The people of West Bengal have given a conclusive kick to the CPI(M) and its allies during the recent Lok Sabha polls, which they deserved much earlier than now. But the vehemence of that kick has been so strong that they have been still in a fix to find out the actual reason for it. All of a sudden they could realise that politically they have become bankrupt and the ‘Left Coin’ is not accepted in the market of politics.
Out of 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state Left parties got only 15 (CPM 9, CPI 2, RSP 2 and FB 2). But in the last Lok Sabha elections (2004) they had captured 35 seats out of 42 in the state. Largely because of WB left parties, they could command a formidable power in Lok Sabha with 63 seats and UPA had initially bowed down to them for the survival of their government at the centre. But when the honeymoon was over, the CPM-led Left Front under the leadership of Shri Prakash Karat, was toeing with the idea that after the election they would be in a position to dictate terms in national politics. Alas! It did not happen. They were thrown into the dustbin of history. And this happened in all the three states ruled by them i.e. West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala.
The political scenario in West Bengal is completely different from that of any other state in India. CPM-led Left Front government has been ruling this state uninterruptedly for long 32 years, which transformed them into worst type of dictators. All the bad symptoms of a dictator were inherited by them and the day-to-day administration run by them is a clear evidence of this. Murder, rape and gang rape, loot, arson, extortion, corruption at all levels are rampant. People belonging to other parties are singled out for all types of tortures. It was Nandigram and Singur which had given the ruling conglomerate a fitting reply. The power under the command of the ruling parties could not control the so-called ‘rebellious people’. The lone voice against all the misdoings of CPM-Left Front was of Mamata Banerjee. Yes, no other voice was audible. Throughout this period the role of Congress was dubious. Even up to the last phase of election campaign the Congress was maintaining a secret link with the left parties including CPM. It is only for this reason that Mamata Banerjee had refused to deploy Congress cadres as election agents in the constituencies where All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) candidates was contesting, although there was poll coalition between two parties. Ultimately the general people had their say over everything and the CPM and its allies were conclusively defeated. They were practically routed from the state in Lok Sabha elections.
As a dispassionate onlooker of the election results, one cannot ignore noticing two most important developments. One is the movement of Muslim votes in the state. Mind you, Muslim votes constitute around 25 per cent of the total voters of West Bengal. But in this election they shifted their allegiance from CPM to AITC-INC Alliance and that made the big difference in the poll results. It is curious to note that CPM with 33.10 per cent vote share won only 9 seats, whereas AITC with 31.17 per cent vote share won 19 seats, INC won 6 seats with 13.45 per cent vote share, BJP won one seat with 6.14 per cent vote share, whereas CPI with 3.60 per cent votes got 2 seats, RSP with 3.56 per cent votes got 2 seats and FB with 3.04 per cent votes won 2 seats. This is the paradox of our voting system. One cannot help it unless it is changed lock stock and barrel.
But the question regarding the shifting of allegiance of Muslim votes from one side to another is an interesting phase of Muslim politics. Usually in West Bengal Muslim votes have been going to the CPM. But after the publication of Sachar Committee Report, they found that communists have taken them for granted and CPM did not even care to honour the promises they had made to the Muslims. Over and above Sachar Committee has said that the condition of Muslims in West Bengal is worst in comparison to other states in the country. In this state Muslims are generally share-croppers. They, generally, do not have ownership of agricultural land. Although after ‘Operation Barga’ movement in late seventies, Muslims got an impression that after Hindus were thrown out from their land, Muslims would naturally enjoy the ownership of land. But during the Singur movement it was realised that the ownership of land is still lying with the original owners. On this they were betrayed by the CPM.
Then the CPM had promised to make Urdu as second official language of the state during the election campaign in 2004. But they did not keep that promise. There were so many other promises which they did not keep. But this time, they were keen to have pattas (ownerships) of agricultural land which Mamata Banerjee, the leader of AITC, had promised them. This is the foremost reason for their shifting of allegiance. In this connection one should not overlook an incident when Md. Salim, former MP, was a CPM candidate from Kolkata (North) Lok Sabha constituency. During his election campaign he had visited a Hanuman Mandir and taken prasad from the hand of a Hindu priest. Imams could not accept it in proper spirit. Hence, a secret fatwa was circulated not to vote for CPM instead vote for AITC and its allies.
The other interesting development has been regarding the vote share of BJP which has put all the opposition parties on high alert, because even after concerted campaigning and spreading canards against Hindutva and BJP, it could not bring home the desired results rather this type of hate campaign has proved to be counterproductive for them. For BJP it was a pleasant surprise. It was true that BJP has won only one seat from Darjeeling and its equations were completely different. But that apart, even after the strong anti-CPM wave and in many constituencies Hindutva voters had to cast their vote in favour of AITC-INC alliance just to defeat the CPM, BJP candidates received considerable votes. In this connection few instances could be given where BJP candidate Satyabrata Mukherjee last time got more than 3.8 lakh votes, this time got only 1.75 lakh votes because voters priority was to defeat CPM candidate. In Kolkata (North) constituency the general voters have confided to the BJP candidate that please do not mind our casting vote against you. The reason is simple: we want to make it sure that Md. Salim, the CPM candidate, should be conclusively defeated. There are many such instances.
In two assembly (Kalchini and Madarihat) segments under Alipurduar constituency, BJP got commanding votes. In another 49 assembly segments BJP candidates have received more than 10,000 votes in each segment. In 29 assembly segments their vote share is more than 10 per cent. There is no denying the fact that BJP candidates’ deposits have been forfeited in 39 constituencies, but they could save deposits of three candidates including the candidate who has won the Darjeeling seat. The total votes received by BJP in this Lok Sabha poll are 25,65,280.