Prasenjit Bose,TDN World:The statement issued today by the CPI(M) after its Polit Bureau meeting on the Loksabha election results is a perfect example of prevarication and obfuscation that has become the hallmark of a degenerated and dishonest leadership, which has presided over the liquidation of the Left movement in the country over the past one decade: https://cpim.org/pressbriefs/17th-lok-sabha-election-results

The combined national voteshare of the CPI(M) and the CPI has fallen steadily from 7% in 2004 to 6.7% in 2009, 4% in 2014 and 2.3% in 2019. No other national party has witnessed such a sharp erosion of its base in the past decade.

After the worst ever electoral performance of the Left parties in the post-independence period, the CPI(M) Polit Bureau has only this to say:

“The electoral base of the CPI(M) saw a big erosion in our strongholds. The Polit Bureau discussed some of the issues that led to this erosion. The Central Committee meeting from June 7 to 9, 2019 will discuss and adopt a report, based on reports from the states, to draw proper lessons on the basis of a serious introspection on the experiences of these elections. The State Committees in our stronger states will meet and self-critically evaluate the Party’s performance before the Central Committee meeting and, on the basis of this, the Central Committee shall draw up the necessary corrective measures in order to strengthen the CPI(M)’s independent strength and its capacities of political intervention through popular struggles.”

The President of the Congress Party at least had the sense to offer his resignation after the election defeat. The geriatric leadership of the CPI(M) does not even have any shame left, which is why they are taking recourse to the bureaucratic parlance of discussing and adopting ‘reports based on reports based on evaluations based on performance’. The fact is that the CPI(M) leadership’s failures are too obvious to warrant any further evaluation based on experience.

CPI(M)’s voteshare in West Bengal has declined from 23% in 2014 to 20% in 2016 to only 6% in 2019. Lakhs of erstwhile CPI(M) supporters and members have voted for the BJP in West Bengal, which has led to the saffron surge in the state. This could not have happened without the active connivance of a section of the CPI(M) state and district leadership, who have aided and abetted the BJP’s rise in the state. Besides the former West Bengal Chief Minister, no other senior CPI(M) leader even admitted to the vote shifting prior to the elections, despite early warnings from several quarters.

In Tripura the CPI(M) voteshare has come down from 65% in 2014 to 43% in 2018 and further to 17% in 2019. In Kerala the Party lost in all seats but 1 in 2019 (although its voteshare has remained largely intact). The degeneration of the CPI(M) in West Bengal has dragged down the Party and the Left Front everywhere.

The least that can be expected is for the CPI(M) General Secretary and the West Bengal leadership to step down immediately, taking responsibility for the total failure of their political line and organisational performance. This is necessary to enable free and frank discussions within the grassroots activists of the CPI(M) and the Left parties in a democratic manner, which can lead to constructive outcomes. A failed leadership which is hell bent on preserving their positions within the Party by any means, will only stifle honest and self-critical discussions.

The way ahead for the Left lies in a complete overhaul of its stale ideological framework, confused political line and rotten organisation structure. Such restructuring requires the emergence of a courageous and conscientious leadership, which is alive to the concerns and aspirations of the grassroots activists and the common masses. The present leadership of the CPI(M) is the biggest roadblock to the much-needed restructuring within the Left. They should step aside to make way for a new leadership.
(Prasenjit Bose is an ex leader of CPIM)