The dramatic ‘resignation’ of TMC’s Dinesh Trivedi from the Rajya Sabha is indicative of the dire straits his party is in West Bengal. Legislators, MPs and leaders at other levels are jumping ship on a daily basis. In spite of all this, TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee is maintaining a brave face, promising to bring ‘grassroots’ workers to the fore in the coming elections. Her confidence comes from the belief that the BJP will not be able to bring about the required polarisation to win, as Bengali identity would trump religion based appeal. She is deliberately ignoring the fact that her two terms in office have been pretty dismal in terms of governance – a desperate people might just opt for the BJP because they want jobs and development. The BJP will continue with its ‘Jai Shri Ram’ approach, because it does not need to underline the dismal conditions that exist in the state.
One of the primary reasons for the disillusionment of the defecting party leaders is the preference that has been given to her nephew, Abhishek Banerjee, thereby sidelining those who have considered themselves stalwarts of the party. This is the ugly side of Indian politics as leaders have little faith in their compatriots and invariably end up trusting family. This process will run its course, either further consolidating her hold on the party and the state, or pushing her to the sidelines in the manner of Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav, etc.
Up for grabs, of course, is the Left and Congress votebank. Can it remain consolidated or will it erode in the face of bigger concerns? If ‘Didi’ is to grab the entirety of the Muslim voters, which she is confident of doing, it would persuade others not to ‘waste’ their votes on this other ‘secular’ alternative. Who would they then choose? Indications of this have been seen in other states and that does not augur well for her.
All this is a spillover from the Congress party, which over the years has failed to similarly keep its flock together and for the same reasons. Had Mamata been given her due there, she would not have had to set up her own outfit. It is ironic that the very parties that claim to be progressive and democratic have failed entirely to be so internally. While it will be hard for the TMC to hold its own, it is also undeniable that the BJP, too, has a hard challenge to overcome. A probable outcome is a hung assembly, which would prove another kettle of fish, altogether.