ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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‘New Developmentalism’ and Left Mobilisation in Kerala

Experimenting an Alternative to Neo-liberal Development

The “new developmentalism” of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) in Kerala is an attempt to construct an alternative development model to the neo-liberal development. It is seen as a transition from the 1990s’ left confrontation with neo-liberal reforms, and as a convincible alternative in the globally acclaimed Kerala model of development. Even though the party reiterates its commitment to its basic class in pushing for new developmentalism, the real challenge is the quantum and levels of engagement with the Kerala model and neo-liberal development. Arriving at social and political consensus and bringing a social balance on the concerns of the marginalised and the aspirations of the emerging new middle class depend on the policies and strategies of the CPI(M).

The earlier version of this paper was presented at the International Conference on the “Development, Challenges and Trends of Left-wing Parties in the World” organised by Shandong University, China, on 9 November 2022.

The Indian left, particularly the parliamentary communist parties like the Communist Party of India (Marxist), henceforth CPI(M), confronted two trajectories that shook the sociopolitical and economic life of the people since the 1990s. The identity-based caste and communal politics and the initiation of the market reforms by the minority Congress government led by P V Narasimha Rao were these two trajectories. It refreshed the debate on their pros and cons not only among the general public, but also various political parties. The left took a strong stand on these two issues, which are indirectly related to each other, and fiercely critiqued the impact of economic liberalisation on various sectors of the economy and the labouring classes. According to the left parties, economic liberalisation, the current ideology of capitalism based on deregulation, altered the time-tested and state-directed development strategies of the country. They realised that they had to wage twin struggles against the social fragmentation caused by identity politics and the neo-liberal autarky of market reforms. Further, the left accused the Congress-led government of deviating from the countrys trusted path towards development with justice.

The initiation of neo-liberal policies brought a new class orientation in the political economy of India, which was unacceptable to the left. In fact, the CPI(M) adopted the counter-hegemonic politics (Williams 2008). It is argued that

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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