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The CPI(M) is fading out never to return

The West Bengal election results prove that the electoral base of the Left now suffers from a haemorrhage of confidence

analysis Updated: Jun 03, 2016 22:38 IST
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi (L) and Communist leader and former West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee during a rally in Kolkata, April 27, 2016
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi (L) and Communist leader and former West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee during a rally in Kolkata, April 27, 2016(AFP)

The politburo (PB) in its 1,150-word post-poll review, rebuked the West Bengal state committee: “With regard to the electoral tactics pursued by the CPI(M) in various states, the electoral tactics evolved in West Bengal was not in consonance with the Central Committee decision based on the political-tactical line of the Party which states that there shall be no alliance or understanding with the Congress party” but this is completely hypocrisy hiding behind beneath showbiz revolutionism. The central committee approved of the tie-up, suggested by the worthies of Muzaffar Ahmed Bhavan, the seat of the headquarters of the state committee.

Some leaders and senior functionaries of the CPI(M) and its allies of the humiliated Left front have been dishing out odd theories. One is that had the Left fought alone, it would have done better in Bengal. Nothing can be more absurd than this. Veteran journalist Debashis Bhattacharya and political commentator, who has made almost accurate poll forecasts since the 2009 general elections, this time too predicted around 210 seats for the Trinamool Congress (it bagged 211) and in a post-poll scan found that had there been no seat adjustment the Left would have won just five seats against the Congress’ 25.

Read | The Left is ageing like its leaders

The state CPI(M) secretary and PB member, Surjya Kanta Mishra told the media a week before the results that the Left and Congress together would capture more than 200 seats. A confident Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the WBPCC president, looked up to a Left-Congress with 180-plus MLAs. The Left front chairman and the senior-most PB member from the state, Biman Bose, reportedly expressed dissent on the Left-Congress patch-up too told the media that Mamata Banerjee was set to become the ex-chief minister of West Bengal on May 19.

The CPI(M) and Congress leaders who fiercely defended the tie-up assumed that the voting pattern of 2011 would be repeated in 2016, meaning that the Left and Congress together would poll more than 48% to get an absolute majority.

Read | ‘We are together’: Left-Congress alliance to continue in Bengal

The heavyweights of the Left front and Congress ignored the trends in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls when the Left had a lead in only 28 assembly segments (against 62 in the 2011 assembly elections). The Congress too had a lead in 28 assembly segments. The Trinamool, which bagged 184 seats in 2011, had a lead in 214 assembly segments. The BJP, which got 16.8% of votes in the Lok Sabha polls in 24 assembly segments, won three seats in this assembly election while its percentage had dropped to 10.2.

It is evident that the electoral base of the Left now suffers from a haemorrhage of confidence. PB member Hannan Mollah who opposed the Left-Congress tie-up is believed to have said at AKG Bhavan, national headquarters of the party “has been alienated from 90% of masses since 2009”. But the Congress, despite losing its base fast in this state, has a social link. Which is why it won 44 out of 92 seats contested in contrast to the CPI(M) that managed to win 26 seats and lost in 176.

Read | How Mamata Banerjee scripted the decimation of Left in West Bengal

A respected journalist, the late Umapada Majumdar who was among the front-ranking organisers of the CPI student front AISF in the 1940s, hand in hand with legendary Biswanath Mukherjee, used to say, “In India, once a newspaper declined it never came back.” This is true for the Left parties. The Samyukta Socialist Party, CPI(ML) and CPI proved this. The CPI(M) is likely to face the same fate. But why pick up the CPI(M). Official Marxist (or Leninist) parties are fading out never to be back in the reckoning. But the validity of Marxian ideas remains with steadily rising demand for Das Kapital at book shops, particularly in the West.

Sankar Ray is a Kolkata-based writer

The views expressed are personal