The knives are out in the CPI(M) after its West Bengal poll debacle. A large section of the central leadership and the party’s Kerala leaders appeared keen on Friday to attack their Bengal comrades after the Left Front slid to an ignominious third position in the assembly polls.
Anticipating the political heat, the party has already deferred its politburo and central committee meeting till mid-June. The CPI(M)-led Left Front that once ruled West Bengal for 34 years was decimated by Mamata Banerjee who swept to power with 211 seats on Thursday.
“There was no formal agreement with the Congress, no common minimum programme yet some of our leaders started talking about forming a government with the Congress and confused voters,” CPI(M) politburo member Hannan Mollah told HT.
A senior CPI(M) leader said the party’s Bengal leaders had estimated that the Left would bag “at least 100 seats”. It got 32 seats, a stark reminder of how the party has lost touch with its cadres.
Mollah agreed. “We were detached from 90% of the population for 4.8 years. We did not reach out to our people who lived in fear. It is foolish to expect that in four months, out fortunes will turn around,” he added.
With 26 seats, the CPI(M) has a vote share of only 19.7% as against 40 seats and 29.6% in 2011 and 176 seats and 37.13% in 2006. This is clearly the party’s worst performance in the state.
The Left Front partners fared worse. The Communist Party of India (CPI) won a single seat and the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) three seats. The Forward Bloc, which saw its Dinhata MLA Udayan Guha switch over to Trinamool last year, won only two seats with a 2.8 % vote share.
The party’s preliminary assessment also shows that its anti-Mamata campaign over the Narada sting operation, the flyover collapse in Kolkata and the Saradha chit fund scam was confined to some TV channels while the Trinamool marketed its development agenda across the state.
“Many of our leaders now blame the decision to forge a seat-sharing alliance with Congress. While Congress benefited, we suffered in many seats,” a senior state committee member of the CPI(M) said.
A sizeable section of Left leaders feels the BJP played spoilsport. “Also, Muslims in many areas didn’t vote for us,” a CPI(M) state secretariat member said.
A senior Left leader added, “No individual should be blamed for the debacle. There was no comprehensive plan for fighting the election. Bengal communists failed to do any proper agitation in the last few years.”