In an editorial in the CPI(M) mouthpiece, People’s Democracy, titled, ‘Electoral Setback in Tripura and its Causes’, Gautam Das made an effort to analyze the causes behind the spectacular defeat of the Left Front in the Assembly elections held earlier this year. The 2018 elections witnessed the meteoric rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party in a state where its presence earlier was virtually nonexistent. BJP’s victory also demolished the psychological barrier that many people seemed to harbor that saffron politics has few takers among the Bengali Community.
The objective of the analysis one would like to think was to reach the correct diagnosis of the CPIM’s thrashing in the polls. However, if that indeed was the goal, the analysis has thoroughly failed to achieve any desired result. The reasons for the defeat of the CPI(M) cited in the editorial are a rehash of the complaints ‘secular’ parties appear to have against the BJP. The analysis offers no special insight, no new angle, no profound explanation for the debacle the Communist Party suffered in the polls. In fact, there was hardly any need to spend so many words on the analysis, for them, mere six words would have sufficed: “The BJP won by dishonest means!”
The sole purpose of the whole enterprise appears to be to absolve the senior leaders of the Left Front of all responsibility for the defeat. In the process, the BJP was accused by the author of fomenting divisions within the state along ethnic lines and paying huge sums of money to Temples to secure electoral victory; without a shred of evidence of course. The author writes, “For the last three and half years, RSS workers regularly used to visit different temples in Tripura and paid huge money. They used to distribute RSS membership forms. ‘Gita’ was freely distributed particularly among women who used to visit temples.” If the editorial was meant to be read as a serious analysis, then the author has failed terribly to make it appear as such.
The author touches on the fringes of serious analysis when he mentions the promise of implementation of the 7th Pay Commission made by the BJP along with other poll promises which did have serious impact on the outcome of the polls. However, the author swiftly drifts away from it and blames the neo-liberal economy and consumerism among the youth as causal factors for their defeat. The author concludes by accusing the BJP of bribing journalists to do their bidding.
In his analysis, the author blames pretty much everything under the Sun for the defeat of the CPI(M) apart from the party itself. From accusing the BJP of fueling ethnic clashes to bribing journalists, neo-liberal economy, consumerism, the author holds everything responsible apart from the governance of the party. It’s quite obvious by the end of the article that it was really just another bit of party propaganda from the party mouthpiece meant to assuage their supporters and convince them that none of it was the party’s fault rather than an attempt at a serious analysis.
For the major part of the ‘analysis’, the author blames the BJP’s identity politics for its own defeat in Tripura. The author accuses the BJP of allying itself with separatist sentiments to win power in the state. The author conveniently forgets to mention that ever since the alliance between the IPFT and BJP was secured, there have hardly been any demands for a separate state by the tribal community and the matter has been officially laid to rest. The author also conveniently ignored the fact that the Left front engages in sectarian identity politics of the worst kind and that the entire ideology of communism is based on the identity politics of class.
As an analysis, the author should have at least pretended to subject the rule of the Left Front in Tripura to a mild scrutiny. However, after exhausting over a couple of thousands of words, the author failed to cite a single reason for which the Left could be blamed for the defeat. The author displays the detestable elitism that has become the Left over the years and almost insults the intelligence of the voters who registered their judgment of their performance on the ballots.
Despite all the protestations of the Left and the unverified allegations they are still hurling at the BJP, the fact remains that severe disenchantment with the Left front and lack of visible development in the state contributed majorly towards the BJP’s resounding a victory at the polls. Of course, the CPI(M) would like to believe that there was no fault of theirs and theirs was an impeccable record and BJP won merely because it bribed the voters. However, reality is quite different and perhaps, the real reason why CPI(M) suffered a crushing defeat was because they failed to correctly recognize and comprehend the extent of the grievance against them.