NEW DELHI: The CPI(M) that has emerged from the Shah-Adityanath assault in its home bastion Kerala unscathed is now contending with a stepped up offensive by the BJP in Delhi. The ruling party here announced a march against the Left parties led by BJP President Amit Shah in Delhi, ending with a demonstration at the CPI(M) headquarters on Sunday when the office is largely deserted. The CPI(M) will be holding a demonstration on Monday outside the BJP headquarters in Delhi.

CPI(M) leaders said that these demonstrations by slogan shouting BJP workers outside their offices have been going on for almost a week with the BJP workers gathering outside the party headquarters and Delhi district offices to protest what they claim are the murders of their cadres in Kerala by the Left. In the current face off with the BJP trying hard to expand its area of influence in Kerala from the one Assembly seat it won in the polls last year, political killings have become common with the CPI(M) suffering huge losses as well.

Statistics quoted by the media suggest 65 RSS/BJP workers were killed in Kerala during 2000-2017 as against 85 CPI(M) workers and 11 of the Congress-IUML.

The Left front will be responding now on Monday in Delhi with a large demonstration planned outside the BJP headquarters, a first in the national capital by the communists on this issue. The two cadre based parties are locked in a bitter battle with the BJP in characteristic style taking the war outside Kerala to attack smaller offices of the CPI(M) in other states like Orissa where its presence is relatively small.

In Kerala the BJP was stung with the low response with Shah drawing “a crowd of just about 1000” according to CPI(M)’s Hannan Mollah when he inaugurated the Jan Raksha Yatra from Payyannur in Kerala. He left for Delhi before the march reached Pinarayi, the home town of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath Yogi took part, with the social media going over the top in jokes, songs, memes, parodying the BJP campaign.

The BJP is trying hard to communalise Kerala over the Hadiya case, with Adityanath taking it up as part of the party’s “love jihad” campaign. The Kerala government has told the Supreme Court that the state police had been investigating the charges, and there was nothing that could warrant a probe by the National Investigation Agency.

The general consensus after the BJP’s campaign that was a bit of a damp squib given the promises and the propaganda was that it had been unable to cut ice with the people on the issue of love jihad involving the young woman and her Muslim husband, or on the political murders charge. The CM ran a strong and effective counter campaign, state sources said, with journalists also admitting that the social media was taken over by the pro-CPI(M) ‘trolls’ with the BJP hardpressed to counter the wit and the humour generated across the board.

The Left is being seen as the only major opposition now by the BJP, in states like Tripura and Kerala where it is in power, but also on the issues of farmers rights, students protests, and workers demands. The mass organisations of the Left parties have been activated in a conscious decision by the Left amalgam with the directions to lead, or join in, or just follow such anti-BJP struggles across India. As a result the kisan organisations have come together in two broad fronts, with the All India Kisan Sabha a member of both with a large farmers agitation now planned for Delhi on November 20.

The students unrest is being support actively by the student and youth wings of the Left parties. The CPI(M-L) students wing AISA is particularly active on this front. A case in point being the recent protest by girl students of Banaras Hindu University against the Vice Chancellor who is a RSS member, with the Left students groups coming out in large numbers to protest and demonstrate in solidarity with the BHU students. Besides this, the Left youth and student wings are working to forge new coalitions such as in Hyderabad Central University where the ABVP was defeated in the recent students union elections precisely because of the new unity between all groups.

Interestingly, the confusion that has become the hallmark of the Congress is not so visible in the Left that has emerged out of a fairly long hiatus with a clear strategy to counter the BJP at different levels. The workers and trade unions have also held large protests, with communist cadres joining fisherfolk, farmers, students and workers wherever an opportunity offers itself, even as they work together for a more sustained opposition.

Interestingly some criticism from Left intellectuals of the political decision to work for Left unity and not create alliances with the Congress and other regional parties at this stage is dismissed by party leaders who point out that after Janata Dal(U) leader Nitish Kumar left the Opposition in the lurch despite the huge mandate secured in the Bihar polls, “we have realised that we cannot trust these parties”, a CPI(M) senior leader said. He pointed out that the same could happen to many of them out of the BJP fold currently, “and while of course we are open to broad electoral understandings, we will work on Left and not all party unity only.”

Left intellectuals have also been not very happy with the exit of CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury from the Rajya Sabha at a stage where they feel his presence and experience would make a big difference. The party explanation, however, is that Yechury’s term was over, and besides as the general secretary he is expected to work for the growth of the organisation. A third reason articulated by Left sources and confirmed by the Congress is that the Rajya Sabha seat could be secured by the Left only with the help of the Congress party. “In this case the Congress said it would transfer the votes only for Yechury, and not if any other Left candidate was fielded, how then could we accept such a condition, “ the sources said.

Meanwhile the Left parties seem to be following a clear strategy and as Mollah said, “the RSS/BJP is now after us because we are the only ones in the field, and raising a voice where it counts.” Senior CPI(M) leader Mohammad Salim was of the view that the “Left is united and has decided to work through its mass organisations so that there can be broader unity, with more and more people and organisations involved in the struggle.” The social media has been identified as a key area with the Left parties moving into this with bigger footprints than before.

“The BJP will not be able to make a dent, let them keep trying,” Salim laughed. And as CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat said recently to reporters, “they are trying to scare us, they should understand we are communists and we fight for the country. Their hands are covered with blood.”