Kolkata, May 17 UNI | 2 months ago

From 2004 to 2014 -- the wheel of fortune came a long way for the Trinamool Congress and Left Front in West Bengal-both going for a role reversal interchanging their political positions in just one decade.


It was in 2004 that the AITC, then a struggling opposition, secured only one seat in the Lok Sabha elections, courtesy the lone victory it recorded with the party chief Mamata Banerjee getting elected to retain her Kolkata south constituency.

The Trinamool was then in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that lost power to the Congress at the national level.

In contrast, the CPI(M)-led Left Front, then in power in West Bengal, captured an all time high 35 seats from the state alone and its tally at the national-level stood at 59. This enabled the Left to be an important supporter of the Congress-led UPA Government and emerge as a bargaining force in national politics.

But ten years down the line, political developments turned the dice to put these two forces in opposite positions in terms of electoral gains and political prowess.

Led by the well organised CPI(M), the Left coalition that looked invincible through its stay in power in West Bengal since 1977, faced a near wipe out situation in the just concluded Lok Sabha elections, managing to secure only two out of the 42 seats -- the worst ever performance since 1977. The previous worst of the Left was in 2009 when it bagged 15 seats.

The Trinamool, on the other hand, almost touched the pinnacle the Left had reached in 2004, by capturing 34 seats -- the mark of a sweeping power that came through the people's verdict.

Going by the number of seats, the Left--putting together the CPI(M), Forward Bloc, RSP and the CPI -- as the major partners, is also behind the Congress that finished a far distant second, and almost at par with the BJP, a force that always remained insignificant in the state till the recent past, to be in the third position.

A glimpse at the share of the votes each major player has got in this election shows that while the Trinamool Congress recorded 38.09 per cent, it was 29.06 per cent for the Left Front with the CPI(M) accounting for 23 per cent, the Congress got nine per cent and the BJP more than 17 per cent.

In 2004 Lok Sabha polls, the Left had secured nearly 50 per cent votes, the Trinamool little more than 21 per cent, the Congress 14.56 per cent and the BJP 8.06 per cent.

The scenario changed a lot in 2009 to tilt the balance in power with the combine of Trinamool, Congress and the SUCI, then in an electoral alliance, notching up around 45 per cent votes In contrast, the Left's share came down to little above 43 per cent.

The situation turned worse for the Left Front after two years, in the 2011 Assembly elections, when it received little more than 39 per cent votes as against about 49 per cent votes secured by the Trinamool Congress-Congress alliance(TMC alone around 39 per cent) to lose power that ran for about 34 years. The share of votes for the BJP was then only 4.06 per cent.

A comparison of the percentage of votes of each force thus shows that the Left lost its share of votes by .... per cent between 2004 and 2009, further .... per cent in 2011 and then again by about ten per cent in 2014. This loss of vote bank increasingly kept swelling Trinamool votes.

The share of votes for the Trinamool Congress, on the other hand, increased to about 39 per cent from little more than 21 per cent between 2004 and 2014.

As for the Left, that secured more than 35 per cent votes even in the panchayat elections, held last year, a sizable chunk of votes that previously belonged to it, is believed to have gone the BJP way paving way for the saffron party to aspire to grow as the second and the main opposition force in West Bengal before the 2016 Assembly elections. This factor explains why the Left Front failed to even hold onto the seats, like Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar, where it did well even in the 2013 rural polls, and where the Trinamool won this time largely because of the BJP eating into the Left votes.

While Left leaders had been hoping to make a turnaround in the current election, the outcome came as a blow to it showing a graph going down steadily without any sign of it looking up.

The defeat of veteran Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Basudeb Acharia, who had won nine elections from Bankura, the Left's 'impregnable bastion', since 1980, to a non-political person like film actress Moon Moon Sen, shows no more anything remains 'sure' for the Left.

The only two seats the Left won this time was at the cost of the Congress in Raiganj and Murshidabad where the gain came through slender margins and through division of votes between the Trinamool Congress and the BJP.

(Posted on 17-05-2014)