By Nitya Chakraborty
The stage is set for the crucial assembly elections to the four states West Bengal, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and the union territory of Puducherry following the announcement by the Election Commission of the dates in March and April this year. This will be for the first time in 2021 that the assembly elections will be held in the country in the important states amidst the surge in covid virus in many of the states, especially in Kerala. The last assembly election was held in Bihar in October last year and that way, the Commission has gained enough experience in conducting poll during the pandemic.
For the BJP, the stake is most in West Bengal and the entire leadership of the party has been mobilised for campaigning in the state backed by the unprecedented use of financial muscle and the booth level organisational preparedness by the RSS cadres. For the saffrons, it is a real war and the state has to be seized from the clutches of the Trinamool Congress led by the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at any cost.
The BJP has got the advantage that the anti=BJP forces are not united in Bengal and all indications suggest that there will be three fronts, the main two BJP and the Trinamool and the third the alliance of the Left Front, Congress and Muslim group led by Abbas Siddiquie. The best scenario for the secular forces would have been a clear cut front of the anti-BJP parties but due to local factors and the antipathy of both the Congress and Left towards Trinamool, this has not been possible. The voters in Bengal will have to find out ways within the framework of these three way contest on how to ensure the casting of the vote in favour of a secular and stable government.
As against this complex scenario in Bengal, the scenario is quite positive for anti-BJP forces in Kerala, TN and Assam. In Kerala, the ruling Left democratic front will be fighting the Congress to retain power and the BJP is not a contender for government that way. The BJP’s all efforts are meant to improve its tally in the 140 member assembly which is also doubtful despite its hype. The Congress is working hard led by the state MP Rahul Gandhi. Whoever wins, Kerala will remain with the Left or the Congress after the assembly poll.BJP cannot look for a big gain.
In Tamil Nadu, the scenario is little better for BJP due to its alliance with AIADMK. Though the opposition front led by the DMK is well placed now with the possible participation of the Congress as well as the left parties CPI and the CPI-M, the AIADMK front has improved its position a bit in the recent days. It will require massive efforts by the DMK front and due to leadership capabilities of M K Stalin, it is quite possible that the DMK front will be able to come back to power.
As regards Assam, the situation is matching between the BJP led front and the Congress led front. The Assam Congress has worked hard to forge the front along with AIUDF and the left parties and if they campaign jointly aided by the cadres of the left parties, there is a possibility of the BJP front losing.BJP is making use of massive resources as usual and the Congress front is fund starved. In the next two months, the Congress front has to reach every booth and organise contact programmes at the grassroots level as the RSS cadres have been mobilised in a massive way to conduct the campaign. This is a tough battle for the Congress front and the BJP superman Amit Shah is in charge of Assam but things are looking up for the anti-BJP parties and this trend has to be led to its logical end.
In Puducherry, the Congress lost the government only this week due to the defection of the legislators. The BJP as usual usedmoney power to unseat the Congress govt.In the coming elections,the BJP along with other allies will make efforts to get back to power, but still the party is weak in Puducherry. On the contrary, the former chief minister Narayanswamy has experience and goodwill.He needs full support from the Congress leadership and adequate funds. The fight is difficult but the Congress has the potential to give a good fight and even snatch victory .
For BJP, it has stake to retain power in Assam since this is the gateway for BJP’s expansion in the North East states and to expand its influence in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. But its real focus is on West Bengal and the party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the home Minister Amit Shah have gone the whole hog in making use of all possible weapons including the central agencies to further their campaign in Bengal to unseat Mamata .For them, it is a do or die situation as both the two top leaders of BJP have staked everything in Bengal campaign.
It is time, the parties who are opposed to the BJP in Bengal take note of the consequences which may follow in national politics if the saffrons are able to get power in Bengal. In the interests of the strengthening of the secular forces in India, all three parties should discuss after the poll announcement whether there can be even limited understanding in the marginal seats between the anti BJP parties to avert the victory of the saffrons. This is a very delicate task, but the situation in Bengal is extraordinary and such a situation requires that extraordinary perspective. (IPA Service)