Been a while since I’ve blogged, but I return with some positive news from India, where a new alliance has been formed to promote progressive politics against the Congress and the BJP in the forthcoming elections. The Third Front is made up of the Communist Party of India, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Secular Party, and other socialist and progressive groups. The aim of the new coalition is to offer an alternative to the economic policies being pursued by the current government, and to promote the interests of the tens of millions of poor and oppressed farmers, workers, Dalits, women, minorities and young people. It also opposes what it terms “the growth of communal and fascist forces” within Indian society.
Neither the BJP nor the Congress is in a position to offer what the overwhelming majority of Indians need, nor do they wish to do so. The need to offer an alternative is made all the greater by the current crisis of capitalism. The Third Front is both a response to this crisis, and a revival of previous attempts to offer a progressive alternative. The vision of those involved must be applauded.
The Third Front’s warning about the dangers of fascism is not hyperbole. There is a great deal of religious and political violence in Indian society. Thousands have been killed in recent years in religious violence. The BJP is a religious nationalist party of the worst kind, while the Congress represents primarily the interests of the middle classes, as demonstrated by its deepening links with the US that caused the Communist Parties to withdraw their support from its government. In Bengal, in an average month, 6 CPI(M) activists or members are killed by their political opponents, including the Congress. In such a society, the danger of tipping into communal violence, or outright tyranny cannot be dismissed. We must respect and support the comrades who stand up for secular, democratic and progressive politics in very difficult conditions.
We should also learn from them – both north and south, there is an urgent need to offer a left alternative to the right-wing agenda that dominates the government and the media. In Northern Ireland, sectarianism remains a pervasive influence, poisoning every aspect of our lives. The recent murders and the continuing sectarian point scoring over issues like the Eleven Plus and the Irish Language Act remind us that the Good Friday Agreement, for all its benefits, has not even begun to properly address the need to create a new society through integrated housing and education, never mind addressing the question of social justice. Those who us committed to progressive politics need to follow the example of our comrades in India, and work more closely together.