Prakash Karat, General Secretary, Communist Marxist Party of India (Marxist) in an interview with Eric Hobsbwam, the Marxist historian, held sometime back reportedly did attribute to Indian Communists' failure to penetrate the Hindi belt and spread its influence in North India to the caste-ridden society prevailing there. Even today the Communist parties hold on to this view and provide us with the examples of casteist parties wielding power in UP and certain other States. Thus we are made to believe and the Marxist historians abroad as well.
North India compared to South India on the aspects of education, health, poverty, infrastructure, various factors worth pointing out is poorly placed and as far as the Communist parties are concerned, North India is a caste-ridden society and hence castes like Brahmins, Yadava, Kurmis, Chamars, Muslims hold sway over politics and leaders of these castes by forming political parties contest elections and reach the power citadels relegating the National parties like Indian National Congress, Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India (Marxist), host of left entities which claim to be national and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The fact that Indian National Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party, the former in particular held power in the North Indian States of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa et al for several years, even decades, at a stretch is conveniently forgotten. Though Indian National Congress ruled since gaining Independence the plight of the poor continued to be in a dismal state and it couldn't come up to the expectations of the masses and the Communist parties could not capitalize on the GOP's failure the people began to think on the lines of castes and political parties formed on casteist basis to serve their interests. Where the casteist parties cornered majority of seats either they ruled single-handed or formed alliances with the badly mauled national parties and formed governments. Thus gradually the National party like Indian National Congress Party's strength in Parliament too became weak but with the consolation of emerging as the largest single party – still without majority to rule alone by forming alliance with the casteist parties or with the outside support of national parties like Communist parties formed govts in each elections. Thus an era of coalition politics came into being and as BJP leader Arun Jaitely last week said the most responsible at the helm be it Dr. ManMohan Singh or his own leader former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee turned out to be prisoners of coalition politics, put it aptly constraints of coalition politics.
I started writing about Prakash Karat's lamentations about a caste-ridden society in the Hindi-belt and Communist party's inability to penetrate deeper into the caste-ridden societies there to spread its ideology and thus widen their base even in the first decade of 21st century. A sad commentary on the state of affairs of Communist movement in India and the most unfortunate point is that the Communist leaders still not learning any lessons from the lapses on their part.
Now that with the coming into power of Nitish Kumar, leader of JD(U) into power ofcourse in alliance with BJP in Bihar, India's worst caste-ridden State as also known as poorest of poor States in the Hindi-belt for the second consecutive term, no anti-incumbency factor worth pointing out whatsoever. His main poll plank was development, development, development and nothing else. What he concentrated during the first term was also to strive his best for the development of Bihar and initiate steps in that direction like infrastructure development and bettering law and order situation. Bihar's infamous pot-holed roads got repaired and promptly maintained, criminals imprisoned without fear or favour and without caring who belongs to which caste one might be a Kurmi, one a Chamar, one a Paswan, one a Yadav, one a Brahmin, one a Muslim, no matter Mr.Kumar saw Bihar as a whole entity and did introduce welfare measures to better the lot of downtrodden – women and children, education, health-care, pure drinking water – a whole lot of measures thus endearing the masses to the ruling JD(U).
While remaining a part of NDA (National Democratic Alliance) Nitish Kumar took special care to keep communal politics at bay, even Narendra Modi, BJP leader and its mascot and the incumbent Chief Minister of Gujarat not welcomed, in fact not allowed to campaign in Bihar Mr.Kumar could keep up his image of a true, secular politician.
His alliance, this time surpassed the earlier record of 143 seats in the Assembly, its total strength being 243, increased its strength to a historic 206 seats cornering four-fifths of the Assembly seats. Such a massive mandate was a pleasant surprise to many including the exit poll pundits who had predicted a clear majority to JD(U)-NDA alliance and Mr.Nitish Kumar himself pleasantly surprised. His bête noire Lalu Prasad Yadav who nurtured ‘great expectations' this time, Rahul Gandhi's Indian National Congress and the Communist Party of India all tasted massive defeat at the hustings.
Mr.Karat's reading that caste-ridden society in the Northern sector was the main factor obstructing the growth of Communist parties there has proved wrong for all to see and learn.
Indian society, be it South or North, East or West, what is the need of the hour is development and for that Communist parties should have to start from the scratch. As long as Communist parties continue to blame caste-ridden politics as the main obstacle towards its growth, Indian Communist parties will have to satisfy with its state of stunted growth.