What is left for Left Front in Bengal after assembly elections?text_fields
The recent Assembly election results and the state of Community Party in West Bengal embody the very crux of a modified graffiti of 'Long Live Marxism' to 'Long-fall-to-Marxism' by some scratches of an unknown hand on one of the walls of Kolkata.
The Left Front, who ruled Bengal for 34 years, only gathered 5.47 per cent votes and zero wins in the recent assembly election. They had at least a vote share of 30.1 per cent during the TMC wave- which put a stop to three decades of Communist rule in the state that toppled them in 2011.
This time, when the Trinamool Congress and the BJP went head-to-head, the alliance by Congress, CPM and the left parties couldn't even make their presence known in the arena. Even the 2016 election had presented the left parties a 25.69 per cent vote share.
"Despite anti-government sentiments, people voted Trinamool to power fearing that BJP might capture Bengal," says Nilotpal Basu, CPM Politburo member and former Rajya Sabha MP. According to observers, around 5 per cent of the Left's vote shifted to Trinamool, even forgetting their corrupt rule, to oust BJP.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the BJP won 40 per cent of votes, winning 18 seats in the state. Congress-left parties' votes paved the foundation for BJP then, but those votes went to Trinamool this time. Dipankar Bhattacharya of CPI (ML) Liberation Party, who launched the election campaign with "no vote for BJP", assesses the Left's defeat in similar lines.
The sharp drop in their vote share has alarmed the CPM, and the central leadership is reviewing the election results.
Jadavpur, known as "Leningrad of the east", had only elected CPM since 1967, but this time turned the party's senior leader Sujan Chakraborty down by 40,000 votes. The party leadership admits that there is no more severe setback than this.
"Vote shares in Kolkata shows that those who believe in liberal-secular-left voted Trinamool resist BJP. Trinamool need not take it for granted that those votes are theirs. We will win it back when left allies come together," Neelotpal Basu says.
But observers think that it won't be easy for CPM to win back those votes. "Left parties are facing a deep and disturbing crisis. Seventeen years ago, they were the third-largest party in parliament with 59 MPs. Out of that, 35 came from West Bengal, but now the count is zero, which speaks for how grave the party's crisis is," says Rajat Roy, a political observer in Kolkata Research Group. He also thinks that it is difficult for CPM to gather their votes back.
Meanwhile, JNU student leader Aishe Ghosh and DYFI state leader Minakshi Mukherjee performed comparatively well. According to Nilotpal Basu, the party have great hopes for them.