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The TMC appears to have most political influence in West Bengal

Friday, March 15, 2019
By Ranajoy Sen

The schedule for the parliamentary election has been declared. After the customary welcome of it by political parties and the people, in general, the spotlight has shifted to where and what might be the final contours of the electoral battle. The principal national parties, namely the BJP and the Congress would, in their respective ways, try to successfully cement as much as they can of their alliances and potentially-advantageous seat distribution and nominations.

Even then, however, it seems that the BJP is in a tad advantageous position than the Congress, as far as alliances and seat sharing goes, because its agreements with other allies of the NDA, from within and without, are more cohesive than otherwise. It does not appear to be so for the Congress. The BSP’s supreme leader, Mayawati, has already announced that there would be no agreements in seat sharing with the Congress as far as the BSP is concerned. That might not work to the Congress’ advantage; the Congress is surely keen is to constitute an alliance of as many notable anti-BJP political parties as possible in order to prevent the splitting of anti-BJP or anti-NDA votes as it sees it. However, there are certain states in the country, where the two national parties would have to position themselves in a secondary position at best, even if either is allying with the influential regional party in that state. West Bengal appears to be one such state.  

TMC goes it alone in West Bengal
Bengal’s unquestionably most popular political leader, at present, is the state’s Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee. She is considered the sole politician, within the state, compared to whom, currently, there are no noteworthy opposition leaders. Furthermore, she has made it abundantly clear that there would be no agreement of seat sharing in Bengal with any other party by her party: the TMC. As several political parties announce lists, Banerjee has also done the same for her party. For all forty two seats for the Lok Sabha in West Bengal, the TMC has declared that it would be going it alone in the political fray. Whatever anti-BJP political alliance might the TMC be an active part of, would have to be possibly worked out with political parties elsewhere in the country. Would that alliance work out? That is a question which remains unanswered for the time being.

However, it is a foregone conclusion that within West Bengal, majority of the seats, as things stand now, would be bagged by the TMC. Would other parties such as the BJP, the Congress and the CPI(M) be able to make inroads? They might or they might not. They would all definitely try, for sure. But, from prevailing trends, it is certain that they are not likely to make any sufficient dents within the political fortress of the TMC. The reason is that the TMC, whatever might be its follies, and there could be some, has successfully portrayed to the people that they are possibly their best choice, among others, to govern the state as also to elect MPs for the Lok Sabha of the Parliament to represent the state.

The effort in trying to make Bengal a better place notwithstanding allegations to the contrary – where certain allegations have more credibility than otherwise – has earned the TMC administration several laurels. Particularly, the CM’s emphasis for self-employment, creation of small scale and middle scale industries in the rural and semi-urban areas, making seemingly serious efforts to invite entrepreneurs from other parts of the country to invest constructively in the state, and flagging of several welfare programmes which are bound to and have helped the state’s needy and poor, have all contributed in the accrual of credit for the CM and her government.
TMC’s strength not to be taken likely
Moreover, her complete and full identification with the state and the upholding of the best of Bengali culture has also contributed significantly to her position in the public sphere. Nevertheless, she is said to be attributed with impulsiveness and displaying an unpredictable anger. However, that said, on certain occasion her doing so has been determined by some lacuna or some lackadaisical act, where it was most uncalled for and undue.

What about appeasement of a particular community? That allegation has been there and in all probability would be there, as there had been certain acts which smacked of being so. Having possibly been made aware of its pitfalls, the CM seems more guarded now in her acts on that matter.

However, one thing seems certain. Banerjee has repeatedly spoken of her intolerance of any form of communalism, and has averred, very justifiably, to act immediately against any form of extremism or anything which might compromise national security in any manner.

West Bengal usually has had a record of sending maximum number of MPs to the Lok Sabha from the same party which governed the state during the time of any parliamentary elections. There have been exceptions, for sure. It is not that the state had sent or sends almost all MPs from the same ruling party, governing the state. Nevertheless, during the last parliamentary elections, the TMC had won about thirty four seats out of the forty two Lok Sabha seats from the state. In the upcoming elections it is not likely to change that pattern. What the outcome of the parliamentary elections would indicate for the state and for the country as a whole would only be said with certainty on 23 May: the day that the parliamentary election results would be declared.

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