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‘Left not fully consistent, coherent about democracy’, says Kavita Krishnan after CPI(M-L) exit

Activist says she wants to pursue 'troubling political questions', which was not possible while being in CPI (M-L). Party denies internal differences.

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New Delhi: The Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation has “relieved” Kavita Krishnan of all her party posts and responsibilities in what is being seen as a fallout of her differences with the leadership on various issues including those related to China.

In June, Krishnan had tweeted about China’s ‘dystopian regime’ and questioned her fellow comrades about what ideology they were fighting for.

Krishnan, who had started as a student activist in the Jawaharlal Nehru University, was a member of the CPI(M-L) politburo and its central committee for over two decades.  

Through a Facebook post on Thursday, Krishnan announced that it was not possible for her to pursue certain ‘troubling political questions’ in her responsibilities as a CPI (M-L) leader. 

On its part, the CPI (M-L) said it has ‘regretfully consented’ her request so that she can freely pursue certain questions she considers most urgent.

CPI (M-L) Central Committee member Prabhat Kumar said the party acted on her request during the August meeting held in Vijayawada. 

“The CC [Central Committee] appreciates the role she has played during her long active association with the party and looks forward to her continued contribution in the ongoing battle for democracy, justice and social transformation in India,” the CPI (M-L) said in an official statement. 

In the Facebook post, Krishnan raised three questions, including the need to recognise the importance of defending liberal democracies with all their flaws against the rising form of authoritarian populism. She also mentioned the need to recognise that it is not enough to discuss the Stalin regime, the USSR, or China as failed socialism but as world’s worst authoritarianism”.

Krishnan told ThePrint that she was troubled by these questions throughout her political life, but these became more urgent as they [ Left leaders] ought to defend “India’s constitution and weak, flawed democracy from the Hindu supremacist fascist regime since 2014”.

“It is so clear that what we seek in India today is to strengthen democracy, make democracy and justice something that’s not just a promise on paper, but real actionable entitlements of citizens including the rights to food, water, housing, education, health etc. But equally, the right to freedom of association, political and artistic expression, and dissent without being labelled an enemy of the state [as well],” she told ThePrint. 

“If we are to struggle for such an India, can we not imagine that the people of China might want such a China? That the Uyghurs and the Tibetans might want truths about their unfreedom to be acknowledged by us? That at the very least we owe it to the people of the former Russian and Soviet colonies to acknowledge their oppression and suffering?”

Krishnan added that she feels that liberal politics in India has not been interested in strengthening democracy. 

“The Modi regime borrows facial recognition tech from China to use against protesters — and, no doubt, will in the future seek to build concentration camps for Muslims just as China has done for Uyghur Muslims on the pretext of ‘war on terror’. I feel that in India, ‘liberal’ politics has not been interested or invested in strengthening democracy. And while the Marxist–Leninist movement has done much to democratise Indian society and politics, the Left movement hasn’t really been fully consistent or coherent in its thinking about democracy,” she told ThePrint. 

Regarding her exit, the activist said that the decision was mutual and amicable, and added that she would be close and friendly with the party. 

Krishnan refused to comment on a query on whether the exit was linked to her comments including those linked to her stance on socialist regimes during the Russia-Ukraine war. 

The activist had tweeted about the Left parties either being ignorant of remaining in wilful denial of USSR’s violent subjugation of Ukrainian peasants.


Also Read: What Left parties’ decision to not join Bihar alliance means for India’s Dalits, women, MBCs

CPI (M-L) response

CPI (M-L) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya said there was no difference in thinking as they were all fighting against the “common enemy”. 

“It is an unfortunate development, but she wanted it this way, and  we accepted it. There were obviously efforts to retain her… The party can never be happy when a comrade goes, that too someone senior like Kavita,” he told ThePrint. 

“This is the party’s central agenda, and we are in the thick of it. Who can have a difference against a common enemy? We are all fighting against this ideology, and are very much doing it every day.”

Bhattacharya denied the speculation of internal differences, saying Krishnan’s exit was a personal choice and the party respected it.

“We also had an anti-Russia stance during the war [with Ukraine], and condemned Russia and immediately demanded a halt to the war. She just felt she wanted to raise some questions independently rather than while being a part of the party,” he added. 

CPI (M-L) senior leader Sanjay Sharma reiterated the same. “It was done with mutual understanding, and there is nothing that the party wants to add beyond what was written in our statement,” he said. 

Krishnan’s political activism began as a member of the Left-affiliated All India Student Association (AISA). She was elected as the Joint Secretary of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union in 1995. Later, Krishnan went on to serve as the secretary of CPI (M-L) women wing All India Progressive Women Association. 

The association with her colleagues has not ended, Krishnan said. “These [fellow comrades] are still the best people in Indian politics and society. And, I will always be inspired by their work.”

Krishan also announced that she does not intend to join any party or form a new one even as she would remain active in  social and political movements.  

(Edited by Tony Rai)

Also Read: The strange politics of planet JNU: How I got introduced to ‘Leftist intolerance’


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