Battlegrounf for Lok Sabha: Key Political Parties – Left Front


Background

The Let front is an alliance of communist parties in India. Primarily consists of Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party Marxist (CPM). Both these parties are national parties. The Front historically has a strong presence in three states namely W. Bengal, Tripura and Kerala. The Front ruled W.Bengal for 34 years from 1967-2011, after which it was defeated by Mamata’s Trinamool Congress. In Kerala, Congress and Left Front take turns to form a government once after every five years. In Tripura they have been in power for the past 20 years. They have smaller presence in almost all states winning 1/2 seats. 2004 was their best performance when they won 53 seats. The Front has also played a key role in non-Congress, non-BJP Governments at the center (Deve Gowda, IK Gujral, VP Singh). With the emergence of strong regional parties – BSP, SP, TDP, JD(U) and loss of their bastion in W. Bengal, the Front has been somewhat marginalised in national politics. In 2009, they won only 20 seats (their worst performance since 1952). The Front lent outside support to UPA between 2004 and 2008 before withdrawing it in July 2008 on civilian nuclear deal issue.

History

CPI was formed in Dec. 1925. In July 1942, CPI was legalised. Communists strengthened their control over the All India Trade Union Congress. At the same time, communists were politically cornered for their opposition to the Quit India Movement. In the general elections in 1957, CPI emerged as the largest opposition party. In 1957, CPI won the state elections in Kerala. This was the first time that an opposition party won control over an Indian state. A serious rift within the party surfaced in 1962. One reason was the Sino-Indian War, where a faction of the Indian Communists backed the position of the Indian government, while other sections of the party claimed that it was a conflict between a socialist and a capitalist state, and thus took a pro-Chinese position. Ideological differences lead to the split in the party in 1964 when two different party conferences were held, one of CPI and one of CPM. During the period 1970–77, CPI allied with the Congress party. In Kerala, they formed a government together with Congress. After the fall of the regime of Indira Gandhi, CPI reoriented itself towards cooperation with CPI(M). Parties have maintained their separate identity but are part of a larger Left Front which includes parties like Forward Block and Revolutionist Socialist Party.

Election Symbol 

                      CPI                                CPM

Historical Performance (All India)

  1952 1957 1962 1967 1971 1977 1980 1985 1989 1991 1996 1998 1999 2004 2009
Seats Won 16 27 29 42 48 29 47 28 45 49 44 41 37 53 20
% of All India Seats 3.27% 5.47% 5.87% 8.08% 9.27% 5.35% 8.66% 5.16% 8.29% 9.02% 8.10% 7.55% 6.81% 9.76% 3.68%
No. of seats in W.Bengal 5 6 9 12 23 20 34 23 33 33 29 29 26 29 15

Electoral Prospects in 2014

Left Front is expected to improve upon its 2009 performance. They will be able to maintain their seats in W. Bengal as Mamata is no longer with Congress. Division of votes will help CPM. Plus Left front would also improve upon its tally in Kerala (state Congress govt. hit by scams). The party is the key players in recently formed Third Front and may provide outside support to any non Congress non BJP govt. It is opposed to BJP and will not support it in any case. It may support Congress though as in the past. Third Front government minus Mamata would be difficult. Only time will tell whether the two opposition parties co

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