That the Left Front had erred in judging the force of the wave of change stirred up by the Trinamool Congress across West Bengal was reflected in its dismal performance in the 14 Maoist-affected Assembly constituencies located in Jangal Mahal – a region that, till the time of the polls, was considered by the Left parties as their impregnable fortress.
The Left Front could bag just seven Assembly seats though it had managed to win all the four Lok Sabha constituencies — Medinipur, Jhargram (ST), Bankura and Purulia — by huge margins in 2009 even in the face of strong anti-incumbency sentiments elsewhere in the State.
Its performance in the Paschim Medinipur district that has seven Assembly constituencies identified as Maoist-affected has been dismal with the Left Front managing to win only two seats.
While the Left Front could win two out of four seats in Purulia district, the three seats in Bankura district served as face-savers.
The Trinamool Congress, on the other hand, made a striking debut here by winning six seats while the Congress won one seat.
Under the strict supervision of the Election Commission, the 14 Jangal Mahal constituencies witnessed free and fair elections with a high voter turnout of 85.23 per cent and no major complaint received from any political party.
The Maoist call for a poll boycott was finally rendered insignificant as long queues were spotted in front of all booths from early in the day.
A similar boycott call had resulted in near-empty booths in most parts of the region during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections as testified by both the voters and the local administration. The Commission recorded an overall voter turnout of 76.49 per cent though and the Left Front stood to benefit from the situation.
The tide, however, seemed to have turned in favour of the Trinamool this time with the constituencies recording an increase in voting percentage ranging from five per cent in Gopiballavpur constituency (84.12 per cent to 89.23 per cent) to 21 per cent in Jhargram constituency (63.99 per cent to 84.03 per cent).
Even as the Left Front leaders exuded confidence about a re-run of the 2009 success by evoking issues like the alleged Maoist-Trinamool Congress nexus at campaign rallies, results point out that the electors preferred to ride the wave of ‘change' offered by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee.
The Jhargram Assembly seat that includes the Lalgarh area – epicentre of the Maoist movement in the region – is a case in point.
Trinamool Congress candidate Sukumar Hansda defeated sitting Communist Party of India (Marxist) MLA Amar Bose by over 15,000 votes in this constituency even after Chhatradhar Mahato, former convener of the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee who had contested as an Independent candidate from the seat, got over 20,000 votes. In-fighting between the Trinamool Congress and the Congress, however, cost them the Binpur (ST) seat. Though the alliance initially supported the candidature of Jharkhand Party (Naren)'s Chunibala Hansda, the Congress subsequently backed Independent candidate Arjun Hansda resulting in split of opposition votes.