CPI(ML): Wrong Turn in West Bengal: A Political Commentary
THE general secretary of the CPI(ML), Dipankar Bhattacharya, has been airing his views in the media for some time, about the tactics that the Left should adopt for the West Bengal assembly election.
He has been criticising the CPI(M) and the Left Front for equating the BJP and the Trinamool Congress and for calling for a fight against both the BJP and the TMC.
He has, in an interview to The Hindu, dated March 8, said that the political line taken by the CPI(M)-led alliance is “narrow, short-sighted, suicidal”. He has also said that the Left Front is “underestimating the BJP while targeting Mamata Banerjee and the TMC”. As against this “erroneous” line, the CPI(ML) has decided to distance itself from the CPI(M)-led front and go it alone. According to reports, the CPI(ML) will fight in 12 seats, support the Left Front in probably 12 to 15 seats and in the rest, campaign for the defeat of the BJP, thereby indicating that in over 200 seats, their support is for the TMC.
Unlike what the CPI(ML) alleges, the CPI(M) and the Left Front have not equated the BJP and the TMC. There is no underestimation of the threat posed by the BJP in West Bengal. The Hindutva forces are on the offensive in the state and the Lok Sabha election results of 2019 showed the advance and the danger posed by them. However, this does not mean that the Trinamool Congress and its brutal regime can, in any way, be considered to be a partner or ally in the fight against the “fascist offensive” that the CPI(ML) general secretary talks about.
It is necessary to have a proper understanding of the role the Trinamool Congress has played in West Bengal and the character of the Mamata Banerjee government. The TMC was the spearhead for the anti-Communist and anti-Left forces in West Bengal. By fascistic violence and lumpen politics, it targeted the CPI(M) and the Left Front and sought to physically suppress the Left movement. In the past decade, over 220 cadres and supporters of the CPI(M) and the Left have been killed, thousands were driven out of their homes, over a lakh false cases instituted and in many parts, a regime of terror established. The TMC began its political career as an ally of the BJP and as late as 2014, Narendra Modi saw the TMC as a potential ally. It is the establishment of TMC rule and the suppression of the Left that facilitated the rise of the BJP. Unlike what the CPI(ML) believes, `fascism’ cannot be fought by an anti-democratic, lumpenised party.
It will be a mistake to consider the TMC as similar to the Rashtriya Janata Dal in Bihar, or, the Samajwadi Party in Uttar Pradesh. In the name of fighting fascism, you cannot sup with the devil. The TMC and the Mamata government have been opposing and unleashing repression on the general strikes of the working class and the struggles of different sections of the working people, even when they are directed against the policies of the Modi government such as the November 26 general strike. A tragic example of the brutal repression was the death of a young man, Maidul who died due to injuries suffered due to severe police beating during a youth-student protest rally.
The CPI(ML) is underestimating the depth of popular discontent against the TMC regime. This is a state assembly election. If the Left Front will not firmly, vigorously and unequivocally fight for the defeat of the TMC government, a large part of this popular discontent will be garnered by the BJP. Even in the Lok Sabha election of 2019, a bulk of people who were suffering under the TMC’s autocratic regime, voted for the BJP, as they considered the Left Front too enfeebled to effectively fight the TMC.
The situation in West Bengal today is that even to rouse the people against the BJP’s evil designs, it is necessary to furnish your anti-TMC credentials to get their attention.
What electoral tactics the CPI(ML) has spelt out in West Bengal is not going to help the fight against the BJP. Mamata Banerjee has expressed her thanks to various parties for extending support to the TMC and the list includes the general secretary of the CPI(ML). It is unfortunate that the CPI(ML) is perversely considering the TMC as a better political force to fight the BJP than the Left Front in West Bengal.