The Left front is going through a churn. The big questions before it – what it should do if election results leave it no other option, but to support the Congress in order to keep the BJP-led NDA alliance out of power or, vice versa, take the support of Congress?
While the major constituents of the Left Front – the CPI (M) and the CPI – have been keeping a distance from the Congress, West Bengal's former chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, let the cat out of the bag when, in an interview, he acknowledged that if the need arises in a post-poll scenario, the Left Front would be open to align with the Congress.
CPI leader AB Bardhan asserted that he did not agree with Buddhadeb's assessment and such a question does not arise now because the Third Front is going to emerge as a viable option in the post-poll scenario. Privately, Left leaders admit that what Buddhadeb said was not wrong but the timing was bad.
The Left parties are visualising two scenarios in case NDA falls short of the mark to form the government. First, a 2004-like situation, where the Congress manages to get 140 plus seats and is in a position to stake claim to form the government with the help of Left parties, and possible Third Front constituents. In such a case, the Left is expected to do a repeat of imposing the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) as a must for the Congress to get its support.
The other scenario could be a situation like that of 1996, where the Third Front gets into a position to stake claim to form the government with Congress' help. In such a scenario, the Left parties will force the Congress to get into a promise of not to repeat its mistake of 1997 when Sitaram Kesri withdrew support and ended the United Front's dream run abruptly.