Election Results

Bengal Assembly Polls 2011: Why Mamata Shy of Contesting Assembly Polls?

Santosh Kumar Agarwal

Mamata Banerjee has declared not to contest herself in the coming assembly polls to West Bengal Assembly going to be held beginning April’2011. This is surprising given her thumping wins at the several important elections like the panchayat polls 2008, parliamentary polls 2009 and municipal polls including Calcutta Municipal Corporation in 2010.

If the Parliamentary polls 2009, which she fought with Indian National Congress (INC) as alliance partner, is any indicator she won as many as 19 parliamentary seats up from only one in 2004 parliamentary polls defeating Left Front candidates in 18 major constituencies known as Red Castles. For the first time the INC-TMC combine secured 19.6 million votes compared to 18.5 millions polled by CPI (M) led Left Front.

In this back ground it is really surprising that Mamata is shy of contesting election directly. More intriguing is her statement that if her party or the alliance wins the majority in assembly, she would take up the mantle of chief minister and would then contest a by-election within six months so that she could continue as chief minister.

What a pathetic situation for a popular leader of Mamata Banerjee’s stature? Why she is not sure that she may not get the majority.

Political circles are point out several causes:

a) Cause number one is that the left front has almost always got 2-3% lesser votes in parliamentary elections than at the assembly elections. A sizable sections of voters behaves in a different way in parliamentary elections because they feel that LF parties would never form government at the center or would not join the council of ministers as was the case in several parliamentary government (like the LF supported Manmohan Singh government of 2004). These voters vote for either INC or BJP. A case in example is about 20 lakh strong voters of Marwari community. These voters are non-polarized and votes according to their conscience. A sizable section of these voters feel that they are well off and secured in the State under CPI(M) rule. So they vote for LF in assembly polls and for either INC or BJP in parliamentary polls.

b) Private surveys have indicated a 2 to 3% swing in favor of LF, as have been the case normally, which makes the poll scenario highly contesting and in that event the formation of government may hang in balance by a thread of 5-10 seats.

c) The INC and TMC had been in control of about 40 gram-panchayat of West Bengal and most of these have not performed satisfactorily as per some sources. This has disenchanted a section of voters.

d) The militant rhetoric of Mamata and other TMC leaders time and again have made a vast section of traders apprehensive about the TMC cadres post poll attitude and it appears that trader community by and large has sided with LF.

e) It has been found in the past, particularly 2001 assembly polls which was fought jointly by TMC and INC, the vote transfer from INC to TMC was not total resulting in a big defeat for the opposition.

f) Mamata has noted the solid signs of recovery in the LF vote bank, which was bolstered by decent LF wins at the recently held Primary Teachers Council election, election to student bodies of colleges across West Bengal and wins at the school managing committees throughout Bengal.

With all these in mind, Mamata is only half convinced about her poll prospects and playing safe by not contesting the assembly polls now, so that her railway ministry remains secure and may be given up if her party or alliance comes to power in assembly.

Curtsey: Ground Report

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