The Left parties — in particular the CPI(M), the largest parliamentary bloc of the loose Left combine whose plummeting political influence across India is not without significance for the country — have been characteristically sharp in questioning the decision of Congress president Rahul Gandhi to choose Wayanad in Kerala, where polling is due today, as his second seat to contest, besides Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
The Left sought to raise a supposedly central question: “Is the Congress fundamentally fighting the BJP in the 2019 parliamentary election, or the Left?” Former CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat initially sought to raise a storm on this, and recently the party’s current leader Sitaram Yechury echoed the argument. Mr Gandhi showed gravitas in stating he wouldn’t utter a word against the Left over his candidacy in Wayanad.
Truth to tell, the answer to Mr Karat’s question is blowing in the wind, though the Left alone appears unaware of it. Indeed, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah express too great an awareness of the basic reality, and the answer seems clear to all across the country.
In any case, where is the Left in the country as a whole that any party, let alone the Congress, should have to fight it in order to get ahead? Senior CPI(M) leaders give the impression of having too exalted an understanding of their party’s position in thinking otherwise.
A proper debate could have ensued if the Left leaders gave a cogent explanation of why they think the Congress is fighting them rather than the BJP (on a nationwide basis). In the Kerala context, this was needed all the more as the LDF and UDF have never been on the same side, regardless of who the Congress fielded in Wayanad.
As for the BJP angle, it is conceivable that specifically Mr Gandhi’s candidature can potentially shut out the saffron party’s chances in Kerala. The CPI(M) alone is evidently not in a position to achieve that end.
Since Independence, there have been only narrow passages of cooperation between the Left and the Congress, and even in these periods the Left has mainly shown its prickly side and a glaring lack of strategic understanding. Consequently, communal right-wing forces could breathe easier. Quixotically, even after the advent of the Narendra Modi government, top Left leaders saw the BJP and the Congress — the two main “bourgeois” parties — as scarcely different from one another, and thought the Congress should tail them in order to prove its secular credentials.
The brouhaha over the Wayanad seat also seems an example of intra-CPI(M) faction-fighting. The Kerala lot are getting even with the West Bengal unit for trying to seek an understanding over seats — an attempt that failed — with the Congress in the parliamentary polls....