India's Communists on Friday found themselves out in the political cold with a massive defeat in its 34-year bastion West Bengal and a loss, albeit a narrow one, in Kerala, leaving them with just a narrow sliver of power in northeast's Tripura.
As votes were counted for elections to the five assemblies, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, West Bengal, Assam and Puducherry, it became evident that the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) led Left Front could take solace only in Tamil Nadu where it tied up with the victor AIADMK.
However, there too, it became apparent that the Left support was not vital with the AIADMK stating that the party, led by J Jayalalithaa, had won enough seats to form government of its own.
The Communists were down but definitely not out despite the bleak outlook, was the refrain in Left circles.
"The results of West Bengal and Kerala will be a disappointment for the Left and democratic forces. But this will, by no means, make the Left policies and programmes irrelevant for the country," the CPI-M politburo said in a statement.
Hinting that the Left was not thinking of any major policy change, the statement said: "The CPI(M) and the Left forces will continue to ... vigorously pursue the struggle against the neo-liberal economic policies, defend the livelihood and interests of the working people and combat communalism and defend secularism."
It was a vote for change in West Bengal, said CPI-M politburo member Sitaram Yechury, attempting to explain the absolute rout in a state it had ruled for 34 uninterrupted years.
Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress was tipped to win an incredible 226 seats of 294, leaving the Left with only 63. Even its chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee could not make it to the assembly.
The Left defeat in West Bengal, Yechury said, was because the "people opted for a change and the main beneficiary of the change has been the Trinamool Congress".
"As far as West Bengal is concerned, 34 years of rule by the CPI-M is a record. And a similar record is not present anywhere else in this democratic system," he added.
Explaining the situation in Kerala, where the Left Democratic Front (LDF) narrowly lost with the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) getting a slender majority of only two seats, the CPI-M said: "The results show the people have by and large endorsed the record of the LDF government of the past five years."
"This shows that there has been no anti-incumbency trend. However, some caste and religious forces have worked to influence the elections."
The party attributed the anti-DMK wave in Tamil Nadu to not only the 2G spectrum scandal involving former DMK minister A Raja but also the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government led by Manmohan Singh.
"The Tamil Nadu result is a decisive rejection of the corrupt misrule of the DMK and is also a verdict against the corruption which has flourished under the UPA regime at the Centre," the statement said.
CPI-M politburo member S Ramachandran Pillai told IANS: "Electoral politics are just part of the activites of a Communist party. And by electoral arithmetic too, the Left has not done too bad."
The politburo of the CPI-M will meet here May 16 to analyse the results and decide the future course, he said.
Political analyst P. Rajan added that the CPI-M and its Left allies should realise that the urge of the people were development and peace.
"And it is the urge for development which prompted the people of Bengal to vote for Trinamool Congress," he added.
Communist Party of India (CPI) national secretary Atul Kumar Ranjan admitted that the Left faltered on key issues of land being acquired for corporate purposes in Nandigram and Singur.