The biggest question that is haunting the CPI(M) leadership in West Bengal is how to stop mass exodus of comrades and face the acute financial crisis which the party is going to face shortly.
The party has only 26 MLAs in 294 seat West Bengal Assembly and only 9 MPs in 545-member Lok Sabha. Out of 245 members in Rajya Sabha, the CPI(M) has 8 members of which three are from West Bengal.
Senior party leaders apprehend that there will be massive flight of party workers after the poll debacle. Their apprehension is not without basis. Ekramul Haq, party’s north Dinajpur district committee member and nominee from Chopra Assembly seat who lost to Trinamool candidate Hamidul Rahaman has joined the TMC along with 36 comrades.
They felt that many young party workers would join the BJP particularly in the bordering districts in North Bengal, North 24-Parganas, and Murshidabad. The trend to close down party offices which started after the TMC government took over in 2011 is continuing unabated.
In Howrah many party offices have been closed. In East Midnapore district, three or four branch committee offices and two or more local committee offices were clubbed into one. In South Kolkata’s Bhowanipore, Kalighat and Chetla, the CPI(M) offices have been closed down.
The leaders said many party members would refuse to renew their membership because of poor poll results. The leaders said the biggest crisis faced by the party would be the financial problem. The whole timers now get anything between Rs 7,500 to Rs 10,000 per month.
The party will face problem in giving them money every month. The levy collected by the party will nosedive as those who used to contribute will now look the other way considering party’s bleak future.
As there is a sharp fall in the number of MLAs, collection of money from their salaries will be less.
The businessmen who used to contribute generously to the party have either shifted their allegiance or have reduced their contribution.
The party had four to six cars on an average in the districts which were used by the district committee members. After 2011, the party was forced to sell many of its vehicles and now as the situation worsened there will be cost rationalisation.
The leaders said after coming to power in 1977, Pramod Dasgupta had taken special financial drive and had roped in many businessmen who used to contribute to the party regularly as he felt that for survival party must be financially strong.
With the stability of the government, the party also grew and in districts new party offices were constructed. The allowance of the whole timers also went up. “We have never faced such acute crisis and this will be difficult to overcome,” a party leader said.