The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) meets in Kolkata on Thursday to deliberate on the reasons for the ruling Left Front's dismal performance in the West Bengal civic polls even as speculation is rife on who will be Kolkata mayor.
The CPI-M state secretariat, which is meeting at 5 pm at the Muzaffar Ahmed Bhawan party headquarters, will try to find out how to win back the support of the masses who seem to be deserting the party in large numbers.
Wednesday's vote count in the civic polls saw the Left Front being virtually swept away by a Trinamool Congress wave in many of the civic bodies, including the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC). It could retain only 17 of the 54 civic bodies it ruled for the last five years.
The Trinamool Congress won a massive mandate, picking up 95 of the 141 wards in KMC to unseat the Left front, which had been running the board since 2005. The Left Front got only 33.
The Congress, which fought the polls alone after the collapse of seat adjustment talks with the Trinamool, bagged a meagre 10. The BJP won three.
Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, who led the CPI-M campaign in KMC and some adjoining districts, has been dealt a blow himself with his party losing the majority of seats under his constituency, Jadavpore. It is seen as a danger signal to Bhattacharjee ahead of the assembly polls next year.
Speculation is also rife on who could be the new Kolkata mayor.
Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya, the current mayor, belongs to the CPI-M, but did not contest.
With Trinamool Congress' Javed Khan, the leader of opposition in the last board, biting the dust, the name of party leader Sovan Chatterjee is being heard for the key post.
However, Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee has kept everyone guessing. "Our elected councillors will take a decision soon. But we will have a party worker and not a leader as mayor. We have learnt from out experience that a worker can deliver better than a leader."
After Banerjee's comments, two other names have been doing the rounds as the party's mayoral nominee. One is that of Sashi Panja, daughter-in-law of late Trinamool leader Ajit Panja. The other name is that of Bobby Hakim, a young Trinamool councillor-cum MLA, known to be close to Banerjee.
The party's dismal show in the KMC notwithstanding, Congress leaders are taking heart from the results in the districts. Trinamool and Congress need to join hands to form the boards in 27 municipalities which have produced a hung verdict.
"We were criticised like nothing during the campaign. We were called agents of the CPI-M. We were dubbed the B team of the Communists. But the results show that if the Trinamool wants to come to power in a large number of boards it has to team up with us," state Congress vice president Manas Bhuniya said.
"And voters have also given a message to the Trinamool that it cannot win next year's assembly polls alone. It has to form an alliance with us."