HomeNationLok Sabha verdict 2024 amplifies Left’s increasing irrelevance in India

Lok Sabha verdict 2024 amplifies Left’s increasing irrelevance in India

X: @the_news_21

Thiruvananthapuram: The Lok Sabha verdict of 2024 has reiterated the irrelevance of the Left in the national politics. The overall tally of the left in the 18th Lok Sabha is 9, which includes the CPI (ML) and the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), apart from the mainstream front comprising CPI(M) and the CPI. In number terms, this marks an increase from 5 in the previous Lok Sabha, which was their lowest ever tally.

But going by the sweep and scale of the failure across the states, the Left is left with hardly any hope. The Left managed to lift only a single seat in Kerala, the only state where the Left Democratic Front (LDF), led by the CPI(M), is in power. Ironically, the LDF’s campaign slogan in the state was “India sans the Left is not the real India.” In Kerala, the lone LDF candidate who scraped through was CPI(M)’s K Radhakrishnan, who wrested the Alathur (SC) from the Congress.

The CPI lost all the five seats it contested, including Wayanad where the party nominee Annie Raja was humbled by the Congress war horse Rahul Gandhi. Though the RSP’s nominee N K Premachandran retained the Kollam seat, he has been part of the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) since 2014, even his party too follow Marxist ideology. In West Bengal and Tripura, the other two states where the Left matters, the front drew a blank for the second consecutive time.

Outside the traditional turf, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI-M), Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) CPI (ML) picked up a few seats in Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Bihar, thanks due to the generosity of the lead partners of respective coalitions to which they were hitched. The dismal showing in Kerala has triggered some ripples in the CPI(M), though officially the party holds that it had no bearing on the performance of the government led by Pinarayi Vijayan.

With this inconsequential presence in parliament, the Left is destined to play a cameo role in the INDIA alliance. This is despite the glaring contradiction that the Left will have to battle it out with the Congress-led UDF in Kerala in the civic elections next year and the assembly polls in early 2026. How came it that the Indian communist movement, which has a history stretching back to a century, has failed to make a mark on the national scene.

Some obvious reasons are: Irrelevance of Marxism-Leninism: The communist parties (CPs) the world over broadly follow the basic tenets of the historical and politico-philosophical ideas propounded by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. By the Marxian outlook, human history is a ceaseless struggle between the haves and have-notes. This core contradiction, however, would eventually come to a resolution with the establishment of a communist order after passing through a series of phases following the socialist revolution led by the proletariat.

In early 20th century, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin successfully created a model of socialist revolution. This established, the primacy of the communist party as the revolutionary vanguard. The practices advocated by Lenin were zealously followed by generations of communists the world over, including the those in India. History, however, proved much of these shibboleths.

The collapse of the Soviet Union was the mortal blow to world communist movement. In India, the communist leaders hold that in the prevailing situation, the communist parties could offer only a set of pro-people alternative policies, which are distinctly different from what communism actually aims at. So, in these days, the Left’s political conversation is virtually devoid of Marxist-Leninist jargons.

Consistent failure to live up to Indian realities: The Indian communist leadership has been consistent in its failure to formulate a political creed based on the Indian realities. Instead, especially in the early phases, it tended to follow theories and models shaped to promote revolution in the west. Though, in later stages there had been failed attempts by sections to reform the ideology and practices, these have been suppressed by the vested interests at the top.

This has led to situation where party getting steadily alienated from the masses in India. When India became independent, the pre-split Communist Party of India (CPI) had a strong presence in many states including the undivided by Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar and Punjab. In most of country’s vast political geographies the Left is now conspicuous by its absence.

Also, the Communist-led labour unions were a formidable force in many industrial towns. Over the years, the clout of the Left trade unions had diminished significantly in cities like Mumbai, where workers’ outfits led by Shiv Sena have claimed this space. Partyism, hubris and nepotism: The first two generations of Left leaders were known for their firm faith in Marxism-Leninism, which they sincerely thought could help build a better world for the future generations.

They could mobilise masses, who believed that today’s sacrifices would be rewarded by a better tomorrow for the future generations. The pioneers of the Left movement in India were a selfless lot and suffered brutal repression. The Left still feeds on the storied sacrifices of the forerunners and martyrs. But this is a thing of past. Whether in or out of power, persons holding positions in the organisational hierarchy have become the sole beneficiaries.

The internal voices of dissent are suppressed. Instead of doing any meaningful introspection on the factors that led to the steady decline of its popularity and influence, the Left leadership, packed with armchair revolutionaries, tend to live in a make-believe world. Unless effective corrective measures are not taken, the downward journey to insignificance will only get expedited.

N Muraleedharan
N Muraleedharan
Senior Journalist from Kerala. Worked with leading news agency Press Trust of India. He is regular columnist and writes on politics of Kerala and National Politics.

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