Message From West Bengal—Yes We Can

Mamata Banerjee1

Despite various efforts to weaken democracy , the voters of W. Bengal have sent a very confidant and reassuring message that it is still possible in India for people to assert their power and defeat very powerful forces which not only have enormous, almost unlimited  money power but are also willing and able to violate election norms and rules.

The news of the massive win of the TMC is sweet music even to the ears of those who have been apprehensive at times about the misuse of power by some of its members and leaders, as in the prevailing conditions the overwhelming message of its victory is that yes, it is possible to defeat authoritarian forces electorally even in very adverse and hostile conditions– even if the election commission is seen to be favoring the authoritarian forces in various blatant ways , even if the election schedule is drawn up in irrational ways only to suit the favored party even at the risk of serious health problems for people, even if the favored party makes repeated and extensive use of narrow religious symbolism  and appeals almost to an incredible extent to sectarian feelings,  and even if unlimited financial resources are clearly available for prolonged highly aggressive campaign.

This should give heart to several regional parties in particular. At least some of these have been behaving in rather disheartened mood after having suffered some reverses. Feeling rather overawed by the overwhelming presence of the Prime Minister and the strong arm tactics of the Home Minister these parties have been rather muted in recent times. But now they see an election in which both the Prime Minister and the Home Minister threw their entire weight behind somehow obtaining, or snatching, a victory for the BJP and to achieve this aim they waged an unprecedentedly aggressive electoral battle against an injured and frail woman leader, and the frail and injured woman was able to inflict an overwhelming defeat on them. Surely the W.Bengal election result gives a lot of new hope and strength to these other regional parties as well.

But what is even more important is the fact that this is very good news for Indian democracy . The fact that those who have managed to set up an opaque system of massive donations for their party, a sort of massive system of legalized corruption, those who do not hesitate to polarize along  narrow sectarian  lines can still be defeated, and defeated big, in elections is very good and encouraging news for our democracy. The savior of the day is not just the Didi, it is also the Bengal voter.

Of course there is sad news for the left front from Bengal, of losing heavily. But this has been made up to a large extent by its record victory in Kerala. Remaining in power in at least one state is much more important for the left front. The voter in Bengal was not necessarily so much against the left parties, but calculated wisely that the anti-BJP vote should not be split.

Looking ahead, there should be more hope and enthusiasm for more spirited performance by opposition parties at the national level also, reflected also in greater efforts for unity and united action.

Bharat Dogra is a journalist and author. His recent books include When the Two Streams Met ( freedom movement of India) and Man Over Machine ( Gandhian ideas for our times).



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