Trinamool Congress is constantly making its mark since 2011 in West Bengal; now Amit Shah has joined the club when he sat with a tribal couple in one of his state visits, to clearly deepen BJP roots in one of the few states where the party lacks ground. In the entire hubbub, if one party has completely gone off the horizon wholly; is the Communist Party of India CPI(M).
Though, in no other state they held as much of a stronghold as they did in Bengal, there are places in India, where the party, rather the ideology, still breaths; for instance Kerala, also Tripura to some extent. But if we are to review, we will find an overabundance of reasons for the flat line the party is facing, for the most part.
Living in denial: Three decades is a long time to rule and it will get to anybody’s head, but to feel, for the party Chairman Biman Basu, that the humongous down vote achieved by them is “unexpected” after the numerous opinion polls, exit polls and reportage is plain deluded; or maybe naive at best.
The stagnated benefactor: Whether you are a communist or not, the socialist angle is far too familiar in the guidebook of our country’s politicians. After independence, Indira Gandhi would be a good example of this; who took the socialist leaf right out of Communist party’s book and cooked it in her own flavour of ‘garibi hatao’ to acquire Congress’ own legacy. It was a workable strategy for the UPA government even till some years back, when Sonia Gandhi used it in a somewhat similar manner, with her slogan of ‘Congress ka haath, aam admi ke saath’ when the party rode to power in 2004.
CPI(M), itself started out with the grass-root level approach of farm loan waiver and all its siblings; the Communist Party of India (CPM), Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), and Forward Bloc, who were rather buoyed by the CPI(M) in the first place, followed suit. Thus, they did not leave a mark of their own and sort of remained, as free loading entities.
Moreover, the party which has banked on their Lok Sabha seats throughout 1989 to 1999 saw its appeal ebbing away when it entered the new century, nailing the final bolts to the vote bank when it turned its face from their chief prospect of being pro-agrarian and tried to build industries in farm lands of Singur and Nandigram.
The other two strongholds: As deep as the split goes between CPI(M) and CPI in Kerala, it is more than certain that an actual dissociation is a long way, still. Though the danger lies elsewhere; the rise of Kerala Congress (M), (KCM) of KM Mani has given the CPI(M) hope to replace CPI. This would be a horrendous mistake, as the new born party does not have half of the popularity it needs to substitute an age-old party like CPI.
Tripura is still Communist party’s territory, in spite of the existence of Trinamool Congress there, the part that plays in CPI(M)’s favour is that, TMC is largely a one man (actually, one woman) party, run by Mamata Banerjee, which has restricted the party’s popularity in one state; for the time being. This is one of the main reasons, CPI(M) won the assembly by-elections there, last year. But, the number of candidates leaving Congress to join TMC is increasing so rapidly, that if CPI(M) does not buck up, they might find themselves in a similar situation as they faced in Bengal.
Lastly, in the time of digitization and globalization, only that party will survive which is capable of evolving with the voters. In a country where 65% of the population is below the age of 35 and first generation computer users, you cannot expect them to punch in their votes swayed by the lingo of ‘neo-liberalism, communalism and pro imperialist approach of the ruling class’. You can achieve it by providing them substantial materials like, jobs, education and a higher standard of living. The 65-year-old prime minister has understood that. Thus, he is sweeping all the votes away, even from the 46-year-old Rahul Gandhi. Communist party does not even tot up to the top five of the list of priorities.