Thursday, Aug 11, 2022
Outlook.com

All That’s Left Behind

There’s no sign of a Left phoenix rising from the ashes

Antithesis All That’s Left Behind

Within seven years of the rout in West Bengal after a continuous reign of 34 years, the CPI(M) has suffered a similar fate in Tripura, which it had held for an unbroken 25 years. The country’s largest Left party is now left with a stake in power only in Kerala, where a front headed by it has been taking turns with a Congress-led combine to form the government since 1980. The CPI(M)’s fall considerably shrinks the space of the Left in the Indian polity. In terms of known popular base, the CPI is not even one-fourth its size. In the last Lok Sabha election, the CPI(M) fielded 93 candidates—nine won, 50 forfeited their deposits, and the party garnered a 3.28 per cent voteshare. The CPI put up 67 candidates—one won, 57 lost their deposits, and the party got a paltry voteshare of 0.79 per cent.

The Left’s decline comes as the BJP-led right-wing forces are rising across the country, while the Congress and other centrist parties are losing ground. This raises questions about the future of plurality in the Indian polity, and also about how Left is what is left of the Indian Left. The Left’s founding fathers were mainly from the class of landlords and social elites, which naturally led to some contradictions. It is said the membership card then party secretary P. Krishna Pillai iss­ued to E.M.S. Namboodiripad, a future ideologue, general secretary and Kerala CM, mentioned that he belonged to the bourgeoisie. When Bihar’s then Congress government moved the Zamindari Abolition Bill, for limited land reforms, Communist legislators, mostly big landlords, opposed it saying it did not go far enough. And the Bengal leadership came from the hallowed Bhadralok ranks.

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