West Bengal polls 2016: Why Narada sting operation will not affect Mamata's party

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A lot of noise is being heard in West Bengal's political circles over the Narada sting operation showing a number of leaders and ministers of the state's ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) 'accepting' bribe to help set up a fictitious company.

Narada sting operation: 2 reasons why Mamata is avoiding the core problem

Know your state: West Bengal

The BJP was seen running the footage on a big screen at its state office while the Congress and Left, aspiring to fight Mamata Banerjee jointly but yet not finding the glue to seal the deal, have raised their voice seeking the ouster of the accused politicians.

mamata banerjee

The point is: How much impact will the noise have on the outcome of the state's multi-phase Assembly elections starting next month? Can the TMC's opponents make anything out of this sting operation? Can an upset be expected from the Congress-Left combine or the BJP?
Chances are almost nil.

Sting op in Bengal politics is not a usual thing but still...

It is true that things like what we have seen on the television over the last few days is something not usual in Bengal's political history. The footage, whether genuine of fake, has created enough shock in the state and many have even regretted the 'fall' in values in Bengal's political life. But there is little possibility of the Opposition capitalising on this shock and transforming it into decisive votes in its favour.

At the most, the Opposition can expect to make some inroads in the TMC's base among the urban middle-class, compared to the 2011 Assembly elections.

TMC's brisk election strategy is unmatched from any of its opponents

The reason for this is the TMC, even when seriously hit by charges of corruption, is stronger than its opponents. The TMC began its race for the Assembly elections from the word go.

It announced names of candidates in all 294 seats hours after the Election Commission announced the election schedules and kicked off the campaigning. The Opposition, be it the Congress, Left or the BJP, are yet to get their act together---be it on forming alliance or announcing their complete lists of candidates.

The next focus then falls on the TMC's brisk electioneering and it gains the momentum from the fact that the TMC still has its trust factor intact in the suburbs and rural areas. No matter what the educated, middle-class of Kolkata perceive about the Madan Mitras and Suvendu Adhikaris, the man next-door image of these leaders in their own areas still make them far superior to the opponents.

Despite Saradha, TMC's election victories have not been hit

It can be noted that the Saradha scam, which burst into the open three years ago, hasn't affected the TMC's good show in the Lok Sabha, panchayat or municipal polls in the last few years. The story has unfolded in complete contradiction to what the Kolkata-based audience had predicted.

In one way, Mamata Banerjee's TMC resembles the politics that Bihar and UP have been known for. Doling out freebies or fielding a candidate from behind the bars so that the party's organisational strength is not wasted in the elections.

Mamata still matters in Bengal and so do many of her party's leaders; there is simply no alternative

Ideology and principles do not matter in such scheme of things (no matter how much Banerjee ridicules the Congress and Left as parties that don't value morality, her party has done nothing less immoral by accepting in its fold expelled Left leader Abdur Razzaq Mollah). This particular political style was mastered by a decaying Left Front towards its later days when it started showing signs of fatigue of remaining in power for too long).

A client-patron system became the central idea of everything political and it paved way for the collapse of the Left in 2011. And the party that replaced it in power just extended the same model.

The rise of Mamata Banerjee in the skies of Bengal politics is also a matter that will help her, even in these days of difficulties. Her leaders might have faced the heat but the fact that Banerjee is a woman who has struggled all the way up and has an honest image is something to which her opponents are yet find an answer.

Mamata imitated her predecessor, now her Opposition is imitating her

The TMC did not come to power in 2011 by promising a better alternative to the fast decaying Left. Its only agenda was to get rid of the CPI(M)-led Left and the party capitalised on civil society movements in Singur and Nandigram, Rizwanur, etc etc. Banerjee successfully positioned herself vis-à-vis the civil society and she cleverly widened the political polarisation in the civil society by awarding the loyalists and giving them tickets in the election.

These innovative thinking shut the door for the opponents who lacked leadership and teeth to make any dent, despite a number of pressing issues---be it economic stagnation, farmers' suicide, corruption or terrorism.

The critics often ridiculed Banerjee in the last five years, saying she only imitated the Left's politics by unleashing the party's terror to control every sphere of the social life. The irony is: Banerjee's opponents now are also imitating what Banerjee did as the Opposition leader prior to 2011, which is to pursue the single-point agenda of kicking out those in in power to take Bengal back to the days of glory. But they have no alternative plan to offer.

Narada will not help Mamata Banerjee's opponents after a point

With no face or organisation to take on Banerjee politically, her opponents are perhaps thinking that Narada is a great thing to have happened to them just ahead of the elections. But to quote Shakespeare, there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in philosophy.

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