Mamata Banerjee took oath today, again after five years in chief minister’s office of West Bengal, for another five years.

It was a historic mandate in 2011 when she unseated the Left Front in a state that had become synonymous with the presence of the Reds in India, the Communists, with 34 years of unbridled run. It was a comfortable majority then – 184 seats in a House of 294.

It is even better this time – with more seats and a greater vote share.

And this brilliant victory, we can say, has effectively countered the last (and the foremost) claim of the Reds – that they represent the proletariat against everything that is bourgeoisie.

In this election, Mamata simply outdid the Left Front by stripping it of that ideological plank.

She got wide support of the proletariat as well as the bourgeoisie class.

To sum up symbolically, Mamata won all 11 assembly constituencies in Kolkata (like 2011) – and she swept the Jangalmahal region also, the rural belt of Maoist insurgency in West Bengal.

She won 211 of the 294 assembly constituencies the election was fought for – winning 45% of votes – 6% more than the last time.

While the Left Front, with all its constituents, could win just 32 seats.

How ironical that is!

The Left Front’s vote share last time was around 32%. It has drastically come down to some 20% in 2016.

Meanwhile, Mamata Banerjee has kept her winning spree on in the state – winning Panchayat, civic bodies and 2014 Lok Sabha polls in the state since 2011 – in spite of – first the Saradha scam – and now the Narada taint.

Yes, it is premature to write off the Left Front yet. It is, in fact, not a good sign for the health of Indian politics that is already reeling under the crisis of the absence of a powerful political opposition. After all, a true democratic spirit cannot flow unless there is an influential and responsible political opposition in a country.

But, for the moment, it is like a hara-kiri moment for the Left Front.

The country will watch how they survive this turn of events, something that they themselves are responsible for – allying with a party, Congress, the opposition of which was the driving force behind the Left Front’s citadel in West Bengal.

And the irony is – the Left Front was fighting against a Congress – with another Congress’s support!

After all, Mamata Banerjee was a career Congress politician from West Bengal before she formed her own political outfit – the All India Trinamool Congress (AITC or TMC as we say it). Whether Congress remained in her DNA or not we cannot say but she chose to include Congress in her party’s name.

West Bengal’s proletariat and bourgeois simply didn’t buy this sham symbolism.

Instead, they chose to go for painting the Red Road Blue, once again, and with a more profound writing on the wall.

Have the Left Front comrades started reading it? Because if they don’t – they’ll soon be a closed chapter in India’s political annals!


©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –

Featured Image Courtesy: AITC’s Twitter page


If the Left Front led by CPI(M) has the potential to emerge as the underdogs in West Bengal, the state they ruled for 35 years till 2011, it is because AITC has come to be known as a party that is becoming just like the Left Front of the erstwhile years – a party synonymous with political goondaism. West Bengal has only extended the culture of political violence under the Mamata Banarjee government.

And coupled with Mamata’s autocratic ways, her intolerance for criticism and huge allegations of corruption on senior leaders of her party, the rational minds would certainly like to experiment with the Left Front block again in absence of any other political alternative – to see if the Left Front has learnt some lessons.

Mamata would sail smoothly this time because of her focus on rural voters but she needs to keep in mind that their patience, too, runs out, and it is just a matter of time – if West Bengal gets any political alternative like AAP.

While West Bengal still has the organized cadre and popular leaders from the Left Front, Congress in Uttar Pradesh cannot claim anything. It has no cadre, no organizational structure and no leaders. Yes, Sonia Gandhi is elected to the Parliament from Raebareli and Rahul Gandhi from Amethi, but that is just symbolic. Sonia and Rahul were never Uttar Pradesh leaders and they have no political currency to affect the electoral mindset for any significant change.

But if the Congress candidates can still emerge as the underdogs, it is because of the frustration creeping in the minds of Uttar Pradesh voters.

The politics in Uttar Pradesh has just two poles for over two decades now – SP and BSP. BJP has failed to capitalize on the biggest chance it had to recover in Uttar Pradesh with the impressive performance in 2014 general elections. The party should have realized by now that raking up the Ram Temple issue in every electoral battle in Uttar Pradesh has become a futile exercise. It doesn’t pull votes anymore. Other parties like JD(U), RJD, AD, AIMIM, AAP, CPI(M), CPI and everyone else are there just to populate the numbers.

And by all measures, from all projections and reports, and by the electorate’s response of changing the government every next time, even if the state’s politics is riddled with caste and community polarizations, we can say both, the SP and the BSP governments, leave a huge trail of anti-incumbency during their respective terms.

The Uttar Pradesh voters need a government of efficient governance which proves effective not only on ensuring strict law and order measures but also on bringing and distributing development to the India’s most populous state with the maximum number of the Lok Sabha seats, i.e., 80.

Every government in the state has failed on it. Power shortage is a decades old issue. Deteriorating law and order situation makes for news headlines. Many politicians have coupled up as criminals and vice versa. Many are in jail and many are facing serious court cases. And all these problems have persisted for years.

And that frustrates voters – at least the rationally thinking ones – and Congress has chance here. The party may not pull a miracle but if it emerges as the third largest party with some significant numerical strength in the next Uttar Pradesh state assembly, it would surprise everyone.

Yes, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are not Uttar Pradesh leaders but they are symbolically potent enough to lead some of the rational thinking voters to their camps in the upcoming assembly polls – to experiment with the alternatives available in absence of any other political alternative available in the state – and the factors that would additionally help the party – are – the sympathy undercurrent that might be there after its two elected state governments were sabotaged – in Arunchal Pradesh and Uttarakhand – in two months, anti-incumbency against the BJP government in the centre and the status of the Congress party as the only other national political party – in spite of its reduced Lok Sabha count of 44 in a house of 543 elected members.

In Punjab, AAP is not an underdog but a major player now and the battle is out in the open.

In Assam, we know the known underdog, Badruddin Ajmal led AIUDF. Badruddin Ajmal is a perfume businessman worth Rs. 2000 crore and is now a successful politician it seems. Assam has over 34% Muslim population and some 40 of the 126 assembly constituencies are minority concentration ones, i.e., where consolidations of Muslim votes can tilt the results.

Since its inaugural in 2005, AIUDF has made rapid strides in Assam politics. It won 10 seats in 2006 assembly polls that rose to 18 in 2011 and it led in 24 assembly segments in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. It tied with Congress in winning three Lok Sabha seats in 2014, raising its tally from one in 2009. The remarkable aspect is its increase in vote share – from scratch in 2005 to 15% in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. In 2011 assembly polls, the party had cornered 12.6% votes.

AIUDF is contesting these elections alone – as Ajmal said no acceptable solution on alliance with other parties could be reached. And with the second largest shares of Muslim voters in any Indian state, he is hoping to play kingmaker, expecting to win around 40 seats. Analysts question about his prospects as Assamese Muslims in Upper Assam oppose him and as Upper Assam has the maximum number of constituencies.

The elections have begun. Let’s see if Ajmal can travel the distance from Lower Assam and Barak Valley, his traditional stronghold, to other parts of the state. And to widen his canvas, he has chosen his party candidates accordingly, including other communities than Muslims.

To continue..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –


Tomorrow, the Indian electorate is going to unveil the next chapter – the anti-penultimate round of the upcoming big finale – the chapter that will write and rewrite the political script for the next general elections (parliamentary elections) in 2019.

Anti-penultimate because the way wind blows now – in these five state elections – in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala (and Puducherry with its symbolic, numerical advantage for political morale) – will decide how volatile the tide would be – in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Goa and Manipur elections the next year – especially for BJP, Congress, SP, BSP, SAD, AAP, AIADMK, DMK, Left Front – and all others in anti-Congress, anti-BJP or anti-Congress/BJP camps.

The outcome of these state elections will tell if BJP will be able to fill the void that owes its genesis to the glaring mistake the party has committed in Uttar Pradesh by neglecting the state electorally after winning the absolute numbers in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls – 73 out of 80 (2 with its ally Apna Dal).

BJP had the golden opportunity to regain strength and revitalize cadre in Uttar Pradesh, the base from where the party began painting its wider canvas, but the party has wasted it – and is wasting it. It has no leader from Uttar Pradesh today who can mobilize party workers and masses for a positive outcome in the assembly elections next year.

So, from a sure-looking chance, Uttar Pradesh looks now a lost opportunity for BJP.

A loss in these polls would certainly bring the morale of party workers down and coupled with the ‘law of average factor and anti-incumbency against the BJP led NDA government at the centre’ that have diminished the ‘Narendra Modi wave’, if the party doesn’t score big even in Assam, because it has virtually no chance in other states going to polls this year, the humiliation will render any comeback possibility effectively worthless.

And if it is the scenario in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab is going to be lot worse – because the projections are already being made that it would be an AAP Vs Congress fight there – and the BJP-SAD government would crumble under the burden of sky-high anti-incumbency, mammoth levels of corruption and miserably failed governance that left state’s finances high and dry.

For now, BSP is slated to win Uttar Pradesh next year and that is natural given the wave of anti-incumbency against the Akhilesh Yadav government. The BSP chances are further enhanced by absence of any political alternative – like AAP became in the Delhi assembly polls and is now threatening established political players in Punjab. And whatever be the outcome in other states, it is not going to affect the Uttar Pradesh equation, at least in 2017.

For Tamil Nadu, it is all about AIADMK. DMK is not in the race. Projections say. Pollsters vouch for. Ground reports confirm. And other parties including BJP there, at best, could only act as vote-cutters – that is the best case scenario for them. It seems J Jayalalithaa (nicknamed Amma)’s ‘Baahubali’ avatar has a different feeler for voters in Tamil Nadu and, at the moment, it seems it is going to dominate every other factor including the widespread criticism that the Amma government faced in handling the devastating Tamil Nadu floods last year.

Kerala would be interesting to watch for a Congress Vs Left Front battle with Congress facing heaps of problems after chief minister Oomen Chandy’s name emerged in the Solar Scam. A good show here by the Left Front, coupled with a strong performance in West Bengal, even if the Left block fails to form the government there, would revitalize the dying Left Front politics in the country, a must for healthy political discourse.

West Bengal looks a clear chess board for Mamata Banarjee and her party AITC though BJP is trying hard to register impressive footfalls here in its camps, like it is trying in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, but the chances are, if West Bengal would throw any underdog, it would be the Left Front block only.

Like it can happen with Congress in Uttar Pradesh!

To continue..

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –