In the last few years, the student councils of all the major colleges and universities are being ruled by TMC, which apparently has been posing a problem for the Left party
The Left Front has found it particularly hard to hold ground in West Bengal ever since the Trinamool Congress government led by Mamata Banerjee came to power in 2011, ending its 34-year rule in the eastern state. The 2019 Lok Sabha elections which saw the CPI(M) fail at winning a single seat from the eastern state, a first in its history, laid bare the level to which the Left Front’s acceptance and popularity had dipped to. A resurgent Bharatiya Janata Party, on the other hand, made inroads and secured 18 seats in Bengal, where it was virtually non-existent till a couple of years back. An analysis of data between elections clearly showed how the BJP had gained at the expense of the Left, emerging as the principal opponent to Mamata.
So, is it time to write the CPI(M)’s obituary as far its prospects in Bengal are concerned? Former MP and party leader Sujan Chakraborty says it may to be too soon. In an exclusive conversation with Financial Express Online, Chakraborty hit out at the political parties and accused them of practising “corporate politics”. He said, “Self-interest gets the main focus in ‘corporate politics’, we don’t believe in that kind of politics.”
Hoping that the people will understand the ongoing tactics being deployed by several parties, the Leftist leader said: “They will have to bring us back because no other party stands beside the people in times of struggle as we do.” To facilitate the return of the party, the CPI(M) is now planning to induct young leaders into the party.
“Inducting young people is a continuous process in CPIM. We regularly give membership and groom young minds, it’s not like most other parties who just bring in anyone they like,” he said.
However, the party has not seen many young leaders in a long time. Pointing out the reason, Sujan Chakraborty said: “The more experienced leaders are usually doubtful about bringing the youngsters in front because they are not as experienced, it was always with a good intention. But this is something we need to let go of.”
In the last few years, the student councils of all the major colleges and universities are being ruled by TMC, which apparently has been posing a problem for the Left party. “The process has become more difficult in the last eight years as no other political party except TMC has been allowed inside the college premises and these young leaders should be groomed from colleges and universities,” the CPIM leader said. The party has inducted a few batches of youth recently, who are doing pretty good. However, when they will join mainstream politics and contest in elections is still unknown.
Roadmap for Assembly election 2019
The BJP is taking an aggressive stance for the 2021 Assembly Election in West Bengal. BJP leader Dilip Ghosh came up with slogans like “2019 me half, 21 saal me saaf” during the last Lok Sabha elections campaign, and is now aiming to get two-third of the Vidhan sabha seats.
“The fact that BJP will probably come to power in 2021, is TMC’s game plan. The same thing happened in Tripura, the same might have its replication in Bengal,” the former MP said. In Tripura, merely six months before its last Assembly polls in 2018, TMC’s entire unit with six MLAs, who had joined the party from Congress, switched over to BJP.
“To counter BJP-TMC, CPI(M) would appeal to the people, try to make them understand that TMC and BJP are similar – nothing will change by voting for different flowers since the parties are headed by the same faces,” he added.
Can CPI(M)-Congress alliance work in Bengal?
Commenting on Sonia Gandhi’s recent go-ahead to the Congress-Left Front alliance for the upcoming 2021 Assembly polls, Sudip Chakraborty said: “It isn’t an alliance but a political understanding that is being done in an attempt to bring parties along to check the fascist attitude of BJP.”
He further said that the TMC will not be a part of the alliance as “it is instrumental for the growth of BJP in West Bengal.” The Left leader further alleged that without TMC, BJP would not have existed in Bengal. “…the leaders of TMC and BJP are same, it’s not possible to stop BJP with TMC,” he added.
Chakraborty further hit out on the current Bengal government, saying, “They are ruining the social fabric by disbursing funds for Durga Pujo. Such crowd-pleasing schemes as a reason the Leftist party is having a hard time in Bengal.” However, Chakraborty admitted that the grass-root network of the Left party that was known to be the base of its 34-year rule in West Bengal has sustained some cracks. “After having so many ups and downs and religious polarisation, the party’s grass-root network ought to sustain some cracks, but that (to revive grass-root network) is the most important work (for Left),” he said.
“We do not have and can not utilise funds that have been mobilised by the corporates like various other parties – so the party workers can not work for us full-time, they do so in their free time. Moreover, even the most educated people do not have jobs these days, highly qualified ones are working overtime in a meagre salary,” he added.
Can Bengal see the revival of CPIM soon? “In people’s politics, that can not be said with certainty – something like this can be predicted in ‘corporate politics’ that TMC is practicing by investing money and hiring strategists like Prashant Kishore,” the Left leader said. However, Chakraborty is positive, “irrespective of whom working-class people are voting for, they always want the Leftists by their side when problems arise at their place of work – and that will be fruitful in future, irrespective of the kind of politics that is being practised now.”