May 27, 2009 12:52:38 am
In Peoples Democracys first edition after the election results,General Secretary Prakash Karat admits that the CPMs efforts to project a national non-Congress,non-BJP alternative on the basis of alliances in four states backfired as the combination was neither credible nor viable.
The CPM and the CPI had an electoral understanding with some of the non-Congress,non-BJP parties in Tamil Nadu,Andhra Pradesh and Orissa and seat adjustments in Karnataka. On the basis of these state level understandings forged on the eve of the elections,we attempted to project them as a national level non-Congress,non-BJP alternative.
The defeat of the Left in West Bengal and Kerala and the failure of the alliance in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu to win a majority of the seats undermined any effective presence of the third front at the national level. It is evident that such a combination which had its relevance in the concerned states was not a credible and viable alternative at the national level, he says.
Despite the failure,he argues that the secular non-Congress combination got 21 per cent of the vote and it shows the potential for building up a third alternative which is not merely an electoral alliance but a coming together of the parties and forces on a common platform through movements and struggles for alternative policies distinct from that of the Congress and the BJP.
In the article,titled The elections and after,Karat argues that while there has been a pro-Congress trend in some parts of the country,taken overall,there is no big swing. Congress has got just about 2 per cent more [voteshare than in 2004, he says. That there was no wave or a strong all-India shift in favour of the Congress can be seen by the party losing ground in states like Orissa,Jharkhand,Assam,Gujarat,Chhattisgarh and Karnataka to mention a few, he says.
He admitted that despite the neo-liberal predilections of the Congress-led government,some of the measures like the NREGA,the Tribal Forest Rights Act,the increase in the minimum support price for rice and wheat,and the farm loan waiver,many of which were brought under the pressure of the Left parties,have had a positive impact on the people. The Congress gained more support amongst the minorities who were keen to ensure that the BJP does not make a come back. The non-Congress,non-BJP parties were not seen as a viable alternative in most parts of the country and this accentuated the shift in minority support to the Congress, he says.
Left at crossroads
While Karat admitted that projection of state-level alliances as a national alternative was a mistake,Sitaram Yechury in the lead editorial bluntly said such an alternative cannot,obviously,be a cut and paste arrangement on the eve of elections. This can only emerge through sustained popular struggles. There are no short cuts.
Of the pre-election Third Front,both the BSP,and the JD(S),which hosted the first public rally announcing the non-Congress,non-BJP combination in Karnataka,have decided to support the UPA. Even before the results were announced,the TRS which was part of a non-Congress,non-BJP front in Andhra Pradesh,had joined the NDA. These developments have only confirmed the assessment made by the CPM Polit Bureau about the Fronts lack of credibility,he said.
On the setback suffered by the CPM,he said this requires a serious self-critical introspection and review in order to identify the mistakes and shortcomings and to draw proper lessons. This is absolutely necessary to regain the support and confidence of those sections of the people who have been alienated from the Left and to further consolidate and expand its influence in the future. This process has begun.
Compiled by Manoj C.G.
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