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But for the 7 per cent

Calcutta, May 28: The CPM today came to the conclusion that it lost around 7 per cent votes in the Lok Sabha elections because of “rigging” by the Trinamul Congress and conceded that the “BJP factor” had also “cost it dear”.

A leader who attended a CPM state secretariat meeting at Alimuddin Street, held today to prepare a report on the polls, said: “There was a BJP factor that cost us dear. Many of our voters switched loyalties and voted the BJP. But rigging by Trinamul was also an issue. We lost 7 per cent votes because of that. Leaders present at the meeting felt so.”

The report will be tabled at the CPM’s two-day state committee meeting beginning on June 2.

Trinamul got 39 per cent of the votes polled in the Lok Sabha elections while the Left registered 29 per cent. “Had there been free and fair elections, our vote share would have been around 36 per cent. The BJP might have been a reason for our rout. But rigging by Trinamul was also a reason,” said the leader, who is a member of the CPM state secretariat and the central committee.

The CPM won just two of Bengal’s 42 seats.

The party leadership has decided that it would decide on its next course of action at the state conference likely to be held this year-end.

CPM state secretary Biman Bose had expressed his desire to step down, owning responsibility for the Lok Sabha poll debacle, but was dissuaded from doing so by general secretary Prakash Karat and other senior leaders. The leadership believes that the party should take “collective responsibility” for the poor performance.

“There is no question of Bimanda resigning now. A decision on a change in leadership will be taken at the state conference. As of now, we will do stocktaking,” a CPM state committee member said.

The CPM leadership has decided to deal with dissidents with a heavy hand. A section of the party has been demanding a change in the leadership because of the successive electoral setbacks.

“Let them do whatever they feel like. In a communist party, such changes happen at conferences, not by staging demonstrations,” a CPM leader said, in an apparent reference to the protest march by Subhanil Chowdhury, whom the party has decided to expel, and a few ousted leaders. Subhanil has demanded a change in leadership.

It was decided at today’s meeting that district leaders would be allowed to articulate their grievances at the state committee meeting to ensure “fair discussions”.