The desperation of the Left to stay relevant in Indian politics has again come to light with CPI leader AB Bardhan saying his party will not mind lending support to Trinamool Congress president Mamata Banerjee to keep the BJP’s PM candidate, Narendra Modi, out of the power zone.
And this comes in sharp contrast to CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat accusing both the Trinamool Congress and the BJP of playing communal politics, and thereby implying they are hand-in-glove.
Both the positions suggest the Left’s alienation, which is growing by the day. What Mr Karat is saying is in consonance with the politics of faceoff that the Left and the Trinamool have played over the past 15 years, rivals as they are at least in West Bengal.
However, he would be at pains to explain Mr Bardhan’s soft attitude towards Ms Banerjee, who is in a good position to turn this contradiction to good account.
The CPI(M) took an initiative to forge a Third Front on the premise that such a coalition was necessary to uphold the cause of secularism.
As the idea did not get off the ground, the CPI(M) seems to have gone off tangent again. If Mr Karat is calling the Trinamool Congress a communal outfit, did he pause to consider how many of his secular allies — such as Nitish Kumar, J Jayalalithaa and HD Deve Gowda, for instance — will agree with that? He would do well to remember what the late Harkishan Singh Surjeet, his predecessor, said about Ms Jayalalithaa after she broke away from the NDA: “Her secular credentials cannot be doubted.” By taking this stand, Mr Karat is doing no service to secularism. Rather, these things only serve to fan communal feelings and divides.
On the other hand, Mr Bardhan’s stand is bound to create more fissures within the Left.
The CPI and the CPI(M) have had a number of differences between them with regard to China, the Congress, the private sector, etc.
Success in elections is often an adhesive and can paper over all differences of opinion, something that the Left had experienced in 2004.
With a rout worse than the one in 2009 staring it in the face, such contradictory stands can make the Left irrelevant, with AAP having snatched away much of its agenda.