ON June 1, 2010, results of municipal election were declared and it was undoubtedly established that Mamata Banerjee, leader of Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Central Railway Minister, is the real leader of West Bengal. Her party TMC or in particular her own victory in the election of 81 municipalities of West Bengal by sweeping majority and this was in continuation of poll victories since 2008 had silenced Mamata-baiters like CPI(M) and Congress. Since the 2008 Panchayat polls, things had gone only from good to better for her. People had shifted from the CPI(M) camp and voted for her in the Panchayat polls, the Assembly by-polls and finally in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls.
It was said that TMC was weak in rural Bengal and that was an accepted fact. But in the 2008 Panchayat poll TMC got 50 per cent seats and in by-elections to the Assembly between 2008 and 2009 TMC swept and finally in the 2009 Lok Sabha election they had won 19 seats out of a total of 42 seats in the state. TMC’s tally was only 1 in the LS election of 2004. The TMC had fought the 2009 L.S. election in alliance with the Congress. Hence, the Congress demanded that TMC had been benefited with the Congress vote-bank. But this time there was no alliance with the Congress and TMC had proved its own might in electoral politics. The following tally would make the picture clear: (See table). With the tally one can easily understand how the Mamata wave had swayed the electorate. At the same time the “hate Mamata campaign” or “malign Mamata Mission of CPI(M)” was miserably failed or in other words they were backfired and people had given them a good lesson. In this tally of Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC), results of individual partners of the Left Front are not given. In KMC election only one party which has not only wrested its old tally but had increased the number by one. It is true that BJP got 3 seats in 2005 election. But the fact remains that the BJP councilor of ward no. 96 had defected from the party and joined the TMC before this election. So for all practical purposes BJP’s tally stood at 2. Hence their victory in 3 seats in the 2010 election is extraordinarily important because when all other parties were down in the face of “unprecedented Mamata wave”, it was only BJP which had come out with flying colours.
Siddhartha Sankar Ray, the former Chief Minister of West Bengal, said on June 3 that Buddhadeb, the present Chief Minister, must resign immediately. He further said, “If the current Chief Minister does not have a thick skin, he must resign accepting the people’s mandate”.
“It is not just a political defeat of the Left, but a vote against a government that neither delivers nor functions-and a vote against an abysmal decline in education, absence of law and order and unemployment, is it not the right time to leave?” said Ray. He described Trinamool Congress as the “true Congress”. In this connection one should not miss the point that in other states strong regional parties have taken birth but West Bengal is a state where regional party could not make any headway. Although fact remains that it was Ajoy Mukherjee, another former Chief Minister had formed Bangla Congress but it could not become a strong political party because of the betrayal of Pranab Mukherjee, the then treasurer of Bangla Congress who joined Congress in flagrant denial of the ideology. This was a story of early seventies. After so many years, Mamata Banerjee has convincingly established that her party is the real Congress and she is getting recognition from the top leaders. Of course, there was another glaring example of Indira Gandhi who had defected from the party and established Indian National Congress (I) and it is the only recognised party on all India basis.
Last time (2005), Left Front had 60 municipal boards out of 81, were under their control. This time (2010) it had already reduced to only 17 and among the hung boards they may expect one board. The TMC would command over another 28 boards if they could strike out an understanding with Congress. Under the present circumstances Congress may try to bargain but ultimately the last laugh is rested with the TMC only because people will not tolerate or allow any untoward alliance which may directly or indirectly help left cronies.
It is also true that many voters across the state would like the Left to be thrown out of power. Yet they would not like Mamata Banerjee to lead the charge. They should take lessons from results in the town of Jangipur in Murshidabad district, supposedly a Congress citadel. In 2009 Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee won from the Jangipur Parliamentary seat. But in the municipal election this time, the Left Front has won 13 out of the municipality’s 20 wards while the Congress has got six. It shows that the Congress is solid as rock anywhere.
On the other hand CPI(M) had been beating their drums saying that they are the only organised party in the state. So one or two, electoral defeats here and there, would not change the whole scenario. In this round may be the change-mongers have got an advantage. But this is not going to be a permanent feature of the state politics. Sumit Mitra, a columnist in Hindustan Times wrote on June 4, 2010 in his post editorial article: “The CPI (M) is history, though it will hate to bear this till the voters give it a coup de grace. Its synchronized microphones move from one TV talk show to another these days with the message that Banerjee (Mamata) is unfit to rule the very state that they have rendered unlivable by 34 years of misrule. The best solace they can draw is from the words of Mahatma Gandhi who told the British, after the Cripps’ Mission failed in April 1942: “Leave India to God and if that be too much leave her to anarchy”.
The mood of the people of West Bengal is exactly this.