‘No quiet tie-ups with BJP’: CPI (M) orders cadre for Bengal panchayat poll
West Bengal CPI (M) secretary Md Salim said a sizeable section of our supporters voted for the BJP in 2019 thinking that it is powerful enough to oust the TMC. ‘They have realized their mistake ‘
KOLKATA: The Communist Party of India (Marxist) will not allow its workers and leaders to have any electoral understanding with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during the West Bengal panchayat elections set to be held in early 2023, a senior CPI (M) leader said on Friday.
The decision was taken at a two-day CPI(M) state committee meeting that ended on Thursday in Kolkata, CPI (M) state secretary Md Salim told HT on Friday. The leadership decided to take disciplinary action, including expulsion, against those who violated the party’s decision. The leadership said alliances, if any, can be formed only with secular forces such as the Congress and the Indian Secular Front.
“The rule applies to all levels, not just panchayats,” Salim said.
Since grassroots-level alliance is not uncommon in Bengal’s villages, the issue was a cause for concern for the CPI(M) leadership during the meeting. Reports by some of the district committees said cadres might go for an informal alliance with the BJP to defeat the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC).
The East Midnapore district committee reportedly cited the example of a recent cooperative committee election that BJP and CPI(M) nominees won by forging an unwritten alliance. A similar report was filed by the Nadia district committee.
In the last 2018 panchayat polls, opposition parties failed to field candidates on 34% seats because of alleged intimidation and violence that claimed around 20 lives.
The BJP, however, made significant gains in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls by wresting 18 of the state’s 42 seats. But the TMC hit back in the 2021 assembly polls, winning 215 of the 294 seats. The BJP secured 75 seats in the assembly while the CPI(M) couldn’t win even one.
“It is a fact that a sizeable section of our supporters voted for the BJP in 2019, thinking that it is powerful enough to oust the TMC. They have realized their mistake and are returning to our party. Similarly, TMC workers who switched over to the BJP are also returning,” Salim said.
The panchayat elections will take place at a time when the BJP is not figuring as the TMC’s principal adversary.
During the civic body polls held earlier this year, the TMC won 1,871 of the 2,171 seats in 108 municipalities. But the BJP and the Left coalition had an unexpectedly close contest. The BJP secured 63 seats and a 12.6% vote share but failed to form any civic board. The CPI(M) secured 47 seats with a vote share of 12.4 % but wrested the Taherpur municipality in Nadia district.
“To cover up their organizational weakness and infighting, BJP leaders such as Suvendu Adhikari, are regularly saying in public meetings that CPI(M) leaders and workers should join them to counter the TMC. This is a ploy to confuse voters,” Salim said.
Bengal BJP’s chief spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya said his party is making no such attempt.
“It is a binary projected by the CPI(M) because the TMC helped the Left parties rise in the civic polls to corner us before the battle for the panchayats. We can and will fight on our own,” said Bhattacharya.