New Delhi/Nandigram : Has West Bengal lost "ashol Democracy" ?
"After this crushing defeat (in Nandigram) what moral authority will Mamata Banerjee have to retain her Chief Ministership? Her defeat is a taint on TMC’s victory," says Amit Malviya of the BJP. The BJP's tally increased by over 2000 per cent from 3 to 77. An incumbent Chief Minister lost herself, yet the perception is pushed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has lost.
BJP's target was humongous, this epitomises the irony in the story of Bengal politics.
West Bengal unit chief Dilip Ghosh is right when he says, "People want Mamata Banerjee back in office and has asked us to be in the opposition and do the job of an effective opposition. We will do it".
Nandigram is certainly a big story in the 2021 electoral battle.
"This is BIG. Mamata Banerjee, the sitting Chief Minister, loses Nandigram," tweeted BJP leader Amit Malviya on a day the saffron party enhanced its tally in West Bengal but could not achieve its goal of wresting power.
Spin doctors have tried to interpret the verdict in this prestigious constituency in different manners. But the fact of the matter is an incumbent Chief Minister had been humbled in a constituency she picked up by her own choice.
"It is a sad day for the people of Nandigram and other parts of the state. While we voted her out rejecting her brand of politics of corruption and 'Tola baaji' (extortion), in the rest of Bengal people fell victims to her gimmicks of campaigning around with a football on a wheelchair," remarked one Delhi resident who hails from East Midnapore region under which falls Nandigram.
Others also seem to agree. "This was neither a victory for Trinamool nor defeat for BJP. It was a victory of conspiracy. It was a defeat of 'ashol democracy'. People genuinely wanted a change but failed to handle Trinamool tricks. Bengal has gone backwards by ten years. But Nandigram voters showed the courage and decisiveness," said educationist Anurima Ghosh in Kolkata.
"This Bengal mandate was a case of lost opportunity. People helplessly endorsed political violence and accepted tola-baazi and Goondaism. Freebies worked like it helped Arvind Kejriwal. Not only Bengalis and the state of Bengal, the outcome of such a mandate will be felt across India. Do not forget we have a porous border with Bangladesh," said Siliguri-based Monti Das.
Far against from making a master stroke to contest from Nandigram, once Suvendu Adhikari was fielded by the BJP, she knew things would not be smooth.
A nervous Didi took a new avtaar, on a wheelchair. Did that image make all the difference in this year's elections?
If anyone has to trust BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya, this did a lot. The BJP leader's diagnosis is that she played a 'victim card' and raked up emotive issues. The goal post changed. Emotions came up. Governance was forgotten.
During the campaign both in Nandigram and elsewhere, clad in her trademark crumpled white sari with green stripes,Mamata thrust herself on a wheelchair.
Another issue, he feels might have made the difference is her transformation from 'Didi' to 'Bengal's daughter'. People seemed to have latched on to these ignored governance issues, but not in Nandigram.
In Nandigram, the supposed 'Bengal tigress' was humbled by a margin of 1,956 votes of the 2.28 lakh ballots cast. Cliff-hanger truly.
And as the results came in and she was basking in glory of a victory over mighty BJP, there was a slip of the tongue or the mask that she was always concerned about Nandigram.
All big talks evaporated. "Don't worry for Nandigram," she said tersely as if betraying her dislike for the people who voted against her. "For struggle you have to sacrifice something ......I have forgotten now. It's okay. Let the Nandigram people give whatever verdict they want, I accept that".
Was it then without reasons that Suvendu Adhikari used to say Mamata Banerjee hardly showed concern for Nandigram once the movement was over during the Left regime?
The final outcome in Nandigram shows what her rivals have been claiming was correct - meaning a sure win for Suvendu Adhikari. All throughout the day on the counting day, Mamata was trailing sometime even up to 8,000 votes margin.
Sitting in TV studios, some Trinamool leaders, however, kept on claiming that she is leading. The spin doctors know how to play.
"Trinamooler sho-bhagya; Banglar dur-bhagya (It may be good luck of Trinamool Congress, the verdict is definitely not good for Bengal)," said a Congress worker in onetime Congress stronghold Malda.
His party leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury also said, "It was populism and promises that helped her while Congress and Left suffered".
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 1 (polling day itself) had said whatever went on in Nandigram suggested that Mamata has lost her poll.
Home Minister Amit Shah made similar claims and punctuated his speech with sarcastic remarks. "I will share with you all a secret, that Mamata Banerjee has lost the poll in Nandigram''.
".....Didi Nandigram mein haar chuki hae, magar kisi ko batana mat".
However, it is altogether a different story that the BJP's assertive and positive politics for 'ashol poriborton' was accepted in Nandigram (where Mamata was contesting). But it did not find resonance among Bengal voters in the rest of the state.
The tallies finally in the state suggest the Muslim voters voted in vengeance in favour of Trinamool proving for once that the claims from 'sickular lobby' that Muslims do not vote as a bloc is only a misnomer.
The minorities also vote as a strategy and more often dictated by plans drawn out in Madrasas and backyards of some Masjids.
The fall of the Left, the Congress and even newly floated Indian Secular Front of Abbas Sidiqqui shows Mamata's fear mongering worked.
Nandigram has given mandate to a BJP nominee and now the onus will be on the Lotus party to carry forward the revolution further.