The decision of the Congress party to field Rahul Gandhi from Wayanad in Kerala for Lok Sabha elections may prove perilous not just for the idea of ‘defeating Modi’, but also for the Congress as a whole.
The editorial of the ‘People’s Democracy’, weekly mouth piece of the CPI(M), has termed this move of Rahul contesting second seat from Wayanad as a ‘wrong turn’. The CPI(M) general secretary, Sitaram Yechury in a press conference in Thiruvananthapuram has asked Rahul Gandhi that what is Rahul’s priority? The priority of the CPI(M) is to defeat the BJP in the country, but Rahul Gandhi contesting from Wayanad sends a signal that the priority for the Congress party is yet not clear, queered Sitaram. The contest from Wayanad has changed the entire narrative in the country.
Many observers feel that the CPI(M) being a cadre based organisation will continue to toe its line, despite Congress hitting at the strongest camp of the Left . The political line of the CPI(M) and the Left parties in general, is around the three major slogans:
(a) Defeat BJP(b) Increase the representation of CPI(M) and Left in Lok Sabha and (c) Ensure a secular government is installed at the centre.
Somebody who knows the importance of the political line in Left can easily decipher the meaning of these slogans. A natural corollary of such a political line is that the Left would try to maximise the pooling of anti-BJP votes. It is because of this reason that the CPI(M) and the Left is contesting in those constituencies where either they can win by themselves or have its presence felt. As a natural outcome of it, in the rest of the seats in the country the CPI(M) and the Left will try to vote and campaign to defeat the BJP and its allies in the NDA and elect those potential candidates in the respective constituencies who have the ability to do so.
In states like UP, Bihar there are coalitions of regional parties, which has the potential to defeat the BJP. However in states like HP, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, Chandigarh and few other smaller states, there is a direct fight between the BJP and the Congress and its allies. These states comprise 211 parliamentary seats, where there will be a direct fight between the Congress and BJP.
The CPI(M) and the Left out of these 211 seats is contesting only in 21 parliamentary seats which is nearly 10 per cent of the total. In the rest, i.e., 90 percent of the seats, as a natural fallout of the political line, the CPI(M) and the Left is supposed to ensure that the BJP is defeated and certainly ‘would’ vote for the Congress and its allies.
One would argue that the Left is not present in all the remaining 90 per cent constituencies, hence it is not a formidable force to influence the electoral results. Only a political novice can make such an assessment. The Left may not be able to win constituencies by itself in the above-mentioned states but has a considerable influence which cannot be ignored. Through the many organisations of the people that it lead, the Left has presence in millions of people and can certainly influence the results.
An anecdote from Mandi parliamentary constituency in Himachal Pradesh will explain it. Sukh Ram, former Union Minister of Telecommunication was also the union minister of defence production and supplies, planning and food and civil supplies in the Rajiv Gandhi ministry; which was in a previous term. As he sought a re-election in 1989, from Mandi parliamentary constituency the CPI(M) also contested from the same seat and fielded D N Kapoor, a trade union leader against him. Sukh Ram was defeated in this election. In an interaction later after the results, Sukh Ram charged the CPI(M) of defeating him, though the CPI(M) polled a little over 12,000 votes and his margin of defeat was far more than that. On countering his argument that how is it possible that the CPI(M) could defeat him he said, it is not the votes that the CPI(M) got were important but the massive campaign that was unleashed by its dedicated cadres, which was responsible for creating an environment against him, that eventually led to his defeat.
The Left may not be in a position to get itself elected but has an ability to impact the results in the ensuing elections.
Wayanad could be perilous to the Congress because there is a churning taking place in the sentiments of the Left cadres in these states. If one facebook post hosted by a Left activist from Shimla is a pointer towards it, then it is alarming. The facebook post states that ‘we’, a group of Left should support an activist, who is an independent candidate contesting from Shimla parliamentary constituency. One being asked, as to why has such a post has been composed, as this understanding goes against the political line of the CPI(M); prompt was the answer, “when Rahul Gandhi can enter out strong hold, then why should we ensure his party’s victory here”. This may not be a general understanding amongst all the Left cadres, but can have a catalytic effect.
This naivety of the activist may be addressed by the Left and the it(Left) may work in a cohesive way for the defeat of the BJP by maximising the pooling of anti-BJP votes. But the Congress, which is a larger party must also know that it has a larger responsibility and things should not/are not to be taken for granted!