Bihar Assembly Election 2020: State-based pacts key in Left’s revival
The Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation or ‘Ma-Le’ for millions of Bihar voters, and two other Left parties have a reason to smile. Their alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress has seen them register their best performance in the state ever.
The Dipankar Bhattacharya-led CPIML won 12 seats—its highest ever tally in Bihar polls—propelling the RJD-led Grand Alliance’s total and giving the NDA a scare. The CPIM and CPI won three seats each.
The results come as a boon for the marginalized Left parties. It strengthens the tactical line of leaders such as CPIM general secretary Sitaram Yechury who have advocated state-specific seat adjustments. It also gives the Left more leverage vis-à-vis the Congress in the next year’s assembly polls in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry.
In the 2015 Bihar election, the Left parties snapped ties with the RJD and Congress and chased an elusive dream of forming an all-Left alliance in Bihar to revive fortunes. The experiment failed ; the CPIML won three seats but the CPIM and CPI failed to open their account.
Speaking to HT, Bhattacharya admitted that the poll pact with the RJD helped both sides. “Definitely we benefitted from the RJD vote transfer and the RJD too, gained as we transferred more votes. We wanted to fight in Raghunathpur seat but RJD wanted it . We accepted their request and gave them Raghunathpur. But the main factor (for our performance) was the upsurge of the youth.”
“In our traditional belt of influence in Bhojpur region, RJD is winning in three out of seven seats. Clearly, it would not have happened without our support. But had we contested independently this level of consolidation would not have happened. What really worked (was coming) together,” added Bhattacharya.
The results will encourage the Left to stick to the new normal: political understanding with non-BJP parties without getting into any formal alliance that gives the communists ideological hiccups.
Yechury emphasized that the Left’s importance in the Mahagathbandhan was not just in terms of seats but also on ideological grounds. “We have said all along that social justice can’t come without economic justice. In this election, Tejashwi (RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav) brought in this huge shift in his political stand and he too spoke about economic justice and picked issues such as jobs and economy.” He added that the Left could have done better if it had got more seats to contest.
“This is what we are saying,” added CPI general secretary D Raja. “To tackle the BJP-RSS, which is posing threat to society, all democratic parties must come together not just in the centre but also at the states.”
To be sure, many such pacts remained ineffective. The SP-Congress ties in the UP assembly polls, and the CPIM-Congress’ understanding in 2016 West Bengal polls also bombed.