Mamata Banerjee has done it again. After inflicting serious damage on the Left in 2008 local body elections, she’s gained more in the civic election results declared on Wednesday. But the verdict, while indicating steady progress of the Trinamool Congress (TC), presages more turmoil in West Bengal. This situation will persist until state assembly elections next year.
While she has wrested the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) from the Left, results in the districts are anything but crushing for the ruling Left Front. In KMC, the Trinamool won 95 wards in the metropolis while the Left stood at a distant 32, a loss of 43 seats over what it had since 2005. This is a clear and decisive win for the TC. But Kolkata has had an anti-Left sentiment for a long time now.
In the districts, however, the picture is different. In the troubled West Midnapore district, that has seen a spate of Maoist violence, the Left, TC and the Congress won an equal number of seats. In a district supposedly host of strong anti-Left agitation, this tells a different story. Similarly in Purulia, a poor and backward district where the anti-incumbency factor should have assumed gale proportions, the Left lost to the TC by 2:1, a victory that can’t be called decisive. While these (and other results) show that the Left is losing, the Trinamool certainly needs the support of the Congress.
While this result shows decisiveness at the local level, it is hard to extrapolate this to a statewide level. But all this will lead to political attrition, with neither the Trinamool nor the Left taking it easy. More violence, more desperation and greater political bitterness will become the order of the day. The TC has already begun demanding the resignation of the Left Front government. While it has been making these voices for some time now, at this juncture it gives an impression of desperation and not confidence.
All this will have a deleterious effect on governance. Ideally, the Left parties should now focus on delivering results in the year that they have on hand. But in the political climate that prevails in the state, their attention is likely to be divided between the political task of combating the TC (which could take a violent turn) and running a state hit by Maoist insurgency. This promises to be a turbulent year for West Bengal.
Will 2010 prove a difficult year for West Bengal? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org