Now the Bharatiya Janata Party-led governments and those with its alliance partners have their presence in 21 states of the country, as it registered its footprints in Tripura recently by ousting the CPM government there, which had been ruling the state for 25 years. This victory of BJP necessitated all the regional parties to unite. And it seems to be working, as the by-poll election result of Gorakhpur and Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh have legitimized opposition’s strategy. On one hand, Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party (SP) and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) are coming together, ignoring their past rivalry, on the other hand, Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal and the chairperson of Trinamool Congress (TMC), is dreaming of becoming Prime Minister in 2019 general election by forming the third front. Recently, she had a conversation with K Chandrashekhar Rao, Chief Minister of Telengana and the party President of Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), in Kolkata. Mamata Didi wants to form a non-BJP and non-Congress alliance. She has called BJP a communal party. However, she has not said anything about the Congress. This is very important to understand, since Mamata Banerjee maintains very good liaison with Sonia Gandhi. In Tripura election, she herself said that she wanted an alliance with Congress in Tripura election, and recently, she supported Congress’ Abhishek Manu Singhvi for Rajya Sabha election. Therefore, it is clear that she has no enmity with Congress. She will not hesitate in going with Congress.
The question arises: Why is Mamata Banerjee projecting herself as a strong contender against BJP? It should not be forgotten that Communist and Congress both have nominal presence in West Bengal and BJP is emerging as a strong alternative in the state, especially in rural Bengal, where RSS has been active for years. To understand the future politics of Bengal, one will have to look back at Assam election result. In Asaam, BJP had never been in power, but in 2016, it grabbed the power and ousted the Tarun Gagoi government, one of the strongest leaders of the state, who governed Assam from 2001 to 2016. Here it is candid enough to mention that if BJP succeeded in getting people’s mandate, and it was because of ex-Congress leaders like Hemanta Bishwa Sharma and others, who shaped a strategy to counter Tarun Gagoi. And they succeeded in doing so.
Coming to the point, Mamata Banerjee fears the same situation may repeat in Bengal, and the reason being Mukul Roy, former Union Railway Minister and ex-TMC leader. Few months back Mukul Roy joined Bharatiya Janata Party. As he has enormous influence in West Bengal politics, he was given Y+ security. Mukul Roy has been the ex-national vice-president of TMC and it is said that he was the strongest leader of TMC after Mamata Banerjee. He is influential in rural Bengal, and given this, he has been appointed the convenor of the Panchayat Committee, formed by the West Bengal BJP leadership to look into the upcoming Panchayat polls in the state. His son Subransu Roy is also the member of West Bengal legislative assembly on TMC’s ticket, but has been relegated to back burner after his father quit TMC. Putting together, it demonstrates Mamata Banerjee’s fear of BJP’s arrival in the state, and therefore, she is projecting herself as the strongest opponent of Narendra Modi to remain weighty in the state.
Further, TMC leader in the Rajya Sabha, Derek O’Brien said in a television debate that Mamata Didi is the only politician in the country, who can defeat Narendra Modi. However, if Mamata Banerjee wants to project herself against Modi in 2019 general election, she will have to show her work done in West Bengal. Mamata Banerjee came to power riding the crest of her protest against Tata Nano project in Singur and due to her protest, eventually, Tata Nano had to shift from West Bengal to Gujarat. Therefore, it is noteworthy to mention here, because of her activism, any company fears to invest in West Bengal, where economy is rapidly dying. Earlier, West Bengal used to be the business hub of India, but today, all the small factories are moving out of the state. For example, once Howrah, the neighbouring district of Kolkata, was famous for its small and medium business enterprises where Bandel, Dankuni and Liluah used to be the main hub.
Now the situation has changed. There are very few companies remaining. Unemployment is increasing in the state. Educated Bengali people are leaving West Bengal due to negligible opportunity. So, the fact is that, before making any projection, Mamata Banerjee will have to show her development initiatives. Recently, Ministry for Social Justice released data on the number of beggars in India. In this list, West Bengal is on the top. West Bengal has the highest number of beggars and vagrants in India. The total number of beggars in the country is over four lakh, with 81,000 beggars in West Bengal.
People don’t need rhetoric. This is the era of economic advancement. All the countries are striving to become global powers with the support of their strong economy. A silent war is being fought in the world through the power of wealth. If all political parties are united to defeat BJP, they will also have to illustrate their vision for the country. Mayawati and Akhilesh both governed Uttar Pradesh, but did they generate adequate employment in the state? Mamata Banejee has been the Chief Minister of West Bengal for 7 years. Did she bring West Bengal economy back on the track? Lalu Yadav had been in power in Bihar for years. But today, he is facing conviction in fodder scam. Indian population is increasing day by day. If this further continues, it will be most difficult for any government to nourish all Indians properly. Owing to this, compromising on development agenda will never be a justifiable step. Development is a great challenge for India. Hence, this is high time all political parties thought on development agenda by avoiding all political rivalries.
By Ravi Mishra