Skip to main content

Mamata is winning as of today... remember, as of today. Communalism can be game changer

By Rajiv Shah 
Mamata Banerjee is “injured”. The two main political opponents of Mamata, the Congress-Left combine, on one hand, and the BJP, on the other, challenging what so far seemed to be her indisputable rule in the poll-bound West Bengal, are stating that it was an “accident” and Mamata was trying to use it as to gain sympathy. On the other hand, as already reported, the Trinamool Congress, which she heads, says, she was “pushed” by four to five persons and was the result of “security lapse.”
Without going into the controversy surrounding the incident, as it would take some time to reach some conclusion on what might have happened, I want to jot down a few interesting facts which I learned from a senior journalist friend from Kolkata, whom I have met a couple of times in Ahmedabad when he came down to cover elections in Gujarat. I talked to him a couple of days before the Mamata incident actually took place.
I wanted to know what was happening in West Bengal, whether the BJP would win, and what would be the fate of the Congress-Left conglomerate. The first thing this journalist – whom I am not naming because I didn’t take his permission – was, “as of today, Trinamool is winning the polls… as of today, remember”, he repeated twice. However, he said, the scenario might change.
This journalist, who spoke to me in Hindi with Bengali accent, was frank and straight. “This the first time when the Left is the third force in West Bengal. This wasn’t the case ever... even in 2019. We were the first or second force, always. However, things have changed. I witness sharp communal divisions, which was not there ever. It is being projected as a straight fight between Trinamool and BJP.”
But why does he say that the scenario might change? He said, “The main problem with Trinamool is, while Mamata remains popular, its rank and file has deserted the party and become part of BJP. In fact, Trinamool is facing the same situation which it had created earlier. Defections were not part of West Bengal politics, Trinamool introduced it. And now BJP is using this opportunism, created by Trinamool. Not only leaders, cadres, too, are shifting loyalty every day.”
I turned to the Left-Congress alliance, what role would it play – whether it would help BJP or Trinamool. According to him, his overall impression is, the Left-Congress alliance would “mostly neutralise” opposition to Trinamool, and many of those who do not want to vote for Trinamool and are broadly secular would vote for the Left or the Congress candidates. This would, hopefully, cut into potential BJP votes, he suggested, though he added, BJP would do everything in its arsenal to “communalise the situation to gain votes.”
I asked him how was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally, which took place a few days back in Kolkata. According to him, rallies in West Bengal cannot tell the full story of support or otherwise to a political party. It went off well, he said. For the first time, BJP was able to fill up the the ground. However, people are used to rallies and love attending them. Money played a major role. According to his information, people were brought to the rally from outside Kolkata on a payment of Rs 400 each in buses and trucks, plus lunch.
Furfura shrine
Finally, I asked him where would the Muslim votes go. Whether the Left-Congress alliance would get Muslim votes, and wouldn’t that cut into Mamata’s votes. According to him, the Left-Congress has allied with a political party floated by the Indian Secular Front (ISF), floated by Pirzada Abbas Siddiqui, an influential cleric of the Furfura Sharif shrine in Hooghly district.
The Furfura shrine, he said, has followers both among Muslims and Hindus, just like Ajmer Sharif in Rajasthan. Pointing out that Muslims, too, are disgruntled with Mamata, he added, an alliance with ISF would ensure victory of several Left-Congress candidates. And, because Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen is not in the fray, the Muslim votes wouldn’t “go waste” like they did in during Bihar elections.
And finally, I asked him what had gone wrong with the Left – I was interested in it as I too belonged was a sort of Leftist during my youth. He said, it was seen as a party of the old, hence people appeared to have little hope from it. “The Left has done intensive social service for the benefit of the marginalised sections during the pandemic, but this may not get converted into vote”, he said, adding, though, “Recognising its image of a party of the old, especially the CPI-M has put up young candidates, many of them in the age group 40-45. People have begun coming out to listen to them, which is a positive sign.”

Comments

TRENDING

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

Attack on Gaza: Western media 'went out of the way' to obscure, protect perpetrators

By Sonali Kolhatkar*  Israeli forces killed more than a hundred Palestinians and wounded more than 700 on February 29, 2024 during a distribution of food aid in Gaza city, pushing the Palestinian death toll to 30,000 since October 7, 2023. The food aid massacre was straightforward in its deadliness as armed Israeli forces aimed weapons at desperate, hungry Palestinian civilians and killed many of them. It was also plausible within the context of who has firepower and who doesn’t, and wholly consistent with Israeli atrocities, especially those committed since October 7, 2023.

Living standards in 'model' Gujarat worse than major states: Govt of India document

By Rajiv Shah  Amidst raging controversy over whether the latest Government of India’s “Household Consumption Expenditure Survey 2022-23 Fact Sheet: August 2022-July 2023” suggests that India’s poverty levels are actually down to 4.5 to 5%  during the decade-long Narendra Modi rule, a state-wise breakup in the 27-page document shows that “model” Gujarat’s average consumption expenditure is far below most of the so-called developed states.

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Not livable in summer, Chitrakut PM-Awas houses 'push' tribals in moneylender trap

By Bharat Dogra*  Those who are in-charge of implementing the PM-Awas scheme of rural housing can rightly take pride in what has been achieved in Dafai hamlet (Karvi block, Chitrakut district, Uttar Pradesh). All the Kol tribal families here are extremely poor and vulnerable. In a rare achievement, almost all of them have received housing assistance under PM Awas. 

Stressing on standardisation, efficiency, capitalists 'intensify' workers' exploitation

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The productivist ideology lies at the core of the profit-making pyramid of capitalism. It perpetuates a relentless cycle characterized by busy schedules, workplace tension, an imbalance in work-life equilibrium, and a pervasive sense of alienation. 

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Development? This tribal hamlet in Chitrakut has no toilets, no electricity connections yet

By Bharat Dogra*  As we moved away from the starting point of the Bundelkhand Expressway and a famous pilgrimage site into a side-road, the hills of Chitrakut here appeared to be more and more isolated. Another turn, and we appeared to have reached almost a dead-end. However it is here that over 80 households of the Kol tribal community have been living for a long time.

WTO 'loses legitimacy': CSOs shut out of normal participation in MC13 at Abu Dhabi

By Deborah James  Given unprecedented repression of participants, the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) at Abu Dhabi should not continue until historical and international standards and human rights for participation in global governance are restored.