Left’s reasons to worry in Bengal

The CPI candidate in the West Bengal bypoll losing around 42,000 votes he got in the elections a year ago and BJP’s gain have revived the debate on a Left Front-Congress alliance in the state amid an “unprecedented rise” of the saffron party.

More than the loss in election, the worrying sign for the Left Front is the BJP triple its vote count by adding around 37,000 from the 2016 Assembly polls and slowly emerging as a “principal opposition party” in the state at the expense of CPI(M) and Congress.

Losing no time, CPI(M) State Secretary Surya Kanta Mishra has renewed his call for a “broadest united platform” to fight both ruling Trinamool Congress and BJP, as the saffron party chief Amit Shah “specially thanked the people of West Bengal for making BJP the principal opposition party” in the bypolls.


Shah’s message was not lost on the Left Front leaders in Bengal, who have lost the position of principal opposition to Congress in the last Assembly elections. In the bypolls, Left and Congress fought separately while Congress candidate got just 2,270 votes.

Soon after the Shah tweeted his thanks came Mishra’s remarks, “the unprecedented rise of BJP is a very serious threat to the peace and amity in Bengal. (It) can’t be checked without ousting TMC from power.”

He went on to say, “unity of the Left democratic and secular forces is the only alternative to combat TMC and BJP in Bengal. Broadest united platform is the call of the hour.” Mishra and Bengal CPI(M) leaders have been emphasising that an alliance with Congress is necessary to take on both Trinamool and BJP.

However, a section of the CPI(M) central leadership and comrades in Kerala are against any such move though the parties had stopped short of terming its understanding in the 2016 elections as an alliance.

CPI’s Uttam Pradhan was fielded once again to take on Trinamool Congress’ Chandrima Bhattacharya in Kanthi Dakshin, where the bypolls was necessitated by Trinamool MLA Dibyendu Adhikari’s election to the Lok Sabha from Tamluk seat.

In the election against Adhikari last April-May, Pradhan had polled 59,469 votes or 34.22% but 11 months later in the bypolls, he bore the ignominy of forfeiting his deposit. CPI’s votes shrunk to 17,423 (10.21%), a loss of 42,046 votes, when he needed at least 28,438 votes to secure his deposit.

This is when Trinamool Congress increased its vote by around 2,000 and BJP by a whopping 37,620. BJP polled 52,843 votes this time, up from 15,223 in the last elections.

(Apr 14, 2017)


‘Half of assurances in Par yet to be fulfilled’

Almost half of the assurances given on the floor of Parliament in the past over three years are yet to be fulfilled with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) leading the pack.

Between 2014 and 2017 till now, the government has given 3,998 assurances on the floor of the House but 49.59% (1983) of them are yet to be fulfilled.

This is at a time when an assurance given in Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha has to be fulfilled in three months time. An extension would only be given by the Committee on Government Assurances of both the Houses.

Parliament house in New Delhi on July 24th 2015. Express photo by Ravi Kanojia.

Peeved at the delay in fulfilling assurances, a Congress Rajya Sabha MP KVP Ramachandra Rao has moved a Private Member’s Bill in Rajya Sabha to provide a Constitutional guarantee that assurances given would be fulfilled even if the previous government has given the promise.

As per the statistics of Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, 419 assurances given by various Ministries in 2014 are still pending while 591 of 2015 are also yet to be resolved. During these years, 161 assurances were dropped.

The highest number of pending assurances is that of last year with 902. None of the 71 assurances given this year have been fulfilled, as the three month deadline would end only in May.


Assurance in Parliament
** Assurances arise on the floor of the House when during a reply to any question or discussion, the Minister gives a promise which entails certain actions on the part of the Minister/Ministry. These assurances are culled out by the Secretariat and the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs from the daily proceedings of the House on the basis of a standard list of expressions, constituting assurances. Thereafter these assurances are communicated to the concerned Ministry for their fulfilment. They have to be fulfilled within a period of three months and if the Ministries are unable to fulfill the assurances within the stipulated period, they are required to approach the Committee for granting extension of time, giving cogent reasons and the progress made towards fulfillment of the assurances.


Among the ministries, MHA has the highest number unfulfilled assurances with 143. Ministries of Human Resources Development (123), Law and Justice (114), Communications (97) and Environment (93) are among those with large number of unfulfilled promises to Parliament.

The number assurances given in Parliament is on the decline during the period under analysis. While the governments in 2014, the first five months were under UPA while the NDA government came to power in May same year, gave 1,457 assurances, it is on the decline from then on.

In 2015, 1,327 assurances were given while it further dwindled to 1,143 last year. One of the reasons for lower numbers in 2016 could be due to the almost complete washout of the Winter Session when very less Parliamentary business was conducted owing to protests on demonetisation.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Apr 17, 2017)

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