ultra-leftists and their Islamist allies in institutions like the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Milia. That also translates into bad news for the country.
Jaideep Mazumdar is an associate editor at Swarajya.
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