n the Left’s only remaining base, Kerala, the CPI(M) won one seat and the CPI nothing.
Important ideas which move millions do not fade easily, and when political parties are their vehicle they don't pass into oblivion just because of a crushing electoral defeat. Therefore, the Communist-anchored Left movement in India may not be staring at the end of the road after the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. But the signs are not good.
In the first general election in India, the undivided CPI was the main Opposition in Parliament. In 2019, the CPI(M) has won three seats across the country and the CPI two. The undivided CPI was founded in 1925, the same year as the RSS and Ficci, the business chamber. It is evident that those who claim to represent working people haven't fared as well as their ideological and political rivals in capitalist India.
In this election, even the pitiable pickings of the Communist Left are primarily on the back of a superior ally — in their case the DMK in Tamil Nadu. (The non-Marxian Left, the Indian socialists linked with figures like Ram Manohar Lohia and Jayaprakash Narayan, which are today just caste combines, are also in the dumps — look at the nil RJD result and the SP’s woeful status. The one that got away — Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) — is a Narendra Modi ally.)
In the Left’s only remaining base, Kerala, the CPI(M) won one seat and the CPI nothing. In West Bengal, where the CPI(M), the so-called leader of the Left Front, which has been diminishing ever since it lost power to the Trinamul Congress in 2011 after ruling the state for 34 years, fought 40 of 42 seats in the state (after rejecting a Congress deal), and lost its deposits in all of them, except Jadavpur.
There is a deep story here, magnified by the fact that the scattering CPI(M) cadres came to the aid of the BJP — that captured 18 of the 42 seats — in this election. The BJP, in turn, helped the CPI(M) boys “capture” the TMC’s party offices in mofussil areas, some of which had apparently once been forcibly taken from CPI(M) by a rampaging TMC. For the CPI(M), the Trinamul Congress turned out to be the immediate and the more potent danger than the BJP.
This could turn out to be a gross misreading. And the party top shots are answerable. The CPI(M)’s slogan in West Bengal was: “Oust the BJP to save the nation, oust Trinamul to save Bengal!” On the face, such a call lacks focus and would have encouraged communal forces. Thus, the clearly non-ideological cadres just went their own way and backed the BJP.
The BJP in 1989 had only two seats in Parliament and the Congress is in poor shape today. But these are “bourgeois” parties. They can bounce back within the capitalist system. But the Left’s decline has been steady, and this can really hurt the poor.