With CPI(M)-led Left Front decimated in the Lok Sabha elections in the erstwhile red citadel of West Bengal, the leadership seems to be divided whether there should be a change of guard or in Left policies as a way out to regain the lost ground in the state.
The CPI(M), the biggest loser with its tally going down to just two seats in the state and facing questions over its national party status, held a two-day brainstorming state committee session early this week to ascertain the reasons and chalk out the next course of action.
Although lacunae on the part of leaders to provide direction at the time of crisis, organisational glitches, a faulty political line besides alleged rigging and violence by Trinamool Congress have been identified as the main reasons behind the debacle, the party is yet to decide on ways to revive its base in the once impregnable fort.
“One of the main reasons is the violence by Trinamool Congress which resulted in rigging in many areas and another one is people disenchanted with Trinamool didn’t feel that the Left is an alternative,” CPI(M) politburo member K Vardarajan told PTI here.
However Vardarajan, just like his politburo colleagues Brinda Karat and S Ramachandran Pillai, declined to comment on ways to revive the Left, before the crucial politburo and central committee meet starting Friday.
With the chorus of leadership change in the party growing louder with each passing day, the politburo and central committee meet is likely to discuss the issue.
“We will discuss all issues from organisational lacunae, political line and the issue of leadership change in the upcoming politburo and central committee meeting. Before that I can’t say anything,” CPI(M) politburo member Sitaram Yechury told PTI.
Though senior politburo members remained tightlipped, there seems to be sharp divisions within the party about the steps thats need to be taken to revive the Left in the state with a section seeking leadership change from top to bottom, while others feel that change in approach of the Left movement and increase in contact with the people is the solution.
“I don’t feel that just changing the leadership in haste is an answer. There is a process through which we bring in new leaders. I personally feel there is a need to increase mass movements with the burning issues in order to reach out to the masses,” CPI(M) central committee member Basudeb Acharia told PTI.
Acharia, who tasted defeat at the hands of TMC candidate and actress Moonmoon Sen from the Bankura seat, also underlined the need to take a fresh look at the approach of the Left movement in order to make it more effective.
“The neo-liberal policies that we are fighting against are still effective. But we need to have a re-look at our approach through various movements,” he said.
On May 27, for the first time in the history of the CPI(M), a rally was organised outside the Alimuddin Street, the party headquarters by both present and expelled leaders, who questioned the party’s top brass and demanded an immediate change in leadership to save it from being wiped out from the state.
Political analysts feel that the CPI(M), which witnessed its worst ever tally since its formation in 1964, is facing the threat of losing the opposition space to BJP, which is gaining strength in the state.
A veteran state committee member feels that there is a need to bring in new blood at the top level.
“Leadership change is a continuous process in the party and it would be good if there is rejig at all levels of the organisation,” said the leader, who did not wish to be named.
The Left partners such as Forward Bloc, RSP and CPI, which have failed to win a single seat in the Lok Sabha polls for the first time in last four decades, are much more aggressive about the dos and don’ts to revive the Left in the state.
“There has to be coordination among Left parties on political philosophy, ideology and politics we pursue,” Forward Bloc General Secretary Debabrata Biswas said.
“But unfortunately we have lost that coordination. There is a need to rethink and revamp our political line to make it more time effective. If needed the issue of leadership change can also be looked into,” Biswas said.
He added that the Left needs to speak in the language that connects with the people rather than serious ideological deliberations.
RSP central secretariat member Manoj Bhattacharya noted that there is need to have a re-look at the policies of the Left.
“More than the leadership change, there is an urgent need to have a re-look at our policies. Because it is the policy that attracts,” Bhattacharya said.
Veteran CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta spoke about taking a relook at the political line of the Left parties.
Kiran Bedi tried to establish her credentials as a secular, pro-women candidate.