People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 18

May 02, 2010

                        Bengal Municipal Polls:

                        Fissures in the Opposition

                        B Prasant


THE bourgeois media and the corporate houses that sponsor them � out of their own financial compulsions � have for some time now been filled with hopes and aspirations about the �sure� defeat of the Left in Bengal when the municipal polls are held in May this year, with better things to follow.  Before exploring the ground under the feet of the right reaction, let us turn to something else.

The rich hope for a d�b�cle of the left in the civic elections.  The petit bourgeoisie fear that the Left may have to face defeat.  These are but class responses.  What we regret especially is that not-a-few �left� thinking people, intellectuals, literati, artistes, have even gone on to create �scenarios� for the future right-wing government that shall �come to office, yes, certainly.� 

One newspaper editor now regularly runs a column where he pontificates the �ways-and-means� that the rightists must look out for, while running the Bengal government �on a long term basis,� from 2011.  Nevertheless, the doubters remain in the microscopic minority.

The other day, a well-known progressive, secular, liberal historian, a genuine CPI(M) supporter, expressed his critical apprehension as to how he would run the mufussil college that he heads as the principal, once �the brigands come to office.�  What makes him and his like so sure that the Left is going to be voted out and comprehensively? 

The middle classes, the late and very much lamented Polit Bureau member of the CPI(M), Saroj Mukherjee, would never fail to remind, are a vacillating lot. 

Go instead, as we have done of late, to the villages like those in the Binpur block in Midnapore west, or in the terai and dooars regions of north Bengal, and you shall be met with bright-eyed optimism of the masses, for they have little doubt of the fact that the electorate would never vote in the anarchic brigade. 

Approach the workers who have been cruelly retrenched by the managements and who draw what is still a pittance of an allowance due to them courtesy of the Left Front government, and you shall see courage of conviction about the outcome of the polls. Who is concerned with despondency?  The Red flag shall flutter once again, the workers believe.     

The wondrous fact has been that other than vague charges like, say, the isolated, if sad, incident of police firing during Nandigram episode, or the so-called lack of �proper� (i.e., consumer-oriented, market-driven, pro-rich) governance, the opposition could only point to an issue, in their attack mode, on which they are themselves deeply mired in � the issue of law-and-order.  The Left would tend to agree with the rightists that there is need for restoration of democracy, on very different grounds, grounds that have everything to do with rightist intransigence and left sectarian adventurism � at the cost of the lives and livelihoods of the people.

The political meadow of the opposition in the meanwhile shows increasing signs of cracks and fissures. The actors and actresses who appear on the stage of rightist drama are becoming bitterly personal in their internecine quarrelling. The comfortable confines of a central government club of an office in downtown Kolkata was the venue for the latest round of talks in the afternoon of April 22 between Didi�s men and the despondent looking lot called the Pradesh Congress. The meeting had already turned biley when somebody mentioned, before the horse-trading commenced in earnest, one Pradesh Congress leader�s recent attack on the Trinamul Congress when he had commented that there was one post �of political prominence� in that outfit that all others were �unlit lamp posts.�

The Trinamul Congress during the negotiations just told off the Pradesh Congress big shots, our sources tell us, that out of 141 seats in the Kolkata Corporation, the Pradesh Congress might get 20 or less.  The Pradesh Congress leaders then fretted, fumed, and even let loose a bad word or two.  Nothing happened.  Nothing can happen. 

The Trinamul Congress would crop the opposition political meadow flat and bald by overwrought, power-packed, mowing down.  To them, the Pradesh Congress is an entity that hangs on to the political pallu of Didi, to survive in Bengal.  The opposition in Bengal shall remain an uneven mess. The Trinamul Congress is sure of a runaway victory.  The masses are also sure � of a defeat for the practitioners of banditry, on May 30 when Kolkata goes to the polls.  2011 is yet a way off.