Serious differences too cropped up within the largest party, the CPI(M), which could lead not only to a revision of its political tactical line, but a change in leadership in its 21st Party Congress slated in April-May 2015.

The steep decline in the Left's parliamentary strength led to waning influence and growing organisational disarray, as was noticed in Bengal with a large number of lower-rung cadres switching over to main rival TMC, though a major reason was the continued killings and attacks against them.
However, in order to salvage lost ground and pump in a fresh lease of life to further their "people's struggle", two more parties - CPI(ML)-Liberation and SUCI (Communist), joined the CPI(M), CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc combine to take on the BJP-led government's "anti-people" policies and the "communal" politics of RSS-BJP affiliate socio-political outfits.

The poll debacle led CPI(M) and other Left parties initiate moves to rally all Left forces so that a broad Left platform emerges to fight the neo-liberal policies, communalism and imperialism, evolve a united stand and organise joint activities.

What came as a rude shock to the Left was their free fall in West Bengal where it could manage just two of the 42 seats with a vote share of just under 30 per cent. The Communists had won 16 seats in 2009 election, with a combined vote share of 43.3 per cent.

Of course, it retained the only two seats in Tripura and improved the margins, with the state remaining the only Left- ruled one in the country.

The Left had lost West Bengal Assembly in 2011 after a world record of communists getting democratically elected and remaining in power for 34 uninterrupted years.

Differences also came to the fore within CPI(M) leadership, with Politburo member Sitaram Yechury presenting an alternate draft political-tactical line against the official one by General Secretary Prakash Karat, proposing changes to rejuvenate the party organisation and overcome political isolation.

Following this, the CPI(M) Politburo was authorised by the Central Committee to prepare a revised draft, a rare occurrence in the party.

The draft Review Report on the political-tactical line and the Draft Political Resolution would now be presented to the Central Committee in the January discussion and then thrown open for further debate among its entire membership across the country. The final draft and amendments proposed would then be taken up for adoption at the Party Congress.

To discuss the political-tactical line in depth, the CPI(M) has already decided to hold a special Plenum after the Party Congress. The last such plenum was held in 1978 at Salkia in West Bengal.

The plenum would take up organisational issues like lack of growth in CPI(M)'s independent strength and not making any advance towards achieving a real Left and democratic front as an alternative.

Being cornered after the poll debacle, the CPI(M) and five other Left parties, as a first step towards re-establishing their base, met in November and decided to launch nationwide campaign against communalism and the problems afflicting the people's lives and livelihood.

The two new entrants - Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist)-Liberation and Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist), joined those of the CPI(M), CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc to conduct a week-long protest this month in different parts of the country.

Meanwhile, the CPI too tried to up the ante against the various policies as they protested the failure of the government to control price rise, proposed amendments to various labour laws, allowing or hiking FDI in various sectors, bringing back black money and a host of other issues.

The Left also came out in support of central trade unions including RSS affiliate Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh to carry out protests and campaign against various decisions of the Modi government, including disinvestment moves, raising the FDI cap in the insurance sector and privatising coal blocks.

The parties plan to continue such movements in 2015 to try to revive themselves.

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