Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress has held on to power in West Bengal for a third consecutive term. The election results increased their number of seats in parliament by three. However, it remains to be seen whether the Modi-Amit Shah duo's massive election campaign in March and April was a failure.
Modi held 15 public rallies, Amit Shah 62, and other ministers a total of 120 rallies. This was the plotline of BJP's election campaign in West Bengal.
It should be noted that the BJP got no seats in the 2011 state assembly elections. In the 2016 election, the BJP won three seats. Prior to the 2016 elections, the BJP in 2014 gained control of the centre, and Narendra Modi became Prime Minister of India. The number of seats the party has come by at the West Bengal election in the 2021 election is 76.
The most significant event of the election was the dissolution of the National Congress – the political party which led the Indian independence struggle – in the West Bengal Legislative Assembly.
Even after being ousted from power in 1977, the Congress continued to exist in West Bengal's Malda and Murshidabad, but it was completely wiped out this time. The extinction of the Indian National Congress in West Bengal can be viewed as a great act of retaliation by the people of West Bengal.
Bengal leader Subhash Chandra Bose was forced to leave the Congress by a conspiracy in the 1930s. The Gandhi-Nehru-Vallabhbhai Patel syndicate removed Subhash Bose from the Congress leadership. Today, almost 90 years later, it can be said that the people of West Bengal have had their revenge. However, the issue is not so relevant after so many years.
The political party got completely defeated by the north Indian Hindi-speaking people.
This is a lot like the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where the Indian National Congress got completely defeated after India's independence over the language issue. Another news from West Bengal is the fate of Leftist rule that existed for 34 years - the Left now has no representation in the state legislature.
In addition to this, there had been a daylong drama over Mamata Banerjee's seat in Nandigram. After the declaration of Mamata's lead there, it was later said she had been defeated by 1,900 votes. The Indian Election Commission cited server problems for the inconvenience. However, Mamata's defeat in Nandigram will not prevent her from becoming Chief Minister again.
Mamata Banerjee may secure her seat in the Assembly by a re-election in Khardaha constituency, which became vacant due to the death of a Trinamool candidate who had already won in Khardaha. On top of this, she and the Trinamool Congress have already demanded a ballot recount in Nandigram.
It can be assumed that Mamata Banerjee will certainly win any by-election.
Those who are aware of the history of Indian politics know that Bengal was the birthplace of the anti-British movement. It can be said undivided Bengal forced the British to leave India. The notorious Kalapani prison in the Andaman Islands became widely known as the home of the great Bengali freedom fighters.
The first sectarianism in Bengal was born out of the partition policy of the British rulers in 1905, when Bengal was divided into two parts, East and West. The division that had been going on since 1905 culminated in the communal riots of 1946 in which many people were killed. As a result of that riot, Hindu Mahasabha leader Shyamaprasad brought forward the demand for a partition of Bengal and forced Mountbatten to divide the province.
Communalism did not stop even after the partition of Bengal in 1947 during the partition of India. A new state called West Bengal was born in independent India. In this new Indian state, the communal riots of 1946 came to an end in September 1947. The Congress led by Jawaharlal Nehru came to power.
When India was divided in 1947, Gandhi lost the effectiveness that had been the hallmark of his political career. The leadership of the Congress was then in the hands of Jawaharlal Nehru and the Gujarati Vallabhbhai Patel. From 1947 to 1977, the Congress ruled West Bengal for 30 years.
In these 30 years, 26-37 small, medium and large communal riots took place, though there are disagreements over the exact number. West Bengal saw a tragic situation in 1972-1977 – the last five years of Congress rule in Bengal – as West Bengal and its adjoining state Bihar turned into a region of mass terror against the background of a Maoist revolution under the leadership of Charu Majumdar. To quell the movement, the Congress government resorted to mass extrajudicial killings.
At that time in West Bengal, the popular novel "Hajar Churashir Maa" by Mahasweta Devi was published, featuring incidents of the tragic extrajudicial killings. The Congress was first defeated in 1977 by an alliance of several leftist political parties known as the Left Front of West Bengal. Almost all of them had Marxism-Leninism and Socialism as their driving ideological force.
The Left Front first formed a government in West Bengal in 1977 under the leadership of Jyoti Basu with the dream of Marxism-Leninism-Socialism. It was in power until 2011. The most notable achievement of the Left Front in its 34 years in power was the eradication of communalism in West Bengal, which had been conceived in the womb of the two-nation theory and communalism. In those 34 years, no significant traits of communalism were observed in West Bengal.
In the 1990s, the socialist philosophy suffered a major debacle across the globe. The Soviet Union split into fourteen countries. The Chinese Maoists were defeated, and Mao's ideology got extinct in China. Since leftists in West Bengal did not take lessons from the incidents, they had to bid farewell to power in 2011. But it is noteworthy that the Indian Marxists remained in power in West Bengal for 20 years after the defeat of the worldwide Marxist ideology from the late eighties to the early nineties. Leftists are still in power in Kerala, another state outside West Bengal, with the Marxist political philosophy at work.
The leftists have won the Kerala election as voters prioritized the extraordinary personal qualities of the ruling political figures of the state in casting their ballots. The highest integrity in individual life has restored the political leadership to power again, while the leftist political philosophy might have not played an effective role.
Now let us review the poll results. The three seats won by the BJP in the 2016 election have increased to 76 in the 2021 polls. Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress seats increased by three, as Trinamool had 211 seats in the 2016 elections and 214 in 2021. The question across West Bengal is whether the seats of the leftists went to the Ram-supporters.
It is notable that the BJP came up with the "Jai Sri-Ram" election slogan in 2021. A review shows that the Trinamool Congress has snatched the seats, known as Congress strongholds, in Malda and Murshidabad. And the Trinamool Congress has won most of the seats of the Left and Congress strongholds. Again, the seats secured by the BJP were basically known as Trinamool Congress strongholds.
The election results have thrown up a peculiar equation. They suggest one thing in common – the people of West Bengal fought against communalism. The people tried to resist the BJP, but the question is: Were they able to do so?
Though the BJP does not hold power in West Bengal, it can be said that the BJP has achieved a kind of victory in the elections.
The Trinamool Congress introduced the BJP in West Bengal for the first time in 2006. Mamata Banerjee left two seats of the legislative assembly for the BJP at the elections. And four seats were given to it in the lower house of the Indian parliament.
In the late 1990s, Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee became railways minister in Atal Behari Vajpayee government. Moreover, Atal Behari Vajpayee's cabinet had two of the four Lok Sabha members made Union Ministers. The left four seats in the Lok Sabha are equivalent to 26 seats in the Vidhan Sabha.
Later, when the Vajpayee government was defeated, the BJP disappeared in West Bengal.
In the recent election, the Trinamool Congress leaders and the candidates attacked the BJP men, terming them as outsiders. But was not the BJP an outsider in the 2006 elections?
Allegations of communalism against the BJP are strong. The BJP leaders also used offensive language against their Trinamool contestants. Even after Narendra Modi called Mamata Didi in a dissonant voice, the BJP's winning of 76 seats cannot be called a defeat in any way. Rather, it suggests communal power has returned to the state completely.
There was ambiguity over the BJP leadership in West Bengal. Basically, the Modi and Amit Shah duo led the West Bengal election campaign for the BJP. West Bengal local leaders like Dilip Ghosh or Mukul Roy were literally sidelined.
Although the main leader of the last Lok Sabha, Dilip Ghosh, spoke in Bengali, his pronunciation was not clear. It is not yet clear why Dilip Ghosh was barred from leading the poll campaigns.
A few months before the election, Sourav Ganguly's name came up as the probable Chief Ministerial candidate of the BJP. Now that the BJP has made such massive progress with its 76 seats, it is a matter of serious review as to how Mamata Banerjee will survive the next four-five years in West Bengal politics.
In the past, the leaders of the South Indian political party DMK or AIDMK never practiced religion in public in order to present themselves as non-sectarian, although the Dravidian political parties hold extreme religious ceremonies in their personal lives.
But in contrast, the Trinamool Congress supremo raised her hands in prayer at Muslim community religious ceremonies in a veil. She also worshipped at the Kali temple to prove herself secular. This definition of secularism will contribute to a further religious divide in West Bengal in future.
The result of the BJP's election campaign in West Bengal was the massive violence of the Hefazat-e-Islam in Bangladesh centering on Narendra Modi's Dhaka visit. Although the BJP failed to come to power in West Bengal, it is feared the political culture that has emerged will have an impact on Bangladesh as well. That is why a real practice of secularism has become very important for people in both West Bengal and Bangladesh.
West Bengal leftists had been able to suppress communalism for 34 years, but they could not implement the definition of true secularism in social life. The Left leadership had never been involved in religious practices publicly.
While the leftists deterred communalism for 34 years, Trinamool helped the communal forces to settle down initially.
The left leaning leaders never colluded with the BJP in the past to stay in power, but the Trinamool supremo repeatedly did so. In the anti-Congress movement before the 2011 elections, she joined hands with the BJP and took to the streets against the Congress over corruption allegations. She even served as a Union Minister in the BJP government in 2006.
No matter in what language the Trinamool and the BJP attack each other, the people of West Bengal should not forget that the coming days will be even more difficult because Mamata Banerjee helped the BJP to be in power at the centre.
In the same way, she helped the BJP increase its power in West Bengal in 2021. Due to considering the Left leaning parties as the main enemy in the struggle for power in West Bengal politics, communal forces gained strength – which is another significant development of the latest elections.