ANALYSES HOW CPM MIGHT JUST ABOUT DO THE TRICK AGAIN, BUT THIS TIME ON THE BASIS OF A COMBINATION OF WELL PLANNED STRATEGIES AND PRO-POOR PROMISES!
Lack of development, apathy towards the poor, scientifically implemented mass rigging, muscle power, murders, guns and goons... These have been the things that made the Leftist people of Bengal angry and furious, and made them think seriously of an alternative after decades. These are the things that made the people to come out and vote against CPM in the elections that have been happening of late, including the Parliamentary elections last year. Of course, that can’t take away the credit from Mamata Banerjee, who has been fearlessly taking the CPM head on! She felt the pulse of Bengal, had the courage and gave the alternative that Bengal was looking for. And it was only after the setback that the otherwise arrogant CPM leaders of Bengal received due to their loss in the general elections last year, that they really started taking her threat seriously and introspecting within.
Initially, with every passing day, Mamata’s popularity only seemed to surge and it seemed that in the upcoming state elections, the results would be a sure victory for the Trinamool Congress – unless she herself did something suicidal like showing her temper and breaking off her relations with the Congress, something that The Sunday Indian had cautioned about earlier too. TSI had also said that the CPM had enough means and relations to influence the Congress to break up with Trinamool and it would require great diplomacy on Mamata’s part to maintain her relations with the Congress. After all, CPM had only got five lakh votes less in the last elections. At the same time, theCongress has its own committed vote bank; and without them, Mamata’s possibility of winning is very less, given that there still remains an unshakeable mass which will vote only for CPM (even though there’s no doubt that CPM's vote bank has shrunk).
The fact that breaking the Trinamool-Congress tie-up was a possible way for CPM to again win the next elections was an issue known to us and many others. What no one expected was the possibility of CPM winning on its own merit! That, along with Trinamool’s breakup with the Congress, could be a double blow that Mamata’s party may find too difficult to overturn!
Unfortunately for Trinamool, going by one after the other recent policy announcements by CPM in Bengal, it seems that Trinamool wouldn’t just have to tackle the problem of the breakdown of their ‘mahajot’ (grand alliance) but also the growing popularity of CPM! One of CPM’s voter bases that got eroded due to the Nandigram tussle – the Muslim voters – seems to be slowly shifting its affections back, with the CPM declaring that Muslims will get huge scholarships and a ten percent job quota too! This, coupled with the fact that a lot of slum dwellers and hawkers on the streets are Muslims, suggests that there is more in store for them.Recently, CPM also declared that slum dwellers will get the land where their slums currently are, for a paltry one rupee!!! The CPM has promised rice at two rupees per kilogram for not only those below the poverty line, but even for the bottom twenty percent of the people above the poverty line! The same CPM, which took the hawkers head-on by removing them from the streets for the sake of votes, under the huge threat of losing power has now decided that pavement hawkers would get 1/3rd of the pavement to do their business!
Well, did you think that’s enough? No!
You’ve heard about NREGA in rural areas – the hugely successful programme of the Congress that has kept them in power. But how about NREGA in cities? Well, don’t be shocked. That is what CPM’s later programme is! They have decided to implement NREGA in cities too! Add to that a huge promise of 50,000 teachers’ jobs to remove the problem of schools without teachers, at the same time creating more employment. And finally, but not the last or the least, villagers now will get to buy the land where they reside, at Rs.25,000 while the government puts in an additional Rs.25,000!
Yes, this is the kind of public spending overdrive that Mamata has forced the CPM into! And all CPM needed was to swoon an additional five lakh voters or so towards them. Assuming that every beneficiary will add around five votes to the CPM bank, the current CPM pro-poor measures would necessarily account for and ensure many more votes than the CPM needs – and as I mentioned, this would only grow as the elections come near.
CPM leaders have always been master strategists. They have never indulged in stupid rigging – they always did that scientifically. They even knew the exact number of votes in each village that they were falling short of – and scientifically rigged only those many family votes! This time, they know that muscle power is on both sides – with Trinamool Congress also deciding to adopt CPM’s tactics to grab power – and that there will be an eagle eye on their rigging. They have realised that simply rigging is not going to get them anywhere, as the numbers (against them) had become too large. So they have decided to scientifically dole out goodies to get their voters back. Of course, the beauty this time is that people are indeed going to benefit. Guess it’s time that political parties and politicians realise that the only way to stay in power is to work for the people and the downtrodden.
Whether she wins or loses at the upcoming state elections – whatever the results – Bengal will have a lot to thank Mamata Banerjee for. She has made the CPM fearful enough to realise that the best way to retain power is to remember those who get them to power – the masses! And thus, she has made the CPM do what communists were expected to do all along – remember the poor and marginalised and implement strategies for their betterment.
Whether for votes, for survival or because good sense prevailed, it’s good that CPM has started relooking at the people who matter. It doesn’t matter who wins the forthcoming elections if people are at the benefiting end. But going by the way CPM is proactively thinking of the people and coming up with newer strategies by the day, and seeing the way things are turning out – including the breakdown of the mahajot, where also the CPM would have played a big hand, given their historical closeness with the Congress and money power to buy a few key people at the top – it seems the CPM is going to be a very tough force again this time! It might as well be on its way to yet another term at the Writers’ Building. And given their new pro-people policies for a change, after long, it may not be for the bad!
- 14 May 2010 |
- Arindam on Indian Politics