Six Left parties on Monday projected themselves as an alternative bloc to the BJP-led NDA and a JD(U)-RJD-Congress combine in the upcoming Bihar assembly polls. As they agreed to fight 228 of the 243 seats, the bloc’s move could further scatter the non-NDA votes.
The Left’s announcement comes close on the heels of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav pulling out of the so-called grand alliance of chief minister Nitish Kumar, RJD chief lalu Prasad and the Congress, while the NCP, albeit a marginal force in Bihar, has also decided to go solo, unhappy over the seat distribution in the anti-BJP coalition.
Though the Left parties have seen their vote base wane over the years, the new bloc may still nibble into the non-NDA vote bank in some areas of Bihar which is expected to witness a close contest between the two major alliances.
“We need janshasan (people’s rule) and reject dushashan (poor governance) and singhasan (politics for power). The Left unity has thrown a viable alternative into the Bihar polls for lifting the state out of the morass of underdevelopment and poverty,” CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said at a convention in Patna, in the presence of CPI veteran AB Bardhan, CPI(ML) Liberation general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya and leaders of the All India Forward Bloc, SUCI and RSP.
Lacing his speech with metaphors and folklore, Yechury said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bid to capture power in Bihar and other north Indian states was like the “Ashwamedha horse”, but it would be stopped by the CPM’s hammer and sickle symbol— which he said represented Bihar’s farmers and labourers — like Ram’s twins Lav and Kush did in the Ramayana.
“Farmers and workers are two brothers who will stop Modi’s Ashwamedha horse,” he said, adding that the politics of announcing financial packages for states on the eve of polls was not the solution as Bihar needed right policies for creating jobsand proper implementation of welfare schemes.
Among the Left parties only the CPI has an MLA in the Bihar assembly. Though the CPM got just 0.71% votes in the 2010 polls and the CPI got 1.69%, the two national parties joined hands with the CPI (ML) Liberation after two decades at a time when their vote share shrunk across India.
“On Monday, we clinched a deal among the six parties over 228 seats. As the campaign progresses, we may fight on a few more seats,” said a senior CPM leader.
CPI(ML) Liberation general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya said though there were a lot of doubts about the Left unification, it had become a reality. “The swabhiman (self-respect) of Biharis is not confined to one or two leaders. Swabhiman of the people would only be upheld when workers and farmers get proper rights and land reforms are implemented in the state,” he said, targeting Bihar’s ruling JD(U).