Amidst Narada & the Flyover Collapse, Bengal Faces Quiet Anguish
Abysmal prospect await the state if Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s party gets a second innings. (Photo: PTI)
Abysmal prospect await the state if Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s party gets a second innings. (Photo: PTI)

Amidst Narada & the Flyover Collapse, Bengal Faces Quiet Anguish

In the deluge of WhatsApp messages, there is one, with its terrifying truth, that is filling residents of West Bengal with a quiet anguish.

“If TMC does not win West Bengal TMC has no future. If TMC wins West Bengal, West Bengal has no future.”

I am less concerned with the future of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) than with the abysmal prospect that awaits the state if Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s party gets a second innings.

Despite the Sarada chit-fund scam, the Narada sting, the exposure of the gun-toting syndicate members, the unimaginably incompetent sub-contractors who were responsible for the collapse of the Girish Park flyover, the party’s arrogance seemed intact.

Well, almost.



Trinamool leaders that have allegedly accepted bribes. (Photo: <i>Narada News</i>/altered by <b>The Quint)</b>
Trinamool leaders that have allegedly accepted bribes. (Photo: Narada News/altered by The Quint)

The party supremo’s militant stance has for the first time cracked. On Wednesday at a meeting in Kulti in Burdwan district, after the first phase of elections, Banerjee adopted an unusual posture, “When something is wrong, it is my fault. If there is a misunderstanding, blame me for it. But please don’t withdraw your blessings, prayers and best wishes.”

There is palpable insecurity within the TMC. Will the ‘blessings’ of the electorate be withdrawn?



Rescue operations underway at the site where a part of a portion of Vivekananda Flyover collapsed in Kolkata on 31 March 2016. (Photo: IANS)
Rescue operations underway at the site where a part of a portion of Vivekananda Flyover collapsed in Kolkata on 31 March 2016. (Photo: IANS)

Why the Party is Struggling to Keep a ‘Squeaky Clean’ Image

Till a few days ago, the party leader was unrelenting. At a public meeting last week in Bankura district, Banerjee’s words sent an eerie shiver down the spine:

“Last time I had said there will be no revenge. This time we will tackle them every inch of the way. I will not spare them anymore. They might have forgotten that they will have to live under me after the elections.”

Forget an apology, there was not a hint of remorse for the misdeeds of her senior party leaders. Seemingly unscathed, she did not think it fit to publicly chastise those who had torn into smithereens her impeccably honest rubber-slipper image.

How different is her party from any other corrupt Indian party?

Today a senior TMC member who does not wish to be quoted says, “Sadly from Ma Mati Manush we have become Ma Mati Mafia.” If TMC does emerge the winner, one cannot even imagine how brazen the new avatar will be.

Politics is like a love affair. If the partner finds you cheating, he or she will go after you with a vengeance. In Barrackpore they know I am a clean guy. If they find I am not, they will be shattered.
Dinesh Trivedi, TMC Vice-President
The urban electorate in Bengal seems unimpressed with Banerjee’s creation of the Big Ben en route to the airport.&nbsp;(Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)
The urban electorate in Bengal seems unimpressed with Banerjee’s creation of the Big Ben en route to the airport. (Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

Image and perception are vital. The TMC came to power with the promise of change and an honest government.

The urban electorate in Bengal seems unimpressed with Banerjee’s creation of the Big Ben en route to the airport (in a feeble attempt to transform Kolkata into the city of her dreams) and the Las Vegas glitz in the blue and white coiled LED lights that adorn the trident lamps. This is an adornment for which it is believed the Kolkata Municipal Corporation is paying a monthly electricity bill of about Rs 18 crores.

The rural areas which strangely even after Sarada seemed bullish, are now humming another note. A tailor from Amta, in Howrah district, who even a year and a half ago, used to sing paeans to his leader as she improved the roads in his village and distributed cycles to the girl child, now has a dejected, forlorn look.

Much to my amazement he even uses an English word to describe the party he supported. ‘Duplicity’ he says when ranting in the vernacular about how the leader’s band of loyalists are not to be trusted. Thousands are still waiting for the much promised cycles.

A truly sorry state of affairs.

Of Disenchantment and Disillusionment

A veteran political observer in the state says,

“Why did the BJP lose Bihar? They lost because the BJP wanted the BJP to lose. We just may see a similar act here. Disenchanted members of the party may bring down the TMC. While some are raking it in, there is a vast majority that has been deprived.”
“Why did the BJP lose Bihar? They lost because the BJP wanted the BJP to lose.” (Photo: PTI)
“Why did the BJP lose Bihar? They lost because the BJP wanted the BJP to lose.” (Photo: PTI)

Opposition unity inversely affects the fortunes of the ruling party. If Bengal had a united opposition a repeat of Bihar was almost certain. However, a three-pronged election is tough, though it could still upset the incumbent’s apple-cart. Political pundits in the state are going as far as to say that the Left-Congress combine could manage between 150 to 170 seats out of 294.

May 19 will reveal if Bengal is ready to give the Left another chance with its new-found partnership.

A fine state with huge skill and talent faces an uncertain verdict.

(The writer is a Kolkata-based senior journalist.)

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