The Telegraph
Thursday , January 31 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
CIMA Gallary

Strike grease for creaking CPM machine

Calcutta, Jan. 30: The Left’s 48-hour general strike call is being seen by the CPM as an attempt to revitalise its cadres as the organisation consolidates itself to take on Trinamul in the panchayat polls.

According to sources, the success or failure of the strike is not as important to the CPM as the effect of it on the morale of the rank and file.

“Over the past one year, we have been trying to consolidate our organisation after our defeat in the Assembly polls. We are getting results. It is time now to confront Trinamul and its government’s policies and misrule. The strike will come in handy for our party before the panchayat polls,” a CPM state secretariat member said today.

The central Left trade unions have, however, called the two-day strike from February 20 to protest issues concerning the Centre — rise in petrol and diesel prices, FDI in retail and increasing inflation — not the Trinamul-run government in Bengal. The Left Front has extended support to the strike.

But using the 48-hour bandh as a time-tested weapon to re-launch a political battle against Mamata appears to be an opportunity the CPM leadership doesn’t want to let go of.

CPM central committee leader Gautam Deb has been saying at public meetings that the party has not called a strike against Mamata or issues concerning Bengal.

“Yes, we haven’t called a bandh on Trinamul’s misrule. Our strike issues are aimed at the central government. But can we miss an opportunity to rejuvenate our party through this strike? The shutdown will definitely help lift the spirit of our cadres before the panchayat elections,” Deb said today.

The issues the CPM intends to raise in the two-day strike are the ones Mamata and her colleagues have been speaking against in several Trinamul meetings.

The initial phase of consolidation followed by confrontation prompted by the government’s “mistakes” fall into the political pattern of the CPM.

After the Assembly poll debacle, the CPM leadership preferred silence to offence and adopted a wait-and-watch policy. Then, it was time for introspection, admission of mistakes that cost the party dear and efforts at consolidating the organisation.

This pattern, according to a CPM leader, can be captured in Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s persona.

After the poll defeat, Bhattacharjee had shut himself for almost a year at Alimuddin Street. He hadn’t even stepped out of Calcutta and appeared defensive at indoor party meetings.

But now, the former chief minister is going to the districts and criticising Trinamul and Mamata’s policies.

“Buddhada has now come out of his shell. After self-criticism and admission of mistakes, he is now on the offensive and is being critical of Mamata,” a source said.

“Mamata is handing issues to the CPM on a platter. Buddhada is making the best use of them,” the source added.

As chief minister, Bhattacharjee had criticised Left-sponsored strikes, often lamenting that he kept mum as he belonged to a political party.

Later, at a CPM state conference in February last year, Bhattacharjee regretted having opposed strikes as chief minister.

Bhattacharjee now wants Citu to complement what he had said at the party state conference then.

“Buddhada is asking the people to support the February strike. That’s because he wants Citu to take forward his call and ensure that the shutdown is a success before the rural polls,” a CPM leader said.

Ahead of the strike, Bhattacharjee would find yet another opportunity to press for the shutdown. At the February 10 CPM rally near Shahid Minar, he could talk on what is now his pet subject — “Trinamul anarchy and misrule”.