Edit/Op-Ed

Left Loses Two States, BJP Too Much Stakes

Soroor Ahmad

Unlike elsewhere the Left Front lost in West Bengal not because its rank and file got alienated and dissociated with the masses, but because the latter became fed up with too much closeness of the party machinery. Interference and control of the party cadres in all walks of life––even at the club, Durga Puja Samiti, mosque, village, locality and family level were among the factors responsible for the decimation of the Left. Instead of police or court people would approach the party cadres for their grievances or settlement of disputes.

Besides, the Left bungled its re-industrialization efforts, which backfired in the form of Nandigram and Singur. Instead of setting up small and middle scale industries, which would have created more job the Left went on to attract Tata for Nano small car project. The state government for no rhyme or reason offered to subsidize this industry. Not only that going against the basic ideology of the Communists the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government went on to attract Salim Group of Industries of Indonesia for the Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

On the other hand the same Left almost broke the tradition in Kerala by virtually winning two consecutive Assembly elections. Kerala and Tamil Nadu have a sort of history of changing governments every five years. But the Left made a big comeback and fell just two short of the half way mark of 70 in the House of 140.

Similarly in Tamil Nadu the Left parties managed to be in the winning side as it fought election in alliance with the AIADMK. But here the party is a minor player.

However, in this cacophony one aspect, which generally escaped the attention of the media, was the disastrous performance of the BJP. In 824 constituencies in four states and one Union Territories the party could manage to win just five seats––all that in Assam. In rest four places it failed even to open the account. Even in Assam its tally fell from 10 in 2006 to five.

This happened notwithstanding the fact that there was fear that the BJP would be benefited by the split in Muslim votes between Congress and All India United Democratic Front. But the tally of AUDF almost got doubled––from 10 to 18––while Congress’ jumped from 58 last time to 78, not to speak of its alliance partner. Congress, instead of BJP or AGP, managed to take away a substantial amount of Hindu votes. Assam has 126-member House.

The Asom Gana Parishad, which owes its existence to the famous Assam movement of 1980s, too suffered humiliating defeat. Its tally came down from 24 to 10.

The tragedy with the BJP, India’s biggest opposition party, is that it utterly failed to capitalize on the series of scams, which rocked the country––2G Spectrum, Adarsh Housing Scoeity, Commonwealth Games etc.

True it was never a big player in these states, yet it could have cashed in on the opportunity a little bit. The leadership was confident till the last moment that it would better its performance at least in West Bengal. But that was not to be. In Tamil Nadu the AIADMK was the main beneficiary of the strong feeling against nepotism and corruption.

The result of Assembly elections in four states and one Union Territories does not augur well for the BJP in other way too. Though it lost Mamata Banerjee and Jayalalithaa several years back the recent political developments suggest something else. Mamata has made it amply clear that she would be a part of the UPA and is no way going to take independent line or tilt towards the BJP or the NDA. She knows the importance of going with the Congress so far central fund is concerned. Like in the case of Lalu Yadav in Bihar, the Left-ruled West Bengal was often neglected by the Centre for obvious political reasons.

In case of Jayalalithaa the case is slightly different. Though she is opposed to the Congress, as it is an ally of the DMK, she chose to partner the Left in her state and not the BJP. Both the Left and the BJP are not big players in that state still the signal was clear––at least till election she wanted to maintain distance from the Hindutva brigade.

True after the election Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, invited her to tea and Jayalalithaa extended invitation to Narendra Modi at the swearing in ceremony yet the fact is that she is in next couple of years not going to be a partner of the NDA. Parliament election is due in India in 2014.

The BJP is once again fast becoming a political outcast. The Asom Gana Parishad refused to have any truck with it. Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik broke the alliance just on the eve of the last Lok Sabha election.

So except the Janata Dal (United) the other two big partners left with the saffron party are Shiv Sena and Akali Dal. Janata Dal (United)––then called the Samata Party––was the first non-communal party to give secular legitimacy to the post-Babri BJP in 1996.

Though at present the relationship between the two parties in Bihar is very cordial, yet political observers are of the view that there is always a lurking fear that chief minister Nitish Kumar may do Naveen Patnaik when he would observe that the NDA is a sinking ship.

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