Even as the contest in Bihar Assembly elections remains a tight one after more than 15 hours of counting, one of the distinct takeaways is the much improved performance of the Left parties. As of 11.30 pm, the three Left parties – Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation – had ensured victories in 13 seats and was leading in four more.

The three parties, fighting in an alliance with the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress had put up candidates in 29 seats and if four of their leads translate into wins, it would mean a success rate of more than 58%.

Leads and wins as of 11.30 pm (Source: Election Commission of India)

In the 2015 Assembly elections, CPI(M-L) had won three out of the 98 seats it contested, while the CPI and CPI(M) drew blanks on 98 and 43 seats, respectively.

CPI(M-L)’s stellar show

The CPI(M-L), which was in contention in 19 seats and is on course to win 12 of them, emerged as the standout performer among the three parties.

“We banked on young candidates like student leaders, candidates who were part of farmer struggles and working class people,” the party’s General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya told PTI. “That seemed to have worked. We have played the lonely vocal opposition voice in the Vidhan Sabha on the rights of the poor.”

The party leaders also pointed out the focus on fielding youth and student leaders. Out of the 19 candidates that the party fielded this time, six are under 35 years of age and 10 are below 50.

Sandeep Saurav, 33, who defeated Janata Dal (United)’s candidate by a margin of 30,915 votes, is the former general secretary of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union. He gave up his job of an assistant professor at a Bihar college to fight the polls, PTI reported.

Another candidate Manoj Manzil, 36, won by over 50,000 votes from Agiaon. Manzil is known for leading the “Sadak Par School” movement in Bhojpur against unemployment, according to PTI.

‘Could have won more seats,’ says Left leaders

Following an impressive performance, CPI(M) General Sitaram Yechury said that they could have won more seats if allocated to them, reported PTI.

“Our strike rate in Bihar is 80% and if we had been given more seats, we would have contributed more to the Gathbandhan tally,” Yechury said. “This election result has shown that no one can write off the Left.”

Speaking to The Indian Express, Bhattacharya echoed similar views. “At least 50 seats for the Left and 50 seats for the Congress would have been a more reasonable, fair distribution,” he said.