Mamata Banerjee’s first stint as the West Bengal chief minister had witnessed scams and scandals, but as the election results show, none of them could sully her squeaky clean image.
First came the Saradha fund scam, followed by the Narada sting which purportedly showed several of her party men accepting cash.
Several of the tainted leaders were in the electoral fray and barring former minister Madan Mitra, currently in jail over his alleged involvement with Saradha, all have won. Their victories prove that accusations of corruption leveled against the TMC has failed to stuck on Mamata.
She never admitted to wrongdoing, but the opposition offensive had momentarily put her on the back foot. The TMC had to remove scores of banners and cutouts that boldly said Mamata was the “symbol of honesty”. It was not an admission by any means, but a political compulsion, admitted Trinamool leaders in private.
“In their vilification campaign, the Opposition almost outdid Goebbels (Hitler’s propaganda minister during WW II). It was shameful. They targeted every leader in our party and even me. All political parties should have some respect for each other,” Mamata said soon after the results were announced.
Corruption had become a talking point in Bengal in recent past. It gained steam after an under-construction flyover collapsed in Kolkata. Her rivals said Mamata’s single-biggest achievement has been to put Bengal on the corruption map of India.
“Corruption is the key issue this election. Bengal have never witnessed a minister getting arrested on corruption charges and then contesting from jail,” said CPI(M) state secretary Suryakanta Mishra on election-eve.
The voters, however, overwhelmingly chose to disagree.