CHANDIGARH—Ensuing Bengal Assembly election is making headlines daily in the newspapers. Political foes are making ragtag pre-poll tie-ups for a post-election realignment of forces that holds the key to the next government in Bengal if there will be a fractured mandate. Fear of the BJP makes such a realignment inevitable. TMC of Mamta Banerjee is sure to lose its strength this time. And in that situation, desperate regional parties hope to play a crucial role to keep the BJP out of power.
Even the CPM and the Congress do not rule out supporting TMC to keep the BJP away.
But it will happen only if neither TMC nor BJP will do very well. In that situation, Jacks of all trades will actively try to form a Third Front. But there is also one factor which is fighting both TMC and BJP. Obsessive political party that eyes on Muslim votes in Bengal and definitely damage the TMC prospects.
The opposition alliance in Bengal seems to be an opportunistic alliance. Going by the past record, who will not shift allegiance to BJP after the elections. Many senior leaders of Opposition are unhappy with the proposal because regional parties are allergic to TMC and BJP.
Failure of Mamta Banerjee in implementing people-centric welfare schemes of the Centre in the state will be major issues. The BJP is using it to get mileage. This time Mamta has not gone down well with the majority of people especially in rural areas. The policies of the present government have also hit the investment flow to the state. All this be possible if there is peace in the state and keeping a good rapport with the Central government. On both fronts, the Mamta government has failed
The criminalization of politics at its top in the state will make matters worse for the TMC this time. And now BJP is on the other is complicating the situation in Bengal. However, as the state moves steadily into election mode, the Opposition has to confront the question—who will be its chief ministerial candidate. The political problems of facelessness would not have been a source of inspiration. The Congress results in Bengal in the last Assembly election mainly due to lack of vote-pulling capacity.
To put it bluntly, there is nothing in the recent poll results to show that the Opposition can buck anti-incumbency. In fact, if it had not been for the hands-off approach towards people and national pride—its flip side is the complete halt of the Opposition and its problems would have been far uglier in Bengal. There are many factors that point to a disastrous delivery record that may be a pointer to why there is no great enthusiasm for the Opposition. Likewise, the exaggerated rhetoric of minorities has whetted Muslim appetite for power will not do a miracle this time.
For Congress, if the present is bad, the future looks alarming. There is no great enthusiasm anywhere except at the AICC headquarters for Rahul Gandhi. He stands for nothing in particular has shown no flashes of brilliance and demonstrated no inclination just bashing of the prime minister.
Y.S.RANA: Principal Correspondent.