Left's great concern is existence, not BJP

Left's great concern is existence, not BJP

Communist Party of India (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury (3R), along with other leaders, poses with the party's manifesto for the "General Election 2019" at the CPM headquarters in New Delhi on March 28, 2019. AFP

Even as Left-front leaders are flaying Rahul Gandhi's decision to contest from Kerala as a weakening of the national-level fight against the BJP, it seems that the real concern of the CPM and CPI is that a setback in Kerala could even lead to a wipe-out of the parties from parliamentary politics.

During the 2014 parliament elections, out of the nine CPM candidates who made it to the Lok Sabha, five were from Kerala, with two each from West Bengal and Tripura. The lone CPI candidate who won in the country was also from Kerala.

Kerala is the only state where the CPM is now in power. Hence, the party is trying to get as many MPs from Kerala as possible in this election. Only then will the party have anything to bargain with in case of formation of an anti-BJP coalition at the Centre.

All these calculations of the CPM suffered a big blow with Rahul Gandhi's decision to contest from Kerala as this would give an advantage to the Congress-led UDF's candidates in almost all of the 20 constituencies, especially since Rahul is being projected by the grand old party as a future prime minister.

"At the national level, the CPM has already become insignificant, not due to their ideologies, but due to the lack of representation. Kerala is the lone state where the CPM now has high hopes. Hence, they seem to be highly disturbed over Rahul's decision to contest from Kerala," said a political analyst and Kerala University associate professor Dr Josukutty C A.

CPM state secretary Sitaram Yechury was not even ready to make any rough predictions on how many seats the CPM will win.

When such a question was asked to him at a press meet in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday, he said that it was not possible to make any predictions now. But he was hopeful that the Left parties would fare well, as it did in 2004 owing to the surge for a secular government.

Over the last few elections, the base of the CPM and CPI has been eroding in a phased manner in the Lok Sabha.

While 44 CPM and 11 CPI candidates won in the 2004 elections, in 2009 it came down to 16 and 4, respectively. In 2014, it further came down to 9 and 1. This election is, therefore, a do or die struggle for the Left parties.

According to political analysts, Rahul Gandhi’s candidature in Kerala would be a setback to the CPM not only in the current Lok Sabha election but also in the next Kerala Assembly elections, which is due in 2021.  

For the Congress, it is a good thing to bring in Rahul, as this will help the party tighten its grip on Kerala, and will help it in the Assembly elections, even if it doesn't make a government at the Centre in 2019.