Lok Sabha Election

Left’s position gets more precarious

Gaining ground: BJP supporters celebrating the party’s performance in West Bengal, a former Left bastion.  

The Left derived no comfort even in its last bastion, Kerala, in the Lok Sabha election, with the Left Democrat Front winning just one seat in the State.

In West Bengal and Tripura, where they once held sway, none of the Left candidates could make it even to the second position.

Between the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Communist Party of India, the Left is down to five seats in the Lok Sabha, its worst-ever performance since Independence. Out of these five, four came from Tamil Nadu, the only State where they found a place in a regional alliance.

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury refused to give any reasons for what the party itself called a “severe setback”, except for saying that the party will have to introspect. A detailed analysis will be done in a Polit Bureau meeting to be held on May 26 and 27 and further lessons will be drawn in the party’s central committee meeting on June 6 and 8.

Insiders said the party was caught unawares by the “depth of communal schisms”.

“In such a communally charged atmosphere, there was no space for any democratic secular forces,” Mr. Yechury said.

In spite of driving the ideological agenda of the Opposition, the Left parties failed to find allies in this election.

Mr. Yechury had proposed a “no-contest” policy to the Congress in West Bengal. The Congress not only snubbed it in that State, but went on to field its president, Rahul Gandhi, from Wayanad in Kerala. According to senior CPI(M) leaders, that one stroke helped to activate the dormant Congress cadres in the State.

The result was that barring Alappuzha, the Left parties lost all the seats they contested.

A Kerala CPI (M) leader gave two reasons for the party’s defeat. One, consolidation of minority votes in favour of the Congress, seeing them better placed to stall the BJP at the Centre. And second was the party’s stand on the Sabarimala controversy, which cost it its traditional Hindu vote. A section of the party also blamed the ambiguous political line on the Congress for this rout.

The defeat will make Mr. Yechury’s position tenuous in the party. “As a general secretary of the party, the responsibility will have to be taken by me. We work with collective responsibility but I am the first among the equals,” he said.

It has been a steady decline since the high of 2004 when all the Left parties together had 59 seats in Parliament.

The story for the CPI was not any different. The CPI’s Begusarai candidate Kanhaiya Kumar managed to dominate the news space but could not translate his media presence into votes. He lost the election to Union Minister and BJP leader Giriraj Singh by a margin of over four lakh votes. Here too, despite relentless requests from the party the RJD-led alliance refused to concede the seat to the CPI.

The question that both the parties are now facing is where to go from here. “This is not the end of the Left movement in India. People have in the past written Left’s obituaries many a time, but we continue. We are the most consistent force against communal fascist forces without any compromise,” CPI leader D. Raja said.

The Left, as a top leader said, will simply have to press the restart button.


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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 7:46:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/lefts-position-gets-more-precarious/article27226810.ece

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