Crowned in State, De­fanged at Cen­tre

De­spite sweep, Ma­mata main­tains bel­liger­ence

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -


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





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.


LF BJP 2009* *One seat to Ind in 2009


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