Strange Bedfellows

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Published: April 30, 2015 2:33:04 AM

The Left and the BJP in West Bengal, with their bandh calls, make for exactly that

A bandh in West Bengal should surprise no one. But this time, it promises to be odd, if not exciting. The Left and the BJP, on Tuesday, gave separate calls for a state-wide bandh today after the ruling Trinamool Congress—despite numerous defections and the allegations of widespread corruption against it—swept the civic polls in the state. For both the Left and the BJP, this was a “murder of democracy” and there had to be a protest. The irony of it all, though, doesn’t escape notice—the ideological opposites will find themselves on the same side of the barricade if the bandh comes to pass. But then, in West Bengal, the only thing that worked unfailingly is a bandh call. So, the parties could be forgiven if they thought they were constrained for the choice of political response.

The Left and the BJP may have the same interest here, but it is hard to imagine they would ever collude, more so with open acknowledgement—the Left urged all opposition parties, especially the BJP and the Congress, to support its call. The BJP, whose appeal has surged among the electorate ever since the 2014 general elections despite the fact that the party had no pull in the state earlier, is as much of a threat to the Left, which lost West Bengal to Trinamool after a 34-year rule. Thus, the “enemy of my enemy” alliance could actually be just ephemeral. In all likelihood, the bandh will set the stage for a three-way joust with the BJP, the Left and the Trinamool all lunging at each other. Politics makes for strange bedfellows, but in this case, the bed looks like a Royal Rumble (last wrestler standing) ring.

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