CPM not yet in the reckoning of people
Asim Kumar Mitra
THE results of by-elections to three assembly seats inWest Bengal has established some very important points: 1) the CPM which ruled the state uninterruptedly for thirty four years could not even get the votes they got in the last election in these three constituencies. Instead the vote share of the party was reduced by 6 per cent in Nalhati, by 12 per cent each in Rezinagar & English Bazar constituencies. 2) Congress has put up a poor show in this by-election after breaking ties with Trinamool Congress. Only 20 months ago an alliance between Congress and Trinamool got 49 per cent votes in Nalhati, 49.74 per cent in Rezinagar and 53.58 per cent votes in English Bazar. After 20 months this vote share has been reduced to 28.38 per cent, 39.08 per cent & 25.17 per cent respectively. The Congress had been claiming that in 2011 assembly elections the victory of Trinamool Congress was possible only because of the coalition with it. But this claim was negated by the result of the by-election of 3 assembly seats. Rezinagar was, the only seat the party could retain with reduced percentage of votes. In 2011 they won all the three seats. Retaining Rezinagar seat was the credit of Adhir Chowdhury, central minister of state for railways, and his muscle power, Of course with reduced percentage of votes.
Trinamool Congress was happy at they could make an inroad in the Congress bastion. of North Bengal. All the three seats where by-election took place, was won by the Congress TMC had no stake in that manner. Still they won the English Bazar seat with a record margin of 20,452 votes. This is really a gain for TMC. But one very important point of worry for the TMC has been noticed in this election as Muslim vote share for the party has been considerably reduced. In Rezinagar (Murshidabad district) Muslim voters constitute 70 per cent and in Nalhati in Birbhum district (the native place of Shri Pranab Mukherjee) Muslim voters constitute 53 per cent. In both these constituencies TMC got less number of votes than they received in the last election.
If the result of this by-election is an indicator for the forthcoming Panchayat elections slated in the last week of April or first week of May this year, then TMC has a good reason to rejoice. In north Bengal where by-elections for the three seats took place, TMC as a political force was insignificant. Mamata Banerjee’s plan was to make an inroad in this area with the help of INC-TMC coalition during the last assembly elections. It seems that the plan clicked.
In fact, the CPM or for that matter the Left Front of West Bengal had started treading the path of backward journey in Panchayat elections of 2008. This trend continued through Lok Sabha elections in 2009, Municipal elections in 2010, and ultimately the assembly elections of 2011 had routed them. After 20 months of TMC administration in the state, much criticism of the ruling party on different counts had been floated and CPM thought that taking advantage of this by-election would have helped them able to put up a ‘brave come-back show’. The dream was not only shattered, but even their own people betrayed their commitment to the ideology of communism and stood by anti-CPM parties.
Another realisation of this by-election is that both TMC and INC leaders are feeling that division of votes may pave the way for Leftists to come back. This has been evident in the election of Forward Bloc candidate in Nalhati. If there was a coalition of Congress and Trinamool, the erosion of right votes would not be there. Shri Mukul Roy, general secretary of TMC and Shri Pradip Bhattacharya, WBPCC, have expressed this opinion. Shri Manas Bhunia, former minister and President, WBPCC, put this sentiment in other words saying, “CPM or for that matter Left Front could not be removed from the seat of power without the coalition of right wing parties”.
After Jangipara elections, BJP had created a kind of hope in the minds of political pundits that BJP may fare well in this by-election as well. But they could not do well except in one seat of Nalhati they could marginally increase the share of votes. Shri Asim Ghosh, the former president of state BJP is quoted to have said in a local TV channel that the last moment changes in the organisational set up did not pay well. He admitted the presence of some organisational drawbacks in the state BJP.