History may repeat, but change remains the flavor of Bengal

History may repeat, but change remains the flavor of Bengal

Agency News

New Delhi, May 22 : History has the habit of repeating itself. Thus, if the Exit Polls outcome are to be trusted - despite the strong defiance from Mamata Banerjee - All India Trinamool Congress party's journey could be as challenging as the communists.
In 2009, after Ms Banerjee's strategic alliance with the Congress gave it 19 seats haul out of 42 in the state, the war cry was on expected line - "The Left has lost all the moral right to be in power and hence must step down".

Well - the CPI-M led Left Front did not oblige their bitter foe Ms Banerjee and only in 2011, the communists lost their forte. Ironically, in 2019, if Exit Polls findings come true - it will be Trinamool which will face similar and of course the herculean challenge.
The May 19 Exit Polls predicted that BJP could win minimum 11 seats and maximum about 22-23 seats from West Bengal.

Then the words of Trinamool veteran Sudip Bandyopadhyay as stated in 2009 could easily haunt his party. "The CPI-M vote share in Bengal fell by five per cent to 28 from what it was in 2004. We did better than the Left Front in 190 of the 294 seats and thus there should be mid term polls in West Bengal," Mr Bandyopadhyay has said in 2009 - on the day Trinamool leaders first visited Parliament premises to get their papers cleared.

Now, some predictions on May 19, 2019 said this year Trinamool tally could be again 19 - a sharp drop from 34 in 2014 and thus Ms Banerjee's runs the risk of losing out substantial ground in a state it wrested from the communists in 2011.BJP leaders in Bengal have already geared up for the occasion and some of them have already thrown open challenge to Trinamool, saying for it, the going would be tougher in 2021.

Only saving grace for Mamata Banerjee would be - that her observation that all Exit Polls are 'gossip' come true. In another case of 'history repeating' amid the mood for a 'transition' in national politics vis-a-vis this year's polls is the role of the regional parties. If things come across as per post-poll surveys and BJP's high expectations, the regional forces would stand marginalised in more ways than one.

It is a mix of curious development and BJP's mixed signals that on Tuesday evening Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that: "NDA has now become a pillar of strength to fulfill regional aspirations". The dinner meeting which was addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi among others was also attended by Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, Akali Dal stalwart Parkash Singh Badal and JD(U) leader Nitish Kumar.

LJP chief Ram Vilas Paswan, one time bitter and ardent critic of Mr Modi, lauded the manner the Prime Minister carried along all the alliance partners during last five years. In 1998, Atal Bihari Vajpayee regime had to face the arm-twisting of AIADMK supremo Jayalalithaa. By 1999, while Jayalalitha was out of NDA, for Vajpayee's post-Kargil term - it was Mamata Banerjee who did all the muscle flexing and kept PMO officials and Vajpayee's emissaries on toes.

And during the bitter crisis faced by the Vajpayee government in the wake of Tehelka tapes, Ms Banerjee 'dumped' NDA only to come back for 2004 polls and yet again snapped ties with the Lotus party. Domination of BJP in terms of numbers in 2014 and if that happens again in 2019 - would mean that regional satraps will not have much room to do the elbow pushing with the larger partner.

In fact, even under Manmohan Singh-Sonia Gandhi in UPA, allies like RJD and DMK were called shots both in UPA I and II.DMK's alleged machination often forces Manmohan Singh to use the pet phrase of 'compulsion of coalition politics' especially after 2G spectrum scam hit the town. It was also the period when political observers often said while regional parties are important in the variegated Indian society, they "could not be permitted" to play havoc with constitutional norms and spirit of governance to override national interests.

But - as goes another maxim - as much as they change, as much they remain the same. In the north east of the country - however - the regional parties still remain crucial players. In four out of the eight states in the region (including Sikkim), the 'Moditva' as a phenomenon cannot work without its regional partners.NDPP and NPF in Nagaland, AGP in Assam, NPP in Meghalaya, regional parties like NPP and NPF in Manipur, SDF in Sikkim and MNF in Mizoram are BJP's compatriot partners who can never be neglected.

"If PM Modi desires to ensure a Congress-free Northeast, he needs regional parties. And if in this predominantly Christian region, anyone can stall growth of pro-Hindutva BJP, it is the regional parties like NPP and MNF," a prominent MNF leader has said in Aizawl during last year's assembly elections.

The stage is set for most keenly awaited results of Parliamentary elections in five decades and yes - what direction the country's politics would actually take remains in the womb of time. UNI