Left supporters voted for BJP in Bengal, admits Sitaram Yechury; voters found BJP a credible force, says Congress MP
The CPI(M) for the first time admitted in public that its voters shifted allegiance to BJP in Bengal which the Left Front ruled from 1977 to 2011.
Many people who voted for the Left parties in Bengal even in the 2016 Assembly polls supported the Bharatiya Janata Party in the recent Lok Sabha election, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said in Kolkata on Tuesday.
This is the first CPI(M) admitted in public that its voters shifted allegiance to BJP in a state which the Left Front ruled from 1977 to 2011.This helped BJP win 18 seats, marking the party’s best ever performance in Bengal. This shift in voting pattern was reported by HT on May 25.
“This (voting for BJP) was the natural tendency among those for whom the priority was relief from terror and repression by TMC. And the section that wants to protect the secular fabric voted for TMC. This the result of an extreme polarisation between BJP and TMC. This polarisation is squeezing out the democratic space for other parties,” Yechury said at a press conference.
He came to the city to attend a CPI(M) West Bengal state committee meeting where the state’s poll results were discussed. The party’s central committee will meet on June 7.
“However, no CPI(M) party member would have voted for BJP. This was a tendency (only) among Left supporters,” Yechury said.
“I came to Bengal four times during the polls. Before the last phase I heard the slogan ‘Ebar Ram, pore bam’ (This time vote for Ram, vote for the Left later). I don’t know who composed the slogan but there was a feeling of that nature,” said Yechury.
Asked whether his party’s poor show was the result of its failure to work out an alliance with Congress, Yechury said, “We offered to spare seats but they (Congress) did not come forward. Let them say why things did not work out. Congress won only those two seats where we did not field candidates,” said Yechury.
Reacting to his remark, Congress’s Berhampore MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, said, “Both parties need to analyse the situation. We cannot talk of alliance during the polls and break the alliance once polls are over. People of Bengal must have found BJP a credible force and hence voted for it.”
The BJP won seven of eight Lok Sabha seats in north Bengal and made substantial inroads in the western districts. But 39 of 40 Left candidates, most from the CPI(M), lost their deposits.
With no seat and combined vote share of only 7.46% vote share, the CPI(M) and its partners in Bengal recorded their worst show in this general election.
While the Left parties lost a huge chunk of the 29.95% vote share recorded in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP’s vote share touched 40.25% against TMC’s 43.28% and Congress’s 5.61%.