The victory for the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India (CPI) in two seats each is not a mere electoral win for the State units of these parties but has also significantly boosted their overall score in the Lok Sabha polls. Besides T.N., the Left has secured only one other seat, in Kerala.
The last time the CPI(M) and the CPI sent MPs from Tamil Nadu to the Lok Sabha was in 2009. In 2014, both the Left parties drew a blank.
CPI(M) State Secretary K. Balakrishnan told The Hindu , “There are two factors for the win – internal efforts and factors beyond the party. We encouraged more youngsters’ participation in our functioning. Also, Tamil Nadu proved to be a fertile ground for secular forces to come together. Moreover, there was unity among all opposition parties in our front.”
But political analyst P. Ramajayam contends that the choice of alliance proved a major factor for the Left parties in the State. “If not, how come the Left parties didn’t win big in their usual strongholds in Kerala and West Bengal?” he asked.
The strong anti-Modi sentiment in Tamil Nadu was the primary common ground between the DMK and the Left parties to come together. Left going alone in the State would have been a wrong choice, as was evident with its Makkal Nala Koottani experience in 2016, Mr. Ramajayam pointed out. The decisive approach of DMK president M.K. Stalin in projecting Congress president Rahul Gandhi also helped the win. “Though the Left suffered indecisiveness in choosing a PM candidate and its approach was not realistic in politics, DMK’s decisiveness made up for it.”
However, a CPI (M) source denied the charge that the party rode home on the wings of the DMK. It was efforts that were put into reviving the party in the State that were bearing fruit, he claimed.
In 2015, the party leadership took a decision to bring in more youngsters and give them party positions. “The decision was to continue party allowance to senior functionaries above 60 years but shift their responsibilities to youngsters. That way, more youngsters became key functionaries.”
Likewise, the party involved youngsters from the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), Students’ Federation of India (SFI) and All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) in district-level and State-level party affairs since 2017. The party also made it mandatory to include at least one woman and one member from DYFI/AIDWA in every area committee. “Few months ago, the party decided to have eight members from DYFI/AIDWA/SFI who were allowed to attend as special invitees in the State committee meetings. So, all these efforts have shown results,” the source said.
The Left parties have also organised serious brainstorming sessions for identifying issues for campaigning during the elections. “In Coimbatore and Tiruppur, our parties identified GST as the issue and in Madurai, we focused on the heritage value of the city,” he added.