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‘Ram, Baam & Shyam’ — why Mamata’s going hammer and tongs at BJP-CPI(M)-Congress ‘alliance’

After loss in farm co-op poll, the West Bengal CM has claimed that opposition parties gang up against TMC only during elections. Panchayat polls in the state will be held in 2023.

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Kolkata: The unlikely alliance of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for a cooperative body election prompted West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to lampoon the opposition parties who she alleged were out to stop her party at all costs.

Mamata sharpened her attack on the opposition parties just 48 hours after the Trinamool Congress failed to win any seat in the Baharampur Cooperative Agricultural Credit Society at Nandakumar in Purba Medinipur district.

Since the society’s inception in 2012, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) hasn’t got any representation in the Baharampur co-operative’s board. Elections for the board take place every five years, according to a senior society official.

“The BJP only talks big. It has two associates — the Left and the Congress. They don’t work but during elections they get together. Ram [BJP], Baam [CPI-M] and Shyam [Congress] are united and become one party. They have a give and take understanding, [and] that’s the truth. Show them the door,” Mamata told a public rally in Nadia district on Wednesday.

The TMC chief had used the phrase earlier in 2019 to allege that the Congress and the Left were working together to help the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.

While the cooperative polls are not fought on any party symbol, the BJP and the CPI-M came together to form the Save the Cooperative Society Committee to field candidates against the ruling party in Nandakumar.

The TMC supremo’s broadside against her rivals came in the wake of political parties gearing up to prepare for another round of electoral showdown. After the civic election to 108 municipalities taking place in February, Bengal is headed to panchayat election in early 2023. The last panchayat poll took place in 2018.

Trinamool leader Kunal Ghosh told ThePrint that the BJP and the CPI-M are forming an alliance in full public view. “If the CPI-M and the BJP join hands for such small polls in the state, it becomes easier for us to expose their unholy alliance. People are with the TMC and will continue to support us in the coming days,” he added.

In the BJP ranks, Lok Sabha MP Saumitra Khan advocated that the same formula should be used in the upcoming panchayat polls. But, another party MP and state vice-president Dilip Ghosh said that Khan cannot decide the party’s election strategy.

The current political sentiment in Bengal is anti-TMC, BJP spokesperson Samik Bhattacharya told ThePrint. “The people will vote for those who can defeat the TMC. The opposition parties have a floor coordination even inside Parliament or Assembly. So, there is no new phenomenon here,” he added.


Also Read: ‘BJP makes empty promises before elections’ — Mamata reaches out to Matuas, but opposes CAA


‘We are not political leaders’

The Baharampur Cooperative Agriculture Credit Society is clean in its operations, the cooperative’s manager Bishwanath Maity told ThePrint. “Compared to the TMC-directed Cooperatives, there is no corruption here. … The existing cooperative board [members] stood for re-elections. As many as 54 seats went uncontested. Voting was held In 11 seats for which around 350 people cast their ballots.”

Maity asserted that the Save the Cooperative Society Committee is apolitical just like the board of directors. “We, the board members, are not political leaders… Some of us are social activists.”

He added that the board members came together to form the committee to ensure that the Trinamool doesn’t get any access in the cooperative. “We decided one month before the election to stay united to ensure the TMC remains at bay.”

CPI-M Purba Medinipur district secretary Niranjan Sihi told ThePrint that Save the Cooperative Society Committee was formed due to growing dissent against the TMC. “Trinamool Congress is trying to blame the CPI-M for forming an alliance with the BJP to defeat the TMC. In reality, the TMC is unable to fathom its defeat. From the inception of our party, we have opposed the BJP and that continues. The Trinamool is unable to accept the defeat and using this as an excuse.”

In the last year’s Bengal elections, the BJP became the principal opposition party by winning 77 seats with 38.13 per cent vote share. Both the Congress and the CPI-M, which had entered into an understanding, failed to open their account. For the first time in Bengal’s history, the CPI-M and the Congress had no representation in the state assembly.

But less than a year on, in March this year, the CPI-M outperformed the BJP in the civic polls in Bengal. The TMC steamrolled the opposition as it won 102 of the total 108 civic bodies. It received 63 per cent of total votes polled. The CPI-M came second with 14 per cent vote share and won one municipality. This time, the BJP drew a blank and tallied 13 per cent vote share.

Political analyst Udayan Bandopadhyay claimed the cooperative elections are miniscule and their outcome should not be seen as a political overturn. “If anything, the TMC will use this opportunity to tell the people of Bengal that ideologically different BJP and CPI-M are coming together to fight against its secular ideology. In reality, the BJP and the CPI-M could never come together even for panchayat polls as they won’t be able to even get along to agree on a single point on seat sharing talks,” the political science professor at Kolkata’s Bangabasi College said.

(Edited by Tony Rai)


Also Read: ‘Syndicate of 5-6 newcomers’: Bengal BJP leader’s letter to Nadda exposes divide in state unit


 

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