Not just Mamata but the entire system of party politics has failed in Bengal

Written by:

Party politics has failed in Congress
It is being said nowadays that the BJP is the next best hope for West Bengal. A section of ambitious politicians and frustrated voters have already started to predict the saffron party's coming to power in 2016, when the state will go to the next assembly election.

Such a politically out-of-the-box thinking in a state which is known for having a natural allergy towards the right-wing brand of politics is indeed unique. But the question is: After three party failed to make things happen for West Bengal since Independence, can the fourth deliver just like that?

The parties that had once dominated the state for a long time, have failed miserably

The Congress had ruled the state for 30 years between 1947 and 1977 barring a few years between 1967 and 1972. The next thirty-four years belonged to the CPI(M)-led Left Front and now, the Trinamool Congress of Bengal's most known political face, Mamata Banerjee is ruling it since 2011. So in a way, the state of West Bengal has seen a relatively better stability in the 67 years since India won its freedom.

Why common Bengalis remain dissatisfied even after changes occur?

Yet, there is a strong sense of dissatisfaction among the common Bengalis and 'poriborton' or change has become a more sought-after goal soon after the Left's long era ended, which in itself was a big change. In fact, when the Left came to power to 1977, it was because of the strong anti-incumbency mood that prevailed against the Congress throughout the country. So, every time we see a change of guard in Bengal, it is a strong anti-regime sentiment that works to its ouster.

But why this mood became strong against the Mamata Banerjee government so early, unlike what had happened in the cases of the Congress or Left? And why it is that the state banks hope on a new party to get it rid of the trouble? Why can't those who were in power in the past return to prominence?

The problem is not Mamata has failed but the entire system of party politics has failed

The biggest problem of Bengal's politics is not the failure of Mamata Banerjee alone but that of the entire system of party politics there. It is quite unfortunate to see the political parties are struggling to address the violence that broke out in the state's Birbhum district recently and the focus was more on grabbing each other's space by making their physical presence felt in the chaos. While the Left and the Congress were trying to vie for the third and fourth position, the BJP challenged the Trinamool's claim on the first position. But how much good is this competition for the people of the state which is often called the land of intellectuals?

Old ruling principles like secularism and local reforms are no more saleable today

Bengal's political woes lie in the fact that the two parties that had once dominated the state, the Congress and the Left, have failed to rediscover and redefine themselves all these years, perhaps because they turned too complacent over their long stay in power. The political ideologies that these two parties had once practised to grab power in the state are no more held sacrosanct today. The ideas of secular polity or political and economic reforms at the local levels have been seriously challenged because of their breeding terror modules and rampant corruption at local level.

Brand of Bhadralok culture has eroded in Bengal and there is no credible alternative

While strong centralised tendencies at the top of the Congress uprooted it at federal levels, including in Bengal, the Left's consecutive victories made it complacent and lethargical and made it to face an implosion. The result has been disastrous for the state's politics: The Bhadralok brand of secular politics is on its way to crumble and no credible alternative is in sight to replace that for the betterment of Bengal's future. The only result is: Just occupy the space created either by the retreat of the opponents or their dipping popularity. Hence while the Trinamool Congress is the new Left in Bengal, the BJP is the new Trinamool.

In Bengal, Trinamool is the new Left & BJP the new Trinamool, that's the problem

The lack of a competitive culture in Bengal has impacted its politics as well. After the Congress and the Left dominated for six decades, the only brand of politics that the next-generation of parties could learn was their flawed idea of secularism, protected economy which actually means a stagnation and underdevelopment and the illogical concern for the poor (something which placed the former Left government in direct conflict with the poor, paving the way for Mamata Banerjee's final strike).

No space for diversity in Bengal's politics: It is either this party or that

Since there was alternative political thinking at any level or at least, there was no visible success of such thought, West Bengal witnessed the intensification of a culture of violence for there was never a space to accommodate political diversity. 'Either you are on my side or their side' is what Bengal's parties have practised throughout and after the clashes between Congress and Left and Left and Trinamool in the past, today it is the turn for the BJP to physically lock horns with the Trinamool for that extra share of political space.

The Trinamool is clearly rattled and like the Left, is trying to effect a course correction desperately. But just as the Left perished, the one-woman party called the Trinamool is also unlikely to succeed for it has no clear vision about its agenda, even for the next 24 hours.

BJP looks a hope at this moment but replacing one party by another can never be a long-term solution

This makes the BJP the only hope for the people of Bengal. But hollow party politics can never be a solution for the state which has several important issues to address. A massive financial scam and the unearthing of the terror modules operating in the state have given the BJP a welcome opportunity to corner the ruling party but all these are ultimately a part of the poll equation.

One would not be surprised even if there is an alliance between the Congress and Left in the next election and the Trinamool joining it in the one after, but the real challenge of authoring a turnaround for the once-progressive state can be successful only if some credibility is restored in the state's politics.

At this point of time, there is no sign of any repair at any level.

Please Wait while comments are loading...