Millennium Post

Green tide in Bengal again

This means about 20 per cent more seats for TMC than what the average number forecast for the party by four top survey agencies, including global leader A C Nielsen, in their latest pre-poll sample survey reports.

The party’s own feedback from districts suggests that TMC is going to sweep the state election and poll eight to 10 per cent more votes in rural areas. The party is targeting at almost the entire first-time voters’ population in the 18-plus-age group to be on its side. The party’s youth wing, led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s own MBA degree-holder nephew, Abhishekh, is working over time with the youth brigade to ensure full support of these young entrants in the coming election even as the state election commissioner’s office is busy updating the voters’ list, erasing non-existent and bogus voters and adding new names. Both CPM and TMC are trying to enroll as many new voters as possible to strengthen their respective party positions before the election.

 Top level sources say that while TMC is confident about emerging as the biggest regional party in the next Lok Sabha, as of now it is not keen on striking any pre-poll alliance or seat sharing in West Bengal. In 2009 Lok Sabha election, the party had a limited understanding with the left party, Socialist Unity Centre (SUC), which had comfortably won a seat from a South 24 Parganas constituency with TMC support. The party’s post-poll strategy with regard to joining an alliance will entirely depend on which party leads such an alliance. TMC had 19 seats in the present Lok Sabha. Of these MPs, one became estranged months after the election and another had recently resigned to join Congress. TMC is certain to win both the seats in the coming Parliamentary election.

Although TMC is more comfortable to join a political combine sans BJP and CPM, its arch rival, the party does not see an immediate possibility of a strong third front emerging to provide a stable government at the Center after the scheduled May polls for conflict of selt-interests among regional parties. Having fallen out with the Congress-led UPA government on the issue of additional Central fund support to the state budget and interest moratorium on borrowing, TMC would like to make its position very clear before according support to any political alliance seeking to form the next government. If it comes to that TMC may be open to even rejoin a Congress-led alliance at the Centre on its terms provided the latter is in a position to form a stable government.

 TMC’s biggest concern, which the party leadership has so far chosen not to voice openly once again for strategic reasons, is the possibility of an overwhelmingly BJP-led alliance to stake its claim to form the next government as predicted by the recent pre-poll survey findings. The progressively weakening public support for the Congress party nationally due to massive corruption allegations and its failure to provide governance, the fast falling public image of the ruling Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh, loss of popularity of the ruling Janata Dal (United) party – JD(U) – in Bihar and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s provocative posturing against the Mamata Banerjee government with regard to latter’s seemingly less sensitive treatment of a rape victim involving a migrant Bihari girl, dwindling strength of Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) in Maharashtra and chaotic political situation in Andhra Pradesh over the creation of Telengana before the election suggest the possibility of a stronger return of BJP in the coming election.

 As things stand now, TMC is unlikely to join a BJP-led alliance to protect is own secular image in the state having a substantial Muslim population (?). The next West Bengal Assembly election is due in May, 2016, which is just two years after the coming Lok Sabha election. There is a strong feeling within TMC that should the party decide to back a BJP-led coalition government, it may do so by according only an outside support with strong pro-minority riders such as job reservation for Muslims and the implementation of the Rajendra Sachar committee report. TMC’s dilemma as to over who to support for forming the next government at the centre is entirely a product of it concerns for the state’s economic development and protection and promotion of the party’s support base in West Bengal for its next battle to retain control of the state assembly. But, politics, like diplomacy, make strange bedfellows. Who knows TMC may even join a BJP-led government setting its own terms and decamp the alliance if the party finds the going too hot before the state assembly election as some suggest. CPM did resort to such an act with UPA-I. Congress and BJP had done the same more than once in the past. Everyone is certain that it may be just a matter of time before the present Congress-Aam Admi party alliance government in Delhi ends on a sour note.

 Like Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee is fully aware of the certainty of her playing a political pivot in the formation, as also probably ensuring stability, of the next government. Ms Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK too may bag nearly nearly 30 Lok Sabha seats even after sharing a few with the two Left allies, CPI and CPM.

The recent trouble in the DMK family, forcing the exit of Alagiri, the elder of the two sons of the party patriarch, M Karunanidhi, corruption charges against DMK ministers and MPs, and the extremely shaky base of the Congress party in Tamil Nadu have provided an excellent political opportunity to AIADMK to promote itself as, may be, the second largest regional power after TMC in the next Lok Sabha. TMC and AIADMK have a combined effective strength of less than 30 in the current Lok Sabha.

This may shoot up to nearly 65, making their individual position as a highly sought after political entity to help form the next ruling alliance at the Centre. Ironically, like Mamata, Jayalalithaa too is in a dilemma over according support to a BJP-led government, leave alone being an important part of it.

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