By Soudhriti Bhabani, IANS,
Kolkata : With the Congress and the Trinamool Congress finalising a seat-sharing pact in West Bengal to take on the ruling Left Front, who will catch the voter in the Lok Sabha polls is anybody’s guess.
Even political analysts differ on the chances of the two fronts for the 42 Lok Sabha seats from the state.
“The battle in West Bengal is extremely polarised. So if the opposition forces form an alliance perfectly, they are likely to do well,” political analyst Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury told IANS.
He said the growing anti-incumbency factor, developed over the last 32 years, could get reflected in the April-May general elections.
But Ranabir Samaddar, an expert on contemporary political affairs, said: “Even if opposition political parties come under one umbrella, it is difficult to predict whether they’ll surely win the polls.”
Alarm bells have already rung out for the Left camp.
Jyoti Basu, former chief minister and patriarch of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), has conceded that the Left Front might lose some seats if its two opponents came together.
In the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, the Left Front garnered 35 seats, while the Congress and the Trinamool had to remain satisfied with six seats and one seat respectively.
The opposition’s sustained movements since mid-2006 against land acquisition for industry and its success in last year’s rural body polls and by-elections to the Nandigram and Bishnupur (West) seats in 2009 have exposed the Left Front’s weakening grip on its mainstay, the rural vote bank.
According to political experts, the Trinamool Congress’ move to strengthen its rural base through a series of issue-based protests has helped it gain ground in the agricultural and backward regions.
However, some analysts consider the Left Front a very potent force because of its broadbased ideology and principles.
“The Left Front has been ruling the state uninterruptedly for the past 32 years and this has been possible because the partners share a similar political ideology. Though they have some differences, they always sit and talk it out,” said Samir Kumar Das, a political scientist and academician.
“The opposition is often seen as fluctuating from their ideals. At times they join hands for a political purpose and at times they lock horns,” Das told IANS.
The Congress and Trinamool fought the 2001 assembly elections together without success, and the two parties fell apart soon after. Trinamool tied up with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2004 Lok Sabha and the 2006 assembly elections, but the alliance came a cropper.
The results of the previous Lok Sabha and the last two assembly elections in the state clearly show the domination of the Left Front.
In the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, the Left Front got 50.76 percent, the Trinamool Congress-BJP together received 29.12 percent and the Congress 15.16 percent of the total votes.
In the 2006 assembly polls, the Left Front bagged 50.18 percent of the votes and the Trinamool-BJP alliance finished far behind with around 28 percent while the Congress got 14.71 percent.
But a closer scrutiny reveals that the Left Front could be in for a tough fight in several constituencies where the sum total of the Congress-Trinamool votes is more than that collected by the Left Front.
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee says: “We’ll fight unitedly against the CPI-M. We believe the people of West Bengal do not want the anti-Left Front votes to be divided into two parts. So we’ve decided to come together.”
Terming the Congress-Trinamool alliance an “unholy nexus”, Left Front chairman Biman Bose said: “People don’t know on what basis the Congress and Trinamool have joined hands.”
Both the alliances have seen internal friction lately.
Several state Congress leaders – like the ailing Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi’s wife Deepa and Nadia district strongman Sankar Singh – have expressed dissatisfaction with the seat-sharing pact.
Another irritant for the alliance is Trinamool’s ally Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI), which has decided to field candidates against the Congress in nine seats across the state.
The Left Front is also not free of trouble either. Already four sitting MPs have revolted after being denied ticket for the April-May elections.
“This will be a very interesting election. We all have to wait and watch,” Ray Chaudhury said.