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Communist manifestations

Almost on cue, CPI(M) general secretary announced that now the CPI(M)-led front will be more ?interventionist? at the Centre.

india Updated: May 15, 2006 01:34 IST

So the Left has romped home in style in West Bengal and Kerala. Almost on cue, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat announced that now the CPI(M)-led front will be more “interventionist” at the Centre. While Mr Karat and his comrades in Delhi may have been infused with extra vim and vigour to continue playing their role as the Congress-led UPA government’s ‘conscience’, it would be wise to try and understand the reason for the Left’s victories. Staring at the two victorious state units of the Left, the confusion that follows is understandable. In West Bengal, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee received an overwhelming mandate for pursuing ‘course correction’ and for continuing his reformist agenda. Mr Bhattacharjee has no qualms stating that he is proactively wooing capitalists and sees no disconnect with the larger picture of providing a better life for the masses of West Bengal.

In Kerala, however, the victory could signal a mandate for the ‘old guard’ as represented by chief ministerial aspirant V.S. Achutanandan. The UDF had shot itself in the foot by not cementing the vertical split within the Congress. Just how deep the ruling coalition was in turmoil can be gauged by the fact that the LDF — despite the open factionalism between the pro-reformist P. Vijayan group and that led by Mr Achutanandan — managed to make anti-incumbency ‘work’. It is another matter that Mr Karat, taking advantage of the Vijayan-Achutanandan spat, is trying to mould Kerala’s Left according to his own image.

In West Bengal, the Left Front faced an even more bedraggled bunch — with the Trinamool-BJP combine and the Congress putting up a show of political slapstick. Even if the CPI(M)’s Grand Patriarch Jyoti Basu states that “Buddhadeb will play a greater role at the Centre”, Mr Bhattacharjee has the luxury of not heeding this ‘call to duty’. For those who see the Left as a schizoid entity — vigorously pro-reformist in West Bengal and behaving like a power brake elsewhere — they are both right and wrong. In Delhi, the comrades need to maintain their identity as the ‘people’s representative’. Thus their permanent ‘anti-establishmentism’. In Bengal, the comrades are the establishment, so it can do very well without the posturings. Who the comrades decide to be their Chief Minister in Kerala will be decided on whether they understand this basic premise or not.