Bengal House now wears bipartisan political shade
The West Bengal assembly, India’s second largest state legislature after Uttar Pradesh, is also one of the least diverse Houses now after Mamata Banerjee’s All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party mopped up 290 out of 292 seats that went to the polls this summer.
For the first time, the Bengal assembly doesn’t have representation from the Congress and the Left Front, projecting a bipartisan shade of political representation that was unthinkable in the state till 10 years ago.
But West Bengal is not the only assembly in India where all seats are distributed between just two parties. The Delhi assembly, for the last 10 years, has seen Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Admi Party enjoying a sweeping majority. and the seats are divided between the AAP and the BJP.
“See, it’s the BJP that tried to polarize the Bengal elections. But the plan backfired and ultimately, Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool got more than two-third majority. In the process, some parties got wiped out. The Congress got just 2.8% votes. These parties will not be heard in the floor of the assembly,” said TMC national spokesperson and former union minister Saugata Ray.
Along with West Bengal, Kerala, Assam, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry also went for polls. In Assam, as many as seven parties will be present in the assembly while in Tamil Nadu eight parties have found representation.
Kerala, where the LDF alliance headed by the Left Front retained power , has the highest number of parties in any Indian assembly. With various regional factions of Congress and other local parties making their mark, as many as 15 political outfits, barring independents, will be present in the Kerala legislative assembly.
Among the large states, Madhya Pradesh is the only other state where nearly all seats are concentrated between two political parties. In the 132-member House, the BJP and the Congress dominate most of the seats with just a few independents and one MLA of the BSP.
Former Lok Sabha secretary general P Sreedharan maintained that number of parties or their strength doesn’t matter much in legislative Houses. “Numerical strength is no guarantee of an effective opposition. Even a four- or five-member strong Opposition bench can be effective if they have good orators,” he said.
Underlining that in the parliamentary system of India, political parties have to accept the people’s mandate, Sreedharan said, “I remember in 1967, the Congress had just 9 seats in Kerala . But it was such a good opposition that in the next poll, it came to power.”