The Left committed a blunder by tying up with the Congress, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said on Thursday soon after her Trinamool Congress trounced the CPI(M)-Congress combine in West Bengal polls.
“It’s a major political blunder for the CPI(M) in the state. They are the big loser. They have compromised with ideology. When ideology is lost everything is lost,” she said while speaking to reporters at her Kalighat residence.
“CPI(M) will have to explain to the people why they struck the alliance with their traditional rival ignoring their ideology. But Congress is a gainer, though they have committed a mistake in national politics,” she added.
The Trinamool chief had targeted the CPIM-Congress alliance during her campaign. “Banglai dosti, Keralai kusti” (Friendship in Bengal, Rivalry in Kerala,” she repeatedly reminded the voters.
The unprecedented alliance between the Left and Congress was always a contentious issue with the central leaders of both the parties preferring to look the other way while their Bengal leaders entered into an understanding.
There was scepticism within the CPI-M with former general secretary Prakash Karat and a number of other politburo members opposed to the arrangement. While CPI(M) leaders such as Budddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Suryakanta Mishra argued for the alliance as a desperate survival strategy against the Trinamool juggernaut, others such as politburo member Biman Bose and central committee member Hannan Mollah were opposed to the tie-up.
However, those in favour of the alliance pressed ahead. In a historic meeting at Park Circus in Kolkata, former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee shared the dais with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in an election rally.
“The people of the state did not accept any of our arguments against Mamata Banerjee and her government,” a grim-faced CPI(M) leader Rabin Deb told HT.
“I accept responsibility for the defeat. The alliance was not acceptable to the people. We failed to win their trust. They found Mamata more credible. But in a few constituencies we (Left and Congress candidates) did fight one another and the benefit accrued to Trinamool. We told CPI(M) to withdraw candidates, but to no avail,” said state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury.
Asked whether the alliance was an ill-advised one, Chowdhury said, “Ask the Left leaders. If they say they made a blunder, I have nothing to comment. We began with 31 MLAs in the outgoing House. If we have been able to raise the tally, it’s our benefit,” Chowdhury said.
“We failed to project a face for either the chief minister, or his deputy to the electorate. We also failed to convey any idea about the common minimum programme that we needed,” said AICC member Om Prakash Mishra.
The chief minister also took a jibe at the leader of the opposition Suryakanta Mishra for claiming during the campaign that “the people should hit Trinamool for a sixer”. “The people hit them out of the ground,” she remarked.