The idea of a Congress-supported Third Front government has again proved to be chimera, as regional biggies with formidable support bases, including SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, RJD chief Lalu Prasad and DMK supremo M Karunanidhi, have been defeated.
And all this has been brought about by the Narendra Modi-led landslide for the BJP. The result: The Congress has been decimated for now. And the Third Front edifice – already creaking because of its own contradictions – seems to have crashed to the ground.
The status of the CPI-M as a national party is in question thanks to its worst-ever Lok Sabha tally. From 16 seats in 2009, it is down to 2 in West Bengal in 2014 in what has been a consistent slide in its electoral performance since it was voted out of power in the state in 2011.
This time, the fall is far too steep. From 24 MPs in the last Lok Sabha, the Left parties may get 12 MPs this time, including two Left-backed independent candidates who won from Kerala. While CPI (M) could win 9 seats, the CPI bagged one; the two other Left constituents, RSP and AIFB, didn't win any seat in West Bengal.
For the Left, the election campaign season did not begin well. Its efforts for pre-poll alliances with the AIADMK, TDP and BJD fell through, dashing the hopes of a third alternative, which traditionally had Left parties as its pivot. Incidentally, all three parties that had ditched the Left did well in this election.
The BJP tsunami in UP has reduced both the Congress and the SP Party to family enterprises. But the biggest surprise has come from Mayawati's BSP, which may end up with only one seat.
Prasad, with five seats, has done marginally better in Bihar, but his campaign claims of stopping the Modi juggernaut now sound a little melodramatic, especially as his wife Rabri Devi is behind BJP's Rajeev Pratap Rudy in Saran.
For the Left, West Bengal was a renewed embarrassment. The Trinamool Congress trounced it again and even improved its 2009 tally – in 2009, it won 19 seats, in 2014 it seems set to win 34.
The other regional top guns, including the AIADMK's Jayalalitha, the BJD's Naveen Patnaik and the Trinamool Congress' Mamata Banerjee, have done quite well in their respective areas of influence, but they have never been counted among the movers of the Third Front idea.