Kolkata: The stream of people’s movements seems to be helping in changing the face of state politics of West Bengal. As per sources on the ground, while Congress and the Left are appearing to be stronger, Bharatiya Janata Party’s façade as an anti-Trinamool Congress (TMC) force seems to be falling apart due to the large number of defections from TMC to the BJP.
People are now understanding as in 2014-2016 about a subtle understanding between BJP and TMC , which had eroded BJP votes in 2016 assembly polls in the state to 10.16%.
Speaking about this, senior mediaperson and political commentator Shikha Mukhopadhyay said that the surge in the support of Left and Congress has made the bipolarity projected by the media “irrelevant”.
“The electoral parley between the Left and Congress was not based on the series of grassroot movements and hence, the performance of the combine in the past cannot be compared to the present. This alliance is providing an alternative to a significant section of the voters who are unhappy with the ruling TMC and are ideologically opposed to the BJP,” she said.
“The sizable minority population in the state is also believed to have the potential to be the kingmaker in more than 70 seats. Congress still retains the majority of these votes. The other chunk could be seen going with either the TMC or Left. However, now, the AIMIM, under the leadership of Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui, has got the potential to bring the votes of Bengali-speaking Muslims to the Congress and Left periphery again. The Indian Secular Front will be in agreement with the Congress and thereby with the Left too," added Mukhopadhyay.
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Apart from this, as per recent trends, in over 66 legislative Assembly segments, the SC and ST votes may go in favour of the Left and Congress or the ruling party. The districts where BJP is expected to face losses are Bankura, West Midnapore and East Medinipur as voting patterns in the Assembly elections are expected to be very different from those in the Lok Sabha elections. A Left organisation, Paschim Banga Samajik Nayabichar Manch, has also been able to make inroads into North Bengal as well as among the vulnerable sections in Jangalmahal. According to Alakesh Das, secretary of the Manch, there won't be any “cakewalk” this time in the post-covid situation as vulnerable sections of the people “had been left to fend for themselves and only the Left stood by them”.
More political investments likely?
It has been alleged that more than Rs 1,000 crore had been used to topple the Left government in Tripura by the BJP. “If for a small state having two Lok Sabha seats, Rs 1,000 crore have been spent, then imagine the BJP’s spending for a state like West Bengal with 42 Lok Sabha seats and 294 Assembly seats,” said S Bose, a senior scribe of a regional daily and a political commentator.
“It is the time to look for political investments to break the binary,” he added.
While the TMC is relying on advertisement jingles for campaigning, and the BJP on Rath Yatras, Left continues to be connected to the issues on the ground, said a senior commentator and journalism professor, Anajan Bera. “The BJP is no alternative to the anarchical rule of the TMC here in West Bengal,” he said.
“The Left’s position is clearer; it is a pro-people alternative that will work for restoration of democracy, employment, secularism, and social cohesion. They have been fighting on the street, mobilising people. The binary that asks people to choose between the communal BJP and TMC’s anarchy is a project sponsored by the big media houses and sponsored by corporate lobbies. It is vastly different from ground reality,” he argued.
He told NewsClick that even the BJP is not leading any real attack on the TMC, but is instead focussing on the CM’s nephew while bypassing real issues like political and administrative failures of the state, corruption, condition of the poor and the marginalised people, farmers’ issues and joblessness. “Like the French queen, Mary Antoniette, they are far removed from the ground reality as neoliberal economy promotes this jobless growth only,” he said.
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