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usm-red.gif (836 bytes)Assembly Elections
State Alert for BJP
usm-red.gif (836 bytes)Candidates List
CPI(M) and left contestants


Online Bureau

Elections are here again. And even as the voter prepares to cast his lot with one party or the other, tremors can be felt in the seat of power in Delhi. The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, has already started betraying a sense of nervousness; for the chief executive of a country as vast as India, it is perhaps a wee bit unnatural to continuously talk about "plots" and "conspiracies" when nothing more than a meeting of two political personalities have taken place. Nervousness is the first sign of instability; instability, in its turn, shows a lack of confidence. And it is this helpless lack of confidence which will manifest itself in the elections to the four state Assemblies of the country on November 25..

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Election wall writing in Bengal
Pic: Samiran Majumdar

The BJP is a party which, by virtue of tainted history, has been thrust with greatness. It does not have the mandate to govern and it does not have the confidence to run the show, blackmailed as it has been by its allies in the government. The sad part of the story is that it is unwilling to give up and that could well be the source of its ruin. These elections could well prove to be the first referendum on the BJP government and the people will finally choose who has been right all these preceding months.

The BJP state governments are a case in point. Its chief minister in Rajasthan, Mr Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, is on record as saying that if onions are dear, apples are not; his simple logic_switch to apples instead! We have all heard of that infamous anecdote involving Marie Antoniette just prior to the French Revolution. Mr Shekhawat could perhaps be given a history primer instead of political manuals for the time being.

The CPI(M) General Secretary, Mr Harkishen Singh Surjeet, has been on the campaign trail in Rajasthan; he has focussed not only the primary issue of misgovernance but the acute crisis in the spheres of power and prices. The CPI(M) has some presence in the state; in fact, Shikar district in the state, where the party is contesting in four of the eight seats, could prove to be a disclaimer of the theory that the Marxist influence does not work in the northern belt of the country.

Mr Shekhawat himself is on shaky ground. After having won the last nine Assembly elections, he seems confident; but this time, there is a subdued air about his morale. For one, the people are disgusted with his work with atrocities on women increasing by the day and essential commodities going out of reach of the common man; and for another, his own Sangh Parivar seems to be working against him. His own constituency of Bali is witnessing competition from a known RSS man, Amrit Lal Parmar. The chief minister would be hard put to explain to his voters as to why this has happened and whether this, in itself, can be taken to be a reflection on his ability to keep flock together.

The scene is not too different in other election areas like Madhya Pradesh and Delhi while in Mizoram, saffron is a colour which belongs only to those who do not dream in black and white. Ruled by the Congress for quite some time now, Madhya Pradesh has been going through a major period of political uncertainty, fuelled largely by the spread of venomous communalism by the BJP and the Sangh Parivar. Fortunately, the Left is taking an active role in uniting the agricultural labourers of the state and the farmers’ agitation is set to take a new significance in the days to come. The elections, which are only hours away, could give a new dimension to the influence of Left politics in the northern belt ;the Congress failure in governance and the general apathy towards the BJP’s diabolic games are now common talk. The ballot war in Madhya Pradesh will see a major upswing in Left fortunes.

The war anyway is on in Delhi; however, this is open, not through democratic means like the ballot box. Sushma Swaraj has been foisted on the state as chief minister and her own party compatriots like Madan Lal Khurana and Sahib Singh Varma are not wasting any time at sniping at her. The recent murder of the Samata Party candidate, Vaid Singh, has opened a Pandora’s Box and there is little hope left for the BJP. The saffron party’s days are numbered and perhaps no one knows this better than the Prime Minister and the party top brass themselves. If Delhi is lost, then the BJP government has no moral right to rule the country. It is only a matter of days before the country will send its signal to Mr Vajpayee. And this time, red herrings like price rise, Pokhran and now the Saraswati Vandana will not do any longer.

In West Bengal, byelections are being held to three Assembly constituencies: Mayureswar in Birbhum district, Nandanpur in Midnapur district and Baruipur in the southern suburbs of Calcutta . The Trinamul Congress and its ally, the BJP, seem to have already given up the battle before the war has begun. Mayureswar has always been a CPI(M) bastion and is expected to stay that way while Nandanpur ‘s byelection was necessiated after the death of minister Chhaya Bera. Obviously, the constituency which has seen the good work done by the minister is set to return the Left candidate.The most interesting contest will, however, be seen in Baruipur where the sitting MLA, Mr Sovandeb Chattopadhya, left the constituency to enter Assembly by the urban Rashbehari route. The people of Baruipur thus feel cheated and coupled with the open dissidence and confusion in the Congress ranks, the seat seems to have already been pocketed by the Left. The impending loss of Baruipur should be enough reason for Ms Mamata Banerjee to at least try and hide her shame.

elec1.jpg (11464 bytes)Elections are also being held to the municipalities of Howrah, Behrampore and Krishnagar municipalities. Though not quite comparable with the national scale in which the Assembly elections are being fought, civic elections are always an indicator of how the local administration has fared. It would be worthwhile to evaluate the chances and the results this time in these three areas since Behrampore and Krishnagar municipalities are not under Left Front control. But given the total disorientation with the administrations at the local level, the wind could well be blowing the left way this time.

Elections are always interesting; this time, the Assembly elections could prove to be epochal. For, this time, the country will move towards the first step in showing that the BJP had not been the people’s choice when it clobbered together a coalition with the only objective to divide this country. The people are set to rise. And the BJP coalition is readying to fall .

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