The people of West Bengal have given the Left its worst debacle since it came to power in 1977. Voters in rural and urban Bengal have presented the Opposition alliance of the Trinamool Congress and the Congress 25 of the state’s 42 Lok Sabha seats. The CPI(M) and its allies in the Left Front have been reduced from 35 to 15. “The people of Bengal want a change,” Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, 54, told HT.
Much to the CPI(M)’s dismay, its traditional votebank have shifted their allegiance lock, stock and barrel. The state’s 26 per cent Muslim voters deserted it. The government’s handling of the mysterious death of Rizwanur Rahman turned Muslims away in the urban belt. Soon after this came the Sachar Committee report, which said that the Left Front government did nothing for the community in 32 years. This is said to have enraged Muslims so much that the imams gave a call from the mosques to desert the Left.
The forcible land acquisition policy of the CPI(M) for industry further alienated Muslims, who form a sizeable segment of farmers in rural areas. That rural Bengal was upset with Nandigram and Singur was reflected in the 2008 panchayat polls. But the CPI(M) paid no heed.
‘We’ll get all Bengal seats if people desire’
Mamata Banerjee spoke to Arindam Sarkar about the people’s verdict in West Bengal. Excerpts:
How does it feel to win so many seats?
If the people desire, we will one day get all the seats in Bengal. There is a strong resentment against the CPM in West Bengal. The people of Bengal want a better and a free life.
Why did Bengal vote for you?
In 32 years, the level of development in Bengal has been so low that people don’t want this government any more. This mandate is against corruption, arrogance, incompetence and misuse of power.
As an ally of the Congress, will you join the Cabinet?
We will do what people expect from us. People have voted for us to perform and emancipate Bengal from the clutches of the CPI(M).