The Trinamool’s sweep of the panchayat polls has not only come as an affirmation of the ekla cholo policy of party chief Mamata Banerjee, but has also held up a mirror for the Congress to introspect on its ruins and reconcile to a future with the ruling party as it’s best shot at staying relevant in Bengal politics.
And, in a clear message to other regional parties harbouring national aspirations, the verdict has foisted Trinamool as a key player in the formation of a third front or a federal non-Congress and non-BJP alliance in the run-up to the 2014 polls.
Shortly after pulling out from the UPA-2 over rising differences in key policy matters, the Trinamool supremo laid out her policy of staying at an arm’s length from both the Congress and the BJP and yet refrain from making open dalliances with either of them. She further called on all likeminded regional parties to unite for a federal front against the Congress and the BJP.
However, the pitch for a grand alliance of regional partners failed to elicit the desired response.
“The panchayat poll mandate is for the chief minister’s go-it-alone policy. The verdict has sent out a clear message to the Congress that we need no partners and can win on our steam, not just in Bengal but also even beyond. Now, we are likely to adopt a similar approach in the Lok Sabha elections,” said a Trinamool Lok Sabha MP close to the chief minister.
In a rerun of its Assembly poll rout, the Trinamool grabbed 13 zilla parishads and swept Left bastions in West Midnapore, Bankura, Purulia, Birbhum and Nadia. The green wave further swamped Cooch Behar and made serious inroads into opposition citadels in North Bengal.
The panchayat romp has now filled the ruling party ranks with hope of bagging all 34 Lok Sabha seats in Bengal and better its current tally of 19 MPs.
Top Trinamool leaders said the panchayat verdict would further enhance the chief minister’s acceptability as a key player in the federal front, should it take shape, and a likely kingmaker after the Lok Sabha polls.
However, Banerjee’s call for a third national alternative has found few takers so far, with the Left reportedly close to an alliance with (Bihar CM) Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) and Mulayam’s Samajwadi Party for the impending assembly polls in Rajasthan.
The alliance, say observers, could be an early manifestation of a grand national front of regional partners.