The defeat of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Hindutva politics in Karnataka is cause for celebration and hope for India’s secular constitutional democracy. The people of Karnataka rejected divisive and bigoted politics peddled under Narendra Modi‘s leadership. His campaign focused on polarisation, while the Congress party led a positive campaign. The Congress successfully consolidated its votes and organisation, countering Hindutva propaganda with its five ‘guarantees’ policy promises. These guarantees include providing 200 units of free electricity to every household through ‘Gruha Jyothi’, a grant of Rs 2,000 to every woman heading a family through ‘Gruha Lakshmi’, 10 kg of rice per month to every member of BPL families through ‘Anna Bhagya’, sanctioning of Rs 3,000 to unemployed graduates and diploma holders (18-25 age group) for two years through ‘Yuva Nidhi’, and offering free travel for women through the ‘Shakti‘ scheme. These alternative policies were crucial to the Congress party’s victory.
In spite of electoral defeat, Hindutva politics continues to enjoy a significant support base in Karnataka. The BJP has secured 36% of the total votes, which highlights that its reactionary politics, economy and culture still pose a significant threat to the people of Karnataka and the idea of secularism. Hindutva is defeated but not down. The Hindutva forces led by BJP are going to be more reactionary to consolidate their higher caste Hindu vote bank after their electoral defeat. Therefore, it is imperative to move beyond electoral populism to deracinate Hindutva to ensure prosperity, peace and social harmony among all communities in the state. The progressive and democratic governance along with educational and cultural interventions based on material history and science can shape popular culture to dismantle the Hindutva project and its base.
The decline in the vote share of the left parties in the Karnataka assembly election is a disturbing outcome. These parties lost elections in all their strongholds. Some lazy political analysis attributes this to weak trade union movements and identity politics. The left parties have engaged in internal conflicts and formed political alliances without a clear direction, prioritising personal differences over ideological class positions. This decline in the left’s vote share is disastrous for the working people of the state and sends a negative signal to national politics. The political disunity among left parties is a clear example of missed opportunities in working-class politics and the promotion of radical political consciousness. Once again, the left parties have failed to effectively address the challenges posed by the capitalist onslaught led by Hindutva fascism in India.
The communist parties have failed to come to an understanding of a united left front based on issues of people. It sends a wrong signal to the masses that left parties lack a basic understanding of their everyday issues and challenges in life. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] had its tactical alliance with the Janata Dal (Secular) [JD(S)] and the Republican Party of India (Prakash Ambedkar faction) (RPI-K). The JD(S) has provided outside support to the alliance candidates in three seats only when RPI-K contested for ten seats and the CPI(M) contested four seats. The Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) [SUCI(C)] has fought in 14 constituencies in ten districts. The Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation [CPI(ML) Liberation] contested two seats. The Communist Party of India (CPI) and CPI(M) candidates have fought against each other in the KGF seat whereas the CPI(ML) Liberation and CPI(M) have fought against each other in KR Puram (Bengaluru Urban district). The CPI(M) and SUCI(C) have contested against each other in the Gulbarga rural seat. The left parties have fought against each other and lost several seats without forming any form of political understanding. Such a political trend in left politics only empowers reactionary political forces in the long run. The disunity of the left weakens working people, citizenship rights, and their share in democratic politics. The electoral defeats of the left political parties weaken the welfare and democratic state.
Left politics is the moral compass and political anchor of the working people to uphold the economic interests of the masses for a progressive and democratic society. Left unity is central to the working-class political project in India. Political collaboration and cooperation among left-wing political parties, groups and movements based on common objectives and shared values are crucial to achieving collective political progress and deepening of working-class politics. There is no doubt that the left encompasses a diverse range of ideologies and perspectives, the principle of left unity must encourage setting aside differences and focusing on shared values and goals. The significance of left unity in fostering social change, addressing common challenges, and promoting a more equitable and just society depends on the collective struggles of the left parties. Mass movements can overcome ideological fragmentations by acknowledging the inherent strengths of diversity.
The left unity challenges existing power structures and promotes dialogue, understanding, and the exchange of ideas. It encourages activists, organisations, and political parties to unite their efforts, pooling their resources, skills, and networks to create a more powerful force for change. By building bridges rather than walls, left unity amplifies the collective voice of the left, making it more effective in challenging existing power structures and advocating for progressive policies. The left parties and their unity can only mobilise people against all forms of inequality and exploitation by appealing to the wider society. This wider collaboration enables the left to create coalitions that span various social, economic, and cultural divides. The united left can achieve greater influence and electoral success, translating its ideals into tangible policy changes for societal transformation. The left parties need to amplify the voices and interests of the working people by transcending ideological differences and focusing on shared goals, left unity can pave the way for significant social, economic, and environmental transformations.
Ultimately, the future of left-wing politics in India depends on the actions and strategies adopted by the parties involved, the ability to connect with the people’s aspirations and concerns, and the capacity to navigate the changing political landscape effectively. Left unity can provide foundations for progressive social, economic, cultural and environmental transformation by upholding the interests of the working people. Left politics can only shape the future of a formidable mass movement capable of challenging all exploitative structures to create a peaceful and egalitarian society. The forward march of the left unity is not only the starting point but also the only available alternative to defeat the twin dangers of Hindutva fascism and capitalism in India.