The United Left front (yes, there are so many parties belonging to the Left Family that it is impossible to keep track of them all) won a staggering 59 seats (a gain of 27 seats) in the 2004 General Elections for the Lok Sabha of India. CPI (M), the largest party in the Left family, won 43 seats of the total 69 contested. Comrades all across the length and breadth of the country called it to start of a revival of the Left and its political fortunes. The Comrades were firmly entrenched in 3 states and looked beyond their bastions to expand their votes, their seats and their clout. The whole of India was their oyster and the Indian Populace ripe for the taking, they thought. Could they have been any more wrong? To be fair, no-one predicted such a precipitous decline in the Left’s fortune, so rapidly and so staggeringly shocking.
Today, The Left has only 10 seats in the Lok Sabha and it rules only in two states, Kerala and Tripura. Kerala is known to alternate between a Left led alliance and a Congress Led alliance every five years. It was routed, quite convincingly in its traditional bastion of West Bengal where it has now lost two state elections in a row (the second time it was in an alliance with arch-rival Congress and was yet beaten, soundly by the TMC).
It should be surprising that in the state that elected the most Left MPs to the Lok Sabha in 2004, the Left was struggling to find enough votes to send its representative to the Rajya Sabha. The decline of the Left has exacerbated by the point that most of its hoodlums who earlier did its dirty heavy-lifting have moved to the TMC and most of its voters are increasing seeing BJP as a better alternative to the Left, evident by the massive spike in its vote share in the recently concluded by polls.
This leaves the Left Front with only Tripura a very small state in the Indian North East as its safest Bastion and the one on the basis of which it can still claim to have the semblance of a party in administration. However, elections to the state assembly of Tripura are due this year and as per one opinion poll, the Left is set to lose its Red citadel.
This opinion poll, prepared by News X- Jan Ki Baat has predicted the end of over two decades of CPI(M) rule in Tripura which is going to polls on February 18th. As per the opinion poll, alliance of BJP and the Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura is likely to win 31-37 seats out of the total 60 assembly constituencies in the state and the ruling CPI(M) may only get 23-29 seats as per the opinion poll. What is more shocking yet somehow, not surprising at all, is that the Congress is not expected to win any seat as per the opinion poll.
To be fair, things have not been great in Tripura. Unemployment is high, there are allegation of party-based nepotism in selections and a general lack of industrial development in the State. It does not help that Manik Sarkar, the Chief Minister of Tripura who has been at the helm for over two decades claims to be the poorest CM in the country. To his credit, Shri Sarkar enjoys a clean reputation and even his detractors laud him for his simple living. But the State under him, has gone from Bad to worse.
Two journalists were murdered recently in this state. One of them was shot by the PSO of a commandant in the Tripura State Police, allegedly because he was probing financial irregularities in his unit.
The BJP is eagerly and enthusiastically making all efforts to overthrow the Sarkar Government. Current reporting from the ground point towards a tough fight between the Left and the BJP with Congress relegated to a distant third. BJP’s point man in the state, Shri Sunil Deodhar is leaving no stones unturned to add another state to the saffron kitty. Even the Prime Minister himself is to address rallies in the state to boost BJP’s electoral prospects. The battle between Manik Sarkar and Modi Sarkar has begun. Who will win, this only time and the voters of Tripura will tell.