Friday, September 07, 2007

Will Congress shock CPM in West Bengal ?

It has been quite clear for some time that the Left Central Leadership is not satisfied with the policies of the Congress Government in the center, looking at the Government as being too tilted towards the US (nuclear deal, military exercises, overall globalization, etc); at the same time, their Government in West Bengal, wanting to continue to stay in power, has to show actual development on the ground. For this, it has to adopt policies of liberalization, and has to attract investment in the state. And guess what, if you looked at the West Bengal government in terms of what it is doing for industry, it would not seem any different from other states in terms of policies or actions. They need a friendly central Government, and so far has been able to get the Congress Government to help them out. But, if the Congress gets miffed, or really starts to feel the heat in the center, they will try to strike back in the state. And they just got a big start:

The buzz has been there for quite some time now but Trinamool leader Mamata Banerjee chose the setting of a madrasa students’ programme today to indicate, more clearly than she ever has, that she is set to part ways with the BJP. “We are now with no one and are trying to stand on our own,” she said, adding that her party was going ahead with agitation programmes on its own, be it Singur or Nandigram. “In West Bengal, our party is going it alone,” she reiterated.
The Congress, which has been prompting her to snap off ties with the BJP, was quick to welcome her statement. “We urge Mamata Banerjee to come back to Congress and fight the CPM jointly. We are sure that if she leads us, we will be able to throw the CPM out of the state,” Manas Bhuina, Congress Legislature Party leader, told.

Mamta Banerjee is feeling resistance from Muslims when she tries to get their votes due to her ties with the BJP, and given the large scale migration of Bangladeshis and their acquiring voting power, she needs their support. This is a good enough reason for her to spurn the BJP and go back to her voters with a claim of breaking away from the BJP.
Now, Mamta Banerjee is a highly populist leader, capable of stirring up lots of emotions, and if she does opt to go with the Congress, it has the potential to be a major challenge for the CPM rule. At this time, because of the way that the CPM has gone about implementing its SEZ agenda and land acquisition, there is an under-current of resentment against the party and Mamta Banerjee can take some advantage out of that, provided that she builds up an organization. And that is where the Congress can come in. It will be able to provide the requisite cadre such that the combined might will be able to overcome the immense pressure applied by the CPM cadre (who aim to win using any and all tactics).
The biggest question is, when does this play out. If Mamta Banerjee opts to join hands with the Congress in the next few days, it will put the Congress central leadership in an awkward situation. One the one hand, they are depending on the Left to not withdraw support, and on the other hand, they are courting the biggest opponent of the Left in their strongest state.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 7:49 AM