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New Delhi: Prakash Karat today oozed confidence about a Left victory in Bengal, months after telling British Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm that the CPM was “beleaguered and besieged” in the state.
“We have made up ground, and the responses we are getting in the last few months in particular show that we have recovered ground quite a lot compared to 2009. Our assessment now is that we will win the election,” the CPM general secretary told Karan Thapar on the TV programme Devil’s Advocate.
Karat’s remarks to Hobsbawm had created a furore, and he had later clarified that his comments had come in the context of the Maoist attacks and not the upcoming polls.
His latest statements are being seen as an expression of backing for the Bengal CPM and chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who has raised the pitch of his victory projections to try and boost cadre morale. The usually media-shy Karat has of late been appearing in interviews to provide a fillip to the party campaign in Bengal and Kerala.
Asked whether the Left had recovered enough ground to change the recent trend of election defeats, he said: “We know that there is a very strong combination against us… which stretches from the Right to the extreme Left. But despite that we are confident of winning the election.”
Karat suggested that mistakes by the state government had led to the alienation from the masses but claimed these had been rectified. This is a point on which the CPM boss has been at odds with the Bengal unit, which blames the recent electoral setbacks on Karat’s 2008 decision to dump the Congress at the Centre.
“Our approach is that whatever reverses we suffered, we have learnt the lesson from that,” Karat told Thapar.
“Our chief minister has again and again said that we have learnt from those mistakes and we are confident that the people will support us.”
He claimed the Left had been able to debunk the Opposition “propaganda” around the Singur land acquisition, and said the people were now blaming Mamata Banerjee for the shifting of the Nano project from Bengal.
“No, they are not going to blame us…. They are going to blame the Trinamul Congress for this,” he said.
Karat shrugged off the perception that the large-scale axing of sitting candidates reflected the Left’s insecurity about the election. He said it was party policy to give opportunities to new candidates.
He expressed similar confidence about a victory in Kerala and lauded chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan’s performance.
Told about the perception that young voters did not prefer the 87-year-old VS, Karat replied: “In fact, everybody says that the strong point of the LDF has been the chief minister… and his record for the past five years.”