Politely intruding on some voters as they sat in their drawing room in a middle-class, residential area of Kolkata, she folded her hands in a manner of greeting and said, “I am Tanusree Mondal, the CPM candidate (from ward 110) for Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) election”. To that, 60-year-old Namita Mukherjee said, “I remember you coming to our apartment on your Scooty last June to deliver an oxygen cylinder and an oxymeter.”
Tanusree is one of 38 Red volunteers, who figure among the CPM’s list of 93 candidates for the December 19 KMC polls. While greenhorns in electoral politics, the volunteers are counting on their selfless service during the pandemic to find favor with voters.
With the CPM failing to win a single seat in the Assembly elections and its vote share touching rock bottom, these volunteers carried the Left’s hopes of redemption by extending timely assistance to needy Covid patients during the second wave of the pandemic.
Sources in the CPM said the party increased its army of Red volunteers after its disastrous Assembly poll showing.
Srijan Bhattacharya, the state secretary of CPM’s students’ wing, the Students’ Federation of India, said, “Before the assembly elections, we had 30,000 red volunteers across the state.
“However, within a month after the poll results were declared, the number increased to more than 1.20 lakh. In Kolkata itself, our volunteer force increased from 5,000 to 30,000.”
Desperate to increase its vote share in the KMC polls, the party has thrown its Red volunteers into the fray.
Kallol Majumder, CPM’s secretary for Kolkata district, said, “Our Red volunteers did extraordinary work during the pandemic and we believe it would put us in good stead during the KMC polls and also help us recover lost ground in Bengal politics. Even if they don’t win us seats, they won’t shy away from the fight.”
Saswati Dasgupta, another Red volunteer contesting from ward 30, said, “This is nothing new for us as we are involved in social work as CPM cadres. We may win or lose elections but what’s more important for us is to have the people on our side. And, we will continue to work for the people regardless of how we fare in elections.”