The Guardian May 23, 2001


India: Left Front victory in West Bengal elections

The Left Front parties won a resounding victory in last week's state 
elections in the State of West Bengal, the capital of which is 
Calcutta.

The four Left Front parties won 199 of the 294 seats contested. This is 
compared with 203 seats won in the 1996 elections. Elections are held every 
four years. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI (M)) won 143 of the 
Left Front's 199 seats.

The other major electoral grouping, which included the Congress Party, 
fought a bitterly anti-left campaign, conducting terrorist actions against 
the Left Front. It won 86 (82) seats.

The BJP, the right-wing Hindu fundamentalist party which holds power in the 
Central Government of India, did not win a single seat in the Bengal 
elections. The Left Front Government has been in power for 24 years in West 
Bengal and has been re-elected on six occasions.

Defeat in Kerala

In the State of Kerala, on the other hand, the Left Democratic Front 
Government was defeated by an unholy alliance of all the right-wing forces.

"The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) had no hesitation in openly 
soliciting the support of the reactionary BJP and entering into an 
understanding with the neo-fascist BJP-RSS to transfer votes to the UDF", 
says a statement on the elections by the CPI (M).

"By uniting with the Muslim fundamentalists and by rallying all caste and 
sectarian organisations, the UDF was able to substantially increase its 
vote share."

There was a slight decrease in the percentage of vote of the Left 
Democratic Front but a three percent drop in the vote for the BJP compared 
to the 1999 national elections.

In the state of Tripura where a by-election was held, the Communist Party 
of India (CPI) candidate routed his opponents in a four-cornered contest. 
This victory takes the Left Front's strength in the 60-member Assembly to 
42. The seat being contested had been held by the Congress Party for 24 
years.

Elections held in three other of the 26 Indian states confirmed that voters 
are rejecting the BJP Central Government.

The CPI(M) statement says "The BJP's electoral performance shows that the 
economic policies of the Vajpayee Government with its naked appeasement of 
big business and the multi-national corporations and the series of 
corruption scandals, have incurred strong popular disapproval.

"It is for the allies of the BJP to realise that associating with such a 
party is affecting their own mass base and harming their prospects.

"The CPI (M) reiterates its commitment to continue to fight against the 
pernicious policies of the Central Government including its latest 
surrender to the USA on the missile defence plan. The necessity to 
strengthen the third alternative has been underlined in the situation 
obtaining after the elections in these five states. "All efforts should be 
made to strengthen the united struggles and movements against the Vajpayee 
Government's policies and develop and strengthen the People's Front as a 
national alternative."

Back to index page