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Waiting for the verdict

Exit polls surely are reassuring but Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee is waiting for May 13 to see how much her good work in the last four years has translated into votes. Arindam Sarkar reports.

india Updated: May 12, 2011 15:24 IST
Arindam Sarkar

Exit polls surely are reassuring but Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee is waiting for May 13 to see how much her good work in the last four years has translated into votes.

She is neither upbeat, nor complacent after the exit polls predicted a sweeping victory for her. A stoic Banerjee is more concerned with what the EVMs say.

A confident Trinamool chief believe 2011 is the people's verdict and expects an overwhelming result. Banerjee is quick to stress on work to be done and admits that there is pressure on her party to deliver. "Exit polls mean nothing to me," said the Trinamool chief.

There is more to this answer that what meets the eyes. Banerjee is definitely tense. And she says whenever nerves take precedence over reality; she takes refuge in painting and Rabindrasangeet. "We must not forget the people's verdict would also mean the expectations that they have from us. They want us to work and fulfil their aspirations, neglected for decades," Banerjee told Hindustan Times.

Indeed, the Trinamool chief has evolved in the last 10 years. She is sedate, restrained, controlled in her reactions and politically wise. In 2001, 15 days before the polls, with the media projecting her as the new messiah of the Right against the Left and predicting a sure victory for her, she was more than complacent. A happy Banerjee sat in Nizam Palace playing Jodi Tor dak shune keuna ashe, tobe ekla cholo re on her synthesiser.

"We will win," Banerjee said. "The misrule of the Left Front would come to an end." The Trinamool chief was riding the paper tigers and completely out her depth. She had restrained her district tours to the killings fields of Keshpur, Arambagh and Khanakul and she felt if the CPI(M) guns could be silenced here, Bengal was hers.

She lost the 2001 assembly polls miserably. Banerjee's fall was due to lack of strong party organisation, people's inability to think she was an alternative and the choice of her candidates she put up being no match for the CPI(M) gladiators.

In 2006 assembly elections, she made the same mistake. Banerjee banked more on the media than on her party organisation and leadership. Though making hectic tours of the district and gathering huge crowds wherever she stopped to speak to them, they never translated into votes.

"We were more concerned about checking the CPI(M) armed cadres and the rigging machinery. People expected us to speak to understand and solve their problems. But we couldn't catch the pulse," she said.

Recollecting the days, Banerjee said we never expected things to go wrong so badly in 2006. It was a hard lesson for her. As one of her confidantes said, "Politics is more than banking on media and good wishes, especially if you have to get rid of a monolith called the CPI(M). Both 2001 and 2006 assembly polls taught us there is many a slip between the cup and the lip," said senior Trinamool leader and former mayor Subrata Mukherjee.

But this time, given the pulse of the people, and not the exit polls alone, Banerjee feels she has crossed the bridge.

"I will, if people want me to.

But let us see what their decision is on May 13. So far so good. But I am not willing to count my chickens before the eggs are hatched," Banerjee said with a smile.