Following the abysmal performance of Left political parties in the recently concluded Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur, political experts feel that such parties may well be staring at extinction.
In Uttar Pradesh, Left parties had fielded 140 candidates, but were able to secure only 0.2% of the votes, which translates to only about 1.3 lakh votes across the state. The scale of the poor performance by the Left parties can be gauged from the fact that even the “None of the Above” (NOTA) option secured 1.1% of the vote share in Uttar Pradesh.
Professor Manindra Nath Thakur, an expert on electoral politics, said: “Uttar Pradesh has never been a communist stronghold, but the communist parties like CPI and CPM used to win approximately 10-15 seats in the 1970s and even in the early 1980s, they used to get a vote share of 4-10%. But with time, the parties’ performance has been disastrous.”
According to Thakur, the Left parties face the dilemma of having to “push their ideology” and, at the same time, deal with the rising aspirations of the masses across the country. In the process, the Left parties have failed to secure seats, resulting in their vote shares falling drastically, he said.
“Left parties seem to be reluctant to address the emerging questions of development, identity, caste and religion. They have also not focused on catering to the rising aspirations of the masses. Also, coalition politics has not resulted in any long-term gains for such parties. The general masses have rejected the narrative set by the Left parties,” Thakur said.
In Uttar Pradesh, Left parties had fielded 140 candidates, but were able to secure only 0.2% of the votes. Even the “None of the Above” (NOTA) option secured 1.1% of the vote share.
In Manipur, out of 60 Assembly seats, the Left parties used to win 6-10 seats during the 1990s, but failed to open their account in the recently concluded polls in the state. In 2012, such parties had won five seats and had managed to secure four seats in 2007.
Kavita Krishnan, CPI-ML (Liberation) politburo member, however, said that the Left parties are still “alive” and claimed that the CPI-ML (Liberation) had done well in the Bihar elections in 2015 getting three seats.
“With three seats in the Bihar Assembly elections, the CPI-ML (Liberation) had emerged as the biggest Left party with just 1.5% votes in Bihar,” Krishnan told The Sunday Guardian.
In West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress brought down the curtains on the 34-year uninterrupted rule of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM)-led Left Front in 2011. In 2016, the Assembly elections in West Bengal and Kerala yielded opposite results for the Left.
While in Kerala, the Left parties won a majority, grabbing 90 seats in the 140-member Assembly, in West Bengal, they were pushed to the margins, winning only 33 seats in the 294-member Assembly. As of now, Tripura and Kerala are the only states with Left governments.