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New Left Review I/159, September-October 1986


Achin Vanaik

The Indian Left

The record of the major formations of the Indian Left is contradictory in the extreme. Alone in the capitalist world, the two Communist parties (cpi and cpm) have had lengthy experience of administering semi-autonomous regions, while their respective trade union federations have played a major role in the labour movement throughout the post-Independence era. Yet the Communist Left has never shown serious signs of eroding the political supremacy of the bourgeoisie over the Indian masses: indeed, it has been as if crippled by its early failure to recognize the obvious, that Independence ushered in a form, however backward, of nationally based capitalism, and that the mode of class rule, however weak in comparison with the West, has remained essentially bourgeois-democratic since 1947. These questions of class analysis have already been discussed in my previous article, [1] See ‘The Rajiv Congress in Search of Stability’, NLR 154, November–December 1985. but the theoretical inadequacies of the Left can be traced back still further to the National Movement period, when the Communists proved incapable of correctly evaluating the nature of the Congress party, its strategy for national liberation, and its relationship to the indigenous bourgeoisie and the colonial state. Even today, differentiation within Indian Communism is often intimately related to perceptions of the role and class character of the Congress.

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