Rasheeda Bhagat

Mamata’s Bengal victory buoys Opposition

Rasheeda Bhagat | Updated on May 10, 2021

Giant slayer Mamata Banerjee   -  PTI

The bitterly fought elections gives a glimmer of hope to other Opposition parties of defeating the BJP

The unbelievable and convincing victory that Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee pulled off in West Bengal, annihilating the full force of the BJP election machinery is as amazing as heroic. She braved large-scale TMC defections, mudslinging and unprecedented attacks bordering on misogyny, and emerged triumphant to become a third term CM, despite herself losing at Nandigram.

Unfortunately, the attacks on her were led by the Prime Minister himself, pandering to the gallery, with his taunts of Didi Oh Didi. In hindsight, he must be wondering if a leader of his popularity and power in the BJP and the country, needed cheap bouts of laughter and applause from the audience. So many Bengalis, who should know, have equated this usage to a catcall.

The single-point agenda of the BJP was to wrest West Bengal from the TMC by attacking Mamata. She was charged with “minority appeasement”, called ‘Begum’ and ‘Khala’, both Urdu words, and some BJP speakers accused her of turning West Bengal into a ‘mini Pakistan’. Just by covering her head and raising her arms in dua? Do they even hear themselves?

When the EC can remain deaf to BJP leaders chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram” at election meetings, how can it justify Mamata’s 24-hour ban from campaigning for seeking minority votes?

The bulk of the Muslim vote going to the TMC, and not getting divided, should be a lesson for Muslims of UP and rest of India on strategic and effective voting. If they want to defeat the BJP’s hate politics, its CAA and other threats, then Muslims will have to focus on the one party/candidate who can defeat it.

The rejection of the BJP, and that of the Owaisi-led AIMIM and ISF, by the Bengal voters has also shown that local culture and sensitivities can rise above one religion or the other.

No ordinary election

The West Bengal election was no ordinary poll; like a cricket match between India and Pakistan, it was an all-out war that had to be won, by both the sides, by fair means or foul. The BJP’s desperation to oust Mamata Banerjee from power, enthused by its sterling performance in Bengal in the 2019 elections, is the lethal price the country is now paying through the second wave of the Covid pandemic. We are now reporting over 4 lakh infections a day, and 4,000 daily deaths, amidst question marks on the real numbers, going by ground reports from hospitals, crematoriums, obits in print media, and heartbreaking posts on social media.

So, along with West Bengal, elections had to be held in Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry, too. The surge in infections following the huge election rallies that took place all over India, and with unmasked participants and netas to boost, is now proving to be a super spreader. Alongside of course with the Kumbh Mela, which must have infected tens of thousands of people; Uttarakhand is already seeing a record surge.

Returning to Mamata, though her victory after one of the most bitterly fought elections is sweet and admirable — the feisty politician is the only female CM in India at present — the violence that followed the victory has to be condemned, along with the kind of vitriol she too poured on the BJP at her rallies. Whether it was long years of the Left rule or the last 10 years of TMC rule, electoral violence has become the hallmark of this State, and this has to be controlled and punished.

Cong, Left decimation

Coming to the pathetic performance of the Congress and Left Front, can you imagine these stalwart parties of Bengal not getting a single Assembly seat? Jyoti Basu must be turning in his grave. And this, when the Left headed by Pinarayi Vijayan in Kerala pulled off such a spectacular victory.

MK Stalin leading the DMK to a dramatic, though expected, victory in Tamil Nadu has finally anointed him a worthy successor to the ace politician that his father M Karunanidhi was.

But all eyes, both the BJP and the Opposition, are now on Mamata. By defeating the BJP she has given a glimmer of hope for UP, where CM Yogi Adityanath’s antics, clampdown on liberties, etc, are getting more bizarre. Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati must be dusting off their boots; too bad for them that Prashant Kishor, who handled the poll strategy for both Mamata and Stalin, is hanging up his boots.

Published on May 10, 2021

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