Lok Sabha elections 2019: In its erstwhile bastion, Left bloc faces humiliation, draws a blank

The downslide of the Left bloc continued in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections as it stared at its worst performance in West Bengal since Independence. From about 70 seats in 2009, the Left parties are likely to end up with a mere five in the 17th Lok Sabha.

In the eastern state, once considered a Left bastion, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) failed to open its account. In Kerala, where the party runs the state government, it was on its way to winning just one seat. In Tamil Nadu, the Communist Party of India (CPI) won one seat and was ahead in another. The CPI (M) was ahead in two.

CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, who was re-elected last year with the hope of reviving the party, took responsibility for the defeat and talked about introspection. “Our party believes in collective accountability. But being the general secretary, I am the first among the equals. So, I take the responsibility,” Yechury said when asked if heads would roll after the poor performance.

Privately, Left leaders said the polarisation was so sharp in West Bengal that non-Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) voters chose the Trinamool Congress while those opposed to the ruling party chose the BJP. They also admitted that Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s decision to fight from Wayanad in northern Kerala and the protests over the Supreme Court’s order allowing women of all ages to pray at Sabarimala Temple hurt the Left in Kerala.

The CPI (M) politburo, a key decision-making forum of the party, will meet on May 26 to discuss the reasons for its failure.

“It [the Left bloc] is still caught in mundane rhetoric and has nothing new to offer. It has to negotiate with complex realities of India rather than blindly following its erstwhile comrades,” says C P John, a former Left ideologue and political analyst.

First Published:
May 24, 2019 03:45 IST

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