While both the CPI and CPM have supported the RJD and Lalu Prasad in the past, it is for the first time that the CPI (M-L) has joined the Grand Alliance in Bihar. Of the 29 constituencies handed to the Left parties in the state elections this year (the RJD is contesting on 144 seats and the Congress on 70), the CPI (M-L) will contest on 19 seats, and the CPI and CPM on six and four seats respectively.
During the seat-sharing negotiations, the CPI (M-L) succeeded in bargaining well. The party was allocated 19 seats due to its presence in Siwan, Arwal, Jehananad, rural Patna and Katihar, though it has only three MLAs in the outgoing Assembly.
The CPI (M-L) had won six seats in 2000, seven in the February 2005 Assembly polls, and five in the elections in October the same year. It drew a blank in the 2010 elections, when the NDA won 206 of 243 seats.
One reason for the high allocation of seats to the CPI (M-L) is that the Grand Alliance believes it can do mutual conversion of votes with the RJD and Congress unlike, say, the RLSP or HAM (S). The RLSP and HAM (S) left the Grand Alliance after the RJD refused to accommodate them in the seat talks.
The Left parties also bring two more crucial elements to the Grand Alliance — all three are cadre-based parties, which helps increase the Mahagathbandhan’s reach, and their allegiance is not doubtful because ideologically they are on the other end of the spectrum from the BJP.
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