The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) which ruled Tripura for 25 years (1993-2018) have admitted to a ‘growing disconnect with the masses’ in its review of the startling defeat in the State Assembly polls last year at the hands of the Bharatiya Janata Party- Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (BJP-IPFT) combine.
“So deep was the disconnect , so deep-rooted the complacency that the party leadership and its activists could not anticipate an electoral defeat even after the polling was over and the counting had started,” the CPI-M Tripura state committee said in its review, circulated to party members under letter no 3/2018 .
The meeting took place at Agartala on November 25-27 last year. The party letter runs into 30 pages.
It also admits that the opulent lifestyle of a ‘section of party leaders’, clearly not in keeping with their known sources of income, and growing nepotism in party and administration belittled the CPI-M’s public image and contributed to the electoral defeat.
Indian communist parties are usually very open in close-door reviews of their electoral defeats and the CPI-M is no exception.
The CPI-M Tripura committee review does point to the economic growth in the State under its regime and the success in installing infrastructure but admits that it did not match with popular aspirations.
“The BJP took advantage of this expectation-achievement gap and made unrealistic false promises but the masses lapped it up and our disconnect with them led to the failure in dispelling these falsehoods,” the review says.
It also alleges that the BJP spent astronomical sums in the poll campaign to make an impact on public attitudes.
But the review ripped apart the party leadership for failing to anticipate the public mood because of its ‘disconnect with the masses’ and its failure to build an ‘unity of the poor classes’.
Tripura-watchers say the review is a ‘severe criticism of the party leadership’, especially Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, whose admirers have spun quite a yarn over his simple lifestyle and leadership abilities.
“Since Sarkar had been Chief Minister for almost the whole of the 25 years of CPI-M rule and his coterie of loyalists held key positions in party and government, it is only to be expected that he takes the blame for the party’s failures as well,” a top CPI-M leader told Northeast Now on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The party review mentions ‘lack of inner-party struggles against nepotism and corruption’ and the ‘highhandedness of a section of leaders in their dealing with the people’.
“This is a clear indictment of Sarkar’s leadership and the coterie of his loyalists and their reluctance to accept corrective measures,” the top CPI-M leader said.
But he was optimistic of a comeback.
“The masses are experiencing how tall the BJP promises were and how woefully lacking they are in fulfilling them. We have analyzed our weaknesses and hope to draw the right lessons, but we will surely go forward,” he added.
The leader alleged that the BJP is using ‘brute force’ to sustain itself, as was evident during the recent panchayat elections.
“This will not work in Tripura,” the CPIM) leader further said.