Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi seemed to have taken the first step towards burning the already wobbling bridges with the CPI(M) at a rally here on Monday, saying, "Just as the USSR disintegrated, the CPI(M) will crumble too."
Referring to his last visit to China, he said, "The Communists in China are also questioning the functioning of the CPI(M) in West Bengal."
Gandhi, who came here to launch the membership drive of the Youth Congress, said, "Now the question is not when and how they will go, but after that what?" I care for the future."
Stressing on the role of the Youth Congress, he said he wanted them to step into the vacuum created by the exit of the Left.
The special protection group personnel had a difficult time, as Gandhi — in his first-ever public rally in Kolkata —crossed the barricades and shook hands with the crowd who raised slogans such as "Rahul Gandhi Zindabad".
Although Gandhi avoided making comments on ally Trinamool Congress, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee made it clear that the Congress should create more space for itself and emerge as the single-largest party in Bengal too.
The immediate future —assembly elections in 2011 —looks bleak for the CPI (M), as Gandhi made it clear that his party would treat the Left as an enemy, and would not allow the anti-Left vote bank to split in the state.
Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool managed to push the Left to the wall in the last Parliament elections in West Bengal, riding on the undivided non-Left vote.
Gandhi said during the last 34 years, the CPI(M) failed in all counts.
"In Bengal, the BPL list does not have the names of the poor. It is full of the names of CPI(M) cadres. Forty-five per cent of the poor here do not have ration cards."
He said, "There are two Bengals here. One is for the CPI(M) that is shining and the second is for you – the Bengal of the poor (aapka, hamara aur Garibo ka Bengal)."