A month after the West Bengal Assembly polls, the CPI(M) West Bengal State Committee members were at loggerheads during a two-day review meeting to discuss the party’s disastrous performance.
As the party failed to send a single representative to the House of 294 lawmakers, most of the leaders blamed it on the decision to join hands with a one-month-old outfit Indian Secular Force (ISF). The CPI(M) also made it clear that it will not take any responsibility if the alliance with Congress and the Indian Secular Front breaks. The decision was taken at the Alimuddin Street office after the two-day State Committee meeting. Meanwhile, the Left Front partner Forward Block said that the CPI(M) should decrease their dependency on their alliance parties (Congress and ISF).
In the recent election, the Left Front, Congress and ISF, the outfit floated by an influential Muslim cleric, allied to consolidate electorates who were against the ruling TMC and the rising BJP. Both the LF and Congress failed to bag a single seat while the ISF won only one out of 27 where it had contested.
Sanjukta Morcha failed to gain the trust of the people. Even a part of Leftist voters was doubtful about the role of the Sanjukta Morcha as an alternative. The State Committee said even the campaign failed to make an impression on the voters. The comments from Congress and the IAF also created confusion among people. Significantly, the formation of Sanjukta Morcha, the incorporation of ISF into the front, along with the separation of party from different sections of people on the one hand and gaining additional strength in the struggle on the other, were two goals. The political scenario was not in the favour of the alliance that BJP’s “polarization politics" helped the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC.
“Inclusion of ISF in the alliance was not a unanimous decision. It was Selim (politburo member Mohammad Selim) who had projected the ISF as a progressive force which, in reality, was not. Those who were in favour of joining hands with the new outfit wanted to arrest the migration of minority votes to the TMC. The strategy was wrong and electorates did not accept it as CPI(M) has always been vocal of secularism," said a State Committee member.
The alliance also received a setback as the ISF fielded candidates in some of the seats in Murshidabad against the Congress. State Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who was against the inclusion of ISF, had his party did not share seats with the outfit. Incidentally, many CPI(M) State Committee members had wanted the party to contest in the polls without joining hands with the ISF and Congress.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said on Saturday that it is still not clear if the alliance with the CPI(M) will be there in the upcoming municipal polls. After the meeting, it was told that it was not yet time to say what the future of the alliance.
Many members also expressed their discontent for the party’s alliance with the Congress, saying a similar tie-up had caused damage to the party in 2016 polls. The Congress had pocketed 44 seats at that time while the Left parties could bag just 26 seats.
The Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha also expressed reservations over the alliance with the party founded by cleric Abbas Siddiqui. He stated, “We never formed an alliance with Indian Secular Front, our alliance is with the CPI(M), we have not parted ways, the alliance is there".
Maintaining that the clean image of the alliance was tarnished by the entry of ISF, he slammed the party for fielding candidates against Congress.