NP Chekkutty …NOTES
“COMRADES, GIVE Ram a chance this time; and then the hammer and sickle again next time.” This was the meaning of a very popular slogan heard in the Left Front rallies in West Bengal in the recent Lok Sabha elections. After the polls, the results gave ample proof that the comrades meticulously carried out this “historic task” and helped the BJP win many seats.
The plight of the CPIM in what was once its biggest bastion is pitiable today, but what has happened to the party there should serve as a warning to comrades in other parts of the country also. Except in Kerala, there is nothing by way of a communist party anywhere in India any longer. Today, the two parties’ representation is the lowest in Parliament ever since India became a Republic. There are five members in the Lok Sabha for the CPIM and CPI together, but four of these seats were virtually donated to them by the DMK in Tamil Nadu in an alliance with the Congress as well. Such windfalls would not repeat again. For all practical purposes, the present election results mean the total decimation of Communist movement in India’s electoral platforms.
The party politburo took stock of the situation and later the central committee me to review the results, based on the inputs from various state units. What conclusions they arrived at is not important. As usual, they come up with unpalatable old arguments and justifications, rather than going into the real issues as to why people abandoned the Communists lock, stock and barrel all over the country. 

The unalloyed fact is, the Communists no longer serve a meaningful role in India’s political spectrum. Their irrelevance is something that they brought upon themselves through the leaders’ various acts of omissions and commissions in recent years. 
CPIM general secretary Sitaram Yechuri did not make any attempt to hide the severity of the crisis facing the party. He admitted that the party’s supporters voted for the BJP in Bengal as they found “there was no other way to face the politics of terror practised by the Trinamul Congress (of chief minister Mamata Banerjee). Eight years of TMC terror forced people to flock  to the BJP, seeing this as the only way to resist the trend.”
Now, Yechury talked as if Bengal history began only eight years ago, when Mamata Banerjee took over the reins of power at Kolkata’s Writers Building. Is terror politics only a recent phenomenon in Bengal? Not really. It started with the Chatra Parishad’s terror in the Seventies when Congress politicians like Siddhartha Shankar Ray and Ghani Khan Choudhury were in control of powerplay in the state. The CPIM was the main Opposition, and their rank file were at the receiving end of this violence. Things changed in 1977 when Jyoti Basu returned to power and 34 years of continuous Left rule started in the state. It was a record in Indian history and provided Communists with a great opportunity to build a new Bengal. They however squandered this opportunity.
Nothing happened. Bengal remained a bhadralok (elitist, upper caste) preserve and life remained difficult for most ordinary people. The Dalits and Muslims who gave substantial support to the Communists received practically nothing. Instead, the middle class and the upper castes made gains under the Left rule. Then came the era of globalization. The Leftist government led by Buddhadeb Bhattacharya embraced it as the only way ahead for Bengal to escape its development deficits. For this, the government mooted a plan to hand over land to industrialists. Instead of negotiating for a decent and well-compensated takeover of land, the government unleashed party thugs on ordinary people who refused to part with their lands. Singur and Nandigram are two such examples.
This provided Mamata Banerjee an opportunity to endear the people. She forcefully resisted Communist attempts to take over farm lands for industrial use. Her struggles finally helped her defeat the Communists electorally and come to power.
Now both the Congress and the Communists are irrelevant to Bengal’s politics. The LS elections saw they were at the third and fourth positions in terms of vote tally. The ruling TMC is facing the real threat in the rising Hindutva power of the BJP in Bengal. In the next state assembly elections, these two parties will vie for power and it is a matter of time before the Bengalis dump Mamata Banerjee and take to the BJP as the last refuge.
What does it tell those of us here who still have Communists ruling the state? No doubt, the administration here is not as bad or as corrupt as it was in Left-ruled Bengal. But across the state, people are unhappy about the present set of rulers. They are equally unhappy about the UDF which is an opportunistic alliance of parties like the Congress and the Muslim League, whose governance of the state was known for rampant corruption.
The BJP is still not a viable option for power-wielding in Kerala, since its support base remains at just 15 percent this time too. But, there were at least half a dozen Lok Sabha seats where they made substantial gains. In some of these, they are already at the second position, pushing either the LDF or the UDF to third position. It means the BJP is growing and it has very strong clusters of influence in parts of the state. Only the Congress and the CPIM are the parties with influence across the state. All others are parties with regional clusters of influence. The BJP might be a force to reckon with by 2021 in Kerala, if they could attract more allies and influential leaders from all regions and communities in the state.

–The writer is former Editor of Thejas daily, published from Kozhikode

INDIA HERE AND NOW http://www.indiahereandnow.com email:indianow999@gmail.com

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