By B Prasant
ADDRESSING the Comrade Promode Dasgupta memorial lecture, titled ‘Communist Party and the Politics of United Front,’ in Kolkata in the evening of July 13, CPI (M) general secretary Prakash Karat called for the defence of the Left Front for it was the product of the struggles and movements of the mass of the people.
Looking back at the evolution of the Communist Party’s united front tactics, Karat noted that initially the united front was meant for uniting the workers. The third and the fourth congresses of the Communist International (CI) had stressed the necessity for united fronts to unite the working class. Later in the seventh congress of the CI in 1935, Dimitrov’s thesis on the united front called for an anti-fascist people’s front and a national united front against imperialism in the colonies. It is this understanding which helped the fledgling Communist Party in India to shed a sectarian approach regarding the national movement led by the Indian National Congress.
The Chinese Communist Party’s approach to united front and the experience of setting up of a national united front against Japanese imperialism also helped the Communist party in India to have a correct approach to united front. Mao Zedong had underlined that the united front is based on classes. EMS Namboodiripad had noted that there was an oversimplified understanding before and after the 1952 general elections that the united front meant uniting all the non-Congress parties to defeat the Congress to set-up a non-Congress government. The united front has to be set up on a class basis.
The Party Programme outlines the composition of the People’s Democratic Front. Towards this end, the Communist Party might well have to participate in a stream of different fronts, some of which may only have transient political significance.
Noting the two stages of the process of setting up of a united front, the speaker mentioned that there would first be a consolidation of the masses into a class-based front leading them into the fields of struggles and movements. The recent mobilisation of workers by five major national trade unions in a joint movement on their demands is a step in the right direction. The second stage would comprise the development of this united struggle into a political platform with due importance paid to the democratic role of the working people.
The success of the recent hartals against price rise across the country should be followed up by wider struggles and movements to strengthen the unity among the left and democratic parties. There is at present no third alternative against the Congress and the BJP built up. To build up a successful united front, the Communist Party must play an independent role and gain strength. Only then can the united front be widened.
The West Bengal Left Front was not merely an electoral alliance. It was born in the fields of struggles and movements over a period of time. The LF came into being through the food movement, the teachers’ movement, the movement against hike in tram carriage fare, and above all through a wide and deep kisan struggle.
Calling the Left Front an advanced formation of united front in the country, drawing attention also to the LF’s in operation in Tripura and Kerala, Prakash Karat noted the manner in which, withstanding unyielding assaults, the LF in Bengal was able to forge the worker-peasant unity. In the recent period, there have been strains on this alliance and sections of the peasantry alienated. Steps should be taken to strengthen the alliance. As in the nineteen seventies, the attack is coming from the Left-adventurist forces along with the right. The Communist Party and the LF must draw the correct lessons from history and forge ahead, with the CPI (M) as the biggest constituent of the LF playing a crucially important political role, he concluded.
Biman Basu, Bengal unit secretary of the CPI (M) and Bengal LF chairman illumined the life and times of the late Comrade Promode Dasgupta. Present at the meeting were the top leadership including Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Nirupam Sen, and Benoy Konar. Ashok Ghosh, veteran leader of the Forward Bloc was present along with the top leadership of other constituents of the LF. Prakash Karat also released a booklet brought out by the Kolkata district committee of the CPI (M), titled Promode Dasgupta: A Centennial Tribute.