Md Salim bats for Left-Congress alliance, claims combine will work better

Salim himself is leading the charge of the alliance against the BJP and the TMC alike as a candidate from the Murshidabad Lok Sabha seat

Md Salim said Left leadership only gave its nod to a spontaneous desire for an alliance that emerged from the base (photo: @salimdotcomrade/X)
Md Salim said Left leadership only gave its nod to a spontaneous desire for an alliance that emerged from the base (photo: @salimdotcomrade/X)


The Left-Congress alliance in Bengal would work much better this time compared to similar efforts made during the 2021 state elections and the 2019 parliamentary polls since the electoral pact was “scientifically forged” from the bottom-up rather than top-down, claimed CPI(M) politburo member and the party’s state secretary Md Salim.

Salim himself is leading the charge of the Left-Congress combine against the BJP and the TMC alike as a candidate from the Murshidabad Lok Sabha seat, the elections which were held on 8 May during the third phase of polls.

And if murmurs from the ground, about how the grouping may have fared in the 10 already-polled north Bengal seats, are to be believed, Salim may have a point.

Of the 42 parliamentary seats in the state, the Congress is backing the Left in 30 constituencies while the vice versa is taking place in the remaining 12. Among the 30 seats where the Left Front is contesting, 23 nominees are from the CPI(M) stable while the rest have been shared among Front partners CPI, Forward Bloc and RSP.

An overwhelming majority of 20 out of those 23 CPI(M) candidates are fresh faces in parliamentary polls.

“Experience is the best tutor,” Salim said in an interview with PTI, and added, “The takeaways from the Panchayat polls of 2023 and the state elections two years before that have taught the leaders and grassroots workers that the only way to fight the extreme Right forces in the country and pseudo-secular corrupt dispensation of the state is to have an electoral arrangement to the left of the centre.”

“United we stand, divided we disintegrate,” Salim’s logic behind the alliance move was unambiguous.

Despite the Left drawing a blank in the state in both the 2019 and 2021 editions of the polls that led political pundits to sound its death knell, the Left-Congress combine made a surprising comeback in significant pockets of Bengal during the rural body polls where it managed to dislodge the BJP and the Trinamool from their respective number two spots and, in a few places, even from number one.

“To those who were trying to write the epitaph of the Left in Bengal and the rest of the country, I tell them they may have spoken too soon. ‘Resurrection’ is presently our keyword,” Salim said.

Despite one of the 2021 alliance partners, the ISF, calling it quits on grounds of ‘disrespectful seat offers’, the complex process of first bringing all Left constituents on board and then, clinching the final seat-sharing formula with the state Congress leaders transpired almost silently ahead of polls with very few getting an actual whiff of what was happening behind closed doors in party headquarters and carefully guarded phone calls.

“The formula was data-driven, based on the organisational strength of parties in the seats concerned and the winnability quotient of candidates. We carefully weighed who should contest from where in the best interest of both partners,” Salim revealed.

He maintained that the Left leadership only gave its nod to a spontaneous desire for an alliance that emerged from the base.

“The seat adjustment arrangement with the Congress happened not because any individual or party wanted it, but because it was the will of the people. Our grassroots workers are pleased to see leaders resonate in the same frequency as the pulse of its supporters,” the leader stated.

Asked why his party chose to break tradition and field a politburo member like him as a candidate when the convention was that top leaders are usually tasked with backseat driving in elections, Salim said, “For the Left, the political battle in elections has progressed to an ideological war against right-wing forces who seek to destroy the secular democratic fabric of this country. The need of the hour, hence, is to lead the battle from the front.”

The leader highlighted his party’s policy to bring to the fore the next generation of leadership as part of its aim to build a “resurgent Left”.

“Only three of our 23 candidates are veterans. The idea is to focus on potential talents who we expect to lead Bengal’s politics over the next two decades,” Salim said.

Asked if he had anything to show for the plan actually working, the apparatchik asserted, “You don’t need to look further than the mobilization numbers we were able to make at our Brigade Parade Ground rally in Kolkata and those elsewhere. They were organised by our youth wing. Despite the embargo on students’ body polls in colleges, the story of wherever students have managed to hold elections is without exception one of Left resurgence.”

Salim insisted on calling the alliance a “playbook” whose cards he holds close to his chest.

“The future of this mutual handholding will depend on the emerging political situation in the state and country. There are many unfolding stories and developing issues in the political domain and our success in presenting an alternative viewpoint to the dominant discourse will make more people, parties and social organizations come together in a spirit of unity. That’s what we want to achieve,” he said.

Salim, however, said he was confident that the BJP will eventually “fizzle out” in Bengal.

“The BJP was never cut out for Bengal. It gained traction on TMC’s anti-incumbency and the growing disillusionment with Mamata Banerjee. And on the fact that people couldn’t trust the Left as a viable alternative. All that is fast changing,” he stated, claiming a ‘ghar wapsi’ of the Left support base in the state.

Even the BJP supporters are fast losing interest in the party since the CAA-NRC “bluff” has now been called, he insisted.

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