CPM faces identity crisis over opposition status
Kolkata: An acute feeling of paranoia and confusion has gripped the state unit of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) in West Bengal, following the assembly poll debacle. The party is finding it extremely hard to project a suitable name for the leader of the opposition in the assembly.
Several senior CPM leaders at the local and district level have lost these elections. As many as 27 ministers of the outgoing Left Front government, including Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, have been booted out.
This has put the CPM in a very tight spot. With so many senior ministers like Asim Dasgupta, Nirupam Sen, Goutam Deb, Ashoke Bhattacharya and Kshiti Goswami having lost the polls, the party will not just be a numerically depleted lot in the assembly, but the party will be very low on experience on the floor of the house.
Health Minister Suryakant Mishra, Land and Land Reforms Minister Abdur Razzaq Mollah and Panchayat Minister Anisur Rahman are among the few CPM leaders who have managed to come out unscathed from the vote for "change".
However, Mollah has already landed the party in a spot with his scathing verbal attack on Bhattacharya over the poll debacle. As a result, most Left partners have reportedly refused to promote him as the leader of the opposition.
A section within the CPM had floated Mishra's name as a likely candidate. However, there are not too many takers for his candidature, given that Mishra is not a very articulate person.
Moreover, he has always preferred to keep a low profile on the floor of the assembly. Mishra himself is believed to have proposed the name of Rahman. But Rahman is not even a state committee member of the party. Moreover, it is believed that he is not too keen for the job.
Blessing in disguise
Asked to comment on whether this verdict from the electorate is a blessing in disguise for the party, so that it can now concentrate on nurturing some fresh blood, Mohammad Salim, senior leader and CPM central committee member, told Gulf News in Kolkata: "It's still too early to speculate on that. But honestly, right now, we do not even have any suitable name in mind for the leader of the opposition's role."
State Housing Minister Goutam Deb, admitted that the CPM lacked experience on the floor of the house. "There is no doubt that a vacuum has been created within the party in terms of experience inside the assembly. We will have to take a fresh guard."
Apart from the psychological blow of being left without power after 34 years of dominance in Bengal, the party is now faced with an acute identity crisis in a pan-India perspective. As the Left citadel in Kerala also bit the dust, these assembly election results are likely to plunge the CPM into an abyss of irrelevance in national politics.