Expressing his apprehension that the Left parties are losing ground, former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee suggested here on Wednesday that there might be need for a change of guard in the leadership.

“At every level, success depends on the general, captain or leader. The common people depend on them… I have seen in sports that coaches get the boot if the team fails to perform,” he told journalists, adding that something on those lines is required for the Left parties.

He was replying to a question on the civic polls in 12 municipalities last week in which the Left Front suffered reversals and managed to win only one civic body.

“I would like to make the earnest request to the [Left] parties that they should introspect. The days to come are more important than those who are sitting in power,” said Mr. Chatterjee, who was member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) till he was expelled from the party in 2008.

Asked later by The Hindu whether his remarks were directed at the CPI(M) he said that nowhere was the name of the party mentioned.

“What I said is that as a captain or a coach has to take responsibility for any defeat and the leaders of the Left parties should do the same,” Mr. Chatterjee clarified.

As for the declining influence of the Left parties which ought to be oriented towards safeguarding the interests of the common people, the labourers, farmers and the working classes, it is “not only sad but also a matter of concern”, he said earlier.

Mr. Chaterjee also described as “unfortunate” the withdrawal of candidates of the Left Front from Burdwan ahead of the civic polls in the face of violence by political opponents.

“In Parliamentary democracy, where there are different political parties, such a situation suggests that democracy has been undermined in the State,” he said.