The second phase of the polling ended yesterday with nearly 15 crore Indians exercising their franchise. Shameful bribery allegations led to countermanding the elections in Vellore, which otherwise would have ensured a one-day election in the whole state. West Bengal stands unique with elections spread out in all the seven phases and also for the violence in the polling booths.
The 34 years reign of the leftists was not because of their splendid administrative performance or able-governance, but their poll management tactics, which were honed to perfection as they grew. Voter IDs were collected well in advance from political opponents, their sympathisers and suspects, casting of votes assigned in the most organised manner to cadres, who did a splendid job. The novice managers of democracy were counting booth-wise ballots, exposing the pattern of voting, particularly by the politically opposed groups, who were sternly punished with exile for long periods.
Bengal was euphoric with the resounding defeat of the crafty leftists, who made no bones about their distaste for democratic norms. Didi and her party Trinamool Congress had taken over, and freedom was reborn, or so the people thought. What was forgotten was that the very same masters of ‘poll-management’ had merely switched sides wearing a new jersey discarding the hammer and sickle for the grass and flowers.
The victory of TMC that was registered in the polls that were held after the landslide victory that brought Mamata in could not have been, unless the threat, intimidation, attacks and killings continued in the same style perfected by their political predecessors, if not honed better.
An average citizen has less to say in the poll outcome, as gangs control the rural Bengal. The educated and the sober have quietly left electoral politics, and today it is challenging to find intelligential citizens, which reflected the ethos of Bengal before and after independence. I must add that should there be any change in the resigned fate of the Bengal polls, giving BJP the unlikely strong political appearance, it would yet not change the ground reality in any manner. The cadres, who matter, and who were with the leftists and who are with TMC will merely change their jerseys yet again. For them, the cow has to be continually milking, and a holy cow is better than a cash-starved Cow.
Bengal will continue to be restive even if TMC wins handsomely, which I do not guess will be a clean sweep as Didi hollowly claims. The Didi brand of acerbic opposition, could singled her out as a political pariah with Modi’s return could be a distinct possibility. We can witness many current opponents making a quiet U-turn and compromising with the BJP at the Centre. I can add the names of Akhilesh, Mayawati, the sly Dravida parties, BJD, NC and even Mufti, just to name a few. Didi may not be able to do that, lest she forfeits her loyal vote-bank of the minorities.
The state’s own interest is yet again the victim, in Bengal’s quest of realisation of nationalism and against. A month from now the state can brace for more confusion for the next three years.