Amongst many other takeaways from West Bengal Assembly Election 2021, the exit of LEFT & Congress from the West Bengal Assembly is a very important one. This piece aims at giving insight to readers to speculate whether LEFTs in West Bengal are truly decimated or are they ahead on reincarnation with a new identity.
Within just 10 years after their mighty reign ended up in West Bengal, the State Assembly turned LEFTLESS.
Congress too marked a great exit from there for the first time since independence. While TMC has emerged more powerful than ever, Left & Congress lost all scope in Assembly politics, at least for next 5 years. Lefts’ exit may be politically illuding. Observations suggest LEFTs were not defeated by people this time but chose to leave the ground for TMC. To find rationale behind such statement, recalling back post poll discourse after recent Assembly Election in Bihar might be relevant. As CPI(ML) won a few seats in Bihar Assembly, leader of CPI(ML), Dipankar Bhattacharyya was vocal about policy blunders by CPM leadership in Bengal. Bhattacharyya categorically pointed out that in presence of BJP, Mamata Banerjee was not to be considered political enemy by the LEFTs in West Bengal. To stop BJP juggernaut, CPM in Bengal might well go hand in hand with TMC, he added. Would it be wrong to hypothesize that LEFTs, since then, made conscious move to push TMC ahead as they realized Left Front itself won’t achieve substantial electoral gain themselves to dictate terms in West Bengal Assembly? Since then, West Bengal CPM adopted new strategic operations to reincarnate into a new form of CPM + CPI(ML). I wrote in Assam’s Bengali Daily ‘Gati Dainik’ on March 22 that an undeclared coalition of all anti-BJP parties was visible in Bengal & their apparent conflict seemed window dressing.
Had CPM decided to sacrifice themselves for TMC, why did the red party field young promising candidates aggressively projecting they’d win?
Had they not done it, they wouldn’t have looked credible. Data studies have already shown huge anti-incumbency existed in West Bengal this year & 83.8% of those Hindus who’d voted, had voted against TMC. In order to offset such huge anti-TMC anti-incumbency, LEFT FRONT needed to launch effective campaign for which they needed to appear credible to people. LEFTs strategized to replace anti-TMC anti-incumbency with anti-BJP anti-incumbency launching orchestrated propaganda. To make such propaganda credible & appealing, they needed young spokespersons whom people would generally appreciate. Could people have conceived LEFTs were shadow practicing for TMC, their strategy would have been nipped in the bud. Hence, candidates like Aishi Ghosh, Dipsita Dhar, Meenakshi Mukherjee, Sayandeep Mitra, Nikhil Bhakta etc. were fielded to impress people. Moreover, Left Front has a certain dedicated voter base in West Bengal who, under any circumstances, would vote for LEFTs.
These voters are loyal to the term ‘COMMUNIST’, didn’t like TMC ever & always dreamt of CPM’s return to power (however illusory such dream might be). These people refuse to admit the fact that TMC too is a party of Communist ideology. These people associated the term COMMUNIST only with CPM. Had this loyal segment of CPM voters realized CPM was strategizing to fortify TMC this year, their morale would have been shattered. CPM addressed the mindset of these dedicated voters. One of the major reasons of fielding promising candidates was to keep these dedicated voters’ morale high. Along with their own dedicated voters, CPM also expected some young flanking voters would feel attracted by the persona of their promising candidates. However, dedicated CPM voters were strategically befooled in reality by CPM party this year because the new CPM acted more in guerrilla tactics & less in the form of Parliamentary Democracy.
How LEFT-Congress Alliance orchestrated to help TMC electorally? What did they do to look credible?
LEFTs accumulated trust-deficit over many years. Their points, however, were failing to appeal to people’s mind. LEFTs, for the first time since 2011, utilized this trust-deficit to indirectly benefit TMC in order to halt BJP. How did they do it?
1. They launched SHRAMAJIBI CANTEEN, a low-cost canteen where all got meal at low price. They continued to run community kitchen in different places during lockdown. While West Bengal Government under TMC created obstacles for BJP’s programs, LEFT’s SHRAMAJIBI CANTEEN & community kitchen faced almost no obstacles. Rather, following the concept of SHRAMAJIBI CANTEEN, GOWB too started MAA KITCHEN where people got food at Rs. 5/- Not to forget West Bengal is a place of downtrodden, low-income group people. Such low-cost food arrangements made their lives easier. LEFTs started gaining weight back in people’s mind as they served apparently selflessly during Corona lockdown.
2. LEFTs knew their service-oriented approach would appeal to many people though such appeal would fail to drag sufficient electoral success singularly to their party enabling them to dictate terms in West Bengal Assembly. However, appeal & credibility thus regained by LEFTs in a section of people was strategically applied by the LEFTs to fortify TMC’s eroding vote bank to prevent competitive mileage to BJP. LEFTs’ credibility went further up as, in spite of providing low-cost canteen services etc. they didn’t aggressively ask for VOTE FOR LEFT but they asked for NO VOTE TO BJP. Their direct negation of BJP, indirectly contributed to TMC.
3. LEFTs coalition with Muslim Clerics was a strategic masterstroke. How? LEFTs straightway clubbed with the Muslim Clerics of Furfura Sharif to clearly communicate their Islamic inclination. They speculated this would repulse those TMC voters who didn’t heartily choose BJP but also felt repulsed by TMC’s Muslim-appeasement policy & could have voted for the LEFTs this year. LEFTs’ direct alliance with Furfura Sharif, repulsed such voters from voting for the LEFTs’ too & in a way compelled them to stay with TMC. This is exactly what LEFT-CONGRESS Alliance wanted this year. Against the backdrop of huge anti-TMC anti-incumbency, LEFT-Congress Alliance wanted to add to TMC’s Hindu vote share sacrificing their own in order to halt BJP. Had LEFTs & Congress not allied with Muslim Clerics, TMC’s Hindu vote share would have eroded further leading to loss of TMC’s total number of votes & hence, seats. However, even though a major chunk of TMC’s such eroded Hindu vote share would have added to the LEFTs’ portfolio, it would have yielded negligible electoral success to LEFTs in terms of seats in WB Assembly providing greater net electoral mileage to BJP. Hence LEFT-CONGRSS allied with Abbas Siddiqui simply in order to prevent such electoral mileage to BJP.
What was the impact of LEFT-Congress-Furfura Coalition upon Muslim voters of West Bengal? Why then didn’t Muslims vote significantly for LEFT-Congress-Furfura Coalition & chose TMC?
In spite of ever having distinct Islamic inclination, LEFTs always claimed themselves Secular. In comparison to blind appeasement by Mamata Banerjee, such hypocrisy of LEFTs annoyed their Muslim vote bank that reflected in gradual loss of LEFTs’ vote share in West Bengal. It’s a fact that after 2011, major vote share of LEFTs came from Muslims whose guardians were feeling annoyed due to LEFTs’ hypocrisy of Secularism. However, in 2021, since LEFTs wanted anti-BJP Hindus not to vote for them but for TMC, LEFTs had no bar to directly club up with Islamic Clerics to render clearest possible signal of their Islamic inclination. LEFTs’ unapologetic standpoint of allying with Muslim Clerics of Fufura Sharif impressed their Muslim voters again. However, impressing Muslims were perhaps not their true objective. By clubbing with Islamic fundamentalist like Abbas Siddiqui, LEFTs wanted their Hindu votes to shift to TMC.
However, due to such coalition with Furfura Sharif, Muslims’ votes too could have shifted back to the LEFTs which the LEFTs prevented perhaps by direct negotiation with Islamic Clerics. Lefts perhaps clearly communicated to Clerics that Muslims should vote for TMC & not them. This was in order to capitalize Mamata Banerjee’s brand value which is far more than the LEFTs’ since 2011. Hence, LEFT-Congress’ Alliance with Furfura Sharif was a calculated masterstroke of religious polarization to repulse anti-BJP Hindus away from the LEFTs towards TMC while pre-planning for Muslim vote consolidation in favour of TMC–to HALT BJP’s competitive gain. Was Prashant Kishor one of the main contributing brain behind such strategic planning? Electoral arithmetic thus defeated Constitutional spirit of Democracy & Public Welfare in West Bengal. People of WB were manipulated by the left-Islamic lobby through pre-electoral match fixing.
LEFTs unambiguously allied with Islamists rendering a deliberate message that CPM stands in support of Islamic West Bengal. CPM is objectively consistent regarding this as they supported creation of Pakistan in 1947 too. Such consistency, straightforwardness & transparency of being with the Islamists got LEFTs back to Islamic Lobby’s good book. CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty had been seen meeting with Muslim Intellectuals which included Mahammad Kamruzzaman, in-charge of Rohingya-import in South 24 Parganas. Did Islamists’ faith earn not votes but fund for LEFTs which they utilized in campaigning against BJP? Not impossible.
Strategically admitting loss of their face value & credibility in West Bengal, LEFTs launched NO VOTE TO BJP Campaign in a faceless manner. They orchestrated to snatch BJP’s massive vote share in 2019 Loksabha in several assembly constituencies of West Bengal especially in Jhargram, Purulia, Bankura & West Medinipur. These are the area where the LEFTs worked in CPI(ML) style. Instead of committing anything positive for people of those areas, LEFTs unceasingly instigated Jangalmahal-people’s inherent feeling of deprivation. Working in Maoist style, LEFTs instigated Adivasi sentiments for no gain of Adivasis but solely to make them angry & aggrieved against the establishment. LEFTs’ sole politics centered on opposing BJP & they went all out in ANTI-BJP propaganda. They unceasingly reminded people of their pain during lockdown, job losses, migrant labourers’ hapless conditions, rise in LPG prices, Covid deaths etc. They also promulgated that the current Central Govt. was selling off all assets of the country in such a way so that no one would have a job at hand in short future, food n drinks too might be in scarcity. LEFTs didn’t say these truthfully. Instead, their propaganda was based on exaggerated narratives & half-truths. Let’s check what was the electoral impact of such propaganda in two different constituencies of Jangalmahal.
Jhargram Assembly Constituency: In every round of counting, TMC outperformed BJP while in 2019 Loksabha, BJP led in this assembly segment with near about a 1% margin. Lefts’ propaganda aimed at instigating anti-BJP anti-incumbency to replace anti-TMC anti-incumbency in which they succeeded.
Baghmundi Assembly Constituency:
In Baghmundi, Left-Congress alliance candidate clearly halted BJP-ally & let TMC go. In 2019 Loksabha, BJP alone got 50% vote share of Baghmundi. Lefts’ pin-pointed propaganda snatched BJP votes & facilitated TMC’s win. It’s visible in the round-to-round growth curve that Left-congress alliance pulled down BJP-ally’s growth curve immediately after initial few rounds.
Election_1 H x
Jangalmahal is again displaying visible traits of falling vulnerable to anti-establishment provocations by the LEFTs typically in CPI(ML) style
Election 2_1 H
In Social Media too, LEFTs conducted same propaganda in the form of instigative & hilarious MEMES. As soon as they realized their VOTE FOR NOTA indirect campaign had failed, the direct anti-BJP campaign— NO VOTE TO BJP was launched. LEFTs didn’t commit any alternative long-term plans for people’s welfare, but indulged only in propaganda against BJP. NO VOTE TO BJP campaign in Social Media targeted those flanking netizen voters who decided this year to vote for “Double Engine Ki Sarkar” & hence, BJP. A significant part of these netizens were first time voters. However, 18-21 years’ old youth generally tend to relish anti-incumbency criticism. They’re more vulnerable for propaganda of negativity which creates adrenaline & testosterone surge in them. LEFTs successfully instigated such feels in the youth in NO VOTE TO BJP campaign. LEFTs’ efficient instigations led the first-time voters of a NO-EDUCATION-NO-EMPLOYMENT State (West Bengal) not to press the BJP button. NOT VOTING FOR BJP was perceived as a rebellion by them. LEFTs’ propaganda was instrumental in creating such perception.
Did LEFTs directly ask people to vote for TMC?
While they directly asked people in Maoist style not to vote for BJP in face to face/ close door campaign in places like Jhargram, Pashchim Medinipur, Bankura, Purulia etc. in open meetings, they effectively communicated— “whosoever you vote for, BJP is a strict no no. However bad the present TMC Govt may be, BJP’s coming would be devastating”. Against the backdrop of Covid, such direct negative campaign yielded good result. A large part of LEFT & Congress’ votes went to TMC along with a significant part of flanking voters too.
Thinking LEFTLESS ASSEMBLY to be a big gain of this Election (so said Jayprakash Majumdar of BJP too) may be like living in Fools’ Paradise and/or falling in Leftists’ trap and/or deliberately misleading people of West Bengal further. While LEFTs have strategically and deliberately merged themselves with Mamata & walked out of West Bengal Assembly, they’ve perhaps gone for a greater gain. It would be relevant to point out that Congress too had left space for Pinarayi Vijayan in Kerala as deliberately as LEFT-Congress Alliance has done it for Mamata in West Bengal. Consolidation of votes for that particular anti-BJP party which has maximum opportunity in a particular State seemed to have been their single point agenda to halt BJP. For that, LEFTs had chosen the most befitting candidate of each State, e.g. Mamata in West Bengal, Vijayan in Kerala. Showing them as examples who could beat Modi, would LEFT-Congress lobby from now on keep working exclusively on anti-Modi global propaganda agenda for 2024 Loksabha exactly the way Democrats did against Trump in America? Since West Bengal LEFTs now have no role in Constitutional politics, they can participate in hardcore propaganda politics unhindered & unapologetic. Would defeating Modi in 2024 Loksabha be their Bull’s Eye? Would it be surprising if before 2024 some non-Gandhi becomes Congress President for the first time in 21st century in the interest of image management of Sonia Gandhi et al? Is this time for Nationalists to rejoice LEFTLESS ASSEMBLY in West Bengal or should they note the long journey ahead which might probably end up with grand defeat for Nationalists and hence be cautious in time? If taken lightly, those who defeated American Business tycoon Donald Trump, can also defeat Narendra Modi and/or BJP.
Last but not the least, it would be worth noting that while BJP men & women are being beaten, murdered all over West Bengal after Election, LEFT cabal too started claiming their people too were being murdered. Film Director Srijit Mukherjee tweeted first against post poll violence in WB followed by other leftists of TV entertainment world & Left leaders like Mohammad Salim & Sitaram Yechury. Why are LEFTs too playing victim card while things appear happening as per their game plan & while LEFT-CONGRESS-ISF together got only 13.9% of total votes? Perhaps such victim screaming too is strategic in order to communicate to people that they’re not in tandem with Mamata Banerjee’s Party & hence, TMC goons are not sparing them either. This too appears motivated in order to create perception, remain close & credible to West Bengal people while in reality, Mamata is just the front face of these neo-LEFTs. However, the moment communal nature of West Bengal’s post poll violence got exposed, Lefts stopped victim-crying & started blaming Nationalists to communalize post poll violence.
For the first time since 2011, WB LEFTs started politicking intelligently again in 2021 sacrificing immediate gain for some long term achievement. Historical antecedents suggest leftist politics is negative & invariably ends up with economic destruction. Be it anywhere on the Globe, LEFTs always failed to yield anything constructive to human civilization. As far as West Bengal is concerned, LEFTs ensured industry-rich West Bengal’s beggars’ fate of today. Whatever be it, for the first time since 2011, they are now taking steps in WB that suit their destructive political agenda the best. Without asking for electoral support for themselves, LEFTs have promulgated anti-BJP messages all out & indirectly snatched shares of BJP’s prospective vote pies adding them to TMC’s. As LEFTs accepted the fact that they won’t get mass support because of loss of equity of brand CPM, they planned all out attack against BJP not for CPM’s gain, but indirectly for the existing ruling Party of West Bengal. This indirect pro-TMC & direct anti-BJP campaign formula clicked well as people saw TMC’s ‘all-time rival’ (apparently) LEFTs to be more vociferous against BJP than against TMC. Underestimating LEFTs incurred huge cost to BJP.