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HindustanTimes Fri,24 Oct 2014

Red, green, then saffron: It’s TMC versus BJP in West Bengal

Ravik Bhattacharya, Hindustan Times  Jaipur, August 21, 2014
First Published: 12:28 IST(21/8/2014) | Last Updated: 12:42 IST(21/8/2014)

The impossible seems to be happening as hordes of CPI(M) workers, even district level functionaries, are joining the Parivar.

Red doesn’t fade into saffron. But Trinamool Congress finds the impossible happening in her state — hordes of CPI(M) workers, even district level functionaries, are joining the Parivar.

Panicked that her green wasn’t attracting red anymore, chief minister and TMC chief Mamata Banerjee overcame her allergy to the CPI(M) and met an 11-member delegation led by Left Front chairman Biman Bose on June 9.

Although the agenda of the meeting was attacks on CPI(M) cadres by TMC workers, Mamata focused on the BJP, the common enemy, and advised Left leaders to stop their workers from joining the Parivar.

She also put them on to TMC leaders for coordination, if necessary. And the TMC subsequently stopped the fierce hounding of CPI(M) cadres and members of their families. The actual trigger was the Lok Sabha election results. She realised that the BJP, right now, was a more potent political threat in Bengal than either the Left or Congress. Many opposition workers have since joined the BJP.

Rahul Sinha, state BJP president, summed up, “The CPI(M) has no leadership here. The Congress has no future in Bengal. A large section of TMC workers and leaders are unhappy with their party. We are the only option.”

Many CPI(M) workers had, in fact, begun working for the BJP even before the LS polls. The results showed how BJP had been able to eat into the votes of the Left, which won only two seats in the state.

Such was the impact that the CPI( M)’s vote share dropped from 30.08% in the 2011 assembly polls to 22.7% in the last LS polls, while BJP’s jumped from 6% in the 2009 LS polls to 17.6% this year. After the LS polls, workers of the CPI(M) and its allies — the Revolutionary Socialist Party and the Forward Bloc — were seen hoisting BJP flags at their party offices in at least six districts.

The exodus began soon after the results were out. In West Midnapore district, for instance, more than 12,000 leftists crossed over. Among them was Antara Bhattacharya, former sabhadhipati of the CPI(M)-controlled West Midnapore Zilla Parishad.

“I felt it was the only party that could counter the torture unleashed by the Trinamool,” she said.


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