SO the high drama has already been started with Subrata Mukherjee. He was Information & Cultural Minister of West Bengal during the black days of Internal Emergency promulgated by the then Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi. Since 1977 till today, CPI(M)-led Left Front is ruling the state and Subrata Mukherjee is hopping between two parties i.e. Indian National Congress (INC) and Trinamool Congress (TMC) during this whole period. His journey was like this-INC to TMC to INC to TMC to INC and ultimately when the Municipal election is knocking at the door (Municipal poll is slated on May 30, 2010) he has again joined TMC. While severing his relation with INC he declared in his Press Conference at Kolkata that it was CPM who actually hatched conspiracy and through their agent-Congress leaders had broken alliance of INC-TMC on the eve of municipal election. It simply meant that the alliance between INC and TMC is broken. But surprisingly enough, Biman Basu, secretary of the ruling Left Front, when asked for reaction told the reporters, “I have asked my cadres not to be misled by this type of gimmick, because this is nothing but a ‘got-up game’ of two alliance partners i.e. TMC and INC.” On the other hand, senior RSP leader and PWD minister in the state LF government Kshiti Goswami said that although the alliance of INC and TMC has broken, but it would not result in the form of division of opposition votes to the advantage of Left Front.
Under this circumstances the politics of West Bengal, at this moment, hinges upon just one point and that is, whether or not the present ruling left conglomeration should be allowed to continue for another term in the office. As the assembly election is just round the corner i.e. in 2011, all political parties are gearing up their organisational set up. The CPI(M)-led Left Front is running the government for more than 32 years and till date no opposition party or conglomerate of opposition parties could dislodge them. But since the spontaneous upsurge against the ruling Left Front at Nandigram (district of Midnapur), where merciless killing of innocent people by the CPI(M) goons had destroyed the patience level of the civil society and for this the ruling party had to go on back foot. Now those self-promoted protagonists of public welfare and public good have visibly exposed their weaknesses and subsequent incidents and political developments had confirmed that they had started backtracking. Incidents in Singur (district of Hooghly) had simply added fuel to the fire.
This was an opportunity for all opposition political parties to take advantage of the situation. In the last Lok Sabha election, Left Front had to accept a thorough defeat at the hands of TMC-INC coalition. The LF had won only 15 seats among a total of 42 LS seats, whereas TMC had got 19 seats which was a big jump and with this power in hand TMC is dictating terms in the UPA government for the simple reason that without the support of TMC the UPA government will become minority. On the other hand, since the last LS election CPI(M) or for that matter the Left Front has been experiencing defeat after defeat in almost all elections right from school boards, managing committees of rural co-operatives, student unions in schools and colleges to panchayats and assembly bye elections. Now, in the month of May, they are going to face the elections in 81 municipalities including Kolkata Municipal Corporation. This is going to be an acid test for them.
It seems that they have decided on two-pronged strategy for fighting the next municipalities and assembly elections: one, purging of the party leaders and monitoring their activities; two, trying to divide opposition unity by creating confusion among the leaders and at the same time trying to infiltrate in TMC (Trinamool Congress) so that the TMC itself could be entangled in critical problems.
But, for this, at least CPI(M) was very happy as they wanted that apart from them, there should be party or parties who would speak and propagate against Mamata Banerjee and her party. Even ‘father figure’ like Jyoti Basu with all his manoeuverings and manipulations, could not tackle her. They know it for sure that it was one and only one Mamata Banerjee who is spearheading the whole movement against CPI(M). Anyhow this message has gone to ‘aam aadmi’ of this state and they are not ready to believe any canard spread against her or any kind of her character assassination could not make any impact on them. Their confidence level about “Didi” Mamata Banerjee is so high that no power on earth could make a dent in it. They are determined to change the leftist rule in the state. This is the reason why CPI(M) is afraid of Mamata Banerjee.
This does not mean that Mamata Banerjee is free from all criticisms. In fact, her autocratic styles of running own party and the coalition parties are not the same thing. But she does not care because the coalition partners are invariably dependable on her support. She always moves from this point of strength. Above all, her commitment towards public welfare is unquestionable. Hence she enjoys the unstinted support of public. At the same time her politics is always veering round the sole objective of making her party an all India party. With this objective in mind, she had broken the conditions of coalition pact when her party was with the NDA. Now, her party is in coalition with Congress and it is time that Congress is also facing the music. But the Congress high command is very much sure on point that they could not loose TMC at whatever price is required to pay. Because they want to dislodge CPI(M) from administrative power in West Bengal and they want save the UPA government from sliding down to minority. With these twin objectives the Congress is moving in the state. Hence time and again they have asked their members not to indulge in any sort of controversy with the TMC.
So go on tolerating her ‘whimsical activities’.
But the fact remains that, as elaborated by an experienced Congress leader, wherever Congress had agreed to enter into a coalition with a regional party to bring home good fortune they have invariably lost the bet and the regional party was benefited. For Congress, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were the two glaring examples where the future of Congress was doomed in such a way that till date they could not raise their head. Of course Rahul Gandhi is trying his tooth and nail to regain its lost ground in UP with scant positive result whereas Bihar is still a distant imagination for Congress. It is anybody’s guess the fate of Congress in West Bengal. It is useless to argue that if Congress was not there TMC could not have won 19 seats in Lok Sabha poll. Even retaining 11 seats would have been impossible on their own. NDA or for that matter BJP had already burnt their fingers for making alliance with Mamata. At this juncture Congress had no other option except to support Mamataji and agree to whatever condition she put forward. Keeping Pranab Mukherjee in the forefront, both Ms. Sonia Gandhi and Dr. Manmohan Singh are busy in formulating a face-saving mode. Unfortunately all these efforts have failed for whatever reason one can imagine.
Two things are moving very positively. One: unstinted faith of ‘aam aadmi’ in Mamata which given them a power to ignore anything and everything that are coming against her. Two: ‘aam admi’ are determined to conclusively dump the future of left parties including CPI (M).
(The writer can be contacted at 13/B, S. N. Chatterjee Road, Kolkata- 700 038)