Asim Kumar Mitra
Indian National Congress has been decimated to a “Sign Board Party” in West Bengal. Almost all local leaders and their followers have deserted the party and many of them, if not all, have joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC). On the other hand the CPM has been totally boycotted by the people five in municipalities where election took place recently and the result was out on November 25. Last time, among the five municipalities, TMC could capture one municipality (Midnapore) and Congress and Left Front captured two each. This time the whole scenario has been so changed that the Left Front had drawn a blank, whereas Congress could keep only one municipality under their control.
This is a pitiable situation for almost all opposition parties in the state as they had been simply washed away by the unprecedented strong wave of TMC even after so much of criticism of their administrative lacunas during the last two and half years. During this election of five municipalities, TMC has completely and decidedly demolished the five remaining bastions like Nadia, Krishnagar, Shantipur, Birnagar and Coopers Camp. The vote share of Congress in this election had also been miserably reduced — from 26 per cent to only 10 per cent.
There is only exception which could give some sort of solace to the ‘bleeding’ Congress supporters and that exception was Adhir Chowdhury, Central Minister of State for Railways. It was his command over the area which ultimately could pay a small dividend. Adhir could retain his bastion, Berhampore, under his command although “moth bitten” by the TMC by capturing two seats. Last time in this Municipal Board there was not a single opposition member.
But TMC is very happy as they could snatch away at least two seats in the Berhampore Board. In this municipal area there are three parliamentary seats and TMC had already declared that they are going to win at least two seats in the ensuing parliamentary poll. It is to be seen whether they could keep up with their winning spree.
Curiously enough, in pre-poll surveys by the political pundits, BJP was consciously kept out of the arena. The parochial journalism of Bengal has always tried to keep BJP out of the mainstream and ignoring its political impact by implicating it with communal politics.
But this time in Howrah Municipal Board, BJP has not only captured two seats, they have defeated the former Mayor of the Board Ms. Mamata Agarwal. It is interesting to note that the TMC had made it a prestige issue to defeat the former Mayor and put all out efforts to achieve the goal. As luck had it, former Mayor Mamata Agarwal was defeated, not by the TMC candidate but by the BJP candidate Geeta. The vote share of BJP has also increased. The trend is definitely positive and the BJP leadership is hopeful to cash it in the forthcoming Parliamentary election.
While reporting the municipal poll results, Hindustan Times, Kolkata edition, has highlighted the frustration of the Congress. It is worth quoting the report by Ravik Bhattacharya, here for the kind perusal of our readers:—
“KOLKATA: With Mamata Banerjee consistently and successfully relegating her former alliance partner, the Indian National Congress into a minority in her state. West Bengal’s Congress leaders are sending an SOS to the party’s high command clamouring for a leadership change at the state level as last resort to salvage the party’s fortunes. Many of them want rebel Trinamool Congress M P and former state congress president Somen Mitra to lead the Bengal unit of the party again.” (This is to remind the readers that Somen Mitra as president of state Congress was instrumental to turn out Mamata Banerjee from the WBPCC. When he saw that Mamata was gaining ground and political mileage he along with his wife Shikha Mitra, immediately switched over to Mamata’s side accepting her leadership. Subsequently both have become TMC MP & MLA. And now, again they are planning to leave the party. Somen has already declared that he would leave the party in the month of January, 2014.)
“Bengal’s Congress leaders are also in a total disarray as desertions by the party’s grass roots workers, councilors and even MLAs are rattling the party for quite some time. They fear that this trend may severely affect the party’s prospects in the Lok Sabha polls in the state. The Congress has six Lok Sabha MPs from the state at present.
“The leadership has to take responsibility for the dismal performance. One cannot wash his hands of it,” Adhir Chowdhury Congress MP from Murshidabad told Hindustan Times. “There is an immediate need for a change in the leadership. We need someone more aggressive” another senior state Congress leader said.” After the SOS had gone to the high command of the Congress, Rahul Gandhi, vice president, had a meeting with the state Congress leaders. Rahul had out rightly rejected the idea of changing the state Congress leadership.