West Bengal election 2016: With Congress making up its mind, is CPIM ready to share power in Bengal?


It was not easy for the CPIM central leadership to concede its Bengal unit’s demand to have an electoral alliance with the Congress. Despite some opposition from a strong Kerala unit, Bengal leaders were  unrelenting since they might have thought the party stands no chance of a comeback without widening its electoral alliances. Tied down by the Party, Congress line which does not allow any electoral understanding with non-Left parties, the central leadership was in a catch- 22 situation. The pragmatic central leadership came out with a solution- the party can have electoral understanding, not an alliance. But what difference does it make on the ground is one thing  which  only the CPIM intellectuals might be able to explain. With Narada News Sting operation X Files which exposed the TMC leaders’ corruption, and whole lot of anti-incumbency factors weighing on them, a new ideological issue may also be cropping up for the CPIM. If the alliance wins, are they ready to share the power with Congress?

This issue became pertinent after the  state congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that his party is ready to share power with Left if they are voted to power.  The BJP and the TMC may raise this as an election campaign issue answering to which may not be easy for the CPIM.

In an interview to IANS  Chowdhury stated: “There will be a common minimum programme and going by the response that we have got in the first phase, this alliance will come to power and the Congress will be a part of the government,”  He added that coalition’s chief minister will be decided at an “appropriate time” and the government will function on the basis of a common minimum programme.

Congress leaders Manas Bhunia and Abu Hashem Khan Chowdhury have said CPI-M state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra was the alliance’s chief ministerial candidate. But the Bengal Congress chief said the duo have spoken in their individual capacity, reports IANS

The coming together of the two forces has been far from smooth. Internal bickering and “heartburn” within both camps, the “friendly fights” in a number of constituencies, especially in the Congress bastion of Murshidabad, has often evoked angry reactions from Chowdhury himself.

LF constituents, particularly the RSP and the CPI, had openly expressed their anguish, claiming their existence was being compromised for the sake of the tie-up.

If CPIM decides to share power in Bengal with a non-Left party, a question that will be raised only if they win enough seats to form the government, then that will be path-breaking for the party. The CPIM which is struggling to keep its national party status, in the last party congress -the highest decision making body which used to convene in every three years, held last year in Vishakapattanam  decided to independently enhance its strength without going for electoral alliances with non-Left parties. But practical compulsions has forced the party to have an understanding with Congress- a party CPIM believes responsible for the woes of Indian masses.

In Kerala the party is fighting the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF).

In 1996 when non-Congress parties  offered Jyothi Basu, who was the chief minister of Bengal at that time, prime ministership, the central committee of the party declined the offer. Jyothi Basu later commented this as the ‘historical blunder’ committed by his party. It was reported at that time that the present general secretary Sitaram Yechury and the former general secretary Prakash Karat were instrumental in taking that decision.

If the party succeeds in its existential battle in Bengal, what will the party do? Will Bengal be governed by a CPIM chief minister with a Congress leader as number two in his cabinet. If that happens it will be epoch making change in the mainstream Left politics in India. Surely, all these questions will arise only if Mamata loses her battle owing to the ever-growing disenchantment among the public.