Jubilation was laced with doubts in the , circles at the latter’s high command green lighting its state unit’s poll pact with Left Front for 2019 state Assembly elections. Given Congress Legislature Party (CLP) emerging as principal Opposition outfit in the state after sharing seats with the Left Front in the 2016 state Assembly elections the decision is welcomed among many Congress activists, while some its leaders and their front counterparts have second thoughts.
As the coming together of the two ideologically divergent outfits did not fetch handsome dividends for the front, several left leaders felt that many Congress supporters did not vote for the nominees of the front partners. On the other hand, the front supporters going by party decision voted for Congress nominees which boiled down to an imbalance in the poll partnership.
But the gesture was not reciprocated by many voters who have supported Congress over the decades. Underscoring the allegation, these left leaders point to a lower tally of seats won by front representatives vis-a-vis the Congress and further alleged that quite a few Congress supporters had cast their votes for the Trinamul Congress splitting the Congress-Left vote bank.
Not entirely rubbishing the charge, some Congress leaders admitted that having suffered atrocities from some CPI-M led Front activists over the years, these voters did not stick to the party decision to vote for a new found poll ally. But next year’s elections are unlikely to be marked by such ‘cross voting’ with Congress activists having a taste of TMC’s highhandedness, it was felt.
Once West Bengal’s principal Opposition outfits, both Congress and Left Front have found their political space taken over by BJP since it won 18 out of 42 parliamentary constituencies in the state last year. After the two outfits could not get their act together in last year’s election, an existential crisis faces them with 2 seats in the Congress kitty and the Left ending up with an empty bag.
With a depleted support base, the Congress -Left combine is confronted with the ruling Trinamul and upcoming BJP in next year’s elections. The last thing it expects is a split vote bank of a poll partner.
Small wonder, while welcoming the nod of the Congress high command, the left leadership is stressing the strengthening of the alliance at the grassroot level. It is chary as despite the poll pact an unpleasant surprise had been sprung on it in 2016 Assembly elections.