CPI(ML) Performance in Recent Assembly Elections
In the just concluded Assembly elections, our Party had put up 14 candidates in Assam , 25 in West Bengal , 10 in Tamil Nadu, 1 in Kerala and 4 in Pondicherry . Of all these states, it was only in Assam where the Party had hoped to win any possible victory. In the remaining states, our objective was to conduct a vigorous election campaign and try to increase our votes.
The result shows that our goal of an electoral victory has once again eluded us in Assam . We have finished second in one constituency and third in two and fourth in five constituencies. In terms of votes, four of our candidates have polled between 15,000 and 20,000 votes and two others have polled more than 7,000 votes each. Altogether, we have polled just about 1,00,000 votes in Assam .
|Howraghat||Rabi Kumar Phangcho||
15064 (2 nd )
|North Cachar Hills|
|Haflong||Rajat Moni Thaosen||
|Rest of Assam|
|Chabua||Gonga Ram Koul||
|Burdwan North||Biswanath Ghosh||
|Krishnanagar West||Subimal Sengupta (Tablu)||
|Raiganj||Ajit Kumar Das||
|Chapra||Abu Bakkar Shaik||
|Falakata||Janmemjoy Singha Rey||
|Nadanghat||Annada Prasad Bhattacharya||
|Krishnanagar East||Amal Taraf Dar||
|Bishnupur West||Dilip Pal||
|Nakashipara||Pradip Dutta (Kajal) Gupta||
|Mainaguri||Uday Shankar Adhikari||
|Kandi||Syed Fazle Alam||
Of the 1,00,000 votes polled in Assam , a little more than 61,000 have come from the five constituencies in the hill region, Karbi Anglong district in particular. Here our campaign revolved primarily around three major themes: (i) the question of Congress-sponsored extremist violence and growing insecurity faced by the people of Karbi Anglong, Karbis in particular, (ii) all-pervasive corruption and non-implementation of food-for-work and employment guarantee schemes, and (iii) persistent refusal of the Congress to implement Article 244 A and upgrade the autonomous councils of Karbi Anglong and NC Hills to the level of an Autonomous State within Assam.
During the last couple of years the Party organisation in Karbi Anglong has run a sustained campaign on these issues. In the wake of recurrent DHD-UPDS clashes that left a heavy trail of death, destruction and displacement, our Party has been in the forefront of organised relief efforts and peace campaigns. The newly launched Kisan-Shramik Sabha unleashed commendable mass initiative to expose the Congress regime's monumental lies and loot and launch a militant mass campaign on the issue of implementation of the employment guarantee act. All this had certainly recreated a popular platform for the Party but the election results show that everywhere we have fallen at least 5-10,000 short of our vote targets. The Party will obviously have to closely examine the reasons underlying our inability to translate our mass influence into votes as well as the basis for continuing Congress victories despite growing mass resentment against its misrule.
Beyond the hill districts, our work in Assam has mainly been developing in tea garden areas. For long, the community of tea workers used to be a key support base of the Congress in Assam . But the utter neglect of the community's primary demands like extension of ST recognition and the deteriorating work and living conditions of tea workers have started alienating and distancing the tea community from the Congress. In recent years we have been able to make some primary progress on this front. This time we had fielded candidates in half-a-dozen tea garden constituencies in the districts of Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Sonitpur and Jorhat. Altogether we polled more than 30,000 votes from these constituencies including 18,000 from one seat and 7,000 and 3,000 from two other seats.
Between 1996 and 2006, there has been a steady increase in our votes beyond the hill districts of Assam . From a total of 14,656 votes in 1996 (from 5 constituencies) our votes went up to 20,847 in 2001 (from 9 constituencies) and have now reached 38,011 (from 9 constituencies). This increase is primarily a reflection of our growth and expansion in tea garden areas, and the general level of our rural work and urban area work in Assam remains still very weak on the whole. To realise the possibilities of Party expansion and growth in Assam , we must urgently develop some strong pockets of rural work while expanding our work in tea gardens and the hill districts.
In West Bengal , we have polled a little more than 63,000 votes from 25 constituencies, a marginal increase of over 10,000 compared to the 2001 polls. The highest vote polled by any of our candidates is just a little above 5,000 in one seat. In two other constituencies, our candidates have polled between 4 and 5,000 votes while in four cases, the votes have been in the range of 3 to 4,000.
Among the 25 seats that we contested in West Bengal , 10 were in the three districts of Bardhaman, Hooghly and Nadia - the main zone of our rural work; and 9 in the North Bengal region. We also contested two seats in Bankura and one each in Birbhum, Murshidabad, and North and South 24 Parganas districts.
The results show some elementary signs of growth in Darjeeling and Malda districts in North Bengal , and some encouraging expansion in Bardhaman, Hooghly and Bankura districts in the southern and western region of the state. By contrast, in Nadia, Murshidabad and North Dinajpur , three of our old districts of rural work, our votes have either been declining or stagnant. In Rajnagar (Birbhum), Falakata (Jalpaiguri) and Bishnupur West (South 24 Parganas), three seats contested for the first time, we have polled between 1,500 and 3,500 votes and if we are able to consolidate our organisation in these areas we can surely develop some new pockets of work.
The expansion in Bardhaman and Hooghly holds some special lessons for us. These are among the most developed districts of West Bengal and considered to be impregnable CPI(M) strongholds. In the early 1990s we saw some initial signs of class antagonism and political dissidence within the CPI(M) in Bardhaman and around the time of the 1993 panchayat election we had reached a position where we could make our presence felt in several panchayats. To stop this trend the CPI(M) unleashed a systematic campaign of violence and terror. Five agricultural labourers were lynched to death at Karanda village (in Memari PS of Bardhaman district) for showing the courage to challenge the CPI(M)'s hegemony and campaign for the revolutionary class line of the CPI(ML). More violence followed, some emerging leaders were killed and many members and supporters were subjected to brutal physical coercion and intimidation. The Party organisation in Bardhaman however displayed the necessary grit and determination to withstand this terror and now we are in a stronger position to develop our work among the rural poor and even among sections of middle peasantry. The work in Hooghly began with some initial impetus from developments in Bardhaman, but now it seems to have acquired its own internal momentum.
There is also a general lesson for the entire M-L movement in West Bengal . Some individual M-L leaders without any organic association with the ongoing class struggle in West Bengal had joined hands in these elections with the Trinamul Congress (TC) led by Mamata Banerjee. Some former leaders of the CPI(M) too have trodden a similar path of crossing over either to the Congress or the TC. All these people have only discredited themselves in the eyes of the people. Devoid of any active support of the oppressed and deprived rural poor, the Maoists too could manage to produce only some 'sensational news items' with their occasional armed actions in the region bordering West Bengal , Jharkhand and Orissa. In clear contrast to these liquidationist and anarchist tendencies, our Party and some other CPI(ML) organisations have persisted with the complex and painstaking practice of class struggle. The failure of the Congress and the TC-BJP combine to provide a rightwing replacement to the CPI(M)'s three-decade-old rule does indeed provide better conditions for strengthening a Left opposition at the grassroots and this is the only way to combat the right reformist rule of the CPI(M)-led Left Front.
In Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Pondicherry , our votes have been miserably poor, crossing the 1,000 mark in only two constituencies. In many areas of Tamil Nadu we have been working for years and decades together. Yet the results clearly show our chronic and crippling failure to develop areas of serious and sustained mass work and to provide a stable organisational shape and political identity to whatever mass work we have been doing. We must closely examine our practice and work hard in a few pockets with single-minded determination to free the Party from the historical shackles of stagnation and political isolation from the masses.