Have the 2014 bypoll results ushered in a new era in West Bengal politics?
Amidst the deterioration of law and order and the Saradha Scam, the 2014 by-polls in West Bengal was an acid test for the Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool Congress (TMC). While they managed to retain Chowringhee, they narrowly lost Basirhat (Dakshin) to the BJP. In both the seats, however, the TMC and the BJP emerged as two major parties, clearly decimating the Congress and the Left Front.
The Left Front, CPI (M) in particular, is in coma and chances of its revival in Bengal politics in the near future are extremely remote.
It is indeed embarrassing for the once mighty CPI(M) to lose in a state where it ruled uninterruptedly for 34 years to a party that is still establishing its base. By capturing Basirhat (Dakshin) from the Left, the BJP finally has a voice in the West Bengal legislature after 15 years. Buoyed by the rise in vote share, the interest shown by the BJP to contest the 2015 Kolkata Municipal elections is a positive step ahead of the 2016 Assembly elections.
Ever since the Left took over the reins of West Bengal in the 1970s, the state has witnessed gradual deceleration in socio-economic development and political mismanagement. While things looked optimistic when Mamata Banerjee, poised with the Obamaesque chants of “Ma, Maati, Maanush” (Mother, Earth, Man) and “Poriborton” (Change), promised economic growth and institutional stability in 2011, her reign has been rather turbulent.
In congruence with their relationship with the Congress-led UPA, neither the Left nor the TMC has friendly ties with the BJP-led NDA. Simply put, the TMC and the Left Front have emerged as two sides of the same coin.
A surge in BJP’s vote share in the West Bengal by-polls reflects that the people have finally realised that economic growth and prosperity is only possible when there is a harmonic centre-state relationship.
In such a scenario, the BJP seems to be the only viable alternative available for the people of West Bengal. The market’s confidence in Narendra Modi’s government could ensure a positive inflow of much needed capital into the state. In conclusion, the BJP must avail this opportunity addressing the issues of growth and development to bring about a real ‘poriborton’ in the state.