All is not well in the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose-founded All India Forward Bloc (AIFB) with the recent developments indicating an imminent vertical split in the 82-year-old party.
Signs of disintegration in AIFB, whose main strength is concentrated in West Bengal, first surfaced on April 22, 2022 when the top leadership decided to bring about a change in the party flag.
Despite being a constituent of the Left Front in the state, the proposal to change its flag during the two-day national conference at Odisha in April last year gave a clear indication that the party wanted to shed its Communist tag.
At the time of inception of the party in 1939, the flag had the picture of a “leaping tiger” against a “Tricolour” background. However, later in 1952, as the party came closer to Communist forces of the country, it was changed to reflect Communist ideology, with the background colour being changed to red and keeping the “springing tiger” intact and the symbol of “hammer and sickle” was inserted.
However, 70 years after that in April last year, the party leadership decided to drop the “hammer and sickle” from the flag while retaining the background colour of red.
In a statement in April this year, the Forward Bloc leadership claimed that the change in look was taken to shift from the concept of communism to the party’s original roots as conceived by Netaji.
The “hammer & sickle” symbol on the flag had lent credence to the propaganda that the party was more “Communist” than “Socialist”, thus preventing it from growing as an independent socialist force.
While accepting that “hammer and sickle” continues to be the symbol of the working class, the party will have to acknowledge that the size and colour of the that class has changed with the advancement of science and technology, where services sector contributes a major portion of the gross domestic product and there is no reason to exclude workers from that sector.
However, that development led to a rebellion within the party in West Bengal, where it has the maximum organisational strength, though restricted in certain pockets and the first sign of disintegration became evident.
The rebellion was started by the popular Forward Block youth leader and two-time former party legislator from Chakulia Assembly constituency in North Dinajpur district of West Bengal Alim Imran Ramz, who is popular in the legislative circle as Victor.
He alleged that the decision to bring about the change in the party flag look was taken at the central council meeting of the party without any consultation with the leadership at all levels.