Being out of power in their erstwhile bastion of West Bengal, these parties are now banking on states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu to at least maintain their presence in the Lok Sabha where the Left currently has 24 seats.
    
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) factor, a new phenomenon in the national polity, has also affected parties like CPI (M), CPI, RSP, CPI (ML) and Forward Bloc, with AAP succeeding in Delhi, taking on major parties like Congress and BJP to form government.

During the year gone by in Bengal, the Left, particularly the CPI(M), experienced near decimation in the recent polls to the panchayats and local bodies with the ruling Trinamool Congress garnering most of the seats, many of them even unopposed. Almost the same fate was also experienced by the Congress.
    
In protest against widespread violence against the entire opposition in West Bengal, the Left parties also expressed apprehension about a repeat of alleged Trinamool-sponsored violence and intimidation in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls.

They moved the Centre as well as the Election Commission seeking their intervention to ensure free and fair elections. Having been on the back foot in their stronghold, the CPI(M), CPI, RSP, CPI(ML) and Forward Bloc are now seeking to work for a combination of regional secular parties to fight the Congress as well as the BJP across the country.

They are also expecting a new combination after the general elections this year, saying the major parties would fall short of an absolute majority.
    
"It is now clear that the Congress-led UPA will not be in power after the upcoming parliamentary elections. While Congress will get only 110-120 seats, BJP can succeed on some more seats, but will not get more than 150 seats," veteran communist A B Bardhan recently said, adding that the Left parties were expecting a new combination to come to power.

However, all top leaders of the Left have maintained that a combination of secular regional parties would be thrown up after the general elections and the Left would play an active role in the process to keep both Congress and BJP at bay.

Known for their militant trade unionism, these parties and their unions and mass organisations have been organising a series of agitations across the country on issues like price rise and unemployment to the rights of women, farmers and workers.
    
Though the people's participation in this agitation has been quite significant, Left parties were thinking of tactics to convert this support into votes. While generally welcoming AAP, the Left has remained cautious about the policies it pursues in the coming days.

"The fact that they (AAP) have been able to take on the main parties like the Congress and the BJP in Delhi shows that there is scope for alternative politics," CPI (M) General Secretary Prakash Karat said recently.
    
Welcoming Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's statements opposing privatization of Delhi Jal Board, he had said, "It's good that he is talking about policies. We are closely watching their policies and if they emerge as serious political alternative."
    
CPI-ML (Liberation) leader Sanjay Sharma has also said that in the coming days, how AAP handles this new phase of contention will be important to observe.
    
In the run-up to the 2014 elections, the Left parties have decided to forge understanding and seat adjustments with various secular regional parties at the state-level on the plank of fighting for people's issues and against corruption, communalism and the neo-liberal policies.

(Agencies)

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