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.
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.
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 Will the ‘blessings’ of the electorate be withdrawn?
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:
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.
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,
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.