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West Bengal political scenario
By Mohammad Ashfaque, Kolkata

Steps being taken by the former CPM MP Saifuddin Chowdhury to float a new political outfit – a Secular Left Democratic Party - and to contest all the seats in West Bengal Legislative Assembly in the ensuing Assembly Elections, either independently or in alliance with other Secular Democratic parties, is receiving good response from the people residing in different parts of West Bengal. Judging from what is in the air and seeing the trend of activities it appears that the enthusiastic support which Saifuddin Chowdhury’s ‘Jana Chetna Manch’ is receiving from the common people of the state may upset all political calculations and change the political equations in West Bengal.

Saifuddin Chowdhury was one of the front rank members of CPM in Parliament during the period 1980 to1996. He has left a good impression as a successful parliamentarian by his performance as a member of the Public Accounts Committee, Consultative Committee of the Ministry of External Affairs, Committee on Kashmir Affairs and other Parliamentary committees in which he was included as a member. He is held in high esteem by his colleagues and has a strong mass support base in the State. Saifuddin Chowdhury had launched a tirade against despotism in the CPI(M) and urged democratic functioning of the Party where the voice of the dissidents would be heard and taken into consideration but the leaders of CPI(M) refused to pay any heed to the views of Saifuddin Chowdhury and created such a situation which left Chowdhury with no alternative but to leave the party and contemplate floating a new political party. The views of Saifuddin Chowdhury are shared by large number of activists of CPI(M) who appear to be waiting for the proper moment to come out openly in support of Saifuddin Chowdhury and the Party proposed to be floated by him.

CPI(M) has ruled West Bengal for more than 24 years as the dominating partner of the Left Front government enjoying the support of an overwhelming majority and mandate of the people of the state. Cracks are now developing in the armor of the CPI(M) and many prominent leaders of the party are finding it difficult to cohabit with those who are now placed at the helm of affairs of the Party. 

CPM is in the midst of a serious crisis in West Bengal. It is almost on the verge of a split in West Bengal. Even its support among the Muslims and other minorities has eroded to a very great extent. The community is very much disappointed with the dismal performance of the CPM led Government in the state and is looking for a suitable alternative party which may not have any direct or indirect alliance or understanding with the BJP.

Saifuddin Chowdhury appears to be confident that the people of West Bengal are keen to have a third force. He has however ruled out any alliance with Mamata Banerjee’s Trinmaul Congress as he feels that by joining the National Democratic Alliance with the BJP Ms Banerjee is acting as the harbinger of communal politics in West Bengal.

In the last two Lok Sabha and Calcutta Municipal Corporation elections the Trinamul Congress and the BJP had reaped the benefit of the activities of the CPM dissidents and won several seats with their tacit support. The possibilities of emergence of Subhash Chakraborty and Saidfuddin Chowdhury as alternative progressive political force in West Bengal has induced the TMC and BJP leaders to keep their fingers crossed and watch the developments with keen interest.
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