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Uneasy lies the Left headquarters

kolkata Updated: May 12, 2011 15:21 IST
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Sumanta Ray Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
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While one has to wait till May 13 to know whether the exit polls predicting an absolute disaster for the ruling Left Front, would ring true, it seems to have had an impact on the morale of the grassroots level CPI(M) workers, who can't imagine a Left rout in Bengal even in their wildest dreams.

A sense of what's in store on the big day was palpable at the state headquarters of the Left at Alimuddin Street. Though the leaders were seen floating in and out intermittently, the expectations about forming the eighth Left Front government was visibly amiss.

Left Front chairman and the CPI(M) state secretary Biman Bose was busy attending a close-door meeting with the state secretariat members. Such senior Left leaders as central committee member Shyamal Chakraborty did face the waiting mediapersons and trashed the exit poll projections.

However, tense enquiries on the exit poll harvest were a fairly common sight among the grassroot level workers of the Left.

An uneasy calm prevailed in front of the CPI(M) local committee office at ward number 67 of Kasba (south Kolkata), on Wednesday morning, with the usual scene of comrades flocking in front of the office to discuss about the poll prospects strangely missing. Party mouthpiece Ganashakti as usual dotted the board outside, but there were no readers on sight.

The scene summed up the mood of Tuesday night's exit poll, indicating the fall of the three-decade old Left regime.

As this correspondent strolled through a small market place, he came across Ghighi (name changed), a local CPI(M) leader.

"How is it that…a (national English news channel) has projected just 58 seats for us? How can all our calculations go so drastically wrong?" said Ghighi in between mournful sips from a glass of liquor tea.

For Avijit Gomes, a CPI(M) worker from Moulali and a small-time labour contractor, Wednesday morning is not as usual.

"The media projections had never been in our favour. But the exit poll projections are too much to take," said 32-year old Avijit, whose experience about the power-struggle in West Bengal since his birth had made him believe strongly that barring red, there actually is no other colour in Bengal.

Rudra, another CPI(M) supporter from the Palbazar area of south Kolkata sought to put up a brave face.

"I am not ready to jump the gun till the poll results are declared. If people really want change, we have to accept it. But the defeat does not mean the end of everything," he said.

What keeps Subhash, a co-owner of a bar-cum-restaurant in South Kolkata, worried, is the probable law & order problems that might erupt after the results are declared.

"Generally, when there is a change of guard after so many years, the chances of vengeful clashes and clashes remain strong party supporters. I am especially uneasy about the prevailing sense of calm in both camps. Is this a lull before the storm?" he said.

For Bablu (name changed), a CPI(M) worker in Ballygunge area, a defeat of the Left might be an opportunity for the party to restructure and reorganise itself.

"It cannot be denied that over time certain bad elements have penetrated our party. But they are not our concern, since they would change camps. I am worried about our dedicated and honest comrades, who might face utter humiliation thereafter," he said.