After a good performance in Bihar assembly elections, the CPI(ML)’s general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya has opined that the Left parties contesting in 50 seats would have been ‘reasonable.’
The Left bagged 16 of the 29 seats they contested in Bihar with the CPI(ML) winning 12. Bhattacharya said they were expecting a “stronger performance” of the Mahagathbandhan and the Left as this was a “very rare kind of election”.
In an interview with Indian Express, Bhattacharya said, “We were in fact expecting a stronger performance of the Mahagathbandhan and the Left, because this was a very rare kind of election, almost a people’s movement. It looked like an upsurge of the youth. It was refreshing to see people shape the agenda with employment, education, basic issues. That kind of an environment helps the Left… All through the lockdown we were active, stood by the people.
“And the so-called double-engine government (if the NDA was in power at the state and in the Centre), people found both the engines were driverless (at the time)… Our comrades reached out with rations, we did relief work in flood-affected areas. I think this role of the Left during the lockdown helped us.”
He said 50 seats for the Left would have been “reasonable” in Bihar. The Congress had contested in 70 but won only 19.
“In India, elections are much more unequal now, given the kind of grip the Central government has, the BJP has… It’s not like America, where the media, a lot of institutions, were up against the Trump administration. Here the kind of grip that the Central government exercises, enjoys over many institutions in shaping popular opinion, public perception… through their propaganda machinery… that plays an important role. The other thing is the Opposition alliance.
“I think if we could have formed an alliance earlier and the seat allocation was more rational — for example, at least 50 seats for the Left and 50 seats for the Congress would have been a more reasonable, fair distribution… If we could have decided a little earlier… it took a long time to decide on seat allocation and everything,” he said.
Bhattacharya felt the Grand Alliance lost out in the third phase of elections on November 7 compared to the previous two phases due to the BJP’s “very vicious kind of communal campaign”.
“The main reason (for the Grand Alliance not winning as many seats as it expected) could be the third phase of elections, in Seemanchal etc. The BJP unleashed a very vicious kind of communal campaign. So (there was) communal polarisation and maybe some division of votes because of the AIMIM,” he explained.
When asked about West Bengal, he said, “In West Bengal and Assam, the number one priority of the Left must be to stop the BJP…I think the Left has to get its act together in Bengal. So rather than competing with the BJP in opposing the Trinamool…it should be the other way around. Of course we will oppose the Trinamool wherever necessary, but let us contend with it against the BJP. The BJP has to be recognised as the No. 1 threat to democracy across the country and also inside West Bengal.”