Thursday, April 20, 2006

Indian 'New Communists"

Elections have commenced in the Indian state of West Bengal with a population of over 80 million ruled by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and its allies, known as the 'Left Front' since 1977 The BJP are talking up their chances. Not aware of any polls but the BBC and Pakistan Daily Times anticipates a Communist victory, and a strong Communist performance in local elections last year supports this. Critics of the Communists have alleged that their past victories have been based on roll-stuffing and have welcomed the involvement of the federal Electoral Commission in the poll. The Communists have received sympathetic academic coverage for their record of land reform, but perhaps as The Economist suggests they have not escaped the dilemmas of the left elsewhere:
Communist rule seems solid for a while, even if it is harder to discern what that means, now that Mr Bhattacharjee has embraced many of the tenets of India's economic reformers. His definition of communism is minimalist: “We say that capitalism cannot be the last chapter of human civilisation”. In the meantime, it seems, his government, like China's, is keen to appeal to the capitalists.
Perhaps the comments of a Communist leader after the local elections point to a 'new communist' approach to seeking electoral support:
"It is a grand victory. The results prove that the urban middle class trusts us. We congratulate the voters."

Polls close on 8 May and are counted on 11 May.


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