Ask Arup Kalita why he chose the Left for his debut in the battle called Assembly elections and pat comes the reply: “Principles and ideology”.
The 44-year-old advocate, who is the CPI candidate from Lakhimpur constituency in Upper Assam, faces the Herculean task of convincing voters to press the EVM button in favour of the Left, widely considered a “spent force”.
Kalita, who was the state joint secretary of the All India Youth Federation, knows that it will be a long time before the Left can come to power, but he is willing to wait as he believes that “a time will come when there will be no alternative to the Left”.
He is among the new faces that the Left is throwing up to prepare ground for the younger generation to take over the mantle from the senior brigade.
Kalita hopes that the Left — which in Assam comprises the CPI and the CPM — can improve its performance enough to support a non-Congress, non-BJP government.
“At least our image is good and people are convinced that the Left is not corrupt. And we are selflessly working for the people,” Ishfakur Rehman, a member of state secretariat of the CPM, said.
“Other parties were merely opposing price rise but we had given practical proposals to counter price rise,” he said.
“We are not going to form the government but we can resist anti-people’s policies,” Rehman added.
The New Age Weekly, the central organ of the CPI, says any improvement of the CPI representation in the Assembly will only help put up a better fight on burning issues.
The CPI is contesting from 19 Assembly seats — in two of which it is supporting Independents.
The party, which won just one seat last time, is unwilling to hazard a guess on this year’s electoral gains, but says there will be close contests in six constituencies — Sivasagar (Promode Gogoi), Nazira (Dhrupad Borgohain), Dudhnoi (Bhupendra Rabha), Bilasipara West (Giasuddin Ahmed) and Morigaon (Munin Mahanta).
The CPM, which won two seats in 2006, says it might increase its tally, with defining fights in Sorbhog, Jania, Sarukhetri, Rangia, Sootea, Naharkatia and Bijni.
The Left, which enjoyed a glorious period before 1983, it had won 25 seats in the 1978 elections, was wiped out in 2001, failing to win even a single seat.
The Left’s weak point, it admits, is its failure to put up women candidates. The CPM has fielded only one woman candidate — Junuma Boro from Dhekiajuli.
So, are there any chances of a Left revival in Assam?
The future looks promising as new leaders are gaining ground, with the All India Youth Federation launching a major students’ movement, said Bhogeswar Dutta, secretary of the state council of the CPI.
“The kisan movement is being strengthened and moves are being made to woo the tribals,” Dutta said.
But is there a time frame?
“2016 could be the revival time,” said Rehman, adding there would be a re-alignment in political forces after the elections.