In a severe jolt, the Left parties were rendered virtually politically irrelevant in the elections to the 16th Lok Sabha winning only 10 seats, down from 24 in the previous House.
The total vote-share of CPI(M), CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc drastically slided from about seven per cent in 2009 general elections to 4.5 per cent this time round, according to official all-India data. CPI(M)'s vote share declined from 5.33 per cent in 2009 polls to 3.2 per cent and CPI's from 1.43 per cent to 0.8 per cent. RSP and Forward Bloc got 0.3 and 0.2 per cent vote share respectively in these elections.
Of the total 10 seats the Left won, nine were of CPI(M) and one of CPI, with six coming from Kerala and two each from Tripura and West Bengal. The most drastic decline was in West Bengal where Left once ruled for uninterrupted 34 years. Poll data from the state showed CPI(M) getting 22.7 per cent vote share, CPI 2.3, RSP 2.4 and Forward Bloc 2.1 -- totalling 29.5 per cent of the total votes in the state. The number their seats fell from 15 in the last Lok Sabha to only two this time, prompting CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat to even term the poll results as "distorted" due to the alleged rigging and violence by Trinamool Congress.
He also said, "We are not prepared to accept this result as it does not reflect the actual position, the strength and support of the Left parties. We cannot accept it as our percentage of votes has fallen from 41 per cent in the 2009 elections to 29-30 per cent (in the state)." In Kerala, RSP, which broke away from the Left Democratic Front just ahead of these elections and joined the Congress- led United Democratic Front, won a single seat defeating senior CPI(M) leader and former MP M A Baby.
However, the situation in Tripura was quite favourable for CPI(M) which won both the seats with margins of over five lakh and 4.8 lakh votes. The party's vote-share in the state was a whopping 64 per cent. The drubbing in West Bengal saw stalwarts like Basudeb Acharia, CPI(M) leader in 15th Lok Sabha, and senior CPI MP Prabodh Panda losing to first-timers and cine stars Moon Moon Sen and Sandhya Roy respectively. CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta had earlier decided not to contest these polls.
Several sitting CPI(M) MPs like Ramchandra Dome, Pulin Behari Baske, Sk Saidul Haque and Sushmita Bauri also lost to Trinamool Congress nominees, many of them absolute freshers.