Bengal CPM attributes drop in membership to ‘rectification drive’ & poaching
With membership at an all time low, the CPI(M) in West Bengal decided to look into the issue to understand its root cause.
The results? Well, the party has released a report which claims that the main reason for the 24.77% drop in membership is because of a rectification drive started by the party to flush out in inactive members.
More so, since the Left Front lost power in 2011, many CPI(M) leaders and workers joined Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s All India Trinamool Congress (AITC).
A divided party
The report has led to bit of a divide among party leaders.
Submitted at the end of the state committee meeting on 27 April, it found that the highest drop in membership -50% - happened in Coochbehar district alone in 2016. In other districts, membership has fallen by 20-30%.
CPI(M) state secretary Dr Surjyakanta Mishra says, “There is nothing to worry about. The falling membership is because of the rectification drive that was carried out to flush out inactive members and to strengthen the party. There is a need to revamp the party. In 2000, one such rectification drive was carried by late CPI(M) leader Anil Biswas and there was a drop of 32% in membership during that time.”
A CPI(M) leader who did not want to be names says, “Around 50% of the members of the party have either defected to AITC or BJP. That is what has resulted in such a low membership. Moreover, with both AITC and BJP poaching our leaders through various means it has become difficult for us to retain them.”
With the party’s electoral setback in the recently held by-election at the Kanthi South Assembly constituency, coupled with the rise of the saffron party in the state, party leaders feel that the issue of communalism needs to be focused in a massive way to maintain their position in West Bengal.
One leader said, “before the Kanthi by-election, we came second, but now we have come down to the third position. The need of the hour is to build contacts at the grassroot level.”
A need to include more junior leaders is also being considered to help the party regain contact with the people to fight both the AITC and the BJP.
Mishra said, “We have decided to organize a Nabanna March on 22 May where we will highlight the people’s demands in a big way and focus on the threats perpetrated by the AITC and religious polarisation that BJP is trying to create in Bengal.”
“Instead of crtiticising the government, says state parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee, “the CPI(M)’s first task should be too strengthen their organisation. They are unable to work together in raising the issue of communalism to fight the BJP.”