Left Out to Prove it Still has Some Fight Left in the State
With distant memories of a double-digit vote share nearly seven decades ago, the Left parties are preparing to batten down the hatches and test the ground on their own, in the forthcoming Parliament elections in Tamil Nadu, which is likely to help them assess their strength and devise their future plans.
Their performance in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections will determine the number of seats they could demand in future seat-sharing arrangements.
The two Left parties — the CPI and the CPM — have decided to fight in nine seats each, which include some of their traditional stronghold areas like North Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Tiruchy, Kanyakumari and Nagapattinam, besides select constituencies where they have significant presence.
The votes garnered by the Left combine in the select constituencies will also prove or disprove their strength and impact their claims for the particular seats in future seat-sharing negotiations. The CPI has won from Coimbatore on its own in Parliament elections in 1957 and 1967. Party candidate K T K Thangamani, known for his simplicity and honesty, won from Madurai in 1957. The seat later went to veteran CPM leader P Ramamurthy in 1967. Likewise, Tiruchy is a seat where veteran Communist leader M Kalyanasundaram emerged victorious in 1971 and 1977.
The seat was captured by K Ananda Nambiar in 1962 and 1967. Besides, the Left parties won the Nagapattinam seat in earlier elections.During the first general elections, after State re-organisation, in 1957, the CPI, which was the sole Communist party, polled 10.06 per cent votes in the erstwhile Madras State.
In the 1962 general elections, before the split of the CPI, it again registered an impressive 10.24 per cent votes, winning the Tiruchy and Pudukkottai seats. Although the Left leadership is not dreaming of winning many seats in Tamil Nadu, they are optimistic of a good show. They hope the results will prove that there still are a few red citadels in Tamil Nadu, which can hold against rough political weather.
According to Communist leaders, the campaign in Tamil Nadu will not be different from the one they take up in the rest of the nation.
Their focus will be against the liberal economic policies introduced in 1991 by the Narasimha Rao-led Congress government and followed by the BJP regime as well.
Besides, the two parties are aiming to take up corruption as a major poll plank and are planning to link the growth of corruption with the ‘pro-capitalist economic policies’. The parties will attempt to prove how globalisation and economic liberalisation has hit the lives of the middle class, farmers and workers. Besides, secularism and anti-communalism will form a major part of their campaign rhetoric.
They also admit that lack of a cohesive alliance at the national level and the hindrances in the formation of a third front may prove to be a major challenge to their electoral prospects.