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Mamata tsunami sweeps away 34 years of Left rule in Bengal

Saturday May 14, 2011 08:39:31 AM, IANS

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Kolkata: Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and its allies swept the assembly polls in West Bengal Friday ending the Left Front’s unprecedented 34-year rule.

In the 294-member assembly, Trinamool Congress and allies won 227 seats - a three-fourth majority - leaving the Left Front with 61 seats, its worst showing since coming to power in 1977.

The red fort crumbled under the ‘parivartan’ (change) slogan that saw the Trinamool-Congress-Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) combine canter to a two-thirds majority leaving the Left spearheaded by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) way behind.

Trinamool won a majority on its own with 184 seats, with the Congress and the SUCI getting 42 and one respectively. The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) finished with a miserable tally of 40. It was a far cry from 2006, when the Left Front got 235 seats.

Among the casualties in the Trinamool Congress wave was state Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and 26 other members of his state cabinet. Only eight ministers won.

Bhattacharjee went down by a margin of 16,684 votes to former state chief secretary and first-time contestant Manish Gupta in the red citadel of Jadvapore, where the Marxists had so far won every time since the constituency was formed in 1967. Bhattacharjee, who had been winning the seat since 1987, became only the second serving chief minister of the state after Prafulla Chandra Sen in 1967 to be humbled.

Soon after, a crestfallen Bhattacharjee went to Raj Bhavan and put in his papers. Hours later, Banerjee - mobbed by her loyalists all day - met Governor M.K. Narayanan.

The Left Front’s defeat was total. Adding insult to injury, many of the weatherbeaten Left Front politicians suffered heavy defeats at the hands of opposition nominees - some of them first time contestants and political green horns.

While Gautam Deb, CPI-M’s star campaigner in the election, lost by over 31,000 votes, Finance Minister Asim Dasgupta’s margin of defeat was over 26,000 and Agriculture Minister Naren De finished about 45,000 votes behind his Trinamool rival. Deb was defeated by theatre personality Bratya Basu, Dasgupta went down to FICCI secretary general Amit Mitra, and sports and Sundarbans Development Minister Kanti Ganguly was stunned by films actress Debashree Roy.

The Trinamool Congress winners included leader of opposition in the outgoing assembly Partha Chattopadhyay, Kolkata mayor Sovan Chattopadhyay, FICCI secretary general Amit Mitra, theatre personality Bratya Basu, Bengali film action hero Chiranjeet (Dipak) Chakraborty, and actress Debashree Roy. State Congress chief Manas Bhuniya also won.

The 56-year-old Banerjee, who left the Congress saying it was not sincere in fighting the Bengal communists and formed the Trinamool 13 years back in 1998, was third time lucky.

Both in 2001 and 2006, she raised expectations of getting the better of the Communists in state assembly polls, only to finish with poor tallies each time.

An overjoyed Banerjee described Friday’s verdict as “historic” and compared it to the country’s freedom struggle.

Addressing jubilant crowds outside her residence in south Kolkata’s Kalighat - that erupted in jubilation with supporters smearing each other in green gulal and distributing sweets - Banerjee promised to give good governance in the next five years.

“This is a complete victory of democracy… This is a historic verdict. After 34 years, Bengal has got new freedom,” she thundered, addressing a crowd of thousands that kept cheering her with slogans of “Mamata Banerjee zindabad”.

“This is just like a freedom struggle. We want to dedicate the victory to the people and the motherland,” she said.

Shocked and dejected Left leaders, who even Thursday had exuded confidence of winning a comfortable majority, termed the verdict as “unexpected” but promised to play the role of a responsible opposition.

In a joint statement, Chief Minister Bhattacharjee and Left Front chairman Biman Bose said: “The results so far indicate the end of 34 glorious years of Left rule. The result is unexpected. We accept the mandate of the people and will strive to be a responsible and constructive opposition in the assembly.”






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Picture of the Day

Vice President Mohd. Hamid Ansari addresses after releasing the special issue of “Think India” quarterly on Faiz Ahmad Faiz, in New Delhi on May 10, 2011. Also seen in the picture is Member Planning Commission Dr Syeda Hameed among others.

(Photo: Hansraj)



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