West Bengal is heading towards assembly polls in another few months. While BJP has steadily gained enough ground in last 5 years on the left-TMC-infested State and is projecting a comfortable lead in West Bengal Election 2021, the saffron party’s victorious emergence is no cakewalk.
While misrule and the corrupt bend of governance under Mamata Banerjee has aggrieved innumerable people of West Bengal, a beneficiary class of orchestrated corruption has also emerged. A viral video has shown CM saying “eka sob khabo hoy na”(one should not aim at eating alone). Her verbose amounts to endorsing corruption and frame an ecosystem of collective plunder.
And how do we classify this beneficiary class of corruption? In my view, these are three segments which define them as ones eating away the vitals of West Bengal.
It puts Mamata in an enviable position of representing a class of people who perceive politics as RTPC (Right to Practice Corruption). Corruption in politics is a rightful claim to these people and they’re unapologetic about it. Mamata Banerjee is idolized by this class of people and the apparent inference is she hasn’t quite reined them in, despite the “Didi Ke Bolo” campaign strung by her advisor Prashant Kishor. Nor the word on her nephew Abhishek Banerjee’s brazenness on such matters has been put to rest.
A section of business persons too seems to favour her as yet. GOWB under her leadership formed a tax-evasion-friendly congenial atmosphere for the businesses in lieu of fat donations (however much less than legitimate GST & VAT quantum) to the party fund. Such people may continue to favour Mamata Banerjee’s ‘diye khao‘ politics & are no less in number especially in Kolkata and South Bengal. Though GOWB has indulged into massive defalcation of Government Treasury adding to loan burden of the State almost 3 times that of Left Front regime and got the existing revenue system dismantled, handful of State’s businesspersons are gaining short-term benefits from such anti-revenue policies of GOWB. This statement may be numerically corroborated with comparatively low volume of GST collection by the State.
Being predominantly a consumption-based State with huge population, the extent to which West Bengal was supposed to grow in terms of revenue collection, it’s collecting a miniscule fraction of that in reality. However, a significant section of gullible common people are least bothered about the loan burden on the State Treasury as, in lieu of allegiance to TMC, they snatched cuts from Govt’s Welfare Projects. They’re direct beneficiaries & hence supporters of Mamata Banerjee’s corruption-code. Number of such people are no less in West Bengal.
Civil Personnel Class
Instead of appointing eligible people in proper scale in different government departments, Mamata Banerjee-led GOWB contractually appointed CIVIC PERSONNEL as Police, Teachers & even Healthcare Workers. As these staff get meagre amounts like 5-10K/month themselves, they feel sadistic pleasure to see GOWB keeping huge deficit in Dearness Allowance of the actual government employees. People, who failed to bag Govt-jobs in a job-deficient State, are jeolous of those who succeeded to get one. Such people are happy by the policy of keeping actual Government Employees underpaid. Civic Police are a dedicated lot to TMC as they have been given unofficial freehand to practice tola-bazi.
However, in spite of categories still remaining pro to TMC, a negative whirlwind has started blowing in the State. Horror of Partition still haunts West Bengal. Mamata Banerjee’s blindfolded appeasement of a specific community frightened a large number of generally silent people who started being vocal against her grossly wrong policies and thus preparing the ground for another negative-vote-centric Election in West Bengal similar to that of 2011. That year too, people had a ready list of grievances against the Left and they voted for Mamata Banerjee as an option against them. Since then, West Bengal experienced how it felt being ‘from frying pan to fire’.
And the Fatalism of People in Bengal
That is perhaps why the State, this time, is supposed to be more careful about letting a third political party enter the show. Lack of any previous exposure of West Bengal to BJP rule may also contribute to such apprehension. Moreover, for last five decades since 1967, West Bengal had always elected her Assembly to oppose the Centre. The State might have developed antagonism in her core. In addition to that, Jyoti Basu till the 90s did a planned promulgation that BJP is a party of uncivilized barbarians. The idea still prevails in a section of WB people though they are less influential in present Bengal. The silent majority doesn’t seem to subscribe to Basu-hypothesis any more. In spite of that Bengal election for BJP would not be a similar experience to what Mamata Banerjee had in 2011. While Mamata won just by consolidating on Left-phobia, BJP’s fight in Bengal is supposed to be harder as Mamata-phobia in 2020 is less pronounced than Left-phobia in 2011.
There’s one more subtle reason why BJP’s fight would be tough in 2021. In last 10 years of Banerjee, added to previous 34 of the LEFTs, tolerance level of West Bengal to political nuisance has increased manifold. People of West Bengal, especially the SCs, STs and the huge number of Refugees of the State, had almost lost hope for a dignified life with head high. They seem to have admitted a life of incessant conflict as destiny.
Why’s Bengal a hotbed of clashes even on petty issues? Why people of Bengal can attempt homicide even for some very small amount of money? Why does an MP of West Bengal mark a meagre Rs 5 lac to be “anek taka” (a lot of money)? Because they are insecure and deprived of true affluence since independence. After Partition, West Bengal is perhaps the only State people whereof neither got financial security nor recognition as coveted Indians. Having been exposed to continuous infiltration of Bangladeshi Muslims through 2216.17 km long Indo-Bangladesh border & having to absorb Left toxins for last 6 decades, West Bengal kept on losing financially, socially, culturally & demographically. Incessant struggle for existence set an inertia in people of scratching the ground and disbelieving others. Hence, they may not believe in any new verbal promises of any other political party easily. The saffron party would have to intensify their effort on the ground not only to convince people to vote for them and be aware of the imminent danger hovering on West Bengal if Mamata Banerjee remains at helm.
Debjani Bhattacharyya is a columnist who’s a keen observer of politics and social changes.. A communication-strategist by profession having special aptitude for analytical jackknifing of information, Debjani is a Pharmaceutical Engineer & a Management Professional by her credentials.
Analysis of data & information for generating insights for policy planning is a passion while her other significant area of interest is the Constitution of India and its interpretations thereof. She’s a voracious reader with enormous affinity towards Classics of Bengali Literature. She is an opinion-maker on social media through her blog, twitter and facebook.