Jyoti Basu, the doyen of Indian politics has passed away.
Jyoti Basu represents a generation of leaders from right and left, who got into politics, not for the desire of power, but powered by an idealism to achieve something for their fellow human beings.
Jyoti Basu often believed and wrote that it is man and man alone who creates history. He believed that despite many ups and downs, people will finally emerge victorious and walk the path of freedom in a classless society free from exploitation of any form.
This is the idealism and vision that powered his entry into politics. Not just for him, for many Indian leaders of the past, from left and right, their idealism was the driving force in politics.
Jyoti Basu was also committed to his ideology of communism. He saw communism as the only way for establishing an exploitation free society and empowering every human being to real freedom.
This idealism and ideology are what made Jyoti Basu and most older members of the left and right movements in India.
While some people may say that India became backward due to Communist parties or Socialist aberrations of Nehru, I won’t agree to that. Strange but true, Communists have contributed to a large bourgeoisie in India.
Instead of the poor, Communists have been largely active in the educated , organized and middle-class sections of India. In fact this is one of the reasons why largely agrarian and poor India have not been able to identify itself with the communist movement.
India was either rich or poor. It never had a powerful middle-class. Communists played a huge role in creating this powerful middle-class, post independence. It is because of their fight for working class people, that we see a large number of middle-class, which is primarily made of employees of Government, Public Sector and well-organized Private sector. In fact the current generation entrepreneurs are scions of this middle-class that Communist Trade Unions created.
Yes, the innumerous labor dog-fights would have slowed down the industrial progress of our society. But in my view, it was a much needed fight, without which exploitation would have become uncontrollable in an already feudal Indian society.
Compared to an Asian Tiger country or China or a South American Capitalist dictatorship, we have grown with the democratic pushes and pulls and hence are more sustainable in global competition than other countries that have poor record on Labor rights.
Jyoti Basu was one of the founding pillars of CITU. He played a huge role in creating a specific working class niche for CITU and the Marxists.
The need of human society will always be empowering of people.
No single ideology can serve this cause fully. The truth is, there is no single solution to the issues of human society. Keeping in mind our goal to empower all sections of people and enabling them to rise up to the occasion, while keeping in mind the overall progress of the society, our policies can take different colors for different solutions. But the idealism to achieve should not be compromised.
Hence the right approach is to keep the idealism burning, and burn the ideology.
I believe that India needs a strong Left, strong Right and a strong Center. Hence it is important for India to have a strong Left presence all over the country, as it must have a strong presence of the Right.
The Left Movement and in particular the two communist parties of India, should make this as a turning point in their history. The old generation leadership that provided the idealistic base is disappearing. Very soon the parties may be filled up with younger generation which will have only a battered ideology and no idealism like those of the older generation.
When ideology is not backed up by idealism, it will soon wither down and there is a danger of Left Movement totally crumbling or just loosing whatever voice it has. It is not good for the country.
The only way in which Jyoti Basu’s idealism can be furthered is by uniting all the forces of the left under one umbrella, across the nation and working to bring a real strong left movement in India.
It is highly possible, if Left builds a Left front, not as a pre-poll alliance, but a permanent front across the nation and really works at ground level, re-inventing the idealism, that it becomes a strong alternative to the power at center. For that it needs to connect with people directly, giving up some of its ideological moorings, without giving up on its idealism. It is this idealism of the Left, that can bring people into its fold.
I make this call here, not as a Left, Right or Centrist supporter, but as a Common Man, who wants to have real choices in Indian political parties, similar to the call I made to the BJP to stop in-fighting.
And to Comrade Basu, here is a Lal Salaam, for your service and spirit of idealism that kept you going all these years!