Despondency was starkly evident among leaders in the Left camp after the municipal elections gave a resounding verdict against the front on Wednesday.
Politburo member Nirupam Sen said, “We have been in the government for a long time. We will go once the people want us to go. The results were expected to some extent. There has been no major improvement in the Left Front’s poll performance from the Lok Sabha polls.”
“We accept the verdict of the people,” said Left Front Chairman Biman Bose, a leader hand-picked by the late Pramod Dasgupta, a CPI(M) stalwart of yesteryear.
However, he was quickly on guard: “On the basis of these results it cannot be said that the Left Front government has lost its legitimacy to rule.”
“We will analyse the results and then formulate our strategy.” CPI (M) politburo member Sitaram Yechury said: “In the last Lok Sabha election, we had average of 525 votes in each of these wards, and it has gone up to 603 votes now. The negative trend against the Left may not have been reversed, but it has been arrested.”
The crumbling of its most stable citadel of West Bengal has given enough shock to the CPI(M) central leadership, with Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee proving to be both the winner and first runner-up in the elections widely called the “semi-final” ahead of the 2011 assembly elections.
The CPI (M) had an internal assessment that winning 21 municipal bodies would be good performance and that
could arrest the slide of the party since the last Lok Sabha polls. The Left ended up winning in 18 of the 81 municipalities.
The CPI (M) has been deploying the strategy of confusing Banerjee with its overtures to the Congress of late, but now the
results have made it known that trying to divide the opposition votes in this manner cannot be the best strategy for the Left.
“We need to get our act together, and we can’t forget we are fighting the 30-plus years of incumbency. We have to get our house in order, and win back the traditional constituencies of the minorities, as well as the weaker sections of the population”, said a Left leader at the Centre.
“In a way the Trinamool continued the good show from the Lok Sabha elections and surprisingly even in Left strongholds like the Memari municipality in Burdwan,” a senior Left leader said.