By Tirthankar Mitra
The victory of Congress Left combine at Sagardighi constituency by poll in West Bengal lets the seven year old poll alliance taste electoral success after a long time. For after 2021 Assembly election debacle, bitter taste of failure was its constant companion.
The results of Sagardighi has triggered the ringing of alarm bells more loudly in the Trinamool Congress camp than the reverses in three North eastern states of Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya. For it is nearer home in Murshidabad, a one-time Congress bastion
Not only does it marks the return of a sole Congress MLA Bayran Biswas to the Assembly after 2021 elections, the victory augurs ill for the Trinamool. Even if one goes by the adage that one swallow does not make summer, the Trinamool leadership has perceived a danger it poses to its political fortunes.
The reverses in the north eastern states are a pointer that the TMC was short on organisational strength and expected the charisma of its chief Mamata Banerjee to see its candidates emerge victorious. Though Sagardighi is a Trinamool bastion and a cakewalk was expected, the 11-year long regime had overlooked a rising anti-incumbency factor which helped BJP get 18 MPs from West Bengal in 2019 Lok Sabha polls together with a plethora of corruption charges on the cash for teaching jobs scam.
The defeat in the home turf is a resurgence of the anti-incumbency factor. It is a boon to the Congress-Left combine while it has given a worried feeling to the TMC camp.
The poll reverses have put on hold TMC’s endeavour of shopping for allies. Indeed back of the beyond Sagardighi was not far from chief minister and party supremo Mamata Banerjee’s mind when she was announcing that her party would go it alone in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
The Trinamool supremo has not been enthusiastic about a poll alliance with Congress in 2024 Lok Sabha elections. The victory of Congress nominee Bayran Biswas at Sagardighi by-poll arguably helped her make up her mind.
Unknowingly the Sagardighi victory and the architects of the alliance which helped snatch it have made their place in the backdrop of 2024 Lok Sabha elections. It remains to be seen whether there are repeat performances.
Several issues will vex the TMC leaders Banerjee including when they sit down to ascertain the reasons leading to their losses. The same issues are being seized by the Opposition as Sagardighi bypoll result is an ominous signal to TMC of its minority community voter base being dented.
The votes of this minority community dominated constituency have been a sure shot in the Trinamool vote bank and it’s nominee Subrata Saha having won on three successive occasions. It is time to pause and ponder on the causes which made such committed voters overnight switch their loyalities to Congress despite claims of the benefits of the social welfare schemes started by the chief minister herself..
A massive scam tainting the education sector in the state is before the court with ED and CBI unearthing loads of cash and gold and education minister and TMC secretary general Partha Chatterjee behind the bars has considerably eroded the credibility of the ruling dispensation of West Bengal. A brainstorming session needs to be convened by the Congress-Left combine to devise a way to make the cash for teaching jobs scam a burning poll issue next year so that the ruling dispensation cannot face the voters with a clean slate in Lok Sabha elections.
The TMC camp knows it in its heart of hearts that the scam eroded it’s vote bank. For cash for teaching jobs have been shelled out for the rural populace like those inhabiting this Murshidabad constituency.
Reverting to the poll reverses in the north eastern states one need not read between the to fathom the causes of defeat. The big crowds flocking to chief minister Banerjee’s rallies was more a sign of curiosity value than allegiance to her party and its policies.
A similar phenomena was witnessed in West Bengal elections which were won by the ruling dispensation. For the crowds knew that the chief minister seeking their support will usher in developmental projects to their constituencies sooner or later.
This perception was markedly lacking in the mindset of the voters of Tripura and Nagaland, both the states where TMC has drawn a blank. Obviously their presence turned out to be big rally but it did not transform itself into votes into Trinamool ballot boxes.
Tripura and Nagaland voters felt that the Trinamool leaders will shoot and scoot. The need of the hour was to create an impression of staying put electoral success or failure notwithstanding but it was conspicuously absent.
But that rationale does not apply to Sagardighi. It is a green flag to the return of Congress influence to its lost bastion.
Now the most daunting task before the Trinamool leadership is cleansing it’s image whose soiling is in no small measure responsible for the Sagardighi reverse which provides an chance to the Opposition to dig in its heels and fire broadsides at the ruling party. The recruitment scam hangs around the neck of the TMC leadership like an albatross with not only education minister Partha Chatterjee and his close associate Arpita Mukherjee are in prison, piles of cash being recovered from her home.
The Congress Left combine have a raft of poll issues on a platter. And more are pouring in and if Sagardighi victory was the main course, others are following. For Sagardighi victory has united an Opposition which seemed in disarray but showing signs of coming together. It’s significance lies as the chief .minister has accusing Congress ,Left and BJP of an “immoral alliance”. (IPA Service)