Home arrow Archives arrow Open Forum arrow Open Forum 2009 arrow Left In Distress:URGENT OVERHAUL NEEDED, by Dhurjati Mukherjee,8 June 2009
News and Features
INFA Digest
Parliament Spotlight
Journalism Awards
Left In Distress:URGENT OVERHAUL NEEDED, by Dhurjati Mukherjee,8 June 2009 Print E-mail

Open Forum

New Delhi, 8 June 2009

Left In Distress


                                            By Dhurjati Mukherjee

The Left Front is in dire distress and many believe that they are in a state of disarray. The snapping of ties with the UPA Government had been a great strategic mistake, as pointed out by former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee.

In fact, the Congress is extremely happy of not having to take the Left’s support as it would have jeopardized its relations with Mamta’s  Trinamool and opened the possibility of it  interfering in most decisions. The Third Front too is virtually a non-starter given that BSP’s Mayawati is ready to extend outside support to the UPA.

According to a former Chief Secretary of West Bengal, the CPM is likely to be cornered further in the coming years. Primarily due to its General Secretary Prakash Karat’s lack of political maturity and insight along with his arrogance. This could land the Party in great difficulty. Predictably, Karat is being cornered and criticized by his Party-men and it remains to be seen whether his position will remain unchanged in the Party’s hierarchy.      

Adding to the Left woes, the pre-poll issues in West Bengal and Kerala created problems for the Party. Leaving the people disillusioned and dissatisfied with its performance and bickerings within the Party. As the results show, both the urban and rural masses rejected its policies. Worse, the Congress-Trinamool pact consolidated the opposition leading to their resounding victory. Bagging an unexpected 25 of the 42 MP seats in West Bengal.

The 7 causes that went against the Left are: One, acquisition of farmland for industrial purposes when barren land and land of closed companies was lying unutilized. Two, the Adivasi agitation against wanton neglect and no development in tribal-dominated areas. Three, a large section of the West Bengal Muslims were upset with Left policies. Four, the Rizbanur episode.

Five, the distressing condition of education and heath facilities in villages and the pro-capitalist approach to development ignoring the interests of the people of the State. Six, under-utilization of Central funds, inept handling of the rural employment guarantee scheme and rural development programmes not properly carried out. Lastly, projects were held-up thanks to Party interference, corruption and The controversy for the need of farmland to develop industry as advocated by the CPM was rejected by the people. From south of Kolkata northwards across hundreds of kilometers on both sides of the river Hooghly, which was India’s one of the first industrial complexes, is now a rust belt.

Most factories are closed, machinery peddled-off and workers laid-off. In fact, over 1.6 lakh crores land is locked in litigation. In the last five years, the Left Front Government has closed down quite a few undertakings leaving over 6000 workers unemployed.

Pertinently, a section of the CPM, led by the State Land Reforms Minister Abdus Rezzak Mollah, had from the very beginning opposed the Party’s policy of the hasty takeover of farmland for industrial use. After the election, the CPM transferred back the Land-Use Board to Mollah from the Industry Department so that future acquisitions would be done keeping in view the interests of the land losers.

If one were to compare West Bengal with Maharashtra they are completely different. India’s commercial Capital Mumbai managed to redevelop its mill areas into bustling centres of trade, manufacturing and commerce. Questions have rightly been raised as to why the West Bengal Government has not been able to follow Mumbai’s model and instead opted for farmland to set-up industries. 

Adding to the Left Front’s woes, it floated the Third Front with Mayawati’s BSP and Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK. Two controversial leaders facing corruption charges. Thus the Front was viewed as an opportunistic alliance and rejected by the people. Questionably, how could the CPM which had demanded a CBI enquiry against Jaylalithaa in Parliament, align with her?

Not only that. Many Leftists and intellectuals have questioned the marked change in the Party’s ideological position and its electoral strategy. People like wrier Mahasweta Debi, actor Aparna Sen etc have been openly criticizing the CPM for its anti-people policies and complete developmental failure. Wherein the Party’s popularity has been on a wane across the country.

Besides, apart from the Congress, the Maoists are enraged with the CPM for its change of orientation in the economic policies. They allege that both in West Bengal and Kerala, the Left Front has played into the hands of industrialists and multi-nationals. Ignoring in the process the demands and needs of the rural poor, specially the farming community, small artisans, weavers etc which has led to its ignominious defeat.    

According to a report, the CPM’s assets which were Rs 52 crores in 2002 more than doubled to Rs 107 crores in 2006. Many wonder how a Party with only 43 MPs in Lok Sabha accumulated so much money in just 4 years. More. The CPM has the third largest assets after the Congress (Rs 229 crores) and the BJP (Rs 112 crores). Not a few believe that these, acquired in an ‘unclean’ manner, are more than officially shown. They could presently range between Rs 700-Rs 900 crores. 

There are also reports of large-scale corruption in the Party, especially amongst the middle and lower level cadres who work more for themselves than for carrying out grass-root development. Veteran Leftists pointed out that the Left Front, specially the CPM is no different from any other Party. There is no commitment and sincerity among Party cadres, no discipline in the P riddled by large-scale corruption and greed at all levels.

Recall, the Left came to power in Kerala and West Bengal promising to work for the uplift of the farmers and workers. After three decades, both these sections are angry and restive. Most Left veterans are dead or inactive and the current leaders have no experience, initiative or imagination to lead the seething population. Thus, when faced with opposition or distress, the Front reacted with overwhelming force, hoping to intimidate dissent with violence. Nandigram a case in point. The primarily reason for the CPM’s rejection by the rural masses. 

A political commentator aptly observed, Communists never believe in democratic norms. Yet they always talk of “people’s democracy” but do the opposite. Curb dissent and everything else with an iron hand instead of through dialogue and discussion.      

Alas as Verdict 2009 shows this strategy has failed. It is time now for the Left Front, specially the CPM, to introspect, bury their differences and emphasize on grass root development of the masses in West Bengal and Kerala, if they want to recover their lost position. Moreover, the structure and character of its leadership has to change so as to accommodate with better grace the demands that pluralist democracy makes on every political Party. True this appears remote in the short-term. But only time will tell how quickly they would be able to achieve the objectives. ---- INFA

 (Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)

< Previous   Next >
  Mambo powered by Best-IT