Tragedy after tragedy saps not Bengal govt, but rivals
Five tragedies in the past four weeks have served the Opposition a platter of opportunities to attack the Mamata Banerjee government and her party, but the rivals have fallen short of emulating her belligerence during her stint out of power.
It began with the Majerhat bridge collapse on September 4. Then came the Bagree Market fire, the death of two students in alleged police firing in Islampur’s Daribhit, the Nagerbazar blast that killed an eight-year-old boy on Tuesday on and the Calcutta Medical College and Hospital fire on Wednesday.
The seas have been choppy for Mamata and her party, pushed to the backfoot by the successive blows the first time since coming to power. “It has been a torrid time for us. But the Opposition has failed to corner us,” said a Trinamul insider.
The Congress has been conspicuous in its silence amid an overhaul of the state unit. The CPM has been holding a news conference or two, besides some rallies that have been far from crowd-pullers.
The BJP has held some agitation programmes in pockets, with little impact. Even as a combined force, the rivals’ efforts have not been enough to cause significant discomfort for the ruling establishment.
A state functionary of the BJP said the state unit, in coordination with the national leadership, is working towards building the perception of the state government being a “total failure”. He said the leadership has been instructed against squandering away the possibility of gains from these incidents.
State BJP chief Dilip Ghosh said his party had conducted “many” programmes over the Islampur incident and will seek to create a plank out of the Nagerbazar blast, too.
Asked why his party has not been able make better use of the opportunities, Ghosh claimed it was out of the
BJP’s belief in the role of a “responsible” Opposition. “We do not believe in destructive Opposition politics like Trinamul. We are going to the people to make them understand what this government is all about without affecting their daily lives.”
However, one of Ghosh’s colleagues in the state unit attributed it to the party’s failure in pulling off disruptive programmes in Bengal, pointing to the “complete flop” of the September 26 bandh it had called over the Islampur incident.
When a similar question was placed before some on Alimuddin Street, they attributed the lukewarm approach to the CPM’s inability to rock Mamata’s boat. “Nothing we do seems to be enough. The fatigue is palpable. Shoulders have dropped,” said a CPM insider.
He contrasted the situation with how Mamata and her party won 211 seats out of 294 in the 2016 Assembly elections, which she fought against a Left-Congress alliance — shortly after the Supreme Court ordered a CBI probe in the Saradha case, the release of the Narada tapes and the Vivekananda Road flyover collapse.
A Trinamul source said although the ruling establishment is yet to offer much of a self-defence other than some conspiracy theories against the BJP-RSS parivar, the Opposition has not been able to dent the popularity of Trinamul, especially outside Calcutta, where all the incidents — other than the Islampur deaths — took place.
“She had ability to turn incidents into issues that transcended such divides,” the Trinamul source said, referring to her role in the final term of the Left government. “Had we been in the Opposition at such a time, she (Mamata) would have brought the state to a grinding halt and the ruling establishment to its knees,” he added.
A Trinamul leader said the others were accidents, but the Islampur and Kazipara incidents could have been averted if more caution was exercised.
“Course correction of some sort could feature in our core committee meeting on Friday, which Mamata will address.”