Like the last few years, 2004 too would be remembered worldwide as a year of growing popular resistance to American imperialism. If Iraq remained the hottest theatre of protracted armed confrontation between a freedom-seeking people and the nexus of a US-imposed puppet regime and Anglo-American occupation forces, capital after capital and city after city continued to witness huge mass protests around the world against imperialist globalization and the US-led global war on freedom.
In Spain and Britain, the ruling governments and parties had to pay a major political price for their involvement in the imperialist war. But in the imperialist headquarters of America, Bush managed to win a clear victory for a second term. With Arafat gone, Saddam Hussein in captivity and the noose tightened around Afghanistan, American attempts to dictate terms to the Arab world and other Islamic countries are bound to intensify in the coming days. The weak nations and oppressed peoples of the world have no other option but to strengthen their solidarity and sharpen anti-imperialist resistance to defeat the US war-campaign.
The Indian people have of course won a welcome relief from the arch reactionary and communal tyranny of the BJP in the 14 th Lok Sabha elections. The aftermath of this ‘shock’ defeat is proving to be a really difficult trial for the BJP. The so-called tall and towering leadership of the Hindutva brigade is now being dwarfed everyday on its own home turf. With its organization in serious disarray, and roti having overtaken Ram in the popular mind, the BJP does not yet have a clue as to how to arrest its continuing decline.
In its bid to return to power, the Congress too finally embraced the BJP’s ‘coalition dharma’. The result has been another post-poll alliance, the so-called United Progressive Alliance, with yet another Common Minimum Programme. But beyond this change in name and complexion, the new government presents a perfect picture of continuity, with only limited cosmetic change, on almost every major policy question. POTA has been rehabilitated as UAPA, Employment Guarantee Act has been reduced to Employment Lottery Scheme, and a marauding market has been let loose on the toiling millions to drive more and people to unmitigated misery, starvation and suicides.
Like the TDP supporting the NDA from without, the UPA too has evolved its own support system. Crucial support for the UPA’s survival in power comes from the CPI(M)-led Left Front with a combined strength of sixty. In terms of parliamentary arithmetic, the Left has never enjoyed a more advantageous position. But in real life, the opportunist Left is only managing to plumb new depths of bankruptcy and betrayal in both theory and practice.
While Team Manmohan is systematically stepping up the neo-liberal policy offensive in every conceivable sphere, the CPI(M) is busy fine-tuning its measured barks, and the chief of the CPI’s labour wing is worried that the spat between the two Ambani brothers would adversely affect the country’s image, the flow of FDI and the ‘sentiment’ of the share market. This is perhaps the CPI’s way of doing penance for the ‘sin’ it committed earlier by making some noise against the disinvestment policies of the government. Social democracy can never abandon on its habitual and historical role as capital’s labour lieutenants.
Beyond this familiar social-democratic script of opportunism, the year 2004 has of course been full of glimpses of a people in motion. The popular yearning for real democracy and progress has often found expression in powerful outbursts and also sustained movements. With their valiant struggle against the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act, the people of Manipur have scripted a glorious chapter in the battle for democracy. While the rural poor are increasingly refusing to accept starvation, unemployment and indignity as their destiny, Rajasthan has shown that farmers too are now taking to the path of struggles in a bigger and more resolute way. And by rejecting the Sangh’s disgusting attempt to politicize the arrest of the Kanchi Shankaracharya, the people of India have issued an unequivocal statement for separation of religion and politics.
Let 2005 consolidate and translate all these gains of 2004 into more decisive struggles and inspiring victories for the people of India and the world.