By Nirendra Dev
Left unity in Bengal seems to have taken a beating due to the “working relation” between the CPI-M and Congress in the eastern state.
While Communist Party of India-Marxist General Secretary Sitaram Yechury says that the tacit understanding between the party and the Congress can continue, Forward Bloc — a constituent in the Left Front — has raised a red flag against the “double standard” of the Marxist leaders.
“The issue of electoral debacle in West Bengal figured prominently at the three-day meeting of Forward Bloc central committee in Delhi this week. The Assembly election result of Bengal is a severe jolt to the Left Front. The entire Front leadership has failed,” a senior Forward Bloc leader told IANS. “It is time the CPI-M admits its blunder” of aligning with the Congress.
That admission would be the “first step on part of the CPI-M to take the corrective measure,” he said. Or else, the Left unity will be in a shambles and help the Trimool Congress and the Bharatiya Jata Party, he added.
CPI-M General Secretary Yechury has alleged “murder of democracy” in Bengal and said a “broadest possible coalition” will be worked out to fight the Trimool regime in the state. And perhaps that’s how he wants to justify the partnership with the Grand Old Party of India.
However, the Left Front partners are not buying that argument.
In its statement the Forward Bloc said: “CPI-M leaders confused the general public with their double standard. Some of the leaders were ready to share the election platform with the Congress and some of them were reluctant.”
Observers point out that the reference was about former West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee who shared the dais with Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi at an election rally in Kolkata’s Park Circus.
“It was an erroneous move,” a senior Forward Bloc leader said, referring to the top-notch bonhomie.
However, some senior Forward Bloc leaders said it would be improper to blame the ‘Bengal brigade’ of CPI-M completely. The leading Communist party’s central leadership under Yechury had a major role in forging the alliance with the Congress. But this alliance was at the cost of Left unity, said those opposed to the Congress-Left adjustments.
“CPI-M virtually abandoned the Left unity, confused the voters and depended upon the Congress for electoral gains,” another senior Forward Bloc leader told IANS.
Forward Bloc leaders also said tie-up with the Congress in Bengal did not help the Left Front at all. Rather, it was the Congress that benefited from the alliance, they felt. “The Left support base boosted Congress’s share of votes,” these leaders said.
In the 2016 Assembly election in West Bengal, vote share of the CPI-M nosedived to 19.7 per cent, a significant drop for a party that helmed the state between 1977 and 2011.
The Forward Bloc has now decided that a delegation of party leaders will meet central leaders of the CPI-M to share their concerns regarding the Left unity and the future roadmap. They are also in touch with other Left constituents like the Revolutiory Socialist Party (RSP).
“The leading party of the Left Front did not consult other parties before making the adjustments (with the Congress). The CPI-M filised adjustments and other parties were forced to accept it,” a Forward Bloc leader close to party’s secretary general Debabrata Biswas said.
The animosity of the Communist leaders towards the Congress is nothing new even though the Left parties have often done business with the Congress at the tiol level. Left politics in states like Kerala, Tripura and West Bengal is based on anti-Congress plank and ideology.
Observers point out that till now the CPI-M was targeted by the Left Front constituents in private or at best the criticisms were confined among Bengal leaders. This was for the first time in many years that the Forward Bloc had gone on record and put the blame on the CPI-M central leadership’s doors.
Alysts say that in some pockets of Bengal the Left votes went to NOTA. This indicated frustration of the Left cadres. While the Congress votes went to the Trimool, the Left support base veered towards the Congress, they added.
However, it will be premature to say the Left Front would disintegrate. The Left parties know that they have to deal with the powerful Trimool and the Bharatiya Jata Party which may make further inroads in the state if not stopped on the tracks right now.
“Ten years back, there was a similar situation in Assam. But the regiol party Asom Ga Parishad failed even as people wanted to get rid of the Congress. So the BJP became a tural choice,” said Guwahati-based alyst Ratdeep Gupta. Meanwhile, Trimool supremo Mamata Banerjee and her party leaders are now gleefully watching the latent cold war within the Left Front.
On a visit to Agartala recently, senior Trimool leader Mukul Roy said the CPI-M would become irrelevant and lose the status of a tiol party.
“It has forgotten class struggle and does not raise the slogan of people’s democratic revolution,” he said.
“The dilemma of CPI-M today comes as no surprise because the party has given up its ideology long back,” Trimool leader Shishir Adhikari said. (IANS)
(Nirendra Dev can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)