As in the case of Kanhaiya Kumar’s campaign for Lok Sabha election from Begusarai in Bihar in 2019 several Left-leaning and secular leaders and media persons are going overboard in settling their old score with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, in the ongoing Assembly election. Just as the former president of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union was in no position whatsoever to win the election against the Union minister Giriraj Singh in 2019 and a false narrative was then created about the Rashtriya Janata Dal young leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav that he was against the opposition unity, a section of the same lot in the Fourth Estate is working overtime to paint the West Bengal government in the blackest of colours. The aim is certainly to damage the prospect of the Trinamool Congress. Whether they would succeed or not it is a different matter.
The problem with many in the Left is that they see Mamata and BJP as two sides of the same coin, even though former chief minister of West Bengal, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, had on the eve of the 2019 Lok Sabha election warned the party cadres of his state, “There is no use in leaping from a TMC frying pan into the BJP’s fireplace.”
Though Mamata dislodged the 34-year old rule then led by Bhattacharya, the latter described BJP’s rise in the state as a “danger”.
“In some places, the danger is already present. Our task is to bring back the people from this self-destruct mode,” he was then quoted in the party’s organ as saying.
No doubt the Left has its own compulsions and is fighting for survival in West Bengal the fact is that by equating Mamata with Bharatiya Janata Party they are committing a strategic blunder. Bhattacharya was warning the CPM rank and file on this very count then.
Those who have crossed over to the BJP have their own arguments, but those who are still in the Left parties and are accusing Mamata of destroying West Bengal are actually spoiling their own poll prospect.
Though the BJP has never been in power in West Bengal it cannot be blamed for what had happened in the state in the last over so many years. But the Left Front had ruled the state for 34 long years and people know both good and bad things about it.
So far political violence is concerned the Marxists cannot get away by just accusing Mamata. People of West Bengal, as such, are well aware of the ‘firepower’ the Left used to possess then.
Their apologists in the media should now know that the CPI ML (Liberation) leader Dipankar Bhattacharya is openly supporting Trinamool Congress. He is doing this for the larger cause and is not putting up the party candidates. It was not a Left Front constituent then too.
Curiously, when two and a half years after May 2019, the Assembly election was held in Bihar in Oct-Nov last the CPI and CPM along with the CPI ML (Liberation) joined hands with the RJD. Today all the three Left parties are in Mahajot in Assam where the main constituents are Congress, Bodoland People’s Front, All India United Democratic Front, RJD etc.
In fact, out of the 16 seats won by the Left parties in Bihar, CPI ML (Liberation) won maximum 12 while the other Communist parties got two each.
In not-so-distant future the CPM may be compelled to join hands with TMC as in Bihar now. After all they are already fighting in West Bengal in alliance with the Congress though in Kerala, they are against each other.
Ironically, the CPI had in its national executive meeting in Hyderabad in the last week of January 2021 passed a resolution by an overwhelming majority of 107 to 3 against none other but Kanhaiya for his alleged misbehaviour with senior party functionaries in Bihar. The same Kanhaiya, who last year led a month-long Jan Gan Man Yatra against the Citizenship Amendment Act, went on to meet senior Janata Dal United leader and minister Ashok Chaudhary after this development.
Now the voters of Begusarai owe an explanation as to who was right and who was wrong. Kanhaiya and company levelled all sorts of allegations against veteran socialist and RJD candidate, Tanvir Hasan, of ditching the larger secular alliance, though the former lost by over four lakh votes to Giriraj.
It needs to be mentioned that Kanhaiya hardly got the support of Left party cadres in Begusarai which almost all went to the BJP. A sizeable number of 2.7 lakh votes he got were of Muslims who reposed full faith on him and not on Tanvir Hasan. Had it not been so Kanhaiya would have lost his deposit.
Tanvir, though a seasoned player, could get only 1.98 lakh votes. Surprisingly, a big chunk of votes he received was of Yadavs, EBCs and Dalits and much less of Muslims.
All these were largely because of the confusion caused by the Left-leaning and liberal journalists. They are busy in the same exercise now in West Bengal, where the rout of the Communists is imminent.
Soroor Ahmed is a senior journalist based in Patna. The views expressed are personal.