Kolkata: For the first time since its formation in 1964, the CPI(M) has drawn a blank in general elections in Bengal.
As per the latest available trends, the state's ruling TMC was leading in 22 Lok Sabha seats, whereas the BJP, which emerged as the main challenger, was leading in 19.
The CPI(M)-led Left Front, which ruled the state for 34 years from 1977 to 2011, has bagged a measly 7.8 per cent of votes so far, with its candidates being decimated to third and fourth spots in the seats it contested.
Since the formation of the CPI(M), following a split in the Communist Party of India (CPI) in 1964, the party never drew a blank in the state in Lok Sabha elections.
The CPI(M) played a pivotal role in government formation at the centre in 1989, 1996 and 2004, based on its stupendous performance in Bengal. In 2004, it bagged 26 of the 42 seats in the state, the maximum.
The CPI(M)'s slide in Bengal started from 2009 with TMC's surge, and in 2014 it got only two seats.
Stunned by the defeat, most state CPI(M) leaders declined to comment but said it would introspect the results and take corrective measures.
"The results are a reflection of what has happened across the country. We would introspect," said CPI(M) state secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra.
Nationally too the CPI(M) suffered a setback. The Communist Party of India (Marxist) is currently
leading in two seats in Tamil Nadu -- Coimbatore and Madurai -- by more than one lakh votes each, and one in Kerala by around 9,000 votes.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury took the responsibility for his party's dismal performance in the Lok Sabha polls, saying as the chief of the party, he was the "first" person who was accountable for its poor show. Speaking at a press conference in Delhi after the trends showed that the Left was virtually routed in its bastions of Kerala and Bengal, Yechury said it was time for the entire opposition to introspect.