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    OpinionsLeft rout in polls: Can Communists chalk a return to relevance?

    Left rout in polls: Can Communists chalk a return to relevance?


    By Tirthankar Mitra

    The CPI(M) and its partners in the Left Front have been almost completely wiped out from the electoral map of West Bengal. Except for a single seat in the Rajya Sabha from this state, it has been a dry run for the Left since the 2021 Assembly elections. The CPI(M)-led Left Front has been yielding ground to Trinamool Congress since the 2009 . The retreat turned into a rout after the BJP emerged as the principal opposition, replacing both the Congress and the Left on the opposition benches in the state Assembly.

    The Left now appears to be directionless. Nothing seems to be working out for it. Be it relegating the veterans to the back benches and inducting fresh faces in the poll nominees' list, one of the formulas the Left chose to return to a place in the sun in the Trinamool regime. With a tradition of social service dating back to the Great Bengal Famine of 1943, a leaf was taken out of the book of the Undivided Communist Party (CPI), whose service and organisational capacity endeared it to the masses.

    Manning soup kitchens all over the city and beyond, young CPI(M) activists, who were known as Red Volunteers, emerged as a humane face of the party during the pandemic. Yet in subsequent elections, though poll meetings addressed by some of these volunteers drew crowds, support for them was not at all manifest in the ballot box.

    Even a thorough search for a panacea to political relevance for the CPI(M) is ending in a blind alley. If people in the coastal state of Kerala are not tired of a Left dispensation, the state CPI(M) think-tank is clueless why a populace who have had a much longer run of the Left, read CPI (M) regime, are in no way inclined to give it a second chance.

    On the face of it, a repeat of the 2021 Assembly polls and the 2024 elections' results seems to stare it in the face in the coming 2026 Assembly elections. But, if the Left does some out of the box game planning, it can regain more than a foothold in state .

    The TMC and the BJP did not import a support base overnight. It is the Left voters who have changed their loyalty which seems to have been taken for granted.

    The Left ideology appeared to be jaded. Events at Nandigram and Singur are apparently pointers to it. That the small car factory which promised to industrially rejuvenate West Bengal shifted base to Sanand failed to be a key player in the automobile market was not appropriately conveyed to those the CPI(M) felt were its committed voters. Instead, the people were blamed for exercising their choice in the election

    The CPI(M) is yet to outline in its political programme the new face of capitalism at home and abroad. Fed up with party jargon in the backdrop of some of the senior leaders leading an almost feudal life, the men and women who once marched in the processions with red flags sought other options. This marked a gross failure to point out the warts of capitalism. Lack of understanding of the complexities of Left philosophy led to this lacuna.

    New areas of finding out exploited populace and drawing them to the ranks is one of the ways out of the rut if the Left Front and its biggest partner CPI(M) has to start with a clean slate. The informal sector and the gig beckons and the ways of inducting their workers would be widely different from the men rushing to the factories at the sound of it, signalling a working shift.

    Such working hours are non-existent in the new economy where there are instances of workers being pledged of not visiting the washroom and drinking water till the “targets are met”. These are the ideal voters on the lookout for an outfit to restore their rights.

    Delivery personnel, security guards, shop floor assistants are waiting to be organised and inducted into trade unions. They would be headed by the young men and women who had been manning the soup kitchens during the pandemic; the old style white haired trade union leaders would have no place in this scheme of things. The functioning of the capitalist State must be constantly challenged to usher in democratic socialism. Public debates and struggles must be initiated.

    Memories of misrule of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and in the TMC-run West Bengal need to be refreshed. Discussing real issues and long term ideological programmes will go a long way in achieving this. Deep seated frustrations have to be tapped. Only their realisation will give the toiling masses the strength to refuse doles offered to them as temporary measures to forget the pain of being deprived what rightfully belongs to them.

    The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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