The Congress’s victory in the Sagardighi Assembly bypoll has nudged both the party and the Left Front into drawing up plans to replicate the model elsewhere by ensuring that the message of alliance percolates to the grassroots in the run-up to panchayat elections.
On CPM’s side, two key leaders of the party’s Bengal unit— Md Salim and Surjya Kanta Mishra— have already started travelling across the state to spread the message about the impending alliance with the Congress and the need to fight together.
The duo has already visited quite a few districts in south Bengal and would soon be joined by party veteran Biman Bose, who will start his tour soon. The visits to rural Bengal with the message of alliance is important to produce intended political results, said several CPM party insiders.
“The victory in Sagardighi will facilitate this exercise as our leaders will have a success story to narrate. These meetings are planned at the district level, where leaders are addressing their cadres and explaining the need for this alliance. They are also taking questions from the cadres so that they are fully convinced and there is no room for doubt or second thought,” said a CPM functionary.
According to him, the stress is on the dissemination of the message of alliance and manufacturing consent in its favour at the grassroots. It has been planned that the local level leaders, after attending the meetings at the district level, will go back to their areas where they will disseminate the idea of the alliance and also begin coordination with the workers of Congress and other like-minded organisations at the grassroots.
“We have had alliances before, but the handholding with the Congress didn’t produce the political dividends as the idea of an alliance wasn’t accepted at the grassroots... We don’t want to make the same mistake and that’s why the attempt is to reach out to the grassroots so that vote transfer actually takes place,” the Left leader added.
A few days back, Salim had addressed a similar party meeting at Ratua in Malda. Sources said that the CPM state secretary found Congress flags furling along with CPM’s flags at the meeting venue and held it as spontaneous support for the alliance at the grassroots.
The Congress supporters, who were there, also walked in a rally led by him. Later, the CPM’s state secretary met some of them and questioned them as to what prompted them to participate in CPM’s meeting. “We are going to fight together anyway,” the Congress workers had said.
Such messages from the ground level, even before the Sagardighi results were out, have given the Left and the Congress leaders the hope that the anti-Trinamul and anti-BJP voters are awaiting a properly stitched alliance.
“The alliance message has to reach the grassroots for transfer of votes,” said a source in the Congress. In the 2021 Assembly polls, Sk M Hasanuzzaman was the Left-backed Congress candidate from Sagardighi.
However, the Left-Congress combine got only 19 per cent votes. It was believed that a major portion of the Left votes – primarily votes of CPM supporters – got divided between Trinamul and BJP, but didn’t transfer their votes to the Congress nominee.
"This time the transfer of votes took place and that made the difference,” said a source. An analysis of Sagardighi bypolls results has shown that out of the 11 panchayats, which make up the Assembly seat, Kabilpur gave Bairon Biswas, the Congress candidate who won in the polls, a lead of 5,584 votes, the highest.
According to CPM sources, Kabilpur is a traditional Left bastion and the native place of former CPM MP Zainal Abedin. “The people in the grassroots have already decided to work and fight together. We as leaders will have to follow them now. Going forward, we will carry out the message of Sagardighi’s success amongst our workers,” Salim told The Telegraph.
However, there are doubts on the other side, as to whether traditional Congress voters will shift to the Left. Congress sources said efforts are on to convince workers at the grassroots that an alliance is the only way to oust Trinamul and stop BJP.
After yesterday’s by-poll results, Congress leaders in Malda – a district that is an erstwhile stronghold of the party and has similarities in demography and political situation with Murshidabad – were quick to hold a meeting. Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury, the district Congress president, and MP of Malda south, along with other party leaders, discussed strategies for the panchayat polls.