The ignominious defeat of the CPI(M) candidates in the Chowringhee and Basirhat Dakshin bypolls in West Bengal was expected. This collapse of CPI(M) agonises me when a Right-wing Hindu government is out to demolish India’s democratic polity, a heritage of our freedom struggle.
There is no realistic alternative to the BJP because the CPI, RSP and variants of the CPI(M-L) have a limited hold on the masses. The rank and file of the CPI(M), which has one million members on the party roll, is also angry with the leaders for the present political plight of the party.
The CPI(M)’s parliamentary success began after the party joined Jayaprakash Narayan’s movement in 1975 for restoring parliamentary democracy, particularly after the Left Front won the assembly elections in 1977 with a thumping majority. Thereafter, the victory for seven consecutive terms made the CPI(M) leaders conceited. But this smugness was vacuous as the percentage of votes declined, in contrast to increasing numbers of MPs in the Lok Sabha. In 2004, the party bagged 43 seats in the Lok Sabha and got 5.66% of total votes (the CPI got 10 seats with 14.1% share). In 1980, it had 37 MPs but had 6.24% share. In 1967, the CPI(M) and CPI won 23 and 19 seats, sharing 5.11 and 4.28 share of the votes respectively. In other words, the two communist parties won 42 seats but got only 9.39% of votes. But in 1962, the undivided CPI got 9.94% of votes, although it bagged 29 seats. In 2011, the two parties got 10 and one seat, respectively.
History shows that the split of the CPI in 1964 didn’t benefit the CPI(M) and the CPI although the erstwhile CPI(M) general secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet was fond of arguing that the division helped his party to grow. The bosses at AKG Bhavan now realise that the split was a mistake. But the realisation is too late to make amends.