Is Mamata Banerjee's decision to support United Progressive Alliance's presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee going to change the dynamics of opposition politics in West Bengal? Both Congress and Communist Party of India Â– Marxist rule out that possibility and insist that instead the heat would be more and more on the ruling Trinamool Congress in the coming days.
Ironically, though TMC is an important partner in the Congress-led UPA in Delhi and in Bengal, the Congress is a minor partner in their government, the party has emerged as the major political opponent of the ruling TMC over the last six months.
Pradesh Congress spokesman Omprakash Mishra made it amply clear that the Congress would continue to agitate on the issues which were close to common people as before.
The Left, the traditional opposition of the ruling TMC, is at the moment keeping their street level agitations at a low key, as they feel that they are not strong enough to take it to a higher pitch yet.
"We must first repair the trust deficit among the poor people which had occurred in the last few years. So, till now we are mostly on the defensive," explains Nilotpal Basu, a member of the CPI-M central committee.
As of now, senior CPI-M leader Suryakanta Mishra, the opposition leader in state assembly, has been active in raising issues and in his regular interaction with the media highlighting the political issues and pointing to the "series of blunders" committed by the state government. But, the party has kept the street level agitations restricted mostly at local levels.
Rezzak Molla, another senior leader of the party, who is keen to prop up support for issues related to the interests of the poor peasants, has been forced to restrict his activities in his district South 24 Parganas. Ever since the assembly election, CPI-M workers and activists have been on a retreat on the face of ruling party's aggressive postures.
In rural areas, many had to flee their homes. To support the families of those killed, injured and evicted from their homes, the party had created a West Bengal State Relief Fund at the all India level, which raised Rs 4.43 crore through various state party units.
The relative vacuum has steadily been filled up by the state Congress. For the last few months, the Congress has taken up issues like deterioration of law and order, growing attack on women and campus violence, crisis in agriculture leading to a number of farmers committing suicide and the government's land policy which resulted in an impasse in Singur.
So much so that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been vocal in her criticism of the state Congress. In her latest outburst, while making her decision to endorse Pranab Mukherjee's candidature public, Mamata launched a scathing attack on the state Congress leaders, saying that a section of them had been actively working against her party in collusion with the CPI-M.
Earlier, a Congress minister had resigned after alleging that they had been deliberately sidelined and humiliated by TMC ministers and the chief minister.
The street level agitations organised by the Congress in Kolkata and the districts highlighting the shortcomings and the failures of the state government have become a regular feature in Murshidabad, Nadia, Burdawn, North Dinajpur and Kolkata, causing embarrassment to the ruling TMC.