Left tells Congress: Get your house in order
With Bengal elections round the corner, the Left parties are piling pressure on the Congress to get its house in order, develop ideological clarity and do a reality-check even as the two sides have had one round of preliminary talks on poll strategy.
After the Bihar elections, where the Congress pulled down the Mahagathbandhan (MGB), the Left parties want the Congress to be realistic in its demands as far as tickets are concerned.
In Bihar, the Congress could only win 19 of the 70 seats it contested whereas the RJD and the Left parties recorded a good strike rate. The Congress, as always, began by demanding 100 seats and had to go hunting for candidates for some of the 70 it had to settle for after seat-sharing talks.
Of the view that the Congress did not have the capacity to contest even the 70 seats it got in Bihar, the CPI in the editorial of its party organ, New Age, said: “Had the grand old national party been a bit more realistic, the result in Bihar might have been different. Unfortunately, even after the failure of the MGB, for which its contribution was not insignificant, the Congress response was disappointing. Till date, it is not in a soul-searching mood to make the necessary corrections.”
“They fail to understand the gravity of the present situation and the role their party is supposed to play in facing the challenges. In fact, the Congress is going through a crisis which is not only organizational but more ideological,” said the New Age, edited by CPI Rajya Sabha MP Binoy Viswam.
“Replacement of somebody from inside or outside the family will not solve the crisis. It is cut off from the masses even in traditional strongholds. The Dalits, the minorities and the poor lost their confidence in Congress due to obvious reasons. Since they embarked on the neo liberal policy of global capital, the Congress party began to deviate from its Gandhi-Nehru legacy. If the Congress is serious about its coming back, it has to fight the RSS-led Parivar ideologically and politically. Secular India expects Congress to rediscover the Nehruvian ideology and fine tuning of it to the present needs. Bihar results call upon Congress to open their eyes before it is too late.”
The CPM, in the editorial of its party organ, People’s Democracy, last week had held a similar view while dwelling on the Bihar election results and the performance of the MGB. “There is also the fact that such electoral alliances require partners not to demand and fight seats out of proportion to their strength and influence. The 70 seats that the Congress fought proved to be a weakness for the alliance; it could win only 19 seats.”
While the Congress is drawing flak from within and outside for the inability to shed its sense of grandeur despite successive defeats and reinvent itself to the changed political landscape, there is debate within the Left parties, too, on the Bengal strategy.
After the CPI-ML’s good showing in the Bihar elections, general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya has become more vocal in arguing that the BJP should be identified as Enemy No. 1 in Bengal while the CPM views the BJP and Trinamul as twin evils.
The CPM’s contention is that the Left parties cannot afford to go soft on Trinamul as it would then leave the anti-incumbency vote for the BJP to tap.
In an interview to party newspaper Ganashakti, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said: “In the concrete situation of West Bengal, to defeat the BJP, we have to isolate and defeat TMC. TMC had prepared the road of entry for the BJP in Bengal.... There is very deep discontent and anti-incumbency against TMC government.…
“Any urge to defeat the BJP encompassing everybody, including TMC, is self-defeating. In that case, all anti-incumbency sentiments will only favour the BJP as the only opposition. Such a tactic will ensure the victory of the BJP. What is required in Bengal is maximum possible polling of anti-BJP, anti-TMC votes. The CPM central committee has decided to pursue this objective.”
The Left and the Congress had their first preliminary meeting to explore an electoral understanding at RSP leader Manoj Bhattacharya’s house in Calcutta earlier this week. The CPM’s central committee had green-signalled an electoral understanding with the Congress at its last meeting in October-end and the Left Front is now waiting for the Congress to finalise its strategy for the Bengal elections due next year.