SFI, JNU Unit Opposes CPI(M) Support to Pranab Mukherjee’s candidature

SFI-JNU Pamphlet Dated July, 7, 2012, After the SFI GBM held on July 5, 2012 on CPI(M)’s Support to Pranab Mukherjee in Presidential Elections

SFI GBM Resolution

 The SFI JNU Unit held a General Body Meeting on 5.07.2012 to discuss the CPI (M)’s decision to support Pranab Mukherjee in the Presidential Elections. On behalf of the Executive Committee, SFI-JNU Unit, a resolution was placed in the GBM for discussion. The GBM passed the resolution by a margin of 37 votes against 2 (with 7 abstentions). Nobody, who participated in the vibrant and lively discussion, spoke in favour of the support extended to Pranab Mukherjee. The resolution expresses concern at the disruption of Left unity over the presidential elections and has termed the CPI (M)’s decision to support UPA’s nominee Pranab Mukherjee unconvincing. It also evokes the SFI’s programme, which gives the organization a right to take an independent position guided by its objectives of promoting a discussion on ways to achieve scientific socialism and zealously guarding its progressive character.

 Why GBM Now?

 A wide debate has unfolded after the CPI (M)’s decision to support Pranab Mukherjee in the presidential elections. Despite the ongoing summer vacations, JNU has not been untouched by this debate. In the past few weeks the SFI came under severe attack from ultra-Left organizations like the AISA over this issue. Students were asking about SFI’s position and we could not afford to remain silent. Given the urgency of the situation and considering the interests of the organization in JNU, the SFI EC decided to initiate a debate involving all available SFI members and arrive at a common position. To do so, the highest democratic platform of the GBM has been utilized. In the given situation, this exercise could not have been delayed any further.

JNU-SFI’s Legacy

The SFI has been a major political force in JNU ever since the inception of the JNU student movement. The SFI takes great pride in its contribution to the evolution of the JNUSU and the JNU student movement, which have played a pioneering role in the progressive-democratic student movement in our country. The SFI’s commitment to the JNU student movement was proved beyond doubt by the manner in which it resolutely fought the four year long struggle for restoration of the JNUSU Elections despite all attempts of disrupting unity and diversion. Historically political polarizations in JNU have taken place on a bipolar basis, with SFI being one consistent pole. The SFI has retained the leadership of the JNUSU for a major part of the four decade old JNUSU.

 Post-2007 Situation

 There has been a structural break in this trend since 2007. For the first time in 2007 JNUSU Elections, the SFI failed to win any Office-Bearer position. The elections were held in the aftermath of the political developments in West Bengal, surrounding Singur and Nandigram. In the JNUSU elections held in March 2012, the SFI failed to reverse the adverse electoral trend witnessed in 2007. Organizational reviews in this period have identified both political and organizational reasons for the poor performance. However the primacy of political factors, primarily those related to Singur-Nandigram and the general state of the Left movement in the country has been noted in inner-organizational discussions. In a left leaning political campus like JNU, these developments have eroded the SFI’s support base among the progressive and democratic minded students. The developments since 2007 have made the SFI vulnerable to attacks of “double-speak” by the ultra Left, which has gained at SFI’s cost. Sections of the Left leadership though, have stressed on organizational reasons to explain the SFI’s performance in this period. Focusing exclusively on organizational issues without addressing underlying political questions is not a scientific approach.

 Relevance of Political Issues

 Questions have been raised whether Singur-Nandigram, the state of the Left movement in India or the current debate over CPI (M)’s support for Pranab Mukherjee are issues which at all concern student politics and hence the SFI in JNU. Such an approach which seeks to depoliticize the student movement has never found favour within the students of JNU, who consider all major international and national issues of the day relevant for the student movement. That is precisely why SFI-JNU, since its inception, has taken positions on all major national issues like the Emergency, Mandal Commission, Babri Masjid Demolition, anti-Muslim pogroms in Gujarat, Indo-US nuclear deal etc. and international issues like Vietnam War, Tiananmen Square protests, 9/11 and war on terror, Palestine, Arab Uprisings, Occupy Wall Street etc. It is not only the SFI but all other student organizations functioning in JNU, representing diverse ideological-political streams, which take positions on major international and national issues.  SFI’s Constitutional provision of a primary unit’s purview of decision-making has never come in the way of SFI-JNU’s adopting positions on international and national issues, given the all-India character of JNU and its level of political debate.

 Critique of Support to Pranab Mukherjee

 In this backdrop SFI-JNU is of the opinion that the disruption of Left unity following CPI (M)’s support for Pranab Mukherjee is a matter of serious concern, especially since the AISF is a long term alliance partner of the SFI in JNU. Moreover, the explanations offered in defence of the decision to support Pranab Mukherjee are far from convincing. First, in a context where the BJP’s candidate has no chance of getting elected, support to a candidate like Pranab Mukherjee – who has been at the helm of UPA’s anti-people neoliberal policies – cannot be justified on the grounds of keeping communal forces at bay. Secondly, the “tactical” attempts to maneuver a wedge between TMC and the Congress in the interest of the Left are not in keeping with the ground realities in West Bengal, where the Left has faced reverses because of its basic class allies deserting it.

 Adopting Forthright Positions

 The interests of the SFI-JNU are intrinsically linked to these political issues. Neither can SFI-JNU defend unconvincing political decisions in public like support for Pranab Mukherjee in Presidential elections nor can it remain silent on acts like the recent murder of RMP leader TP Chandrasekharan in Kerala. Several CPI (M) functionaries have been arrested in the case so far, while investigations continue. The outrageous statement made by a CPI (M) leader M.M.Mani has only made matters worse. This has become a major political issue in Kerala as well as JNU. The SFI-JNU has taken a principled position on the issue and demanded action against the guilty irrespective of political affiliations. The all-India leadership of the SFI has not adopted any stand on these issues till date.

 Political Stand not Linked to Individuals

 Attempts are being made in sections of the media to portray the SFI-JNU’s decision as an act against or in favour of certain individuals. Such interpretations reflect a shallow understanding of the SFI’s legacy of seriously engaging with political-ideological debates, which have bearings on the project of radical transformation of Indian society. JNU is one of the few educational institutions in our country where campus politics continues to be based on ideological-political questions and not divisive-sectarian trends or vested interests.

 Emerging Global Context

 In a backdrop where a new wave of mass struggles is building up across the world against the neo-liberal order – from Occupy Wall Street to the streets of Athens – there is a need to engage in serious debates around alternatives to neoliberal capitalism and socialism in the 21st century. History teaches us that one of the major shortcomings of the socialist experiments of the 20th century was to address the questions of democracy, civil liberties, freedom of expression and tolerance towards political dissent. SFI-JNU believes that all those fighting for the socialist cause today should draw correct lessons from those failures and imbibe democratic methods of functioning in letter and spirit. Highhanded and authoritarian approaches, devoid of any politics, are deeply inimical to the cause of the Left.

 The Way Ahead

 Student politics is about joining the battle of ideas. SFI-JNU would undertake this task with utmost sincerity in the days to come, when the university reopens in the next few weeks. SFI-JNU will initiate more participative and wider discussions in keeping with the long cherished slogan: “When Politics decides your future, decide what your Politics should be”. SFI-JNU will relentlessly take up student issues and fight to advance the rights of the students of JNU. SFI-JNU will stand in firm solidarity with the Left and democratic movement in India and all genuine peoples’ movements, while combating Left-adventurist and Right-opportunistic trends.

Released by SFI, JNU Unit

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