Monday, March 21, 2011

The Congress must give way

In West Bengal, one of the most significant elections since Independence is being fought. after three and a half decades of Communist rule, Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress appears all set to take Writer's Building.

The political scene in Kolkata has been hotting up over the last few weeks. Seat sharing talks between the Congress and TMC are going nowhere. The TMC published a list of candidates leaving 64 for the Congress, well below what the Grand Old Party was asking for. However, if reports are to be believed, Mamata Banerjee will have her way because Sonia Gandhi has supposedly sent a demarche to the WBPCC informing them that a political alliance with the TMC is more important for the Congress than the actual number of seats that they get.

That of course is in direct contradiction to Rahul Gandhi's mantra of self-respect. State Congress leaders appear to be caught between these two extremes. However, in the next few days, we can expect the dust to clear. After the Bihar debacle, Rahul Gandhi's methodology will not be blindly followed. Furthermore, after the momentary scare of the DMK's threat to pull out of the Union Government, the Congress does not need any trouble from the TMC in New Delhi.

Meanwhile, the Left Front has released a fairly radical list of candidates, dropping nearly 150 sitting MLAs including nine Ministers. its manifesto is covered with the same old stuff about protecting the poor (and keeping them that way) and agricultural reforms, although there is a part on industrial development in the state. The underlying theme appears to be change, but the winds of change are clearly blowing against the Left Front. So far, the TMC-Congress-SUCI(C) combine looks set to storm West Bengal and the Left had better prepare for the worst.

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