Numbers speak for themselves : CPIM is fast approaching its Waterloo

The recent ideological war within the CPI(M) on its political strategy had caught the attention of political observers. A majority of Polit Bureau members had voted against an alliance with Congress party in order to counter the BJP.

The only state where the party looked rock solid was Tripura, which has now slipped out of the party’s hands. The CPI(M) general secretary had tweeted that the ‘battle is on’ after the results of the assembly polls were out.

Mr Yechury had earlier predicted a ‘Waterloo’ for BJP in the state. If Mr Yechury, had read the history of Napoleon and kept track of his party’s performance in past three assemblies and Lok Sabha polls, he would recognise that an impending Waterloo was waiting for his party, not the BJP.

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The CPI(M)’s performance in Lok Sabha has been declining ever since it reached its peak in 2004 polls. After reaching its highest tally of 43 in 2004, the party declined to 16 in 2009 and 9 in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. In terms of vote percentage as well they have gone down from 5.7% to 3.3% in a decade. It has to be noted that the party had to forfeit its deposits in 50 out of 93 seats in 2014 (see FD column).

Lok Sabha Performance of CPI(M). Data Source:

The numbers speak for themselves. The CPI(M) has steadily declined in the last two assembly polls in its backyard West Bengal. It had reached its peak performance in last two decades in 2006 when it had secured 37.1% vote share and 176 seats. This was higher than its tally of 143 in 2001. In the next two assembly polls, its vote share declined from 30.1% to 20.1%. The number of seats also went down from 40 to 26.


CPI(M) performance in West Bengal over the past two decades

Its performance in Kerala has also been declining in terms of vote share. The number of seats it has secured has been fluctuating because of other factors. Its vote share was 21.4% in 2001. After rising to a peak of 30.4% vote share in 2006, it has declined to 28.2% in 2011 and 26.7% in 2016. However, its seat tally has increased from 45 to 58 because of the performance of other players in the state. In terms of popular vote, the CPI(M) is declining in Kerala as well. It is only the performance of others which is influencing its seat tally.

CPIM performance in Kerala in past two decades

All these numbers highlight that the popular support for communist ideology is on the decline. Tripura was an exception where CPI(M) was able to hold on to a vote share of 46%48% in past 3 elections. Tripura has now been breached by BJP.

The Chinese Communist party itself has disowned many original features of communism for the sake of growth and progress. ‘What is holding back the chelas of Chinese from evolving themselves back in India?’, one wonders. If the CPI(M) does not evolve with time, they may have to die a painful political death in near future. Mr Yechury must, on some level, realise that the war is not on. They have been defeated. Their ideology has been defeated. They have been politically routed. And the last few pockets seem poised to abandon their ideology as well.

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