Crowned in State, Defanged at Centre
Despite sweep, Mamata maintains belligerence
OUR POLITICAL BUREAU
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress has pushed rival Left Front further to the marginsof statepolitics,winning34of the 42LokSabhaseats.Butthepartychief did not appear as jubilant as her supporters when the results came out, probably because the triumph notwithstanding, shewouldnotgettoplaya role in government formation at the Centre. The results declared on Friday reduced the CPI(M)toanegligibletwo seats as the Trinamool Congress accentuated thetrendstartedwiththe 2008 panchayat elections in the state while the BJP wontwoseats.Theruling party increased its tally by nearly four-fifths from the 19 seats it had won in the previous elections. Banerjee, who had been engagedinafiercewarof words during the campaign with BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, came out of her residence in Kolkata for about 10 minutes around 3 pm to talk tothemediabriefly. Inafewwords,she blamed a section of the media and a number of central agencies for conspiring against her and for being hostile towards her party. “A section of the media was biased andcampaignedagainstuswithsome motive. Even some central agencies became very active just before the last roundof pollsinourstate.Still,people have voted for us and I convey my sincere gratitude to the electors. The CPI(M)haspracticallygotwashedout in these elections. I don’t understand what they have got by joining hands with the Congress and the BJP.” SEATS
VOTE SHARE (%)
In her inimitable style, she then added, “I shall not say anything more today,” turned around and left. The chief minister was accompanied by her close aides Derek O’Brien, Amit Mitra, Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad Hakim and Partha Chatterjee, but she did not take any questions from the media.
If Banerjee did not appear as exultant as her supporters, who thronged thestreets,itwasperhaps because she might not be able to leverage her party’s thumping victory to acquire greater bargaining power with the incoming BJP-led dispensation at the Centre.
In fact, in the run-up to polls, she had correctly predicted that the Congress-led UPA would get just about 60 seats. However, she had also repeatedlysaidthemuchtouted “Modi wave” wouldnotenabletheBJPled coalition to form the government. Mamata had high hopes of a “federal front” and although she shied away from a direct answer — as to whethershewouldliketo be the next prime minister — it was evident that she nurtured hopes of getting enough seats to be able to dictate terms in Delhi, no matter who came to power. The BJP’s landslide win has thwarted any such plan. Nonetheless, Trinamool Congress has swept the state comprehensively, including in constituencies that seemed out of bounds at the outset.
Balurghat, for instance, had always beenaLeftFrontstronghold,buttheatrepersonalityArpitaGhoshwonbya margin of over one lakh votes.
Barring three celebrity candidates – Bhaichung Bhutia, Indranil Sen and Soumitra Roy – almost all other highprofile candidates romped home.
CPIM BJP INC AITC CPM
LF BJP 2009* *One seat to Ind in 2009