Thursday, April 30, 2015

TMC Sweeps Kolkata: Tale of Didi, Dada and Bhai

Didi Rules Bengal

The results of Kolkata and other Municipality Elections shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone. This columnist may be tempted to say "I told you so" (Read previous DailyO article  BJP needs a new gardener in West Bengal) but truth be said, the results were a forgone conclusion. What may come as a jolt to many is BJP's total rout - which the Trinamool spokesperson rather unkindly - but not entirely without justification - called "a balloon gone Phoos !!".

That Congress couldn't put up a respectable show will not bother many. More significant is the total decimation of the Left with no signs of the proverbial phoenix rising from the ashes.

Trinamool didn't need to indulge in any rigging or violence to achieve these results. Many political observers believe - the violence happened either out of local rivalries among lumpen elements or an "over-kill" following Mukul Roy's disengagement and fear of internal sabotage.The slogan #DidiRules, therefore, is meant as much for the opposition as it is for inner party constituents.

Congress is all but a spent force in Bengal. Even assuming the new improved RaGa 2.0 is able to breathe fresh life into the party - it will be a long time before it touches Bengal. In the coming Assembly Elections - therefore, it'll desperately seek alliance with either the Left or Trinamool - but both have little reason or incentive to grant it space. The coming months will no doubt see a a queue of dejected Congressmen outside Mamata Banerjee's Kalighat residence. In the longer term,  it would be reasonable to expect - the Left of Centre space in Bengal will be occupied by Trinamool or one of its off-shoots if it were to arise.

The just elected CPIM supremo Sitaram Yechury - who knows Bengal (and Bengali) well - has rightly placed the finger on the pulse - when he said the main challenge of the Left is get back the youth to its fold. But, he doesn't spell out what does the Left have to offer today's youth - who are looking for jobs and gainful employment - given Left's dismal track record on that economic front in Bengal. At least to that extent - though the jury is still out - Mamata Banerjee still holds out the promise of getting industry to invest in Bengal, create jobs and development of the state. Any such claims by CPIM  is bound to sound hollow.

The bigger issue for CPIM is it has lost its cadre base entirely. The dividends of Land Reform and Operation Barga have been milked dry. With fragmented land- holdings villagers prefer to move out to cities or other states for employment and the actual work of tilling the land left for non-agricultural farm-labourers.  With hardly any industries left in the state - the trade unions have also moved out of its ranks. The educated youth no longer want to stay back in the state - and the chatter of latest movies and TV serials dominate the air of Coffee Houses and College Canteens rather than talk of Marx and Lenin.

BJP's failure in these elections is not only that it could not mobilise even a "work in progress" organisation - losing the plot even before it got started with infighting and anarchy -  but the way it frittered away in less than a year the goodwill generated at the time of the Lok Sabha elections. It also can't be denied - however much one may argue local body elections are decided on local issues - the NDA governments performance so far has failed to inspire the Bengalis. It is, perhaps, also a commentary on people's increasing agnosticism towards scams and coruuption - that all the noise over Saradha and other Ponzi frauds didn't have any visible impact on the poll outcome. While it is certainly true - Mamata Banerjee and TrInamool have mastered the art of "election management" first perfected by the Left (perhaps, better than even her own "art") - it would be futile for BJP to seek an excuse in that - as some of their national leaders have already begun to do. instead, it is time for the party to look for a new leader and a central manager who can build the organisation from the grassroots and re engineer its image.

Till then - probably - the best bet for Bengal would be to live by the formula which Narendra Modi had suggested in his first election rally in Kolkata in February 2014 - "Didi in the State, Dada (Pranab Mukherjee) in Rashtrapati Bhavan and (Narendra) Bhai at the PMO.  It could well be a winning formula - at least in the short term - if Didi and Bhai can establish a working relationship may be with a little help from the Dada.

#BengalVerdict #Trinamool #DidiRules #BJPBengal #KolkataMunicipalCorporation #WestBengal

Article first published in DailyO_ Click here to read