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The myth of young left candidates in West Bengal poll 2021

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Last month the announcement of a bevy of young leaders as its candidates like Satarup Ghosh, Minakshi Mukherjee, Dipsita Dhar, Aishe Ghosh by the grey-hair dominated CPM took many by surprise. To people of the state in general receiving the news uncritically it was a welcome thing. The reason: positive expectations from the youth irrespective of which party they hailed from. To the party loyalists, it even began to build some expectations about a favorable poll outcome. As we pass through one of the most defining polls of Bengal’s political history, we may try to look at what may turn out to be logical fall out of the left party’s decision.  

At the outset let us answer the question as to why people tend to develop positive expectations from young candidates. Youth has special appeal to countrymen for some reasons: (a) Youth can dream; (b) Youth is receptive to new ideas; (c) Youth takes risks; (d) Youth has a golden heart and is driven by compassion; (b) Youth does not compromise with corruption and injustice;

Together these factors created expectations in some sections of people of the state that they may prove as the ‘change agents’. But, how valid are such expectations? One needs to examine each of the above parameters in seriatim in relation to the young left candidates in the light of reality.

The foremost thing that would strike any discerning observer of Indian politics is the fact that the thought process of all left political activists is deeply regimented. The freshers are indoctrinated right from induction in a set of ideologies that have been conspicuous for its rigidities and archaic nature. As time passes, these stereotypes are only strengthened and reinforced. Against this general observation, let us examine each expectation from the youth and its validity vis-a-vis the left youth leaders.

The first item is ‘dream’. Can the left youth leaders ‘dream’ big? Truly speaking, their dreams are chained by ideological rigidities. Are they receptive to new ideas? Of course, not. They are not allowed that liberty. Have they been taking risks? Answer is ‘no’. Right since the left regime was ousted in state poll in 2011, the party practically went into political hibernation. Barring 4 or 5 occasional agitational programs over one long decade, the party has not been able to register any impression in public mind about its young leaders determination to fight against the ruling regime’s oppression. What about the ‘heart’ and ‘compassion’ issues? Unfortunately, they do not seem to have any ‘natural’ inclination or responsiveness to people’s issues. To track the  history of the party’s rule in the 1970s, people saw how hearts of left leaders were completely impervious to the killings at Sai Bari at Burdwan followed by the cruelty meted out to a grieving mother or to the mass murders of refugees of Marichjhanpi.

Till today, the left parties have not admitted those were sins. There is nothing in public domain to suggest that even the present-day youth left leaders ever questioned the party’s past actions and demanded atonement. There are good reasons to conclude that the responses of the hearts of these leaders – old or young alike – are regulated by ideological bias.  Their hearts never cry for any victims unless the latter believed in their ideology or belonged to their side of the political divide.

It may not be far from truth to conclude that the young left leaders may be young only in terms of their bodily age. Their mind is as archaic and rigid as their senior colleagues. Old or young – their views and responses are same or similar. One would be deceived if they think mere selection of some young candidates will bring any kind of transformation in the left brand of politics, even if they are elected,. The chances for that are almost non-existent!

Finally, the crop of young leaders had a very ominous induction into this poll considering that the alliance of Left-Congress held the hands of ISF – a party which is widely perceived to be communal. Their image has already taken a beating in public mind by this coalition. Quite contrary to the image of the youth that it is never opportunistic and that it never compromises on some fundamental moral principles, these young leaders ended up sullying their images at the very start of their political career. This is a long-term damage and it would chase them for long years.

Whereas some left-oriented columnists have been trying to create hype and hoopla over picking up young candidates, the public of the state may not share such enthusiasm. They are unlikely to endorse the Left’s new strategy while casting their votes.

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