Home  -  Back Issues  -  The Team  -  Contact Us
         Volume 10 |Issue 19 | May 20, 2011 |


 Cover Story
 Current Affairs
 One off
 Special Feature
 Food for Thought
 Star Diary
 Book Review

   SWM Home

Current Affairs

The Fall of the
Left Empire

Mohammad Ali Sattar

The most talked about ballot consequences in South Asia is the latest drubbing of the Left Front (CPI-M) in West Bengal. The long 34 years rule of the Left despotism is over. It was like a one man rule in the Arab world swept out of command by a new thinking generation. The CPI-M, to some, had become arrogant and hollow. Mostly blame the party leaderships' failure to deliver what the people had long been expecting. The party workers watched in awe the ideological deviation.

Out of the total 294 assembly seats, Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress alone bagged 184 seats while its ally Congress secured 42. The Left front that won 235 seats in the 2006 elections, has managed only 63 seats this time. It has been more or less a single handed effort of the 56-year-old young lady Mamata. She worked overtime and fearlessly. She conquered the minds of the people who were grossly under the Left spell for decades. They probably never learnt to brace anyone other than the reds. In the course of time the Lefts turned impatient and uncompromising. The party gradually lost its ideological vigour and almost ceased to be a communist force a long time back.

A successful campaign. Photo: Zahedul I Khan

In fact, it is not only in India, the world over Communism has lost steam and fails to create grounds. Communism in India now stands redundant, for sure. It won't be able to stage a comeback at any time in the near future. The global appeal is lost, to say the least.

The proletariat dictatorship, which is the lifeline of Communism, could never be achieved in West Bengal. Probably the communist leaders knew this well, hence the attempt to fit into the contemporary political system. If they reconciled with the capitalist thoughts they ceased to remain communists, plain and simple.

Jyoti Basu, the supposedly working class leader, turned into a proletariat despot. He managed to keep the communist garb on and went ahead to make basic compromises on ideological issues. The CPI-M history in West Bengal is the history of never-ending alteration and compromise.

It was during his time that the left assumed power and it was again he who in a conscious state of mind allowed gradual drifting of the left towards a liberal democratic bourgeoisie order.

The pledges of reform that the party undertook some 34 years ago were never carried out in full. Agrarian community was greatly benefited by the land reform it introduced when it came to power. The reform brought success for the party and it cashed in on the 'reform fame' for many years. But somewhere down the line the programme spaced out.

Mamata Bannerjee: creating high expectations. Photo: AFP

Many expected the West Bengal government would go for massive industrialisation, keeping pace with the rest of the Indian states. That too did not come about in time. Only recently did the party try to assist Tata in setting up industrial plant in Nandigram, it instead earned the wrath of the people when it tried to evict them in an indecorous way. There were allegations of repression of the marginal class by the party workers and the local government officials.

That the leadership was not efficient in its economic planning is clear by its failure in implementing the half-hearted programmes it took up. The incompetence was glaring. It also failed to contain the rampant abuse of power and comprehensive corruption in the party ranks and the government. The party messed up things in all fronts. Economy was in a shambles, social unrest became visible and politics was reduced to dogmatic rituals. In fact, the party was so severely in the grips of failure and incompetence that it was only a matter of time to strike it down.

All CPI-M needed was a soft push to be deposed. Mamata waited in the wings to do the job. She bade a strong farewell to it. No wonder Maoists thought it opportune to lend support to Trinamool Congress and topple the Left. Buddahdeb Basu was incapable to hold things together. Tragedy also struck the left in the southern state of Kerala.

The Left debacle is more due to the failures of the leadership than its ideology or manifesto. The left leaders are expected to be stronger in character and focused in their vision. West Bengal or for that matter India has no such leader at the moment to carry the red flag.

The inner strength and conviction of communists is in the low. They apparently lost the will to fight the neo-liberal agenda. The capitalist slogans of 'consumerism' have gained grounds over the years beating the communists in the race for prominence. It is now hard to perceive a comeback of the party any time soon.

Mamata Bannerjee played smart. She struck at the opportune moment. However, the credit of her victory goes to the CPI-M failures. Now with the left out of scene all eyes will be set on Mamata. People will naturally pin a great deal of hope in her. She has to deliver in time and she has to deliver a lot. She already has a long agenda in hand - economic uplift (industrialisation being the foremost) and political expediency for her party and the coalition. She can't afford to be communal at any point of time of her career. As the first woman Chief Minister of the West Bengal she has all the opportunity to bring about reform on the grounds as also in the thoughts of the people. She also has the 'grassroots' tag on her, she also speaks of 'mati' and 'manush' like the communists have been doing. She has to be different.

Bangladesh would like to see how she convinces the centre for better ties with us. The cross border trade needs to be streamlined, smuggling has to be contained, railway network and bus services need to be regularised between the two countries and BSF atrocities needs to be stopped immediately. Mamata Banarjee has a job cut out for her.



Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2011