Monday, May 18, 2009

Has Bengal had enough of Left?

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

The results of the 15th Lok Sabha polls hasn't been too surprising but in the context of West Bengal 'shocking' is the word. The Left was expected to perform badly but nobody thought they would crumble in the manner they did. Not even the worst of the political critics of the Left Front could have predicted this just about two years ago. Mamata's 'Maa Maati Manush' appealed to the people and they did the unimaginable.

The Left parties are finding it tough to understand what went wrong for them. How could a fortified structure they had created in three decades fall like a pack of cards in three years since the violence in Nandigram? From the urban middle class to the Muslims everybody voted against them. They even lost credibility among the rural masses once their stronghold thanks to the mishandling of the Singur and Nandigram crisis.

What was surprising was to see the Trinamool Congress win in most of the urban constituencies and doing a clean sweep of Kolkata. Many would have believed this to be impossible after the dissent that the urban Kolkata had with Mamata Banerjee after she chased away the prestigious Tata Nano project from the state. Many people believed West Bengal did not even have a choice to throw the Left out after the Nano mess.

The thing that went against Left was the consolidation of votes. The urban voter especially the youth always felt let down by the Left rule voted against it. Combined with the Muslim and the rural electorates it formed a lethal combination against the Left. As for the Red Front it was left with votes from their supporters who believed in their ideology and its a known fact that this group is shrinking.

Although the Left leaders may be pointing fingers at Prakash Karat for this humiliation the actual reason for their defeat was within Bengal. The truth is a person in rural Bengal doesn't even know who Prakash Karat is and doesn't care what is his stand on the nuclear deal or about his ego issue with Manmohan Singh. The fact is this person only cares about his basics which was being threatened by the Left as was evident in Singur and Nandigram.

The violence in Nandigram exposed the ugly face of Left. People in the rural belt who always considered the Left Front as a saviour suddenly felt threatened with there sentinels. The cadre based strong local units that the Left had created over decades and which won them election after election lost the trust of the common man and led to its debacle.

Ironically with 35 seats in 2004 Left had delivered its best performance in the state. In a matter of just five years tide seems to have blown in the opposite direction in West Bengal. The 2011 Assembly elections will give a better picture whether a obituary for the Left can be written or this election was an one off incident. But one thing has surely changed, the myth that 'Left cannot be defeated in West Bengal'


ankita banerji May 18, 2009 at 6:24 PM  

u r r8...actually we kolkatans had enough of Left! I personly think autocracy f one particulr party fr 32 long years had 2 come 2 an end one way or d othr. somehow ppl hv realised tht we need a chng...n since thr is no othr option left we had 2 go fr this is yet 2 see how far d newly emerged player cud fulfil our demand!

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