Arrogance, Muslim anger, rural backlash felled Left: Analysts

May 18th, 2011 - 11:35 am ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, May 18 (IANS) Arrogance of power, erosion of its rural vote bank and anger among Muslims were the key reasons why the Left Front was routed in West Bengal, say analysts.

“It was the issue of land which consolidated the Left’s base among the rural people; it is the same issue which turned into their nemesis,” Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhuri, a political scientist, told IANS.

The Left Front built its base in rural areas with large-scale land reforms after taking power in 1977. This vote base eroded over the last five years following violence over land acquisition in Singur and Nandigram.

Another crucial factor was the alienation of Muslims, forming a fourth of the state’s electorate.

For the greater part of their 34-year regime, the Left enjoyed the support of the Muslims, who felt a sense of security and also reaped the benefits of land reforms.

But a large section abandoned the Left after the murder of Rizwanur Rehman — and the Rajinder Sachar committee report that highlighted the poor condition of the state’s Muslims.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s delayed action against police officers accused of bullying graphics teacher Rizwanur into leaving his Hindu wife, the daughter of an influential businessman, resulted in the Left losing considerable Muslim support. The Trinamool Congress grained.

Rizwanur’s body was later found near a rail track in a Kolkata suburb.

The Muslim anger can be gauged from the fact that Trinamool swept 90 of the 125 constituencies with sizeable minority population.

Overall, the Left won just 62 seats, compared to the Congress-Trinamool combine’s tally of 227. The result ended 34 uninterrupted years of Left rule in West Bengal.

“They (Marxists) have done nothing except pay lip service. That is why Muslims turned against them,” Siddiqullah Chowdhury of the People’s Democratic Conference of India (PDCI), told IANS.

Three decades in power also made a section of Left leaders and workers arrogant, the analysts say.

This was reflected not only among the grassroots level workers but also in the speeches and comments of senior leaders including Bhattacharjee.

One example was Bhattacharjee’s comment — “They have been paid back in their own coin” — after Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) cadres, armed to the teeth, allegedly assaulted and killed several villagers in Nandigram in 2007.

Earlier, a day after his chosen candidate, then Kolkata police chief Prasun Mukherjee, lost to Jagmohan Dalmiya in the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) presidential race, Bhattacharjee called the result “victory of evil over good”.

The widespread anger against the arrogance of many district and local CPI-M leaders was fuelled by the party’s unofficial stance of politicising society and making inroads into every wing of the societal apparatus, from schools to hospitals.

“They tried to take control of each and every apparatus of society, starting from culture to socio-economic structures,” political scientist Amal Mukhopadhyay said.

“The arrogance of power among CPI-M leaders and workers also alienated the masses from the Marxists,” said Basu Ray Chaudhuri, an analyst.

He also said that non-governance during Bhattacharjee’s stint post-Nandigram also swayed the voters against the Left Front.

(Pradipta Tapadar can be contacted at pradipta.t@ians.in)

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