The status of the CPI-M as a national party is in question thanks to worst-ever Lok Sabha tally. From 15 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 third alternative, which traditionally had Left parties as its pivot. Incidentally, all three parties who had ditched the Left did well this elections.
The Left Front couldn’t even get its own house in order. The RSP walked into the Congress fold in Kerala with its candidate winning the Kollam Lok Sabha seat in the state defeating M A Baby, a CPI-M politburo member. While Congress faced a rout throughout the country, the alliance it led had won 12 seats out of 20 in Kerala.
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 32. Raiganj and Murshidabad, the two seats in which the CPI-M is leading, the main challengers are from the Congress. "We need to introspect this performance", said CPI leader D Raja.