As results showed that the Left-Congress combine failed to make any mark in the polls despite exit and opinion polls suggesting they would come out on top, coalition leaders have started looking for a scapegoat.
If Congress leaders mostly kept silent, top CPM leaders blamed their ally for failing to ensure transfer of votes.
CPM polit bureau member and MP, Md Salim said that they had hoped for better results. He hinted that state Congress leaders had not taken enough measures to ensure party supporters voted for Left candidates where there were no Congress candidates. “When we support someone, we do that wholeheartedly, we’ve the mechanism to ensure that but Congress voters might not have voted for our candidates,” he said.
While Salim said that the failure of the coalition can only be understood after further study and analysis, Left Front chairman Biman Bose took a more defensive stance.
“There was no coalition. There was only a seat-sharing arrangement,” he said. State Congress president Adhir Chowdhury also seemed indulging in the blame game. While he said there was “no point in finding any excuse”, he claimed that the alliance would have performed better if Left leaders had not confused voters with contradictory statements.
“The alliance was not credible and there were many contradictions. At times Left leaders asked if the alliance was a conspiracy and at other times they said it was just adjustment of seats and not a coalition. They also fielded candidates from 10 seats in Murshidabad, which in effect helped the Trinamool Congress,” the Congress president said.
Although Chowdhury accepted defeat and claimed sole responsibility, he seemed pleased with his party’s performance, with the Congress gaining two seats more than 2011 and even notching up 2.5% of its vote share. While both Salim and CPM state secretary Surya Kanta Mishra, who lost from Narayangarh in East Midnapore, hinted at a tacit understanding between the Trinamool and the BJP, they claimed that the “rise of right-wing parties like the Trinamool and the BJP is a dangerous sign”. "The relevance and importance of a Left, democratic and secular alliance is not fading but growing because people want to counter this,” Mishra said. He refused to comment on the future of the combine.
Mishra and other top state CPM leaders forced the national leadership to allow the coalition in Bengal, claiming this to be the only way to counter the Trinamool and ensure return to power. While this happened in the face of severe opposition from Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Tripura party units, the coalition’s poor performance has left the Bengal unit exposed to extreme internal criticism.
The cruelest cut came from none other than Mamata Banerjee. “The alliance was a political blunder; the Congress has done a blunder by tying up with the Left," she said.