BJP has swallowed Left in West Bengal which is a significant tide in the history of the state and the nation.
With Kerala gone too, along with Tripura last year, Left as a political and ideological force has its’ funeral procession waiting at its door.
It was a political force which dominated the discourse of independent India, shaping Nehruvian philosophy and garnering numbers of its own which helped form many a government, most notably in 1989, 1996 and 2004; the last one being a stunning guerilla ambush of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s “Shining India.”
Left was a far deadlier force as an ideology since its call to the poor and “secular” cloak hid the agenda of breaking up India by pitting poor against the rich; Hindus against the Muslims and making sure India doesn’t reclaim its glorious heritage and thus identity.
Left stood on two planks of Congress and propaganda. Congress provided the spread, power and fund which in turn turbo-charged propaganda through media and academia. (I am sure many names will swirl in your head when I name media and academia but let’s resist name-shaming for the time being).
It’s reasonable to assume that their ideological fulcrums in Russia and China massively nourished this elephant in the room for many decades and perhaps still do. Fundamentalist Islamic states which seek converts worldwide, couldn’t have ignored this massive power bloc. Colonial forces, without colonies but not without agenda, sprouted NGOs and CIA never slept. With a friendly umpire in Congress and Left, India’s pitch was queered and transgressions were ignored.
Such powerful entities don’t die easily. Left has no takers in politics but its’ foolish to assume they are dead ideologically too. That they wouldn’t be up to their mischief. I suspect they would strike back with double the vengeance. They still have their tools in media, academia, judiciary and bureaucracy. The ears and pockets of foreign forces aren’t spent. A strong India would be an eyesore to many. More so to the West who dreads a resurgent Asia.
In the first Parliament in 1952, Left was the main “opponent.” Once it split in 1967, the newly born CPI-M made steady progress in subsequent elections—(19 seats in 1967), (25 in 1971), (30 in 1980). In 2004, it stood at 43 seats! Indeed, it put Congress on wheels.
The rise of BJP has struck at its roots. Its’ cadres and proxies, or whosoever was left after Mamata’s poach, are shifting in en masse to BJP. In 2009, Left had 19 winners and just nine in 2014. They had two seats from West Bengal in 2014—now they have none. Kerala, where they had the majority stakes in the ruling coalition, they now have just one. Barring four in Tamil Nadu, that too thanks to Congress and DMK which made space for them, it’s politically over.
Those who know the troubled history of Bengal, its’ vicissitudes, they won’t miss the magnitude of this seminal moment. It’s been a land of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Ravindranath Tagore, Subhas Chandra Bose, Vivekanand, equally vivid in the nightmare of blood which flowed in the streets, if not in Hooghly, on many a occasion. Be it the sinister design of Muslim League and Suhrawardy—Direct Action Day—or when Bangladesh beckoned on the other side. Writers, poets, revolutionaries, social reformers have jostled side by side with butchers, scoundrels, monsters and Satans. Bengal has always been a land of extremes.
But for propaganda tools, little is left in Left’s kit. No longer can they sell poverty to an aspirational India. No longer it’s a magnet to deprived. There are no takers to these dream-merchants. They can foment trouble in fertile universities, dictate narrative through Lutyens Media and flash their blood-soaked daggers. India can’t go back into the jar of 60s.
Sure, Left still controls the levers of Lutyens media and academia. It’s not a negligible tool. But Modi 1.0 has shown it can be combated. India, by and large, didn’t fall for it. Yes, NYT, Washington Post, Time and BBC, the typical choirboys, were at hand. But people knew better. As long as 1.3 billion people can smell rose in their verandah, these guys can walk up and down the street and stare at “Beware” signs. We can live with that. Archaeology can have its new section. Dinosaurs can have their museums. Market won’t run out of wreaths.