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India: Bengal votes for secularism

Wednesday 5 May 2021, by siawi3

Source: https://sabrangindia.in/article/bengal-votes-secularism-trinamool-winning

Bengal votes for secularism. Trinamool winning

Amit Sengupta

02 May 2021

west bengal

A massive wave of optimism and joy seems to be floating in West Bengal and the rest of the nation. Amidst overall gloom, this is a big sign of hope.

Trinamool Congress led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is moving towards a landslide victory in Bengal with almost 50 per cent votes. The BJP might just about hover in the vicinity of 80 seats. With current leads,, the Trinamool might cross 207 seats — a huge shift in vote percentage with the BJP losing both its old constituencies as well as facing a sharp dip in its vote percentage as witnessed in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Most crucially, this seems a collective vote against all forms of organised hate politics, bad language, hate speech and communal polarisation. Bengal,, it seems, has shown the secular and pluralist way to the rest of the nation, marking Didi as a formidable leader in the national scene.

She and her party seems to be on the way to decisively defeat the aggressive, xenophobic and massive apparatus of the BJP with its deep pockets. This is a direct defeat of Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, as much as the BJP chief JP Nadda who pumped in all they had to win Bengal, targeting Didi aggressively.

This will surely shift the paradigm in national politics in the days to come, even while Tamil Nadu and Kerala become shining examples of great secular victories in these assembly polls. A new wind seems to be now blowing in India.

It is too early to say anything decisively, indeed, as the counting has begun after the polls in five states including Pondicherry. However, the early leads point to Trinamool leading with the BJP close behind.

Ironically, same is the trend in other states too. The exit polls have by and large given clear and comfortable victories to the LDF, DMK alliance and Trinamool Congressl in the assembly polls in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal with the Assam results locked in a close battle, where the BJP is poised to win. It has been argued that the Pinarayi Vijayan government led by the CPM will make a historic record in Kerala by winning two terms consecutively, while MK Stalin will become the first-time chief minister of Tamil Nadu, after decisively routing the AIADMK-BJP alliance in Tamil Nadu, in an era marked by the absence of late stalwarts, J Jayalalitha and M Karunanidhi.

In West Bengal, the BJP put at stake its entire formidable machinery, including pumping in huge money and muscle, literally making it a contest between Narendra Modi and Amit Shah versus Mamata Banerjee. Though the BJP got only 3 seats in the last assembly polls here, their leadership is banking heavily on the 18 Lok Sabha seats they won in 2019 with a huge rise in their vote percentage, especially in the border areas, and areas with big schedule caste population, especially those who had migrated from Bangladesh in recent times.

The CAA was dangled as a lollypop, for instance, to sections of the electorally strong Matua community in North 24 Paragana, while the main Thakurbari family which leads this huge hard-working Dalit community was divided in the middle. This time, it seems, the Matuas are divided while the CAA hangs in a limbo.

Significantly, the BJP dumped the CAA and NRC in the very state from where it all began – Assam. This was because there was huge opposition to CAA in the state. Ironically, the NRC final list, with 19 lakh citizens declared non-citizens, also comprised almost 12 lakh Hindus and other indigenous communities. The repeated use of the metaphor ‘termites’ targeting Muslims, by Amit Shah, therefore boomeranged.

Meanwhile, even as the pandemic rages in India, especially in Delhi and some states, with thousands dead, no hospital beds, lack of oxygen and health-care, and even as cremation and burial grounds choke with the tears of friends and relatives, and dead bodies are kept in rows waiting for their turn, May 2 marks the day of poll results after elections for five state assembly, including Pondicherry. After a protracted, hard and bitter one month-long phase of polling, West Bengal will decide on May 2 which party will lead the next government in Kolkata.

It has been universally acknowledged that this long phase was tiring and unnecessary in Bengal, even as it was quickly done in the other states. It has been alleged that the EC played an openly partisan role by stretching the polls to help the BJP. Mamata Banerjee repeatedly said that the EC works for Amit Shah, and only listens to the demands of the BJP, like the appointment of people from UP and Bihar as BJP booth agents. She is tipped to win Nandigram though early leads give Suvendu Adhikary the advantage.

The EC rejected the Trinamool Congress’ proposal to club the last phases in one go. The Madras High Court later observed that the EC has to take the blame for the spread of the pandemic.

Even as rallies continued, the pandemic spread and people died in thousands. Over 2 lakh people have reportedly died in recent times after the second Covid surge. Cynics say that this figure is a gross understatement and data is being fudged.

The prime minister proudly declared in one rally in Bengal in the last phase that he is so happy to see huge crowds. Many called the rally a super-spreader holding the PM responsible, even as millions gathered for the Kumbh at Hardwar under the patronage of the Centre and the BJP-ruled government in Uttarakhand. Modi hailed the Kumbh.

Amit Shah, BJP chief JP Nadda and Narendra Modi made several trips to Bengal, literally camping here. It was transparent that the BJP wanted to win Bengal at any cost. They almost always arrived with a huge hyperbole surrounding them, while the loyalist media predicted a BJP wave. However, journalists found no such wave on the ground, despite strong anti-incumbency against the Trinamool government.

Most Exit Polls have declared the Trinamool Congress as the eventual winner in Bengal with the BJP poised at 100 or more seats. The Trinamool is poised to win around 160 to 180 seats, according to the various Exit Polls.