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The left continues to view the alignment of political forces as they have obtained since independence rather mechanically, with the Congress as the immutable centre and the leftist and rightist forces on either side of the Congress looking for opportunities to improve their position and in favourable circumstances seeking to even share power as junior partners with the centrist ruling formation. Even if this was true for some years after independence, over the years the Congress has been transformed into an outright rightwing party. With the emergency and after its return to power in 1980 the Congress has become the centre of rightist forces in Indian society THE question of an alternative to the Congress(I) at the centre as the basis of mass political activity of all opposition parties has at last been posed squarely by the left. The CPI(M) has taken the lead in this significant development with CPI and other left parties following. This is in marked contrast not only to the halfhearted and hesitant stand of the communists and their allies on this vital question till recently but also to their role in the political scenario ten years ago when Indira Gandhi had called a general election to endorse her emergency rule. The divided communists were able to play only a limited role at that time and the advantage rested with non-left and even anti-left forces. The two communist parties have evidently learnt something from that experience and its aftermath. They have displayed boldness and initiative now when the question of an alternative to the Congress has again been put on the political agenda. They have firmly occupied a central place in these developments and are unlikely to be pushed aside when the composition of the alternative to the Con- gress(I) is determined. They have also not allowed themselves to be disoriented by the superpower interests of the Soviet Union in our part of the world.

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