According to Chakraborty, the BJP is taking advantage of this situation in the state with its similar "no to democracy, no to the opposition" approach and "what was once unthinkable is happening now."
The CPI(M) witnessed its worst debacle since its inception, drawing a blank in West Bengal for the first time since 1977. On the other hand, the BJP, which had no presence in the state till a few years ago, won 18 seats with over 40 per cent vote share. The rise of the saffron party has pushed the Left to the third position from where the revival seems an uphill task. So, who is responsible for the continuous slide of the Left in a state where it ruled for over three decades? The Financial Express-Online reached out to former CPI(M) MP Sujan Chakraborty to find out the reasons.
“We are looking into the lapses of our party – what errors we made. It’s always good to be self-critical,” Chakraborty said while pointing out that the idealistic nature of the party as a possible reason for the defeat in the last elections. “Somehow people now want everything instantaneously – they are not putting a lot of weight on ideals or think it as important. But we don’t want to compromise on that,” he said.
The senior leader said that a situation of fear was prevailing in West Bengal which was helping the ‘anti-democratic forces’ to thrive.
“We adhere by democracy, but it’s non-existent in the state since that past couple of years, as well as in the centre, causing a ‘negative fallout’ resulting into democracy getting ‘squished’ everywhere. Moreover, polarisation politics is being practised – the Muslim vote is now flowing towards TMC, while the Hindu vote is going towards BJP. Whenever polarisation happens, Left is the worst casualty,” he said.
To counter this, the Left Front is planning to increase its reach by campaigning door to door and by organising demonstrations and campaigns to educate the people. “We don’t do corporate politics or have funding from outside, we will have to rely on the people, their understanding – we are organising campaigns and meeting across the state where our young leaders are reaching out to people and talking about issues,” he added.
Hitting out at the West Bengal BJP leaders, Chakraborty said, “Dilip Ghosh is threatening people on a regular basis – a fascistic tone is prevailing, which can only be prevented by a democracy. But if democracy itself is destroyed, abrasion is caused – Left is the only party that can turn this situation around. We have always tried to uphold democracy, otherwise, the people will be left unheard, and we will keep doing so.”
According to Chakraborty, the BJP is taking advantage of this situation in the state with its similar “no to democracy, no to the opposition” approach and “what was once unthinkable is happening now.”
“Whoever is protesting against the government are being suppressed. Whenever the Left Front tried to protest for the last eight years, we have been attacked – even former CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharya and prominent leader Surya Kanta Mishra. People have been told not to listen to us,” he added.
Hitting out at the state government further, he claimed that post the 2011 Assembly elections, an estimated 2,400 party offices have been attacked or taken over by TMC all over West Bengal. “I wrote letters to the CM about how many party workers have been arrested falsely or has been affected or murdered because of the party, or how many party offices have been taken over.”
However, around 156 of those offices have been opened after the Lok Sabha elections, he said: “In certain places, the local businessmen and workers supported us, requested us to re-open our offices, there we did. But the BJP workers are now capturing our offices across Bengal – most recently our Aathpur local committee office has been taken over by them (BJP), from the TMC (who captured it earlier).”
“In West Bengal, the TMC and BJP are same – official Trinamool is carrying the flag of TMC and the unofficial TMC is carrying the flag of BJP here,” he added.
Commenting on BJP’s rise in Bengal, Chakraborty said, “TMC is not being able to control its people, and the leaders who are involved in several cases are now taking shelter under the wings of BJP because they know CPIM would never take them in. The TMC is the main reason behind the growth of BJP in Bengal, and of course, there is also the growing discontent among the people about the ruling government.”