Democracy Will Not Survive if We Lose: CPI(ML) on Why RJD Alliance Was a Must for Bihar Polls

Suhas Munshi
·3-min read

Dipankar Bhattacharya, the general secretary of CPI(ML), explains why he is allying with long-time political adversaries – RJD and Congress, what makes Mahagathbandhan 3.0 different from the previous alliances, and why he feels that the left parties have already achieved partial success in setting a left-of-centre narrative in the poll campaign.

Here are the edited excerpts of the conversation:

For the first time, CPI(ML) has got into an alliance with the RJD, the party against which you have actively campaigned and protested. Has your party made an ideological compromise because of its diminishing electoral performance?

This election comes at an unprecedented phase in Indian politics. With the rise of Narendra Modi, the constitution is facing its biggest threat from the BJP. The main agenda in Bihar is to defeat the NDA. It is important not just from the point of view of assembly elections but in the national context also.

We wanted to ensure that anti-NDA votes in Bihar don’t get divided, making it easy for BJP-JD(U) to win elections. RJD is the biggest anti-NDA party in Bihar. Yes, we opposed them when they were in power. But one thing that you have to give to them is that RJD is among those rare political parties in the country which never joined hands with the BJP. The same goes for Congress also, whom we have opposed quite vociferously. We feel that democracy will not survive if we lose this opportunity.

Several left parties have aligned with ‘Mandal’ parties in the past but they have always been fearful, and for good reasons, that their cadre, voters and leaders will be subsumed by the caste-based parties. Did this ever play on your mind before you allied with the RJD?

Of course, CPI, CPI(M) were quite active in politics of several states but if a party like CPI has declined over the years it’s not just because of Samajwadi Party, for example. There are other factors as well. We in the CPI(ML) are quite clear that we’re not making any ideological compromise, that we are not becoming their appendages.

In fact, if you look at the 25-point charter of our alliance, you will see a distinct imprint of the left. All issues, whether they be farm loan waiver, secure employment, equal pay for equal work, are issues which find a strong working-class resonance. This in itself is a success for us, that the issues that we have been fighting for so many years, have found prominence in the agenda. When we win and these promises are implemented, there will be a sea change in the state of people.

A lot of commentators have said that the 19 seats that RJD allocated to you from its own quota was a surprisingly large number…

Let’s be clear on one thing. We were not allocated anything. We made a demand and got our fair share. We had demanded 30 seats actually but we also made compromises on many seats. It is true that independently we have seen limited electoral success. But we have a mass base and a solid cadre. That’s what we bring to the table. We bring solidity.

Also, a party that was considered to be reduced to just a few districts is now rightfully claiming its space as a pan-Bihar party, with these 19 seats being distributed across 12 districts.

In the last five years this is the third Mahagathbandhan that the people of Bihar have seen. How is MGB 3.0 different?

Now the agenda is democracy. We are the most committed fighting forces against NDA. RJD and CPI(ML) are two important cadre-based parties. This alliance looks compact and credible. The previous grand alliance had people like Nitish Kumar, but as we know they were opportunist and unreliable. But this alliance has no partner which could switch over. This is where this alliance has proved to be a game changer.