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Left on its way out in WB, admits leader
Published on 3 Jun. 2010 11:14 PM IST
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The drubbing in the municipal elections is a clear pointer that the Left Front that has ruled West Bengal continuously since 1977 is set to be voted out next year, a party leader said Thursday.
Speaking frankly about the Left’s prospects in the 2011 assembly elections, the leader of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), which heads the alliance, said the “anti-CPI-M trend had gone too far” to reverse in a year’s time.
The leader, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told IANS that the “overbearing attitude” of the party’s middle level leaders and corruption were the two key reasons for the CPI-M’s drastic erosion of popular support. “The municipal election results are the continuation of a trend that was earlier seen in the panchayat and last year’s Lok Sabha elections,” the leader said. “I am afraid this is going to last.”
He added: “People have decided they want a change. As the voters see it, there is only one way to achieve that. That is to vote for the Trinamool since it is the main opposition party, whatever reservation some may have about (its leader) Mamata (Banerjee). This is the clearest message coming from yesterday’s (Wednesday) results.”
In municipal elections held across West Bengal Sunday and whose results came out Wednesday, the Trinamool snatched the prestigious Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) from the Left and also trounced the Marxists in scores of 80 other municipalities.
The Trinamool made significant inroads into semi-urban and industrial areas long considered Marxist citadels. The Trinamool victory is a shocker to the Left, which had hoped that its own united ranks and a division of anti-Left votes among the Trinamool and the Congress would give it the advantage it had enjoyed for decades.
The Marxist leader dismissed as “childish” comments from some CPI-M leaders that too much need not be read into the municipal results as only 17 percent of the total electorate in the state voted Sunday.
“That is childish and ridiculous,” said the leader, explaining that the urban voter was the most vocal anywhere in India and their voting pattern was bound to be reflective of the larger thinking in the society.
The leader said over 30 years of uninterrupted rule had led to an overbearing attitude in the CPI-M ranks - that the party was always right and that it needed to control all aspects of life in West Bengal. “This attitude has also deviated into corruption, particularly in middle levels,” said the leader who plays a decision making role in the CPI-M.
Can the CPI-M and Left reverse the trend before the assembly elections?
The leader felt this was near impossible “unless there is a miracle of sorts” or Mamata Banerjee commits a political blunder.
“It is not that friends of CPI-M were not warning us about the dangers ahead in West Bengal,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the party did not pay heed. Indeed, I think there will be changes in the party. But the anti-CPI-M trend has gone too far.” The CPI-M, founded in 1964 following a split in the Communist Party of India (CPI), has been the most successful Communist party in the country having tasted power in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura.
It had propped the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government from 2004, but walked away over the Indo-US civil nuclear deal ahead of the 2009 Lok Sabha election when it suffered huge setbacks.
Much earlier, in 1996, it almost came to rule India at the head of the centre-Left coalition. But the dogmatic CPI-M stunningly rejected the offer.

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