BENGAL

In West Bengal, the CPI(M), or the Left, is in decline, and each election only strengthens that belief. Their failure to rebuild themselves since being defeated by the Mamata Banerjee government in 2011 had an impact on the CPI(National )’s standing as well.

Trinamool has recently taken over their last remaining citadel, the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad.

Left-leaning voters in West Bengal switched to the BJP in order to defeat Trinamool Congress, leaving the CPI(Mvoid )’s in the state. As a result of this, experts have concluded that the Left is insolvent.

In South West Bengal, the Left appears to be regaining some of the ground it lost to the BJP, albeit slowly. The CPI(M) is now planning a comeback in the state, with Mohammad Salim at the helm, in order to at least dethrone the BJP as the main opposition.

After succeeding Surya Kanta Mishra as the party’s state secretary on March 17, Salim tells that the Left’s revival will be achieved through a “revamp, reorient and repositioning.” Salim took office on March 17. The new party leadership brought with it a new way of thinking and a new strategy for the party.

By merging the local and zonal committees, Salim was able to streamline the process of making decisions in West Bengal

With this strategy, it is intended to portray the Left as a viable alternative to the TMC or BJP.”

Mohammad Salim, CPI(M) State Chief Secretary

This is what Salim refers to as “Net-e ebong Hete,” which translates to “through the internet and movements.” They intend to accomplish this.

Youth-Centric
Young people will be the face of the new Left, according to Mohd. Salim and other senior CPI(M) leaders.

Bengal youth

We are recruiting and nurturing youth from various fields – from campuses, youth movements, trade unions, Kisan sabha, women movements in West Bengal

Mohammad Salim, CPI(M) State Chief Secretary

Bengal
Protests against rising prices and joblessness by left-wing parties.

According to the Left, it has been cultivating young leaders for a long time. One-third of the party’s committee members must be under the age of 35 since 2015.

The fact that Aishe Ghosh and Dipshita Dhar ran for the Assembly elections was another notable example.

The focus is more around young people’s issues than any individual leaders, for last years the student youth had been championing the cause of young bengal. Let it be the issue of employment or reopening of educational institutions.

Dipshita Dhar, All-India Joint Secretary, SFI

Dr. Fuad Halim, a senior Left leader, believes that the younger generation will use modern communication methods to reach out to the public, which is exactly what the Left needs.

Younger people will be given more opportunities in leadership positions and to take movements forward. Younger people are more mobile and more flexible in their approach.

Dr. Fuah Halim, Senior CPI(M) leader

Movement-Centric

Bengal
A rally in Howrah was addressed by Mohammad Salim.

People are expecting more from us, especially the youth. So, we are involving more youth in movements and make the movements broader.

Dr. Fuah Halim, Senior CPI(M) leader

That’s what the leadership of the CPI(M) thinks, and that’s what they intend to take advantage of.

If the Left is to grow, Salim argues, it must be “movement centric” rather than “election centric.” He goes on to say that today’s elections are primarily about “network” and “net-worth.”

Even though we don’t have a lot of money, we’re building our network.

Mohammad Salim, CPI(M) State Chief Secretary

For their relief efforts during COVID, the party plans to use its “Red volunteers,” who have received praise for their efforts.

The question remains, however, what is the point being made? Repositioning the CPI(M) and the Left as a viable alternative to the TMC and BJP is the message. To broaden their appeal, they’re enlisting the help of other Left-leaning parties.

There will be a primary goal of raising awareness and countering claims that the Left has been “wiped out.” It is possible that they will also back movements that align with their beliefs.

The Left’s second goal is to consult with experts in various fields and present the general public with their solutions to social issues such as unemployment, inflation, and more.

We are putting forth an effective alternative, through policy which has to reflect organizationally, through our work.

Dr. Fuah Halim, Senior CPI(M) leader

But the CPI(M) isn’t just interested in social issues. They’re also hosting cultural events like blood donation camps and mixed gender football matches, as well as bike rallies and the planting of mangrove trees.

SFI and the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) are leading all of these student movements on the Left (DYFI).

The Left parties, however, have been protesting the BJP and TMC for some time now, from the unnatural death of Anish Khan to the rape in Hanskhali. However, despite their protest participation, this has not translated into votes, which has been a problem for them.

Even if it doesn’t translate into votes right away, the CPI(M) leadership believes their movements are making a difference and are creating a positive perception. The Left was able to hold on to its vote share in Ballygunge and Asansol by-elections, according to Dr. Fuad Halim, where it came a close second.

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This will allow them to organise those in crisis, and then confront the government over “real issues,” rather than “communal politics,” says he.

Social Media Centric

The CPI(M) had always struggled to keep up with the changing dynamics of modern-day politics, whereas the TMC and BJP had effectively jumped on the social media bandwagon long ago.

Consent in politics and elections can be manufactured through careful messaging, and most other political parties have taken advantage.

According to Saira Shah Halim, they plan to revive their Hindi and Urdu handles to reach a broader audience.

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Halim, also says that they plan to host online discussions with experts on pressing issues in the West Bengal , and devise solutions.

We’d also like to dispel any preconceived notions people have of the Left. We want to demonstrate that Left-wing leaders can come from a wide range of backgrounds. It is important for us to demonstrate that the values of the Left can be upheld while wearing jeans and earning a good living.

Saira Shah Halim, CPI(M) Leader

Then, What About the Elections?

Elections are the only thing that matters, and for the Left, they are a matter of life and death.

In the upcoming panchayat elections, Dr. Fuad Halim says that their new strategies will be put to the test.

A primary goal is to reorganise and strengthen the booth level organisation. In this way, they claim, they can both increase the number of votes and prevent rigging.

This alliance has done more harm than good, according to the party’s top brass, who have made it clear that it is not interested in forming new ties with Congress or the ISF. Furthermore, they claim that the Congress has tried to target the Left rather than the TMC during the recent elections.

In spite of this, they want to form a unified front against the BJP and TMC in their home state by partnering with the wider Left and other like-minded groups.

Salim believes that the dynamics of elections have shifted dramatically, and that hired organisations like IPAC are now being used to contest elections via social media. He believes that if the party wants to put up a fair fight, they need to learn the tricks of the trade.

According to him, “people vote to defeat a party” in the current political climate, and thus “we need to project ourselves as a viable alternative.”

Even though they appear to be on the right track, it will be impossible to tell if their new strategies were successful until the final day of counting.


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