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AAP may not fare well in Bengal

AAP may not fare well in Bengal
The decision of the Aam  Aadmi Party to field at least nine candidates in the 16th Lok Sabha polls from West Bengal and the fulsome praise, showered on the All India Trinamool Congress chairperson and WB chief minister Mamata Banerjee from the socio-political activist Anna Hazare have unnerved the Bharatiya Janata Party. Maybe, the AAP will not bag any seat and will forfeit security deposits. Nonetheless, its entry into electoral field is of concern for the AITC, the BJP and also the Communist Party of India (Marxist) for two reasons.

First, the AAP will contest in four seats where the BJP has a sizable vote share and the voters are mostly non-Bengali small-traders and intellectuals who are attracted by AAP’s jihad against corruption. Second, the right-wing Hindu nationalist party may lose a sizable chunk of its fellow-travellers who have been getting disillusioned with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s growing nexus with anti-social elements that are active in the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, two most prominent affiliates of RSS.

The BJP leaders will never publicly express their apprehensions about the negative repercussions and nervous tension following the statement of Hazare that the AITC dictator is the best-available prime minister material and the AITC will win 100 LS seats, although these are absurdities. His definition of  Absurd Theatre as one that ‘strives to express its sense of the senselessness of the human condition and the inadequacy of the rational approach by the open abandonment of rational devices and discursive thought’ is applicable for not only the ostensibly Gandhian but also Banerjee who aspires to play a decisive role in the formation of a non-Congress and non-BJP government at the Centre. The West Bengal chief of BJP Rahul Sinha wrote a letter to Hazare stating that the latter had rather gather adequate information about the AITC-government. Keeping in mind that the architect of success story at Ralegan Siddhi is a crusader against corruption ‘it is unacceptable that he is enamoured of a chief minister who fosters unbridled corruption within less than three years of coming to power’, said Sinha at a press conference on Friday.

But the AITC has no reasons to nurse self-conceit over the expanding political influence reflected in the continuing grand triumph from the 15th LS elections (2009) to the civic and three-tier polls in 2012, following the decision of AAP to join the fray in the ensuing parliamentary elections, destined to be a turning point in Indian democracy which faces a new identity crisis. The fear that lurches is the possibility that AAP may cut away at least four to five per cent of votes in the constituencies the new political entity under the Indian political firmament. Take for instance, the Barrackpore LS seat where from the former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi won with an AITC ticket demolishing what was until 2006 an impregnable citadel of CPI(M). Trivedi defeated the five-time MP Tarit Topdar by a margin of 56,024 votes. Trivedi got 49.27 per cent of valid votes against 42.84 per cent by Topdar.

The BJP got less than 0.4 per cent of votes. But this time the Congress shall in all probability no adjustment or alliance with the AITC and the Congress voters comprise at least eight to 10 per cent of the electorate. So the AITC may not very surely retain the seat, more so as AAP will take away sizable votes where non-Bengali voters have a conspicuous presence.

The same threat dangles before the ruling party in Bengal in four to five sitting seats like Howrah and Dum Dum. In 2009, the Left Front supported CPI(M) candidate got 44 per cent votes while the AITC got 48 per cent.

In the state assembly elections (2011), the LF’s vote share fell further to 41 per cent but in the bye-poll in July 2013, following the death of AITC MP Ambika Banerjee, the LF’s share inched up to 41.85 per cent The AITC candidate’s victory margin of TMC was of 26,965 against 37,392 votes in 2009. In the bye-poll, the BJP did not field any candidate although its share of votes could not cross 0.5 per cent. But if AAP comes, it will be worrisome for the AITC, while bringing cheers for the CPI(M) as Congress has a 10 per cent voter-share in the constituency. The BJP is likely to fight well in only three seats at the most - Alipurduars, Birbhum and Malda, but does not seem to be anywhere near the victory slot, but Hazare’s support to Banerjee causes consternation among the party’s top brass in New Delhi.

The only factor that cannot be foreseen is the ultimate effect of AAP on the voters as a good section of the voters in urban and semi-urban areas are openly praising the new party. These voters include traditional Left-voters and even non-Left and anti-BJP voters. Nonetheless, to date, the party hasn’t  come up with winning probability.

IPA
Sankar Ray

Sankar Ray

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