The Left bastion of Teghra, earlier the Barauni Assembly seat in Begusrai district that was held by the CPI since Independence, was swamped by the Nitish Kumar wave today with the BJP planting its lotus flag on this small township that had been equated with the Russian city that was the hub of the October Revolution.
The CPI, once a major Opposition force in Bihar, has been left with only one seat —Bachhwara.
The CPI, in fact, will be the only Left party in the new Bihar Assembly to have a legislator with the other communist parties all drawing a blank.
In the just-dissolved Assembly, the combined Left strength was nine.
Ram Dev Verma, a veteran CPM legislator from Bibhutipur in Samastipur district, found himself pushed to the third place.
In a bid to revive its fortunes, the CPM had fielded Amit Sarkar, the Australia-returned son of Ajit Sarkar, the murdered communist leader, from its CPM’s traditional stronghold of Purnea. The ploy failed as the BJP won the seat, Amit trailing in third place.
The biggest blow has been dealt to the CPI(ML) Liberation , considered the most vibrant Left party in the state which stood its ground even in the Lalu Prasad era by ensuring at least half-a-dozen seats. This time it has won nothing. Its bastion in Siwan has crumbled with the NDA surging through.
“The results are unexpected and we will be analysing the reasons behind the debacle. Our candidates have come second in five Assembly seats and got a sizeable number of votes in a few others,” said CPI(ML) office secretary Santosh Sahar. However, the votes of the party have actually gone down since the last Assembly elections.
The party put up a brave front though. “Our political agenda will remain the same. We will struggle outside the Assembly,” insisted Sahar.
Analysts say the Left has itself to blame for its shrinking base. “Students and the youth are no longer attracted towards the Left. Issues such as land reforms no longer lure the youth. It’s perhaps because of the cultural changes taking place,” conceded a senior communist leader.
However, it is perhaps the EBCs (Extremely Backward Castes) and the Mahadalit card played by Nitish Kumar which has hurt the Left the most. This segment which backed the Left parties the most.
In the run-up to the Assembly polls the JD (U) organised an impressive rally of Mahadalits at Gandhi Maidan in Patna. The CPI(ML) countered it with an equally large gathering. However, Nitish’s promise to give this section of Dalits special treatment —- land, radio, education, healthcare and other benefits — appears to have worked.
The Mandalisation of politics saw the Left marginalised. Today, with Nitish winning over more sections to his side, the Left parties have been reduced to have-beens in Bihar.