Heavens have not fallen...CPM is not out

Heavens have not fallen...CPM is not out


Somnath Chatterjee

Expelled Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, 82, refuses to dismiss the Left as a spent political force notwithstanding the communist parties’ rout in the recent assembly polls in West Bengal and Kerala. In a free-wheeling interview with Dipankar Chakraborty of Deccan
Herald over telephone from Kolkata, the veteran leader without naming anyone held both the CPM central and state leadership responsible for the fall of Left bastions. He, however, amply proved that for him there was no love lost for the Left or its ideology.
He called for a ‘serious introspection’ both within the central and states leadership to bring the Left back on track. Excerpts:

Do you think people have finally taught CPM a lesson?

It will be strange if I say so. Change of power in a parliamentary democracy is not unique…quite normal. In West Bengal Left Front created world record by being elected seven times. People did it (elected LF) consciously, not by emotion. Therefore, there is no question of teaching a lesson. It was anti-incumbency factor in Kerala, Tamil Nadu… (and also) in Delhi in 2004 when the NDA (led by BJP) was defeated.

With a lot of inner party contradictions and instances of squabbling leadership surfacing from time to time in the party’s state units, the writing was clearly on the wall for the central leadership to step in…
I am no longer a part of the CPM…Let’s hope they (leadership) will learn their lessons, change issues, the type of functioning...

You had said that heads must roll. Do you think the central leadership is to be blamed for the ills effecting the party apparatus?

I don’t know. I cannot give consultation to the party I do not belong…

But as a well wisher of the party…?

(Laughs) Personally speaking, there should have been serious introspection after the 2009 Lok Sabha poll (when the party’s tally declined). Nobody seemed to bother. (There was) only talk of rectification. There was no change of functioning…same leadership. Nobody in the UPA till date have any understanding as to why did the Left withdrew support…In 2008, there were sufficient signals for the party to heed in the Zilla Parishad elections (in West Bengal) when it was taken by the Trinamool Congress. No real thinking has been done (since 2009 LS polls) as to why the rural (voters) went away from the Left, how TMC made relentless efforts (to win rural voters).

Even media did not play an even game. It lost all sense of dignity…tried to mislead people.

Do you think ‘Singur’ was symptomatic of Left’s inability to manage its contradictions on economic and ideological fronts?

Singur was not a policy failure it was an administrative failure.

But Left wanted industrialisation while being anti-MNC….
This was a propaganda. There have been slippages in governance.

What are the possibilities of CPM’s resurgence now?

Heavens have not fallen. CPM has not exited forever - this is the impression being created in the wake of Left’s defeat in recent assembly polls. I believe if proper direction was given on time…But Left polity is not gone with these elections.

Can you be more specific about ‘proper direction’?

Personally speaking it entails both Delhi and states being able to meet the requirement of the situation.

What is the situation? Which are the areas that need attention?

I cannot point the areas that need attention. It is the duty of the party to take responsibility.

Do you think the Left need to change with time?

(Angry) What aspects need change. Are people of Bengal fools (that they elected Left seven times).