ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Logical Defeat for the Left

Can the Left learn the proper lessons from its electoral rout?

There is a certain irony in the defeat of the Left, in particular of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI(M), in the recent general elections. It was among the handful of communist parties in the world that survived the fall of the then existing socialism in 1989-91 and it actually grew in size in the f ollowing years. Today when capitalism is in crisis the world over, the CPI(M)-led Left in India faces its worst d efeat ever.

Predictably, the Left Front (LF) and CPI(M) will bring forth contingent and immediate exigencies to explain the electoral rout. One view blames state-level mistakes like Singur and Nandigram in West Bengal and factionalism and cyclical voter swing in Kerala for the debacle. Other factors like the neglect of education, public health and transport and the stepmotherly treatment of minorities in West Bengal (where fewer Muslims are in government service than in Gujarat) are also being held responsible for the loss. After more than three decades in power it is not possible to blame a lack of funds from the centre for the inadequate coverage and level of social services in at least Bengal. Moreover, the double-speak between CPI(M) positions in Delhi and Kolkata, especially on economic policies, also turned voters away. Lastly, there are clear indications of complacency and arrogance, not to mention an arbitrary and even illegal exercise of power at the local level, in the behaviour of the Left in Bengal. The other view considers the rigid stand on the nuclear deal and the tactics of the “Third Front” to be primarily responsible for the electoral rebuff. It castigates the rigid opposition to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) for bringing the Congress and Trinamool together in Bengal and the alliance with “unsavoury” regional parties for driving voters towards the Congress grouping in other states.

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