By Nitya Chakraborty
CPI(ML) general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya is perfectly right when he said in an interview to a leading national daily after Bihar assembly poll results on Tuesday night that the lesson from the Bihar results is that the number one priority of the Left must be stop the BJP nationally including Bengal and for this, rather than competing with the BJP in opposing Trinamool — it should be the other way round..” Of course we will oppose the Trinamool wherever necessary, but let us contend with it against the BJP. The BJP has to be recognised as the number one threat to democracy across the country and also inside West Bengal”.
Dipankar represents the extreme left wing of the communist movement in the country but he was most active in persuading the reluctant RJD leadership to forge a total alliance including the Congress and the entire Left including CPI, CPI(M) and the CPI(ML).The Left alliance secured 16 out of 29 seats it contested in the Bihar elections and CPI(ML) alone got 12 seats. The fact is that the Left’s total identification with the Mahagthbandhan led by RJD imparted a distinct pro-people identity to the campaign and the RJD leader Tejashwi led the anti-NDA campaign on crucial issues of immediate importance to the Bihari people — unemployment, education and health. It was a bitter fight and if the Congress organisation would not have faltered, the MGB alliance would have won in 2020.
The Bihar election results have given the signal that the BJP juggernaut has to be combated unitedly including every force that does not share the saffron view of new India. As Dipankar said BJP has to be seen as the number one threat to democracy and the fight for restoring democratic values and the sanctity of the institutions under the Constitutions, will have to be continued with the participation of maximum number of forces including civil society which are not with BJP. This is a massive task for both the Congress and the Left and this requires flexibility and the vision.
In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena formed the Government last year in cooperation with the NCP and the Congress by ousting the BJP led government of which Shiv Sena was a part. The CPI(M) legislator extended support to that Shiv Sena led state government which was a correct decision. This was a part of the Left strategy to keep the BJP away from power. In the normal circumstances of politics in Maharashtra, it cannot be conceived that the Left will be supporting Shiv Sena which has a sordid history in dismantling the powerful trade union movement in Maharashtra and encouraged both bigotry and rabid parochialism. But circumstances change and the political parties also. Shiv Sena chief minister Uddhav Thackeray is acting now very responsibly and he is emerging as a reliable force against the BJP. He certainly can be an ally in the coming bitter fight against the BJP and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
In the wake of the BJP victory in Bihar and the sweep in the bypolls of the other states in the country, the Party will be further aggressive in eliminating the opposition. Naturally West Bengal is the next destination where it is desperate to oust the Trinamool government of Mamata Banerjee, which despite its many aberrations and compromises, is still in the frontline of fighting BJP.
For the people of Bengal, the grim political reality is that the election mood is polarised between the Trinamool and the BJP and there is little scope for any third combination to influence the highly divided voters into their camp.
This automatically leads to the question what the Left can do to fight the BJP in West Bengal as a part of its all India policy. Can it fight both Trinamool and BJP simultaneously and strengthen its position? Seasoned political observers will say that is not possible, any division in anti-BJP votes in Bengal will help BJP and the saffron’s have huge financial muscle power and the expanding base of the RSS throughout the districts. They will mobilise all their resources to corner the marginal seats which they lost to Trinamool in the assembly segments in 2019 Lok Sabha poll.
The figures of 2016 assembly elections have no relevance now. The BJP was still struggling then, but the Party had recorded exponential growth in the last four years in Bengal. In 2019 assembly polls, the BJP had leads in 128 assembly segments out of 294 total seats. The central leadership of BJP will give all assistance to the state unit to reach the figure of 148 in the 2021 assembly which is the majority mark.
As Dipankar has said the time has come in Bengal to give a rethink to the existing alliance strategy. Both the entire Left, the CPI, CPI(M) , CPI(ML) have to sit with the Congress to find out again what is the best strategy to resist the BJP takeover of Bengal. If the target is that the BJP has to be fought as enemy number one in Bengal, some ways have to be found out for an all out understanding of the anti-BJP parties , formal or informal. Time is running out for Left in West Bengal in 1996, there was a “historic blunder”, in 2021, no historic mistake should be allowed by the Left. (IPA Service)