Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Bengal Battle

This week, Narendra Modi headed east, a state where the BJP is virtually non-existent now but was once a might force. While the BJP did have governments in Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha. The only place where the BJP has been unable to penetrate was Bengal.

In many ways, Bengal was the antithesis of the BJP: a Communist bastion for three decades, demolishing industry and infrastructure on the back of leftist secularism. The saffron party never really had a chance there. Until Mamata Banerjee, a former ally in the NDA government, demolished the Left. That does not mean that the BJP is any stronger in the state, with just one MP that too on the back of the Gorkhaland vote.

But Bengal today is an intriguing battle. The TMC has effectively held down the Left, using every political trick to tear down its organization, which has always been its backbone. Today, it seems highly unlikely that anything can slow down the TMC's juggernaut. The Congress is desperately trying to remain relevant, holding on to a few boroughs. The real battle is between the CPM, not even the Left Front, and the TMC and it is certain that at least two thirds of the seats will be taken by the TMC, with the BJP winning possibly nothing.

Where does that leave the next government? Certainly Ms Banerjee will have a key role to play in it - but the question remains where she will choose to ally with the Congress or the BJP or just stay out of it. Clearly, Bengal will have its say.  

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