The 2014 general elections saw the parliamentary Left becoming weaker than ever before. Three years earlier, the red bastion had crumbled in West Bengal after 34 years. The question is whether the clutch of parties headed by the CPI(M) is likely to lose even more political ground. Or was the writer (who passed away before his book was published) being realistic when, as the title suggests, he compared the Left to a mythical Greek bird that is cyclically regenerated or reborn?
It seems almost amazing to recall that the then undivided Communist Party of India had emerged as the biggest opposition party after the first general elections in 1951-52. The memory of the 1959 dismissal of the first elected Left government in Kerala by Nehru weighed heavily on the minds of Left leaders for years and convinced many of them of the need to try and provide “limited relief” to people by winning elections even as they remained unsure about the ability of the existing parliamentary system to bring about meaningful socio-economic change.