As Bengal Votes Silent Mandate Awaits
The assembly election in Bengal has always been a decisive election, but this year it is not so. It is entirely a new experience for the West Bengal. Till 2011, voters didn’t have any choice but to vote for the Left Front, but the year 2011, gave the people an alternative government which convinced the people of Bengal with renewed dreams. The Left Front government of the time too had become unacceptable
because of series of issues, mainly the issue of Land acquisition. Bengal has been the land of movements and this sentiment got wind and became fire in the form of Nandigram and Singur agitation, which ultimately became the main reason for the downfall of the farmer and people friendly Left Front government.
After 5 years in power, the new party and the new government of Trinamool Congress has also by now become a veteran in corruption politics of the state, if report card is to be seen. The Singur issue remains unsolved, as promised by Mamata Banerjee that within a month after coming to power she would solve Singur land issue. Saradha cheat fund, which shook the very core of Bengali sentiments, followed by Narada tapes, where the Ministers and Members of the Legislative Assembly were shown taking bribes (although the verification of the tapes are on, and the case is in court), established the culture of corruption in the party which is in power.
This is for the first time in the electoral history of the state that it is very difficult to predict the outcome of election, as the voters are by and large silent, so is the media. Discussions, interviews and campaign trails are inconclusive. No one is clear about the final mandate. We can say that the state is in a state of confusion though both the ruling and opposition parties are claiming to form the government in the same manner.
As it is evident, just after the end of the fourth phase of election in Bengal, Mamata Banerjee during a rally claimed to win the election easily, when she declared, “Today the fourth phase of polls was held. If I understand politics, after this phase of polls we have already attained the majority mark needed to form the new government. You can check it when results are announced.” The Trinamool Congress chief, to support her claim also said that her government in the last five years undertaked various development projects and turns Bengal into the favourite industrial destination.
In the same tune, expressing confidence about the success of the (Congress-Left) alliance in the election, CPI(M) ’s Suryakanta Mishra claimed, “After the first three phases of polling we said we will surely win over 100 seats, but after this phase we aim for 200 seats, and the alliance of the people is heading towards a victory”.
Many significant moves turned the course of prediction. As expected the government has not come up to the expectations of the people and is laden with corruption charges. Fight among the party workers is also one of the main reason of the vote shift, the unthinkable alliance of the Congress and the Left, strict observance by the Election Commission during the six-phase poll in Bengal and the presence of the Army and alertness of Police during election made this election by and large a successful one. At the same time these factors altogether obstruct the prediction to declare clear mandate to Mamata Banerjee and her party Trinamool Congress.
Along with these factors, the increase of crime graph, decrease employment opportunity and industry in the state remain core issues, which the rational voters of the state thought for once, before going to press the button on the Electronic Voting Machine, which also directly hit the sentiments of the educated, smart-phone-enabled and internet-savvy young voters of the state.
This year voters too had the option of making an intelligent choice based on direct, lived experiences of two regimes. The decision will be based on the opportunity cost of replacing the ruling regime and choosing the new unthinkable alliance of the Congress and the Communist Party of India(Marxist)-led Left Front. It will be about deciding which regime will work best for the next five years.
In the year 2011, Trinamool Congress won 184 out of 294 assembly seats, claiming the mandate to form the government in the state. If calculations are to be believed, during the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Narendra Modi’s wave worked in Bengal too as BJP claimed 17 per cent of the total vote share in Bengal. Therefore, the election is a big challenge for the BJP in West Bengal to retain the percentage and if it is not, who takes away this 17 per cent from BJP, the Left-Congress alliance or the Trinamool Congress, and this percentage of vote will certainly play a decisive role in deciding the fate and the future course of the state.
By Joydeep Dasgupta from Kolkata