Kolkata, 7 February
It was nothing short of a daring political coup that the Trinamul Congress today caused by rupturing the unity in the Left Front that had remained the most cohesive political force in the country during the past 37 years.
The cross-voting by three LF MLAs ~ two from the RSP and one from the Forward Bloc ~ for the first time since the LF captured power in Bengal in 1977 has not only left the LF shell-shocked, but sent ominous signals for it in the forthcoming Lok Sabha poll.
The day’s development also demolished the myth that Left MLAs were incorruptible and “not like horses and cattle that can be sold and bought.” All these years the LF had been priding itself on the “unshakable ideological commitment” of its leaders and top party functionaries.
Since the political tsunami that overthrew the 34-year-long Left regime in 2011, there has been a steady exodus of Left supporters to the Trinamul Congress. And that was believed to be “only natural”, since, as the Left argued, thousands of people had joined the Left parties during their heyday to become close to the ruling combine and reap benefits. Once the Left was out, these “opportunists and self-seekers” crossed over to the Trinamul so as to continue to gain favours from the new government.
But, no one, not even Left detractors, could imagine any of the top Left leaders like its MLAs, would indulge in floor-crossing and help the Trinamul defeat the Left or Left-backed candidates.
The Left leadership had no inkling of such a “betrayal and revolt from within” which was why it had been merrily going ahead with its calculations of transferring their 12 surplus votes for the Independent candidate, SA Maliahabadi, that the LF and the Congress jointly fielded. The Congress had 38 votes, while the required minimum was 49 first preference votes. It was the Trinamul which had been jittery as the fate of its fourth candidate, who was seven short of the required number, was uncertain. Even yesterday morning when two Congress MLAs expressed their keenness to vote for the Trinamul, the Left lulled itself into the belief that its fort won’t be breached. But, as the day progressed it realised the ground was slipping as there were reports of three of its MLAs going missing.
The three surfaced this morning in the state Assembly only to “stab the Left in the back”.