The beach at Visakhapatnam, the largest city in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, was a sea of red this Sunday. Over a hundred thousand communist activists and sympathizers of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), CPI-M, gathered to conclude its 21st Party Congress. The CPI-M is the largest and most significant Left party in India, although it has been in close alliance with other Left parties with a new emphasis on the creation of a platform of Left Unity.
The CPI-M gathered at a difficult time for the Indian people. Half of India’s 1.2 billion people live in conditions of deprivation. Government policy over the past three decades – inspired by the neoliberal policy slate – has produced a hostile environment for survival. A quarter of a million farmers and peasants have committed suicide across the country, a direct consequence of capitalist agriculture and an adverse global trade order. The current government of the Hindu Right is not only the complete inheritor of such harsh economic policies, but it has the added disadvantage of being culturally suffocating. Attacks on freedom of expression and speech as well as a spectrum of threats against cultural and religious difference have begun to mark the social landscape.
No political force apart from the Left has an alternative to this policy direction. The problem for the Left is that despite its acidic critique and its beneficial policy ideas, it does not have the power to implement these. It will require the growth of the Left across the country to be able to put neo-liberalism in its place and inaugurate an alternative policy trajectory for India.