Friday, May 12, 2006

'New Communists' sucessfull

India: another sweeping win for the Left Front in West Bengal as many predicted earlier. Picture is of post-election celebrations from here. However the Left only led 47 to 44% over a divided opposition. The supervision of the election by the national electoral commission has undercut claims past Left victories were due to fraud. I am not sure however how patterns of nomination play out and it would be very difficult to determine a 2PP vote. There is a map here of the seats won. Also a left victory in Kerela. For some pictures from the Kerela campaign see here and here and here. Is the Bengal vote one for pragmatic Communism? One report sounds rather like current ALP state governments with populist premiers:
The other highlight of the victory is the boost it gives to the Chief Minister’s agenda for reforms. He was categorical today in saying that he would continue to pursue reforms and encourage industrial development. “I believe in the historical inevitability of socialism. But we need development. And in the present context we need to invite private capital because there is no alternative,” said Bhattacharjee. But he was equally firm in opposing hire-and-fire labour policies or any move to sell well-performing government undertakings... the Left victory in Bengal is as much a mandate for Bhattacharjee’s personal image and charisma as it is for his governance and policies. It’s evident in the fact that Bhattacharjee registered a record of sorts himself, winning his Jadavpur Assembly seat by over 58,000 votes. It’s a victory margin that no chief minister in Bengal ever recorded.
A more jaundiced comment:
But what is the secret of the Left Front's success in West Bengal? The answer is that the CPI-M's organisation at the grassroots is unparalleled in the country. Even in the remotest of villages, you will find a red flag and people who will talk of Tiananmen Square as a counter-revolutionary attempt by America. Talk to them about the lack of development and employment opportunities and they will chorus an answer drilled into them with the discipline of an army: 'The Centre does not give West Bengal funds.'


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