ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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'National' State Elections

The defeat of the Left stands out in the state elections, but so too does the anger of the voter.

In the normal course of things, legislative assembly elections in four states would not be seen as of great national significance, especially when two of the states have a relatively small representation in Parliament. However, this week’s election results could portend major changes in national politics and are perhaps indicators of important shifts in political power.

The biggest impact of the results of the elections will be on the Left. In West Bengal the poll outcome marks the formal end of the three-and-a-half-decade-long rule by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] and the Left Front (LF). While there were differences in pre-poll opinion about the scale of the LF’s impending defeat, it was apparent to the disinterested observer that the people of West Bengal had turned against the communists. The triumph of Mamata Banerjee is, however, not a positive vote but rather an outpouring of seething anger against all the cumulative acts of omission and commission the LF is guilty of. To put it in one sentence: It is a landslide defeat of the ruling communists of Bengal. The upheaval in West Bengal is the outburst of anger against the vice-like grip the party had come to exercise on society, especially in rural Bengal. This control expanded over the years and more than neutralised the support the CPI(M) had built up with its major land reform programmes. It is also ironic that the ruling communists forgot the one lesson of Indian electoral politics they have often given others, that every government which has aggressively pursued neo-liberal economic policies and surrendered the poor to the whims of corporate honchos has met with a similar electoral whitewash – the National Democratic Alliance in 2004 general elections, the Jayalalithaa-led All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) in 2006, the Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party in 2004 and the Buddhadeb Bhattacharya-led CPI(M) today in West Bengal.

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