The politburo in its 1,150-word post-poll review, rebuked the West Bengal state committee: “With regard to the electoral tactics pursued by the CPI(M) in various states, the electoral tactics evolved in West Bengal was not in consonance with the Central Committee decision based on the political-tactical line of the Party which states that there shall be no alliance or understanding with the Congress party”. But this is hypocrisy hiding behind showbiz revolutionism. The central committee approved of the tie-up, suggested by the worthies of Muzaffar Ahmed Bhavan, the seat of the headquarters of the state committee.
Some leaders and senior functionaries of the CPI(M) and its allies of the Left front have been dishing out odd theories. One is that had the Left fought alone, it would have done better in Bengal. Nothing can be more absurd than this.
The state CPI(M) secretary and politburo member, Surjya Kanta Mishra told the media a week before the results that the Left and Congress together would capture more than 200 seats. A confident Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the WBPCC president, looked up to a Left-Congress with 180-plus MLAs.
The CPI(M) and Congress leaders who fiercely defended the tie-up assumed that the voting pattern of 2011 would be repeated in 2016, meaning that the Left and Congress together would poll more than 48% to get an absolute majority.
The heavyweights of the Left front and Congress ignored the trends in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls when the Left had a lead in only 28 assembly segments (against 62 in the 2011 assembly elections). The Congress too had a lead in 28 assembly segments. The Trinamool, which bagged 184 seats in 2011, had a lead in 214 assembly segments. The BJP, which got 16.8% of votes in the Lok Sabha polls in 24 assembly segments, won three seats in this assembly election while its percentage had dropped to 10.2.
It is evident that the electoral base of the Left now suffers from a haemorrhage of confidence. Politburo member Hannan Mollah who opposed the Left-Congress tie-up is believed to have said at AKG Bhavan, national headquarters of the party, “that the Left has been alienated from 90% of masses since 2009”. But the Congress, despite losing its base fast in this state, has a social link. Which is why it won 44 out of 92 seats contested in contrast to the CPI(M) that managed to win 26 seats and lost in 176.
A respected journalist, the late Umapada Majumdar who was among the front-ranking organisers of the CPI student front AISF in the 1940s, hand in hand with the legendary Biswanath Mukherjee, used to say, “In India, once a newspaper declined it never came back.” This is true for the Left parties. The Sam yuk ta Socialist Party, CPI(ML) and CPI proved this.
The CPI(M) is likely to face the same fate. But why pick up the CPI(M). Official Marxist (or Leninist) parties are fading out never to be back in the reckoning. But the validity of Marxian ideas remains with a steadily rising demand for Das Kapital at bookshops, particularly in the West.
Sankar Ray is a Kolkata-based writer. The views expressed are personal.