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TMC must build broader alliance

Krittivas Mukherjee in Kolkata | June 22, 2005 20:02 IST

Even in its loss in the Kolkata civic elections, the Trinamool Congress has proved that it remains the only viable opposition in West Bengal ahead of next year's assembly election.

From being down and out since the 2001 assembly debacle and the decimation in last year's parliamentary polls, the Trinamool had got itself into a position from where it could have only moved forward.

In the Kolkata Municipal Corporation election, West Bengal's ruling Left Front captured the civic body with a lackluster victory margin -- 75 seats in a 141-councillor House.

The Trinamool and its allies bagged 45 wards -- not a bad show at all considering the bickering within the party and the desertion by its top leader and out-going mayor Subrata Mukherjee and his supporters.

Mukherjee left to head a coalition of parties that included the Congress and a breakaway reformist leftist outfit, but, despite the hype, this conglomerate failed to impress.

Which brings one back to the question -- which is the chief opposition party in the state?

The Congress faired better than the Trinamool in the 2004 parliamentary election, but still remains devoid of a leader of the stature of the rabble-rousing Mamata Banerjee.

And this civic body result has once again showed that in West Bengal, love her or hate her, you cannot ignore Mamata Banerjee.

Though the KMC election might not be an indicator of voters' mood across West Bengal, it is undeniable that the far-from-bad showing by the Trinamool will help Banerjee once again recoup her supporters and launch one more bid for the Writers' Building -- the state's seat of power -- next year.

Furthermore, the KMC result will force anti-leftist forces to rethink strategies, and for any such calculation to be taken seriously, Banerjee has to be at its centre.

Already, the Subrata Mukherjee-led coalition is seeing the futility of taking on the leftists without Banerjee.

Congress' West Bengal president Pranab Mukherjee said after the KMC results were out that Banerjee was needed in any fight against the Left front.

Interestingly, Subrata Mukherjee's coalition wanted Banerjee to come along with them, but she refused.

"The election result shows clearly the need for a true alliance of the anti-Leftist parties," Mukherjee said.

One would hope Banerjee too thinks so, and indications are that she is beginning to think the same as well.

Hours after the poll results were out, she spoke of the need for a grand alliance of the opposition parties.

What, however, remains to be seen is how she keeps her present flock together, brings back the deserters and addresses the difficult question of forming an alliance that will have the Congress and her present ally the BJP drinking from the same cup.

Also see: Success owing to positive work: Buddha

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