PERHAPS this is for the first time in the history of the world, that a Communist government could be dislodged from the seat of power through democratic election and without violence. In West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee has proved this in the recent Assembly election 2011 of the State. It is not only the record number of seats that she had won under her banner ‘Trinamool Congress’, but the wave in the name of Mamata Banerjee was so strong that even a lamp post as a candidate could have won a seat in the election in her name. So this was the situation. The final tally was this: Trinamool Alliance-227: TMC = 184, INC = 42 & SUCI = 1. On the other hand Left Front got 62 seats. Among them CPM = 40, Forward Bloc = 11, RSP = 7, CPI = 2, DSP (PC) =1 & SP = 1. BJP has failed to make it. They could not get entry into the State Assembly although fact remains that they have put up a good fight. Curiously enough the CPM and the Left Front partners could not win a single Assembly seat from Kolkata, Howrah and three other districts.
CPM and CPM-led Left Front has been routed in this election. 27 ministers of LF government including the Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee have been washed out in the ‘Mamata-tsunami’ as they call it. The arrogance, the autocratic attitude, the utter negligence of public needs, the turning of ‘Sonar Bangla’ into a killing field, the flouting of all norms of decorum and ethics, etc. in the State for the last three decades perpetrated by the CPM and its cronies have compelled them to taste this bitter pill. In fact they were destined to go out of power in the year 2001. They could retain their position in the corridor of power with help of government employees and police where communists’ infiltration was more than ninety per cent. Since 2001, they were running the show on borrowed time.
It was possible for them only because there was no formidable Opposition party as such. Congress could have given the leadership. But they were busy organising their own house at the centre and in this process they had become fully dependent on CPM and Left parties. The other all India party was BJP. It was organisationally very weak in this State. Due to the policies of Jyoti Basu, late Chief Minister of the State the growth of almost all political parties had crippled. Under these circumstances the rise of Mamata Banerjee made all the difference. Indian National Congress had thrown her out of the party and she formed her new party — Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the year 1998. Since then she was the lone voice against CPM and she had never shown slightest weakness towards the Communists. Her approach always used to be 100 per cent anti-Communist which people of West Bengal who are basically nationalists, liked most had crippled.
Only with this background she may not have landed with such a landslide victory, if the pro active role of the Election Commission was not there. On four crucial points Election Commission had proved its mettle. Of course, EC had already proved their competence while conducting Bihar Assembly election. But the situation in West Bengal was more difficult and more complicated. Generally, election machinery is dependable on the State government employees and in West Bengal they are under the direct control of the ruling party i.e. CPI (M). Readers have to keep these in mind before considering the good or bad steps taken by the EC.
Step – 1: This is about the voters’ list. The ruling party of the State was very much against the deleting of ‘ghost names’ from the voters’ list. EC did not listen to them. They prevailed upon the State government and had conducted enquiries on the ‘ghost names’. Ultimately on the basis of the enquiry EC had deleted the names of 19 lakh ‘ghost voters’.
Step – 2: On each and every election there is a system of revising the voters’ list. But this never used to happen in West Bengal. No new names used to be included in the list. EC looked into the matter and included all the deserved names in the voters’ list.51 lakh new names were included. 75 per cent of these voters are those who belong to the age group of 18-25 years.
Step – 3: After coming to West Bengal, the members and staff of the EC found out that there is a vast area where voters were intimidated by the goons of the ruling conglomerate i.e. Left Front. General elections come and go but valid voters of these areas dare not come out of their residences on polling day. First of all, the Election Commission has identified 26,000 areas where goon-raj was predominant. Then they had started taking action against the culprits and simultaneously against the police. The punishment for the erring police officers was suspension and outright transfer from the present post. This had created fear-psychosis among the police and administrative officers. Hence valid voter could cast their vote peacefully.
Step – 4: This, of course, is a routine step. Police has arrested goons and anti-social elements, ceased unlicensed arms and ammunitions
Step – 5: The Election Commission had rightly studied the minds of voters and assured them of full security not only on the polling dates but even after the polling was over. They declared that 100 companies of Central Force will be deployed on round the clock duty up to May 23 to ensure peace.
This pro-active and pro-voter role of the Election Commission has earned whole hearted appreciation throughout the State. So in the people’s eye the real hero of this election is the Election Commission.
BJP is considered to be a non-entity in the political field of West Bengal. Nevertheless they had fielded 294 candidates and according to their own assessment they have nothing to regret.This time the BJP got four per cent votes. But it is a fact that their share will definitely go up by one to two per cent. It means from four per cent vote share in the last Assembly election it may go up to five to six per cent. On an average BJP candidates got around ten thousand votes in every constituency. In three constituencies they have received more than 30,000 votes in each constituency. It was CPM whose vote-share was eroded by six per cent to seven per cent. In the last Assembly election held in 2006 its vote share was 50 per cent which was reduced to 43 per cent in the Lok Sabha election held in 2009. This time they got 41 per cent vote share.
One very important aspect of this election was that even after such a landslide victory of Mamata not a single “victory procession” was taken out by the supporters of Mamata Banerjee because she had asked the supporters not to take out any such procession. This restraint and sense of discipline is a great thing