CPM wants alliance with Congress in West Bengal panchayat polls
Kolkata: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM, may join forces with the Congress for next year’s panchayat election in West Bengal, notwithstanding the debacle the alliance faced in the 2016 assembly polls in the state.
At the end of the two-day state committee meeting, CPM state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra said on Tuesday that his party had decided to build an alliance of “secular forces” including the Congress to take on the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC).
A similar alliance in the 2016 assembly election in West Bengal resulted in the Left Front falling behind its partner—the Congress won 44 seats while the Left Front won 32 of the 294 seats to which elections were held.
Compared with the previous election in 2011, the Congress gained two seats while the Left Front lost 30—a clear indication that Congress voters in the state didn’t vote for Left Front candidates despite the alliance.
The call for an alliance was inevitable and signals a slow shift in stand within the CPM, said top leaders of the party, who asked not to be named. In West Bengal, the party and its traditional Left allies have long lost their support base and may not be able to field candidates in many villages even if they manage to enlist the support of the Congress, they added.
“The CPM wants to use us as a shield,” said Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Pradip Bhattacharya. In rural polls, such “declared alliances” do not work, he said, because people typically vote for the parties they have traditionally backed. It is likely that candidates opposing the ruling party will come to an understanding on their own to put up a united front, he added.
No alliance can rescue the CPM, said Biswanath Chakraborty, an independent election analyst and a professor of political science at Kolkata’s Rabindra Bharati University. In the past six years since it was ousted from power, the CPM has not been able to fight back or come up with the new leader, he added.