Mamata calls meet to review setback

Mamata is yet to make a public appearance since the election results

By Meghdeep Bhattacharyya in Calcutta
  • Published 25.05.19, 4:10 AM
  • Updated 25.05.19, 4:10 AM
  • 3 mins read
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Mamata Banerjee The Telegraph file picture

Mamata Banerjee has convened a Trinamul meeting on Saturday to review the election mandate with candidates and senior leaders, nearly 48 hours after the declaration of the results that gave the BJP 18 out of Bengal’s 42 Lok Sabha seats.

Even as disbelief made way for fear in the rank and file of Trinamul over the road ahead the chief minister took her time since the final trends emerged from Thursday evening.

Sources in her party said Mamata — who is yet to make a public appearance since the results — personally took reports from virtually every corner of the state and conducted her own initial assessment of the factors that contributed to the debacle before scheduling the Saturday meeting at her residence.

Trinamul sources said the results had raised several red flags for 30B Harish Chatterjee Street — Mamata’s home in Calcutta — ahead of the 2021 Assembly polls.

Of the 294 Assembly seats, Trinamul was found trailing in 130 — 121 gave leads to the BJP and nine to the Congress. More alarmingly, 15 of her 45 ministers had failed to ensure leads for Trinamul candidates in their own Assembly segments (see chart).

“All 42 candidates, their campaign managers, district observers, district leaders, state-level leaders…. Everyone who handled important responsibilities in the elections has been summoned to the meeting. We expect fireworks,” said a senior Trinamul leader.

According to him, although Mamata convenes such meetings after every election, they had largely been celebratory occasions since the Lok Sabha polls of 2009.

“This time, however, it will be quite different. There will be a post-mortem of the results, figuring out what went wrong, fixing responsibility and drawing up a road map for immediate course-correction,” the leader said.

Sources said the jitters since the results had set off a blame game in the party, something which Mamata would like to address.

Some others have started taking responsibility for the poor showing.

Asansol mayor Jitendra Kumar Tiwari on Friday submitted his resignation from the post to the district leadership in West Burdwan, taking responsibility of the “ignominious” defeat of Moon Moon Sen to Babul Supriyo.

The BJP nominee and minister won a second consecutive time, defeating Sen by over 1.97 lakh votes.

Tiwari declined comment. Sources said his resignation was not accepted and instead it was forwarded to the Calcutta leadership for further consideration.

Tiwari had earlier told Trinamul workers during the campaign that he would resign if he failed to ensure a lead from his civic ward or his Assembly segment for his party.

A Trinamul MLA from Calcutta’s vicinity said Mamata was likely to address corruption, which he said was largely to blame for the “dismal and scary” results.

“Our partymen have not spared the poorest of poor beneficiaries of government schemes, more so in rural areas. Nobody is safe from our extortionary activities…. The pent-up resentment over this finally caught up with the party this time,” the MLA said.

“She had said she would not give tickets in future to those unable to ensure leads from their Assembly segments or civic wards. Will she do that with those who failed to secure leads from, let’s say, Rashbehari (Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay), Bidhannagar (Sujit Bose) and Habra (Jyotipriya Mullick)?” the MLA wondered.

Trinamul secretary-general and minister Partha Chatterjee said “prima facie”, it appeared the party suffered because of the transfer of Left votes to the BJP.

“In yet another historic blunder, the Left made the suicidal move of backing the BJP in a tacit understanding to dent Trinamul…. The likes of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee should introspect, whether this is what they dedicated their lives to,” said Chatterjee.

Political scientists said of the 121 Assembly segments the BJP led in, over 100 were rural.

“This clearly shows that the ruling party’s excesses in the panchayat elections last year, when 34 per cent of the electorate could not even vote, has boomeranged,” said Biswanath Chakraborty, professor of political science at Rabindra Bharati University.

On the trailing ministers, Chakraborty said it reflected a “highly polarised” election where other issues took the backseat.

“Even the good performers, like Tapan Dasgupta, Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay, Gautam Deb, Sujit Bose and Jyotipriya Mullick were not spared by the impact of polarisation…. Whereas, for the same reason, some relatively poor performers, like Abdur Razzaq Mollah in Bhangar or Nirmal Majhi in Uluberia North, got leads simply because their constituencies were minority-dominated.”

Additional reporting by Abhijeet Chatterjee and Snehal Sengupta

Mamata Banerjee, who was not seen in public till Friday evening since her party's reverses in the Lok Sabha elections, posted on social media a poem — in English, Bengali and Hindi. The poem is titled I Do Not Agree in English. The poem apparently attacks the alleged principal planks on which the general election was won by Narendra Modi and his party.

I Do Not Agree

The colour of communalism

I do not believe in,

There is aggression and tolerance

in every religion.

I am a humble servant of the gentle Renaissance

raised in Bengal.

I don’t believe in selling religious

aggression,

I believe in a religion that draws light from humanism.

Those who expediently use religion as a trump card

and reside on mountains of riches.

I keep myself engrossed in my numerous duties

while you appear to have no such qualms.

Is that why you resort to selling aggression in religion?

Those who believe in tolerance,

let us come together and awaken all.

When the whole world is but one country

O why this arithmetic that seeks to make aggression

a virtue?