Left debacle a passing phase: Tripura CM

By Sujit Chakraborty, IANS,

Agartala : Communist parties are still relevant in India and will soon overcome the dip in their fortunes, says Manik Sarkar, chief minister of Tripura, the only state in the country where Marxists are still in power.

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“People who say that Left parties have lost their relevance or significance at the national level have a strong fear of us,” a confident Sarkar told IANS in an interview.

Sarkar’s Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) lost power in West Bengal after 34 years in the April-May elections. It was also voted out, although narrowly, in Kerala.

The 62-year-old political veteran admitted that the Left needed to work harder to expand to newer areas apart from their strongholds in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura and also Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

“Forces within and outside the country do not want a strong Left base in India or a Left-supported central government. That’s why they have been trying to destabilise the Left stronghold, West Bengal.

“Caste, religion and identity-based politics helped other parties extend their bases. Our class-based policies are helping us steadily increase our bases. That will not be reflected in electoral politics immediately.

“Election is a larger political struggle; success and failures are part and parcel of this effort. Those people who are saying that Left parties have been finished are living in a fool’s paradise,” he said.

Sarkar is the only politician in Tripura who has completed a record 13 years as chief minister.

“We will foil any conspiracies to dislodge the Left government in Tripura in 2013. We have a strong, sturdy and solid base both among the tribals and non-tribals,” Sarkar said.

Former chief minister Nripen Chakraborty, the father figure of the communist movement in Tripura, led the first CPI-M led government in the state from Jan 5, 1978. Since then, except for one stint by the Congress-led alliance from 1988 to 1993, the state has been a Communist bastion.

Speaking about West Bengal, Sarkar said the electorate punished the Left Front government for its “weaknesses and wrongdoings”.

The slogan for change dominated the minds of the voters. The anti-incumbency factor coupled with the Congress-led central government’s non-cooperation helped the Trinamool Congress to win, he said.

(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at [email protected])