Civic poll results

The result of the elections held in seven civic bodies is out. Three broad trends emerge from the results. First, the Trinamool Congress has swept the polls, capturing all the seven bodies. It won 140 of the 148 wards. Second, the BJP has emerged as the second party behind the TMC. It is still a distant, indeed, far distant second but the trend is quite evident. Third, the CPM and the Congress have been wiped out, their alliance, whether declared or undeclared, could not help them electorally. Both parties were eliminated. If this is the general trend then they cannot expect better results in the coming panchayat polls either. The BJP is likely to emerge as the second party, even if a distant second.
Its spectacular victory, however, does not give TMC a cause for jubilation. The indication is clear: the anti-TMC voter is veering to the BJP rather than to the Left or the Congress. In Dhupguri in North Bengal, the BJP has not only won 4 out of 16 wards, it has done better in terms of votes polled. The TMC polled 48.8 per cent votes against the BJP’s 41.7 per cent. The TMC can dismiss this trend as of no consequence only at its peril. If the BJP comes back to power in the Lok Sabha elections in 2019, then the BJP in West Bengal will get a tremendous boost in the Assembly elections slated for 2021.
The main strength of the TMC is also its main weakness as a party. This is a party which is centred round the personality of one leader: Mamata Banerjee. Other ‘leaders’, sans Mamata, count for nothing. This prevents Mamata to ask anyone of her party to take charge of West Bengal so that she can play a bigger role in national politics. She has to be in West Bengal to run both the party and the government. Trinamool Congress minus Mamata is zero. This is a big handicap for a party which wants to play a major role in bringing about opposition unity before 2019.

Sunday, 20 August, 2017