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The fact that no one is queuing up at the Left’s door for any poll tie-up should lead to some introspection.
From calling the shots at the Centre in UPA 1 to marginalisation in its bastions of West Bengal and Kerala, the Left’s downslide has been as meteoric as the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) rise. And it has no one to blame but itself.
The space that parties like the AAP have taken over once belonged to the Left, it was the voice of the people. Today, with the exception of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the CPI and CPI(M) are not even sure who they can tie up with in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.
For quite a while the CPI(M)’s general secretary Prakash Karat, who has been singlehandedly responsible for a series of disastrous errors that have pushed the Left into a corner, has been toying with the idea of floating a Third Front. But as regional parties begin forming alliances, the Left seems left out in the cold.
In Bihar where the CPI was hoping for a tie-up with the JD(U), the problem seems to be that the latter is not all that interested. The Left will continue to face marginalisation unless it reinvents itself. The AAP was able to successfully connect with the people much more than the original people’s parties."
The Left is today hampered by a crisis of leadership. The CPI(M) is controlled by leaders who have never won elections and seem a little out of touch with the realities of today’s India. Young people are not interested in the collected works of Marx and Engels and theories of the agrarian revolution, they want to know what the parties can bring to the table for them.
The Left’s economic policies are outmoded and even its state governments like those in West Bengal and Kerala when they were in power have moved away from them. Mr Karat has also been at loggerheads with the Left’s popular leaders like Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in West Bengal and VS Achuthanandan in Kerala.
Both leaders did nothing to add to the Left’s kitty when the next assembly elections came around.
The Left cadres, once a disciplined and effective machine, are rudderless today at least in West Bengal where the Trinamool Congress has challenged them on their turf right down to the village level.
The Left badly needs new ideas and new leaders. It should be a natural ally of parties which claim to be for the aam aadmi be it the RJD, the JD(U) or the AAP. But the fact that no one is queuing up at the Left’s door should occasion some introspection and certainly some course correction. And for this the leaders need to talk to its rank and file and not talk at them as they have been doing for far too long.