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A discernible yeastiness within the political arena

Friday, February 08, 2019
By Ranajoy Sen

What might the political scenario resemble after the outcome of the general elections, scheduled to be held around May, this year? The response is elusive at present. But, the way matters are proceeding, as it appears from current indications, securing a majority in Parliament by any one political party seem to be increasingly uncertain. The principal contenders are the BJP with its allies, the Congress, and the influential regional parties — who are striving to form an alliance of sorts. Although what that alliance might be and what might its contours be is yet to be decided.      

At present, a political yeastiness is brewing surrounding an event in Kolkata. The principal bone of contention was an apparent tussle between the Kolkata Police and CBI. The matter involved interrogating the city’s police commissioner. But, the way some CBI officials in Kolkata allegedly went about it, apparently annoyed the state
administration. It accused the CBI of not following the procedural norms and construed it as a clear stepping upon the authority and purview of the state administration. To this, the state’s Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, took particular umbrage. Almost instantly, after knowing about it, she declared her support to Kolkata’s police commissioner and took the remonstration further by dubbing it as an unacceptable interference within the state administration’s purview by the central government, thereby implying it to be a political vendetta by the ruling BJP dispensation at the centre against her administration and party – the TMC — in West Bengal.

Support of several political parties
As expected, Banerjee has been successful in securing the support of many political parties who are opposed to the BJP. From the north to the south, from the east to the west of the country, all political parties who are politically against the BJP voiced their support for Banerjee. Incidentally, the BJP has stated it to be akin to a form of unacceptable comportment by the Bengal administration, led by Banerjee.

To drag matters even more to the public glare, Banerjee organised a “dharna” or sit-in, at Kolkata’s central commercial area, known as Dharmatala — which itself is known for being a venue for political activities of Kolkata. The matter clearly drifted into the realm of political consciousness and those opposed to the Modi dispensation or to the BJP, seem to have been successful in adding another feather on their cap, metaphorically speaking.

A solution of sorts appear to have been done through an order of the Supreme Court of India, which entailed that Kolkata’s police commissioner could be interrogated by the CBI through a proper procedure, but could not be arrested. Furthermore, the venue for it has been decided to be Shillong. The reason for selecting Meghalaya’s capital: the Bengal administration is averse to it being held in New Delhi, while the central government is loath to agree to Kolkata as the venue for the same purpose.   

What next? The procedural dilemma seems to have been whittled down significantly, but the political temperature is bound to get more charged because of this sequence of events.

The DMK leader, Kanhimozhi, and Tejashwi Yadav, who is the son of Bihar’s former chief minister and RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav, visited Banerjee at her sit-in venue in Kolkata. Chandrababu Naidu also paid a visit to Banerjee. Thereafter, probably because the anti-BJP political party leaders requested her to call off the sit-in, — and also surely realising that it would be needless to continue it at that juncture — Banerjee discontinued her sit-in programme.

Would this be used as a further step in the cementing of the so called Mahagathbandhan? Probably; moreover, this step by the CBI in Kolkata could well be interpreted by the political opponents of the BJP as playing out of a political vendetta by the ruling Modi dispensation in New Delhi. The clarion call asking for a change in government at the centre could get even more forceful, post this occurrence in Kolkata.

Some political leaders of the BJP have accused Banerjee and the TMC to be indulging in unfair acts. But, Banerjee has an instant repartee to refute it all; she is letting go of no opportunities to make abundantly clear of it. Her political associates and colleagues in her ministry are unquestionably with her at every twist and turn of the political process, as it plays out in the state as also in the national political scenario. Additionally, at present, Banerjee is a hugely popular chief minister of West Bengal.   

Significant development
This is undoubtedly a significant development before this year’s election. Even if the import of it might be rather regional, its affects are bound to be felt in large arenas of the national political scenario. There is no doubting that this event would be utilised not only by the TMC, but also by other political parties who would spare no chance in their railings against the BJP and its allies of the NDA.

From all realistic appraisals, it appears that the BJP would have to concentrate the most across the so-called Hindi heartland states of the country in the northern region, the western states of the Gujarat and Maharashtra, essentially Karnataka in the South, and some other parts of the country such as pockets in the north-eastern region. Would that grant the NDA, sort of a working majority? If so, then, given the prevailing political scenario, that should be satisfactory for the BJP-led NDA.

However, even in the afore-mentioned regions, the political opposition is bound to put up a tough fight against the BJP. Furthermore, if an alliance works out in these regions as well, then there would surely be a rather tough political contest for the seat of power in New Delhi. There is a seemingly palpable harbinger for notable political yeastiness during the coming weeks and months, leading to the general election.

Whatever might be its extent or form, it is a fervent hope that it remains confined within the broad contours of acceptable political verbiage and comportment and does not degenerate to anything undesired, in any way.

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