For the CPI(M), it was nothing short of a gigantic tactical blunder, at all levels. For one, Nandigram is in no way subdued—if anything, the ground seethes with calls for revenge. And then there's the stain on their cultivated image of political morality. All hell broke loose at the Left Front meeting on March 15. The CPI(M)'s allies—CPI, the Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), Forward Bloc—erupted in rage and contrition. Its own leaders were shocked by Buddhadeb's action. Said a furious Jyoti Basu, ex-CM and party titan: "This is no way to run a coalition government. Things are being decided unilaterally without consulting our allies in the Front. This can't go on."
For over two months, Nandigram has been a 'no-entry' zone for the state administration. CPI(M) cadres had all been driven out. Deep trenches were dug in all approach roads and bridges were damaged to prevent vehicular traffic. The March 14 drive was meant to reclaim Nandigram for the cadres, with police help—a show of state force, it was thought, would end the blockade. But it all ended in a mess of plucky protesters facing police bullets.