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Verdict for reform

Red hawks can eat their heart out but there's no stopping the Buddha Brandwagon.

india Updated: May 12, 2006 02:45 IST

Red hawks can eat their heart out but there's no stopping the Buddha Brandwagon. A point which CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was quick to drive home. "It is a clear mandate in favour of industrialisation," a beaming Buddhadeb said hours after the Left Front's landslide victory.

"Ratan Tata congratulated me. He also proposed a huge investment. Beni Santoso (of Indonesian Salim Group) also called me," he said. "Even I did not expect such a huge victory. We will have to implement our policies faster," he said.

So, is this a mandate in favour of industrialisation? "Of course," he said. Is it a mandate for your reform? "Of course," he said again. Is it a mandate for your ideas of development? "Oh sure," Buddha said, smiling broadly.

Senior CPM and Left Front leaders did not disagree. Even CPM state secretary and Left Front chairman Biman Bose, not exactly known to be sympathetic to reformist policies, agreed that the people "voted in favour of the government's policies."

"We were expecting better results mainly in the urban areas. But we fared equally well even in the rural areas. The mandate is overwhelmingly in favour of the government's policies," a state secretariat member of the CPI(M) said.

There's more. The chief minister has decided to take more interesting party affairs to silence the voices of dissent, insiders said.

Left Front partners of the CPM grudgingly admitted that the days of raucous protests particularly to projects like the Salim kind were numbered. "The CPM has gone past the majority mark all by itself. Now they will care little for our protests. Buddha will naturally be all powerful in the CPM," a senior CPI leader said.

For the Opposition in Bengal, on the other hand, this election has seen the collapse of its last line of defence. The loud cheers for the Election Commission's tough talk in the hope of a Bihar-like transformation are now bound to rankle. Having consistently credited the Left Front's uninterrupted rule to its tactics of "scientific rigging", their claims stand discredited. The Left has proved that its formidable "mass base" is no illusion. Bottomline: the EC can't rescue an Opposition in tatters.

First Published: May 12, 2006 02:45 IST