The Left Front led by Communist Party of India (Marxist), popularly known as CPM has completed 31 years of Governance in West Bengal this June’08 uninterrupted from June-1977. It is ironical that 1977 marked the end of Indian National Congress (INC) rule of 25 years at the Center from 1952 while the year1977 marked the beginning of a new communist era in India albeit in a province.
Elections after election the CPM led Left Front has won in a convincing way in all the forums like Assembly, Parliament, and local bodies. True, there had been allegation of manipulations, riggings by the CPM at the elections, but these allegations were mostly cosmetic in nature labeled by dumb founded, faceless and divided oppositions who were reluctant to accept their own organizational weaknesses. Only one testimony is good enough to prove the point. In 2007, Provincial Assembly elections were held in West Bengal under the direct supervision of Central Paramilitary Forces and central government employees were posted as presiding officers shunning the state government employees who were said to be CPM cadres and even the State police forces were disallowed to have any role. The elections were divided into five days with big gaps to disperse and instill fear-psychosis into the CPM rank and file.
The results of the elections were devastating for the principal opposition party Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress who were truncated to half and got only 30 seats. The INC some how scrapped through at a bit lower level by loosing 7 seats. The Left Front with 235 seats out of a total 294 seats, improved their tally by 35 seats up from 200 to 235. Not only this but the Left Front secured more than 50% of the valid votes polled thereby conclusively proving their popularity. The average polling was 85% which also proved beyond all doubts the political consciousness of the vast majority of the Bengali population. The CPM on its own secured 175 seats, 27 seats more, than required to form a popular government. The flame buoyant Mamata Banerjee, who was expecting around 110 seats was so much unable to digest the results that she started blaming the Electronic Voting Machines for her poor performance saying that these machines have been manipulated by CPM!
This was the 7th election of the provincial assembly in a row that the Left Front in general and CPM in particular won since the fateful year 1977. Further, except for once in 2001, (when it fell short by 4 seats) CPM itself won absolute majority in the assembly, everyntime, thereby giving the Left Front a rock solid stability and leadership.
The failure of Mamata Banerjee to provide a viable alternative leadership was exposed in a manner never before as in 2004 Parliamentary elections (when she somehow retained her own seat loosing 7 seats to CPM than the previous election in 1999), as well as in 2007 assembly polls. Because of her rhetoric’s, dramatics, changing of political allies time and again, hot and emotional temperament, she has been steadily loosing Bengali middle class sympathy and even, as has been proved from EVM analysis, the Marwaris who make up some 6% of population of Bengal are gradually distancing themselves from her. Comparing the performance of Mamata Banerjee with such stalwarts as Sushama Swaraj of BJP, Sheela Dixit of INC, Jaya Jaylalitha of AIADMK or even Mayavati of BSP can explain why she has not tested power as yet and the way she is conducting herself, it can hardly be believed that she can really replace the mighty LF in Bengal in foreseeable future, notwithstanding Nandigram episode or short term electoral gains here or there.