After a crushing defeat, both personal as well as for the party, opposition leader in the West Bengal Assembly and CM aspirant for the CPI(M) in the recently concluded assembly election, the 67 year old Surjya Kanta Mishra took the podium at CPI(M) headquarters Muzaffar Bhavan in Alimuddin Street in Kolkata on Thursday. Mishra, a doctor by profession, lost his own assembly seat Narayangarh in West Midnapore district to the TMC’s Pradyot Ghosh, a seat which he has been consistently since 1991. Mishra was one of the few CPI(M) leaders who had survived the TMC onslaught in the 2011 assembly election in which Mamata Bannerjee came to power. But not this time.
The mandate in this West Bengal election has been complete giving Bannerjee a clean sweep, crossing the golden 200 mark and bettering the last elections performance of 184 seats. “We humbly accept the decisive and clear mandate of the people. We want to express our gratitude to all those who have supported us and stood behind us and braved the many threats to come out and for us,’’ he said in his opening remarks to a thin gathering of the press, a departure from the past two months when the party office had been burgeoning with representatives from the media.
Muzaffar Bhavan remained a fortress on Thursday with its tall iron barred gates shut to the public. A number of police vehicles and police personnel remained posted outside the gate as bike-borne Trinamool supporters, covered in splashes of green and carrying the TMC tricolor, circled the building intermittently, screaming and shouting victory slogans. The top brass of the party remained closeted inside the building as the results started pouring in.
In a candid admission Surjya Kanta Mishra admitted that many of the party’s supporters did not vote for the Left.
“Some of our own supporters and sympathizers did not vote for us, this is true,’’ he said. When asked if the electoral “understanding” between the Congress and the CPI(M) had ostensibly failed, Mishra said that that this was not the case.
“Of course we still have to analyse what has happened. However I would not say that the jote failed entirely. Our vote share has increased even if this did not translate in to seats. This is not the end. This election has not been the final word. We will regroup keeping in mind the 2019 elections and see what needs to be done. It is possible that the understanding will continue till then. But the party needs to discuss this and take a final call,” he said.
Mishra further said that a momentum of “andolan” or protests had started which the party will endeavor to maintain over the next few years.
“The issues which we have been raising for the past five years, which we raised before and during the elections, of repression of protests, of threat to democracy, of unemployment, of farmers committing suicides – they are facts, they are relevant irrespective of the mandate of the people and irrespective of the elections. The people may have voted in the TMC but does that mean that Sharada did not happen? Does that mean that Narada did not happen. Does that also mean that there is no corruption in the government? We will continue raising the issues and fighting for these causes henceforth,” he added.
Mishra hinted at a “clandestine agreement” between the BJP and the TMC even as Mamata Banerjee in her press conference at the other end of town in Kalighat said that the BJP and the TMC could never be allies because they are ideologically such different parties.
“But we believe that there are at least 10-12 seats in Bengal where the TMC workers helped the BJP win and vice versa. There has been a clandestine agreement all along,” alleged Mishra.
Mishra further raised concerns about renewed attacks on CPI(M) party workers, an issue that the Left has been raising through the 2016 elections. Mishra alleged that attacks on party workers had begun in areas such as Dhupguri, Arambagh and Nandanghat. Mishra said that Left party offices in Cooch Behar’s natabari and Hooghly’s Arambagh have been attacked over the past few days.