“SFI-JNU” is a month-old offshoot of a divisive, petty-bourgeois tendency within the former unit of SFI in our campus. Its birth was necessitated after a section of the erstwhile leadership of SFI in the campus pushed for a wrong and divisive political line enthused by the resignation of Prasenjit Bose, who was their in-charge from the CPI(M), over the CPI(M)'s support to Pranab Mukherjee in the Indian Presidential elections. In the course of events that unfolded subsequently, a resolution criticising the CPI(M)'s decision was adopted at a thinly attended GBM on 5 July amidst opposition from a sizable section of the members present against the adoption of such a course of action and cautioning against playing into the hands of the bourgeois right wing media. In the GBM the erstwhile leadership even attributed the electoral defeat of the SFI since 2007 in the campus to the SFI’s organic link with the larger left and democratic movement in the country.
The so-called ultra/fashionable left AISA immediately termed it as “SFI-JNU's distancing from the right wing positions of the CPI(M)” (AISA pamphlet dated 10.07.2012) and expectedly appealed to “SFI-JNU” to join the struggles led by the AISA. “SFI-JNU’s” claim that “the developments since 2007 have made the SFI vulnerable to attacks of “double speak” by the ultra Left” (“SFI-JNU” pamphlet dated 7.07.2012) was welcomed by the AISA in the campus, as “SFI-JNU’s” position was essentially one that tails the AISA line of attacking the organised Left – a position gleefully promoted by the ruling classes. As a matter of fact, there was open criticism in the form of pamphlets from members within SFI as well against the erstwhile leadership’s erroneous line (pamphlets titled “Where the Leaders of “SFI-JNU” Erred – Part I & II).
The intervention of the SFI higher leadership put an end to the whole disorder, after which a handful among the erstwhile leadership floated the organisation named “SFI-JNU”. As its name signifies and as overtly explained in their membership leaflet, it has a twin short-term agenda of free riding and building on the political legacy of the SFI in the campus and to remain subservient to the ruling class agenda of attacking the organised Left as their future course in the campus. This double-edged tactics was clearly visible even in their membership campaign (where they deviously gave out memberships to the non-existent “Students’ Federation of India – Jawaharlal Nehru University unit” so as to take along a few who were misinformed about the organisational affiliation of the outfit) as well as in their mobilisations since 10 July, which had an evidently anti-organised Left (CPI(M) & CPI) content. Questions from many students regarding the political identity of “”SFI-JNU” were addressed with its leaders suggesting a mythical course of action towards organisational affiliation at a date suited to their electoralist opportunism. The days to come would see the operation of this tactic of confusing genuine SFI sympathisers combined with efforts to corner a share in the pie of the anti-SFI, anti-organised Left polarisation (which includes the right-wing) of which the AISA has been a virtual beneficiary all through. The “SFI-JNU” resolution of 4 August also clearly establishes the idea of openly floating a new outfit by November.
Going by the ideological positions of the leaders of “SFI-JNU” regarding 21st Century Socialism and their anathema towards the Leninist organisational principles which have been the bedrock of all socialist experiments till date, the political character of this divisive tendency comes out loud and clear. The basic raisons d’etre behind the principle of democratic centralism – that no revolution is allowed to advance democratically and peacefully, that every revolution has to face attacks by imperialism and the class enemies, that the party has to face the power of the centralised bourgeois state apparatus – have been conveniently forgotten. It needs to be remembered that those parties which abandoned democratic centralism either ceased to be Communist parties or disintegrated, the classic example being the Italian Communist Party, the biggest Communist party outside the socialist countries till the early eighties. Much before the collapse of the Soviet Union, it began the journey to liquidation by first giving up democratic centralism and culminating in giving up Marxism. In the Soviet Union itself, in the last days of the Communist Party of Soviet Union under the Gorbachevian leadership, factions were permitted and this contributed to hastening the disintegration of the Soviet party. While it is important to learn proper lessons from the democratic transformation going on in Latin America, posing it against the erstwhile socialist experiments reeks of the petty-bourgeois mentality that Lenin had rightly warned against. Given SFI-JNU’s predilection with these trends and their single point agenda of attacking the organized left in the country to gain brownie points inside the campus, it can be stated without any shadow of doubt that this SFI-JNU is the exact opposite of the non-sectarian, broad-based and progressive student movement that they proclaim themselves to be.
Kopal, Arnab Roy, Siddik Rabiyath, Viswanathan V (For the SFI Unit Organising Committee, JNU)