Two 'successful' programmes show CPI(M) regaining ground in Bengal

The CPI-M, which slipped into a state of disarray after repeated electoral setbacks since the 2011 Assembly election in West Bengal, appears to be on the path of recovery following its two back to back "successful" political programmes in last one month.

Kolkata: The CPI-M, which slipped into a state of disarray after repeated electoral setbacks since the 2011 Assembly election in West Bengal, appears to be on the path of recovery following its two back to back "successful" political programmes in last one month.

The party, which ruled Bengal with a near-absolute mandate for 35 years, suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of arch rival Trinamool Congress in 2011.

Since then it had tried to stage a comeback by organising programmes which at best evinced some lukewarm support.

The scenario changed for the better last month when it organised two successive programmes. First, the Left Front sponsored peasants' march to the state secretariat on August 27 and second, the "successful" implementation of the countrywide general strike in West Bengal on September 2.

"The two back to back successive political movements itself shows that not only there is a disillusionment among the masses, but we are also regaining our political support base as the people are realizing that what we have been saying about the Trinamool Congress is true," CPI(M) politburo member and West Bengal Left Front Chairman Biman Bose told PTI.

Bose said, "When a government comes to power with a massive mandate, the masses want to give them some time. But when after four years things do not move rather the situation has worsened, people have realised the true colours of TMC."

According to CPI-M politburo member Mohammed Salim the revival path of CPI(M), the largest constituent of Left Front, being able to make a turn around was first witnessed when CPI(M) led Left Front managed to increase marginally its vote share in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation election in April, this year.

"After 2014, a large section of the media had completely erased us as opposition, but the results and the recent successful political movements have shown that we are still the only alternative to the misrule of the Trinamool Congress," Salim said.

Attributing various factors, including the change of leadership in the state CPI(M) and the ongoing massive rectification drive within the party to the "turnaround", a senior CPI(M) leader said the TMC's silence over the alleged anti-people policies of the BJP government too helped.

"We have been saying that there is a TMC-BJP nexus for

a long time, but now it is crystal clear. Whenever any central BJP leader comes to Bengal, he praises the state government and TMC and the TMC in turn stays mum on all anti-people policies of the central government," a CPI(M) central committee leader said.

Buoyed by the success of the political programmes, the Left leadership has lined up several agitation programmes including march to the city police headquaters Lalbazar on the issue of Law and order.

After its worst-ever performance in 2014 Lok Sabha poll, when CPI(M) secured nearly 23 per cent votes, it managed to retain its vote share and increase it by more than one percentage point to over 24 per cent in the KMC election.

Though in 2008 the Left first witnessed its electoral slide after it lost zila parishads in East Midnapore, the cradle of Nandigram anti-land acquisition movement, and South 24-Parganas to the Trinamool Congress, it was in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls that the Left Front got a massive blow with the Congress-Trinamool combine winning 27 of the state's 42 seats.

Since then the Left's vote share went down in each and every election that followed. In 2009, the Left secured 43 per cent votes, while in 2011 Assembly polls it fell to 40 per cent and in the 2013 panchayat polls it went down further.

The lowest point in CPI(M) came in 2014, when its vote share came down to nearly 23 per cent with the party securing just two seats in Lok Sabha.

The loss in CPI(M)'s vote share also fuelled speculation of the Left Front losing its opposition status to the BJP, which secured 18 per cent votes in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

"The Chief Minister had said that she will take only one minute to teach us a lesson but the two successful mass movements has shown that the state government can't teach lesson," Leader of opposition and CPI(M) state secretary Surya Kanta Mishra said.

"The two political movements were the warning bell for TMC government," Mishra observed.

Trinamool Congress leader Partha Chatterjee, however, said that the violent means used by the Left would only alienate it further from the masses.

"The more they use violent means to disturb the peaceful atmosphere of the state and halt the development work, the more they will be alienated from the masses. Bengal wants to put the horrific past of the Left regime behind and move ahead,"Chatterjee said.

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