THE other day a State BJP spokesman claimed, in a talk-show of a local channel, that BJP is going to hold the key position in determining the formation of the next government after the assembly election is over. He visualised that may be the number of seats they win will be small; nevertheless, controlling power will be in their hands.
In the first election in 1952, under the leadership of Dr Syama Prasad Mookherjee Bharatiya Jana Sangh had won 11 seats. In fact in 1998, BJP’s vote share was 10.2 per cent with one seat.
But under the present circumstances, one is provoked to ask the question: is it really a day dream? Some political pundits ponder that this time the communal politics initiated by both CPM and TMC may, with all possibilities, put BJP in that controlling or balancing position. The appeasement of minority or for that matter Muslims is going to be counter productive for the parties who are pursuing this. Since the murder of Rizwanur, Mamata, going out of the way, had taken steps to gain the confidence of Muslims and in fact it had paid high dividend to her party TMC in different bye elections to Assembly seats and Municipal, Panchayat and Zilla board elections. Of late, may be there are some rethinking on this count on the part of Mamata. Hence, she is trying to mend her ways and very slowly but consciously, she is trying to regain the confidence of Hindus. The latest example is her eagerness to abolish the Pilgrimage Tax on Hindu devotees in Tarakeshwar temple in Hooghly district. But it is a fact that whenever she tries to do something for the Hindus, she would immediately take some steps in favour of Muslims. The silent Hindu mass is not looking this as a booster for supporting her party.
On the other hand, CPM had launched an all out campaign to appease the Muslims. They went out of the way to give 10 per cent reservation for the Muslims in the garb of OBC quota just to avoid legal implications. In the past, they had burnt their fingers on this count in the courts of law. But they are undaunted. This time in the name of spreading education among minorities they have established a branch of Aligarh Muslim University in Murshidabad district. They have established another university called Aliah University exclusively meant ‘for the Muslims’. In recent times till the election for the state assembly was declared by the Election Commission, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had opened the coffer of the government to distribute scholarships and favours to Muslims only. All of a sudden the state government could discover that there were so many talented persons among Muslims.
The latest favour Buddhadeb has allowed is a Housing Project exclusively for Muslims in Sonarpur in South 24 Parganas district. To keep Muslims in a segregated Housing Project area of nine acres of land situated very near to Kolkata, is fraught with danger. And this has been mentioned by renowned journalist and litterateur Syed Mustafa Shiraj. Other Muslim intellectuals like Samsul Alam, Vice Chancellor of Aliah University has openly said that for this kind of Housing Project, economic backwardness irrespective of caste, creed and community should be considered. Some have even commented that this is going to be a “Pakistan within Hindustan”.
Except the election of 1977, in all other elections CPM used to apply “strong arm” policy through which they dictated voters where to vote and where not to vote. Those who did not follow their dictate they even cut their hands. Photograph of the victims were published in newspapers and magazines.
Nandigram was the Left’s biggest political blunder after returning to power the seventh time. A notice issued in January 2007 about inspection of land for a proposed chemical hub turned a peaceful hamlet into a war zone. Left and Trinamool supporters set up trenches on either end of a bridge. When the government sent a police contingent to restore peace, 14 villagers died in firing. For the first time, Left Front partners issued a statement against the CPM forcing an ailing Jyoti Basu to intervene. Nandigram gave Trinamool the biggest boost as public resentment translated into vote.
Over the period many ‘small gods’ have been created in CPM. Worshippers of these gods are local cadres. They generally do not care others, not even state or central party leaders.
The CPM may have better organisational network, but the problem is that there are too many leaders running their own fiefdom. There is no coordination and there is no Jyoti Basu to unite the factions. The bureaucracy and the police are already giving indications of what is coming. Many officers in the districts are acting on their own and often against the party in power. For the CPM, defeat in Bengal means the beginning of the end. On the other hand, the stakes are higher for Trinamool Congress than the Left in the forthcoming Assembly polls. A defeat would certainly mean the end for Mamata Banerjee in Bengal.
Over and above, another important fact, in this regard, should also be taken into consideration. With the Centre modifying rules that allow non-resident Indians to vote in polls in the country, non-resident Bengalis (NRB) can vote for the first time in the 2011 Assembly elections. Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2010 was passed in November last year. The Act will be implemented in Bengal for the first time. As the first step, NRBs must get their names registered on electoral rolls and will have to be physically present to cast their vote. Till now, no one who stayed outside the country for six months at a stretch could be on the voters list.
Hence BJP is definitely staying at advantageous position. The perception of the BJP leadership is that the silent mass, this time, is going to do havoc. This is the reason why BJP is going to contest all the 294 assembly seats in the state. In a recent statement by the former president of the state BJP Tathagata Roy has said that if BJP emerges as a party of reckoning, they would definitely join hands with anti-CPM forces and if need be they would definitely join hands with Trinamool. After this statement was released the onslaught against BJP by TMC has considerably been reduced.
Do not surprise if BJP makes a grand entry into West Bengal Assembly in 2011.