CPM is in a state of paranoid. The fear that haunts CPM leadership is whether the party would be wiped off from the country’s political map. The elections to the state assemblies in West Bengal and Kerala, will be the last chance to hold on. It is precisely ‘now or never’ for CPM. The party is therefore in a frantic bid to forge alliance or understanding, overt and covert, with whom ever possible. It was late EMS Namboodiripad, who once said in the late sixties that his “party would ally even the devil”. The then alliance with the devil was with a view to isolating the Congress in Kerala and West Bengal. But today it is for the very survival of the party.
In West Bengal, CPM is hands in glove with Congress even as they head rival fronts in Kerala. As a result the Bengal comrades will not campaign for their party in Kerala while the Kerala leaders of the party will keep off West Bengal. The tie up with the Congress in West Bengal is explained by CPM as the “tactical understanding” against Trinamul Congress and BJP. In Kerala the doors of CPM-led front is wide open to accommodate any. The Kerala-West Bengal elections confirm once again that politics make strange bed fellows. Loss of power for yet another term in Kerala or failure to give a feel of at least its presence in West Bengal will be both disastrous for the four decade old party. This is perhaps the gravest challenge which CPM faces ever since the split in the undivided Communist Party in 1964. Hence the paranoid of the party which lost its political base and the ideological ease.
The paranoid of the party explains its ridiculous bid to accommodate any Tom, Dick and Hary in the Left Democratic Front. A splinter group headed by Francis George who broke away from KM Mani’s Kerala Congress in protest against denial of seats is being wooed into LDF. So also Kovoor Kunjumon with little political backing, who left RSP on the eve of elections is accommodated in the left front. Yet another Kerala Congress leader R Balakrishna Pillai who was jailed on charges of corruption and his son and ex-minister Ganesh Kumar have found ready acceptance by CPM. All these compromises are obviously in a frantic bid to hold on for the time being. Stranger gestures and actions could be expected from CPM in the days to come.
In West Bengal, the CPM led Left Front has earmarked 75 out of the total 294 assembly seats for the new ally, the Congress. Interestingly, Congress was allotted only 68 seats in 2011 in the then alliance with Trinamool Congress when negotiations went on interminably. In Kolkata, out of the total eleven seats, Congress gets five. Besides allotting adequate number of seats for Congress, CPM has also pressurised its partners in the Left Front to make it comfortable for the new ally. In Murshidabad, RSP sacrificed three seats for Congress. It may be recalled that in 2014 elections, CPM-led front had bagged 33 per cent votes while Congress got only 9.6 per cent as against Trinamool Congress’ 44 per cent and BJP’s 17 per cent.
Wherever CPM and Congress have not succeeded in forging an understanding despite the sincere efforts by birds of the same political feather to flock together, friendly contests are expected. Such friendly contests are likely in Nabagram, Domkal, Hariharpara etc. Strangely, though the open understanding between CPM and Congress is confined to West Bengal, the chances of friendly contests between Congress-led UDF and CPM-led LDF are not ruled out in Kerala either. This is only to keep at bay the BJP which is emerging as the third alternative. In constituencies like Nemam, Vattiyoorkavu, Palakkad, Manjeswaram, Kattakkada, Kasargode, Kazhakkottam and Thiruvananthapuram, an eleventh hour tacit understanding between UDF and LDF against BJP is most likely. It has always happened in the past.
Hari S Kartha
(The writer is Senior Executive Editor, Amrita TV)