The outcome of the West Bengal Assembly by-elections is proof that the State people are for the Trinamool Congress-Congress alliance and the Left Front is losing its popularity, according to Union Finance Minister and president of the West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee Pranab Mukherjee.

“The anti-Left alliance, led by the Trinamool Congress, was successful in the last Lok Sabha elections, (subsequent) by-elections and the municipality polls, and even now,” he told reporters here on Wednesday

Mr. Mukherjee, however, admitted that the Congress, which could retain only one of the two seats it held and lost in two of the three it contested, had failed to capitalise on the anti-incumbency wave in the State. “It is a fact that the Congress could not capitalise on the anti-incumbency wave. This is because of our organisational weakness.”

Asked whether Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee should resign to pave the way for early Assembly elections [due in 2011], he said: “I am not the Chief Minister. It is a theoretical question. What he will do or not do is his decision.”

Praise for Mamata

Mr. Mukherjee had a word of praise for Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee. “The results are a definite proof of her leadership and people’s support for the Trinamool Congress-Congress alliance. The alliance is there and will continue to be there.”

The success of the Trinamool Congress in all the seven seats it contested was laudable, he said and pointed out the party’s victory in Belgachia East seat, which the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had been winning since 1977. Its wresting of the Rajganj seat from the CPI(M) was also noteworthy.

The reasons behind the Congress’ failure to retain Goalpokhor would be analysed, he added.

On rise in prices of essential commodities, Mr. Mukherjee said the State governments were asked to strengthen the public distribution system, particularly to protect the interests of the economically weaker sections of society.

Since there were deficiencies in the production of edible oil and pulses, the government allowed import of these items at zero import duty and States were asked to meet the shortfall through such imports.


Cracks in West Bengal’s red bastion widensNovember 12, 2009