Express News Service
WEST BENGAL: “This election is bipolar. I don’t see anything at the micro or macro degree.”
That’s considered one of Mamata Banerjee’s key strategists airing his views, publish two unstable phases of polling, with six extra to go, a course of that cumulatively guarantees to run a bleeding-edge scythe by West Bengal’s political historical past.
Bengal, significantly Kolkata, is after all teeming with election strategists, free-floating analysts and sundry do-gooders. That’s pure for a state with that form of heightened political consciousness. But our man stands out for numerous causes. For one, nobody may be extra free-floating than him in an election the place the ‘outsider/insider’ binary has been fairly pronounced, he’s an outsider on the inside, so to talk, having travelled throughout just a few inexperienced fields, been on all sides, peddling his skilled wares like a migrant labourer of strategic thought. And he has all the swagger of a new-age visionary.
It’s fairly a crowded discipline, although. Some have come to avoid wasting Bengal from cultural corruption, others have come to rescue it from petty corruption—lower cash, tolabaaji (extortion), political rent-seeking of many shades, all that. It has some advantages. The resort business and the fab cafes haven’t seen such brisk enterprise in the final 10 years of Didi’s rule. None of them will say koro na (don’t do it) to this moveable feast, corona or no corona.
Among the migratory flocks, a few of the busiest are those that make managing elections their raison d’etre. Like our man. Quite apolitical, they take a look at elections clinically, by the prism of character cults, creation of catchphrases and hashtags—all with bands of younger, outsourced volunteers. “This election is about Mamata Banerjee,” claims one such strategist, “nothing else issues.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who’s thundering forth from extra rally pulpits right here in Bengal than he might have spoken on another delicate events, just about confirms that in his personal approach. He doesn’t utter a line with out mockingly invoking her, intoning the phrases “Arrey Didi….”
The strategist clearly thinks he is aware of the finest. But Mamata, being the Didi that she is, can’t be scripted to suit into any field—not even the one which’s labelled Banglar meye (daughter of Bengal). She’s too canny for that. In Cooch Behar, as an example, Mamata reminds voters: “This election just isn’t about me. It is about saving Bengal.” Cooch Behar (9 seats) and Alipurduar (5 seats), up north, nestled alongside the restive Chicken’s Neck, are going to polls on April 6.
Subaltern & Muslim votes rely in ballot struggle for Mamata
This border area, with Assam, Bhutan and the hills including selection to the proximity of Bangladesh, has a barely distinct air and tradition, separate from the remainder of Bengal. They symbolize a spot of trouble for her, however she’ll definitely not let it go with out a struggle, no matter might the strategist’s view be. Quite surprisingly, right here she focuses extra on the bit gamers than on her essential rival, the BJP. “Don’t fall for that man from Hyderabad” or “the different one from Furfura Sharif,” she says once more and once more.
“Don’t divide your vote.” Lest her target market misses the level, she clarifies: “My associates from the minority and SC/ST communities, don’t divide your votes.” That’s a nudge to them to avoid Asaduddin Owaisi and Abbas Siddiqui, the man who floated a celebration (ISF) simply final month and is in an alliance with the Congress-Left. The ISF, by the way, has fielded extra Dalit than Muslim candidates. Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e- Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (colloquially shortened to all over the place right here as MIM) is testing the waters in just a few, restricted seats right here—and that will simply suffice to chop just a few essential TMC votes in Cooch Behar and adjoining Uttar Dinajpur. Siddiqui (or Abbas Baba, as he’s popularly recognized) is generally current in the southern components, the place he has some energy.
Not a lot up there in the north. Not even in the central districts, which have a excessive Muslim focus, and are going to polls in the final three phases. That’s left to its companions to reap their previous fiefs. The TMC does must maximise its features right here, whereas slicing its losses elsewhere. The previous establishment the place central Bengal was seen as a conventional secular Congress stronghold, with a smattering of Left presence, has been damaged with communal polarisation. Which is at an all-time excessive now. Hence, the scramble for 30-40% minority votes in about 70 constituencies between the Sanjukta Morcha (of the Congress- Left-ISF) and the TMC every rivalling the different to nook anti-BJP votes.
Meanwhile, the BJP, which had swept the 2019 Lok Sabha seats in the north, significantly in Cooch Behar, is freely preying all over the place on anti-incumbency votes. And after all, that of neo-converts to Hindu identification politics—a brand new, burgeoning phenomenon in Bengal. Many districts go to polls solely later this month, however work is in full swing. So are WhatsApp movies. The newest is from Siuri, Birbhum, the place a Muslim congregation is seen supposedly pledging its votes to saffron! The TMC strategist, for his half, is least bothered. “Let them (as in, BJP) take all the 27 seats in the north. How does it matter? Contrary to propaganda, we’ve finished effectively in the first two phases.
And we’re successful Nandigram.” No escape from Nandigram! The BJP is all too joyful to maintain the narrative pinned to what they wish to name “Didi’s Waterloo”. And thus conjuring up a picture of Mamata main a retreating military, and letting that circulate into public consciousness. The strategist asserts all the Nandigram polling brouhaha and the battle of views thereafter, round who gained, can have “no influence” on the subsequent rounds of polling.
“It’s finished and dusted.” Well…hypothesis is in the meantime rife that Didi could also be in search of a second seat, maybe in Birbhum. How come? It was sparked off by none aside from the Prime Minister. TMC strategists and Didi’s war-room aides vehement ly deny any such risk. If Didi has the ultimate say on this or anything, the strategist is poised as a main influencer of types. The affect appears regularly waning, although. As of now, the strategist is discouraging Urban Development Minister Firhad (Bobby) Hakim and MP Nusrat Jahan, each articulate TMC leaders, from campaigning in non-minority-dominated areas. Demands from candidates however.
The polarisation is that full. Didi herself, nevertheless, brooks no such guidelines. Reciting Chandipath on stage and mentioning her gotra (duly mocked by the ‘Hyderabadi’) is not her focus as she vociferously courts the minority and SC/ST voters. Didi is aware of if the TMC can not maximise its seats in Uttar and Dakshin Dinajpur, Malda, Murshidabad, Birbhum and Burdwan, the recreation would shut in on her. The Morcha is probably not making headlines, and could also be laughed off as ‘previous nostalgia’ with no electoral influence on the floor by the strategist, however Didi clearly thinks in any other case.
When each vote counts, she can not permit even a semblance of Muslim-Dalit alliance a partly novel concept in these components, emanating from Abbas Baba, his Morcha, or Oswaisi’s acid tongue—break her wider social alliance. Particularly, when in Nadia, Hooghly, Howrah, North and South 24 Parganas, the BJP is mining native anger with a potent mixture of religiosity, to its benefit. Tactically, Didi is now taking part in opposition politics to cease subaltern votes from deserting her. Didi can actually get as bipolar as Bengal when she needs!