Dramatic reversals suffered by the Left parties in the Lok Sabha polls will result in their being confined to sidelines after they held centrestage in national politics in the past five years.
The Left bastion in West Bengal and Kerala crumbled and heavily dented by alliances led by the Congress after breathing fire against its estranged partner and forging unity with the regional parties under the banner of Third Front with their tally going down by more than half.
The four parties--CPI-M, CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc-- had a total tally of 60 in the 2004 elections.
In Kerala where the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front had got 19 of the 20 seats in 2004, got only four. A major factor, according to analysts, was the serious factional fight amongst top CPI(M) leaders--Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan and party state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan.
In West Bengal where the Left had fought Trinamool Congress on issues relating to industrialisation and land acquisition, the Mamata Banerjee-led party and Congress gave them a drubbing, bringing down the Left tally to its lowest level.
In their attack against the Congress-led UPA government, the Left parties had raised a major hue and cry over the Indo-US nuclear deal and later withdrew support with less than a year to go before ther UPA term came to an end.
The Left parties opposed and even claimed to have thwarted several moves of the Manmohan Singh government on the economic front.
After walking out on the UPA, the Left parties forged unity among various regional parties in an attempt to project an alternative to non-Congress, non-BJP parties.
Besides the CPI(M), CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc, those who joined inthe process were Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party, JD(S) led by H D Deve Gowda, N Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party and J Jayalalithaa's AIADMK.
The Telengana Rashtra Samiti, which had first joined this amalgam, switched over to the BJP-led NDA during the elections.
The Left-led alternative got a shot in the arm when Orissa's ruling Biju Janata Dal led by Naveen Patnaik broke its ties with the BJP and held their hands to face the general elections as well as the assembly polls, where it won hands down.
Faced with a rout, the Left leaders have made it clear that they would not support a Congress-led government and prefer to sit in the Opposition.