The serious electoral reverses suffered by the Left Parties in India, particularly the CPI (M), in the 2009 Loksabha elections have generated an intense debate. It has spurred reactions and responses of various hues, ranging from sympathetic critiques and “admonitory counsel” to passionate expressions of scorn and disgust. Given the gravity of the situation, this is not altogether unexpected. Some of the criticisms made by the well-wishers of the Left as well as the critics are valid. A few critiques, however, have raised questions regarding the basic understanding of the CPI (M) of the very world we live in and how to make it better. Other critiques have focussed on the issues confronting the Left in West Bengal and drawn strong conclusions, questioning the ability of the CPI (M) to offer economic and political alternatives to bourgeois-landlord rule in India in the era of globalisation. This has led in some cases to a diagnosis of irredeemability in the CPI (M).
In the backdrop of this ongoing debate, the CPI (M) has also conducted a self-critical review of its electoral performance. This review, which was undertaken from the grassroots level upwards to the State Committees and the Central Committee, has sought to outline the political and organisational causes behind the electoral reverses and also identify some specific factors, on the basis of which corrective measures can be initiated, in the short as well as the medium run. In the light of that review, the present article (attached herewith) makes an appraisal of the critiques that have been made regarding the CPI (M) and the Left from various standpoints.