rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » News » In Bengal, the signs were evident

In Bengal, the signs were evident

May 13, 2011 09:55 IST
"If the Left is not decimated, it will be a surprise," India's best-known quiz master-turned-Trinamool Congress spokesperson Derek O'Brien had told rediff.com before the six-phase West Bengal elections got underway.

If early leads on counting day are any indication, he was not just boasting.

But it was not just the Trinamool guys who were sure of the winds of change in Bengal. It was evident in the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist's demeanour too.

While Bengali television channels showed Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee painting, singing Rabindra Sangeet and eating tele bhaja (batter-fried veggies) with muri (puffed rice) on the eve of judgment day, the Left was fuming.

"It will be either our government or (television channel) Star-Ananda's," West Bengal Housing Minister Gautam Deb was shown as saying.

"If you juxtapose the Lok Sabha election results and the municipal election results and the panchayat election results, simple electoral mathematics shows that the Trinamool will sweep this election," political observer Amiya Chaudhuri said Thursday night, well before the counting began.

The Left Front had maintained that it had 'pulled back' in the final months before the election, but if a coalition that has ruled a state for over three decades talks of pulling back, the signs are obvious.

"For a long time, there was virtually no election in West Bengal, because of the Left Front's 'scientific rigging'. The last assembly elections in West Bengal were the first time such extensive security was deployed," pointed out a senior political analyst. "But the fear of the CPI-M was till pervasive. This time, the fear is gone, and the Election Commission must be lauded for its stellar job."

During the last assembly elections, the CPI-M had been exhorting voters by saying, "Go out in droves and vote fearlessly, even those outside the booths are CPM (Central Para Military forces)."

Looks like the people of West Bengal have heard their call, albeit five years later.

The real game-changer will be if the Trinamool wins a majority on its own, without ally Congress's seats mattering. That will give Banerjee immense clout within the United Progressive Alliance. Already there are shouts and murmurs of the central land acquisition legislation being stalled because of her. And as the Greater Noida protests have reminded urban India again: The real development battle is yet to be fought, in India's rural hinterland.

Sumit Bhattacharya