WB Congress-CPM alliance: new wine in old bottle?
Sworn rivals, the Left Front and Congress, have come together to “oust the Trinamool Congress from Bengal” in the 2016 assembly election. The Left and the Congress have decided to put to an end West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s “autocratic and corrupt” rule and insist that the alliance was an outcome of the “people’s upsurge”.
But how much water will this alliance of sorts hold with the somewhat jaded voter in Bengal? At best, it is a marriage of convenience. The same Left and Congress are fighting it out against each other in the Kerala Assembly polls.
The CPM is confident that the people of Bengal would appreciate the new, accommodative Left. “Thirty-four years is a catchphrase. In fact, the Left Front came to power in Bengal in 2006 with 50 per cent of the popular vote and won 235 seats. So, I think the people did not have a negative perception about the Left at that time. It is natural in a multi-party system that no one can keep winning. In 2011, the people wanted change. And now they are seeing what kind of change there has been. So, they are naturally revising their perception of us,” said Nilotpal Basu, former CPM Rajya Sabha MP.
The Left Front and Congress are two polarities. They have only come together now to be in the satta. They have no common ideology, no common ground or election manifesto. How can the voter have confidence in them?
The Congress-Left alliance is predictably highlighting the Trinamool Congress’s corruption, misrule and failures on the fronts of employment and industrialisation. The Sarada scam, the Narada news sting operation and the recent collapse of a flyover in north Kolkata, which killed many people, are on the lips of leaders of both the CPM and Congress.
Rabin Deb, prominent CPM leader in West Bengal and assembly candidate from Singur said, “The Trinamool Congress government’s performance has been dismal in every sphere. They failed to generate employment and bring in industrialisation. There have been no investments in the last five years. The scenario is one of anarchism, no law and order, and misrule. The people are ready to overthrow this government. We are all fighting united against the Trinamool while they are fighting alone.”
Congress too seems very confident of their “perfect” seat sharing arrangement. Congress leader Om Prakash Mishra said he had just addressed two rallies, both together with CPM politburo members. “In more than 280 constituencies out of 294, the seat adjustment is perfect. I have just addressed a rally in Malda together with Mohd Salim (Lok Sabha MP, CPM, from Raiganj) and am on my way to address another along with Hannan Mollah.
The Congress flag and the CPM flag fly together on the rally grounds. There is an upsurge in favour of the combine in North Bengal and up to Murshidabad, where we are expecting about 70 seats out of 76. We have a very strong presence in South Bengal as well, especially in the two 24 Parganas districts. We are expecting more than 170 seats, in fact, it might even cross 200 seats. The Trinamool is on the defensive and the people are with us.”
The Trinamool Congress, however, is unfazed. Confident that voters are with them in spite of all the brouhaha over corruption and a shaky economy, Shashi Panja, Trinamool Congress leader and former minister of state, child development (independent charge) in Bengal, said, “The Left Front and Congress are two polarities. They have only come together now to be in the satta. They have no common ideology, no common ground or election manifesto. How can the voter have confidence in them?”
He adds, “The violence the Left Front unleashed on the state for years together cannot be forgotten so quickly. So I would say, the prospects of the Left Front in the 2016 Bengal assembly election are very dim.”
Whichever party or ruling alliance comes to power in Bengal, the question is whether the people of Bengal will ever see true change. A change from terror and violence, strong-arm tactics and goondaism, the rule of syndicates and an overwhelming sense of despair and disillusionment.