President & Group Managing Director: Dr.Shelly Ahmed | Editor in Chief & Group CEO: M H Ahssan

Sunday, May 11, 2014

In 'New' Mahabharata 2014, Is Modi The 'New Hanuman'?

By M H Ahssan | INNLIVE Bureau

POLITICAL ANALYSIS Mamata Banerjee has likened Narendra Modi to Lord Hanuman and has said that he has tied a tail, put it on fire and is touring India burning perceived Lankas. If Banerjee had the time to read up the scriptures, she would not have made this analogy. For, Lord Hanuman’s tail was put on fire by the orders of the hated asura Ravana, and the burning of Lanka took place as punishment for the same. The Lanka that was rebuilt was rid of its vices by Lord Ram’s intervention and was the perfect place for the compassionate rule of Vibhisana. 
If Modi has indeed got a tail on fire, it is because of the misrule of UPA II at the centre and the various parties in the states. Nothing less than burning down of existing policies that breed bureaucratic cronyism, widespread corruption, policy paralysis and ineffective governance will take India forward. The time has come to challenge the status quo and break the neta-babu-baniya nexus that has never let the country move forward.

Although Mamata Banerjee and the TMC are comfortably placed in West Bengal and are set to win more than 30 seats, the surge in support for the BJP has left them confused. Leaving conventional wisdom of touring states with tight situations in the final moments, Narendra Modi made successive whirlwind tours of West Bengal in four days that left TMC groping for responses. Traditionally, the BJP has been a fringe player in Bengal politics. It has never won more than one seat and about 7 to 8 percent of the popular votes. 

Before the TMC made its appearance in 1998, West Bengal was always a two horse race between the Left and the Congress. Since 2009, the TMC has chipped away at the Left and managed to so decimate it that they have lost their voice. Without Mamata Banerjee, the Congress was as it is a pale shadow of its former self. Now it has become a skeleton. So the TMC is clearly worried over the rise of the BJP which it feels has the draw to consolidate Hindu votes against it as it pursues its overt policy of Muslim appeasement.

Apart from this, rumoured responses such as “haathe jhanda trinamool, vote podbe padma phool” (although we have the trinamool flag in hand, we will vote for the lotus) are being heard on the streets. The ballot box is a strange fellow to know. Sometimes it pleases you, as it did in 2011 when despite the wave, the TMC could not have swept the polls in the manner it did if there was no switch voting from Left supporters. Other times it can stun you, as it perhaps stunned Atal Behari Vajpayee in 2004 despite India Shining. 

A voter does not know how and why his finger presses a particular button inside the booth despite his having made up his mind to press a different button. Voters are known to have taken gifts from one party and voted for another.  Away from the glitz of the campaign, in the silence of the booth and at the time of reckoning, is it the Panch Parmeshwar effect at play? Whatever it is, many times it has been shown that the Indian voter is not the dumb head political parties take him to be.

It is for this reason that Mamata has thundered that Modi should be arrested and taken to prison with a rope tied around his waist (a common way to take prisoners from courts to the prisons). But these are election times. A lot of people have escaped with saying uglier things. Both Mamata and Modi will have to introspect after 16th May and see how they can work together for the benefit of both West Bengal and the country. While the BJP and Modi have shown flexibility despite their strident campaign, Mamata has adopted rigid postures mainly to preserve her vote bank. But the state should be given precedence above such considerations post elections.

In the past, West Bengal had shown that it was not a party to the nationwide trend of voters gravitating towards the party most likely to win the elections. It had loyal supporters for both the Left and the Congress, and post 1998, the TMC. There were a small percentage of undecideds, say about 5 to 7 percent, who went this way or that. As the Left had a stranglehold on state politics for 34 years, it ‘managed’ the elections to its benefit. Hence, assessment of voting patterns is difficult to make. 

For the first time in 2009, it was shown that Left was losing its base and Mamata seized upon it to make a jumbo door out of the tiny crack. Hence, she knows well that if the BJP is given an opportunity to form a tiny crack in the citadel, it can carve out a door in the future. But this is also the result of Mamata’s systematic decimation of all opposition in the state. There cannot be a political vacuum in the state. If there is a ruling party, there will be an opposition. Slowly and steadily, it seems that the BJP is inching towards filling up that space.

It will be long and hard climb for the BJP. For as of now, it has presence only in urban constituencies. It does not have presence in the working class space where the CITU (of CPI (M)) and TMC INTUC rule the roost. It does not have presence in the countryside where the writ of TMC runs. Above all, it does not have any popular, vote catching leaders in the states. 

After all, Narendra Modi cannot be expected to get the votes at the state level. If the BJP is to build upon the support it is widely expected to get this time, it has to address these shortcomings. There will be resistance from both the TMC and the Left, but it should overcome that with the popular support it will get. This will be the best time for the party to gain a strong toehold in the state.
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