Kolkata, April 20 (IANS) All is not well in West Bengal Left Front, that has stuck together for 39 long years, including 34 years as a ruling coalition. Upset with LF spearhead CPI-M, a prominent partner is now raising questions about the tie-up with the Congress for the assembly polls, wondering “whether we have dug our own grave”.
The Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) is peeved on multiple counts. The Congress has pitted nine candidates against its nominees, and the CPI-M leaders have gone ‘beyond the LF mandate” by campaigning jointly with the Congress. But what riles the RSP the most is the local level CPI-M leaders’ reluctance in various areas to side with LF partners in seats where they are up against the Congress.
“We in the LF had thought of having an understanding with right-wing forces, including the Congress, to unite the people against the Trinamool Congress, which has established its monopoly in the state. But we never took a decision on forming any front or alliance with the Congress,” RSP state secretary Kshiti Goswami told IANS over the phone.
Goswami said LF chairman Biman Bose had also made an announcement to that effect ruling out any joint campaign.
“Yes, some people in the CPI-M are saying an alliance had been formed with the Congress. But in the LF we never discussed or passed any such proposal. The LF chairman even said that there will be no joint campaign, joint rallies or joint squads.
“We had trusted their announcement. But the later developments have breached our trust. Even eminent leaders of the CPI-M are campaigning jointly with the Congress leaders. The Congress tricolour and the CPI-M’s red flag are fluttering together. It seems a green signal has been given by the CPI-M to its cadres that they can walk this road,” said Goswami, a former state minister.
Slamming the Congress for putting up candidates in some of the constituencies where LF partners are in the fray. Goswami said the Congress leadership refused to heed the requests to withdraw from the fray.
“For instance, there are such disputes between the Congress and the RSP over nine seats. This is undesirable. We had hoped through discussions this dispute can be overcome. But unfortunately, that was not to be.
“Our local leadership in these constituencies is angry. They are now questioning the rationale for the LF tie-up with the Congress. Naturally, Trinamool will reap the benefit in these seats,” he said.
Asked about local level CPI-M leaders extending support to Congress candidates in a number of constituencies where the LF partners are also in fray, Goswami said: “We have conveyed our thoughts to the LF chairman. We can’t say if he is cornered in the party. There may be an inner crisis in the CPI-M.”
In fact, even CPI-M central committee member Gautam Deb told a Bengali news channel recently that in constituencies where both Congress and LF partners have fielded nominees, his party would extend support to the “strongest candidate” who can defeat the Trinamool.
Goswami regretted that some smaller LF constituents like the Revolutionary Communist Party of India (RCPI), which was with the combine since its formation in 1977, have “virtually been eliminated” from the polls.
LF chairman Bose had in a statement announced the RCPI would withdraw its candidates from two seats in favour of the Congress.
“So, in the LF, questions are being raised whether we have dug our own grave. Such questions are being raised in our party also,” said Goswami.
Going hammer and tongs at the CPI-M, Goswami said the Marxist leaders appeared to be more interested in shoring up the party’s prospects in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
“In 2014 (general elections), their performance was poor. So, maybe the Marxist leadership is doubtful whether they can retain their status of a national party after the 2019 general elections.
“So they are accommodating others generously with the hope that these parties will leave seats for them during the Lok Sabha polls. They have done it at the cost of West Bengal.”
(Sirshendu Panth can be contacted at email@example.com)