As Bengal gears up to cast its mandate for 14 Lok Sabha seats in the third phase of polling on Thursday, the ruling CPI-M and its partners are preparing for their litmus test.
Response to political parties' rallies and campaigns, television debates and talk shows indicate Singur, Nandigram and the government's land acquisition methods and industrial policy would be the deciding factors.
No matter how desperately Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and his fellow comrades might try to overcome the odds with promises of a new Bengal, these will be key issues in the rural belts where the Left has ruled for three decades solely because of successful land reforms.
Recent tribal unrest, fresh demand for Gorkhaland, the Greater Cooch Behar and Kamtapur movements in north Bengal, decadence among a large section of party cadres and grass root level leaders and relentless Maoist activity have further added to the agony of the CPI-M.
For the rest of the country this might be an exercise to choose a new government in Delhi but in Bengal the alliance between Sonia Gandhi and Mamata Banerjee has somehow flagged off the race for 2011 Assembly election. Taken together, all these factors have led to an anti-incumbency wave in various parts of the state.
In north Bengal, where the Left has maintained control over four LS seats it is dented by infighting. Sitting MP from Alipurduar, Joakhim Buxla has quit Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) and is contesting against RSP’s Manohar Tirkey.
In Cooch Behar, sitting Forward Bloc MP Nripen Roy is rebelling at being overlooked. In these two segments, tribals and supporters of the greater Cooch Behar and Kamtapur movements are supporting opposition candidates including the BJP. Even the Congress is having a difficult time containing infighting within its ranks.