Bengal election: Is Mamata Banerjee on self-defeating course?

In the ongoing West Bengal state election some significant developments are taking shape, which may have far-reaching implications in the political scenario not only in West Bengal but all over India

N S Venkataraman Apr 12, 2021

In the ongoing West Bengal state election some significant developments are taking shape, which may have far-reaching implications in the political scenario not only in West Bengal but all over India.

What one cannot miss in the electoral scene in West Bengal is the near eclipse of  the Communist Party of India(Marxist) and Indian National Congress, which seem to have become conspicuous by the virtual absence of visibility.  There is no particular mention in the print and visual media about the campaigning  style of the two parties.

Will Communist parties go extinct?

The present dismal state of communist parties, both CPI and CPI (M) ,   reflects a sad scenario, as the basic concept and  philosophy of communism still has a lot of relevance in Indian conditions. 

The communists lost their way a few decades back, when the Communist Party of India split and the breakaway faction formed a new party CPI(M).

There was no justification for the split which was engineered only because of ego clashes  between the then leaders of the communist party.

Even after a few decades, wisdom has not devolved on the present leaders of the CPI and CPI (M) to understand the need for unifying both the parties together under one communist banner. There is no indication so far that such wisdom is likely to develop among the present leadership of CPI and CPI (M), where childlike ego clashes still appear to be predominant.

West Bengal and Tripura were the strongest states for communist parties until recently.  With the red fort in Tripura crumbling, it appears that West Bengal  also will no longer  be the dominant region for communist parties.

In the other state namely Kerala, communist parties have already diluted themselves by aligning the parties with the casteist and communal forces and they  have lost their sheen in the state for all practical purposes.

The results of the West Bengal poll  may  lead to writing of  the epitaph for communist  parties at the national level in India and  they  could become  fringe parties,  commanding no worthwhile influence in the country.

Whither Congress?

In the case of Congress too, the likely  defeat in the West Bengal poll, which may be a humiliating defeat, could further accelerate the decline in the fortunes of the party all over India, with the Gandhi family not reading the writing on the wall and refusing to  give up control over the party due to self-centred family interests.

Who is fighting whom in West Bengal ?

Now, the West Bengal poll is only between Trinamool Congress (which is a one woman party) and BJP, which has steadied itself as a national party.

In the poll campaign, by it’s full throated efforts, BJP is successfully giving an impression that it has a huge cadre base in West Bengal.

Certainly, BJP’s gain  in the eastern state  has to be necessarily at the cost of the fortunes of Trinamool Congress.

Crisis of leadership in Trinamool

The fact that several top Trinamool leaders have  crossed over to the BJP inevitably creates an  impression that chief minister and Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee is losing her grip.

It is shocking that  in spite of being Chief Minister of West Bengal for ten years and successfully leading  her one woman party with  a vice-like grip, Mamata Banerjee could not work out her strategies   for fighting the elections, with an understanding of ground realities and with intelligent forward planning.

Mistakes galore 

The first serious mistake Banerjee made was by taking a decision to contest in Nandigram against Suvendu Adhikari.  By  this unwise  move, she has given excessive importance to  the desertion  of  Suvendu Adhikari. On the other hand, a wise leader would have treated his exit from TMC as a matter of no consequence. She could have contested from elsewhere instead of challenging Adhikari, anxious to prove that she is invincible. Adhikari may show that she is not.

The other big mistake that Banerjee is making is her constant criticism of the Election Commission of India, which is unwarranted and avoidable. In the process, she has made it look that the election commission is her first enemy and not BJP.  By raising suspicion about the motives of the Election Commission and central security forces, she has made people doubtful of her statesmanship

People may  start viewing that she is incapable of providing dignified and matured political leadership, by avoiding  unnecessary and counterproductive outbursts.

Further, by blaming her opponents for her accident and trying to win sympathy by moving on a wheelchair and loudly claiming that she could  be assassinated without  providing any evidence, Banerjee seems to have lost her cool and control over her tongue.

Her vice-like grip on Trinamool is such that no one could advise her and in  any case, her huge ego stands in the way of her listening to anyone.

The net result is that many voters in West Bengal now sympathise with the Election Commission for having to face Banerjee’s wrath.

Who is responsible for Banerjee’s problems ?

If Banerjee were to lose the election, it would be of her own making and history would record that she has defeated herself and declare that she has become a victim of her tongue.

Finally, Banerjee has a lesson or two to learn from Naveen Patnaik, the chief minister of neighbouring state Odisha, who has shown remarkable qualities of dignity in governance and fairness in dealing with the central government.

Banerjee may learn from Naveen Patnaik sooner or later, but it could be too late.

(The writer is a Trustee, NGO Nandini Voice for the Deprived, Chennai. The views are personal. He can be contacted at

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