Why are the Left parties led by Prakash Karat going for the jugular on the nuclear deal and and risking an early election? Prof. Abhirup Sarkar of the Indian Statistical Institute, Calcutta, views the situation through the prism of the two States that warm the Left’s seats in the Lok Sabha in The Telegraph, Calcutta:
“West Bengal and Kerala, taken together, account for 85 per cent of Lok Sabha seats of the Left. Therefore, it should suffice to look at the political economy of these two states to understand the undercurrents within the Left.
“The economies of West Bengal and Kerala are, of course, miles apart. Among the major Indian states, Kerala has the highest per capita consumption, highest literacy and the lowest gender disparity. It has the highest rank by any reasonable human development index.
“By contrast, West Bengal is at best a mediocre state. It is middle ranking in terms of per capita consumption, literacy and human development indices. The rural-urban divide in West Bengal is one of the starkest in the country, the rural sector containing some of the poorest Indian households, notwithstanding decades of much-hyped land reforms.
“Who votes for the Left in West Bengal? Our studies reveal that the Left vote bank in West Bengal mainly consists of the economically and socially disadvantaged — the poor and the vulnerable, the educationally backward, members of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, religious minority groups, marginal and small farmers, landless agricultural labourers and so on. Apart from these people, there is a section of the middle and upper classes voting left.
“These people would rather sacrifice industrialization in West Bengal and even risk losing a few seats in Kerala to protect the traditional vote bank, which has given them immense power without having to win elections or run governments. They are like the classical politburo members of the erstwhile Soviet Union, self-centred, power-loving, completely divorced from the people.
“The conflict, however, is not so much between leaders or personalities, but between two social classes, one poor and struggling to survive and the other aspiring to come out of the bondage of poverty and destitution.”
Read the full article here: Tale of two classes