In West Bengal it is a matter of conflicting perspectives on moral imperatives.
On a political high given its recent electoral successes, the State’s principal Opposition party — the Trinamool Congress — is crying hoarse insisting that the Left Front government has forfeited its moral right to rule and, therefore, should resign. However, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has asserted that it is his moral responsibility to respect the public mandate to his government till the next Assembly elections are due in 2011.
Having stepped into his tenth year in office earlier this month, Mr. Bhattacharjee has made it clear that he is not a person to hang on to power at all costs, but one who is morally bound to fulfil the commitments his government has made to the people who voted it to power.
“He [Mr. Bhattacharjee] should be ashamed of clinging on to power in view of the string of defeats [suffered by the Left Front] in the recent elections in the State,” says Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee. The Left Front, she says, “has lost the moral right to rule for even a day longer.”
Mr. Bhattacharjee is in no mood to oblige a Trinamool that can hardly wait for an early Assembly polls, convinced as it is that the verdict of the people — as evident in the results — is for a change of government.
The results of the recent elections in the State could be construed as a “hint” but the verdict was at best a fractured one, not reflective of a greater reality, according to the Chief Minister. Neither does he believe that it would be right to draw any sweeping conclusions from the results.
The government he leads has another year and a few months ahead of it. “This is a very critical period which we want to confront face-to-face. It will not be proper to consider ourselves defeated and move away,” Mr. Bhattacharjee told a local television channel on Wednesday in reply to a question whether or not he thought the Assembly polls should be brought forward.
The Chief Minister feels the setbacks suffered by the Left parties could not be viewed as a positive outcome for an Opposition that has no programme or policy. But, he admits that there may have been shortcomings in the implementation of programmes of his government that had alienated a section of the people — as reflected in the electoral reverses — and will need rectifying.
Mr. Bhattacharjee asserts that the government will go ahead in the direction it has taken despite the obstructions of the Opposition — but with the hope that good sense will finally prevail on the latter and leads to a change in its mindset: from a confrontationist one into playing a more constructive role through consultations and discussions.
If the recent past is any indication to go by that is unlikely. Not finding any wrong in the way two senior Left Front ministers were earlier this week heckled and pushed around by demonstrators owing allegiance to her party at the Siliguri Medical College and Hospital, Ms. Banerjee has threatened future protests against “Ministers who have done no work and are not ashamed of having not done so after all these years.”