How do you see the new coalition with the Left working out?
The Congress-CPM alliance will come close to the magic figure for government formation, highly likely. The ruling party has realised that more than we have. One indication is the way it has resorted to terror. They are nervous. The Mamata Banerjee government has lost credibility and confidence. People are frustrated and saying enough is enough, now quit.
But the Election Commission has not said anything about terror, has it?
Yes, that is the second point I was going to make. The way the polls are being conducted, it shows a clear underhand deal and a nexus between the BJP and Mamata Banerjee government. It might be a result of this nexus that the Election Commission’s response has become somewhat slow, at the later stages. What the EC is doing is cosmetic surgery.
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Haven’t there been some setbacks to the alliance in Baharampur, your home region?
It was progressing well… Suddenly, the Left Front unilaterally put up six candidates here in Murshidabad, which the Congress had won last time. The CPM said they had to accommodate Left Front constituents like Forward Bloc and RSP. It was their responsibility to sort this out, not ours.
Is it going to benefit the Trinamool Congress?
It will definitely help the Trinamool Congress. We had thought we would win 22-0 in Murshidabad district but the pitch has been queered. In the name of friendly fights, the alliance did not work as smoothly as we had thought. It is difficult to specify the exact number of seats in which the adjustment did not work. The possibility of accidents in some seats can’t be ruled out. My only hope is that voters in Murshidabad, as elsewhere in Bengal, will be conscious and will not want to waste their votes. So let’s see.
The BJP polled a large vote share in this region in the Lok Sabha polls. Do you see them maintaining it?
I don’t think the BJP will be able to hold on to that huge vote share. The BJP remains an urban phenomenon, it has not managed committed votes outside of urban limits. This election, I think the BJP votes will come to the Congress-CPM combine. Because, basically the BJP votes in Bengal are anti-establishment and the Congress-CPM represents the anti-establishment front in this election.
CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said the top CPM leadership will not share the campaign stage with the Congress, because this alliance is not a formal one. Will that set you back?
I am not sure what he said. I do not understand Sitaram’s semantics as to what is an alliance, or what is a samjhauta, or what is seat adjustment. But in the rural belts of Bengal, I found supporters of the Congress and the CPM working together, holding processions and meetings. It has happened spontaneously, not so much because of imposition from the top. So it matters little what Sitaram Yechury or Adhir Chowdhury said.
What happens after the polls?
We will have to keep this front alive and nurture it. Political equations in India are fast moving towards two camps — secular and communal. In that context, I feel the Congress and the communists will come closer and closer in national politics.
Mamata has accused you of selling the Congress flag to the communists.
I don’t need to learn this from Mamata. She has sold her flag to communal forces like the BJP, thrice. She had been a part of the communal BJP government. And why can’t the Congress and the communists come together? If Barack Obama can visit Cuba after 88 years, if East and West Germany can break the wall, what is wrong in the Congress and the communists coming closer? Mamata is the biggest catalyst in this change. Oppressed people had to have an alternative.