From Sarada chit fund scam to Narada sting operation— a political minefield waited for Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee in the run up to the poll. But she seems to have escaped unhurt to spearhead her party to another stupendous victory in West Bengal assembly election.
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The Left and the Congress, two marginalized Opposition forces in the battlefield of Bengal, had hurriedly stitched an alliance, albeit informal, to take on Banerjee collectively. While the joint venture succeeded in resisting violence in some parts, the impact on the EVM was limited. Within the party, the Bengal leadership of the Left may also face further marginalization as they were the ones who forced the CPI(M) Central Committee accept the formula of an informal understanding with the Congress.
Banerjee not only emerged as the undisputed leader of the Eastern state but this victory will also help her consolidate her position in a possible third front initiate for 2019. She had already been in touch with leaders like Nitish Kumar, Naveen Patnaik, Arvind Kejriwal. With the second consecutive win in the state that gives 42 MPs in Lok Sabha, Trinamool is likely to be a better choice for the Third Front leaders than the Left.
The 34% Muslim vote in Bengal perhaps rallied behind Banerjee in the three-corner contest where the BJP too, seems to be increasing its footprint. There were reports that the urban middle class is miffed with Trinamool but the vast rural belts of Bengal provided Banerjee the cushion for political comfort.
As an administrator, Banerjee will be under more pressure to deliver and appease the rising expectations from her voters. She may have to re-look her policies that had so far not encouraged industries to return to Bengal. But her first priority must be to put a leash on political violence as Bengal has already earned notoriety in that aspect.
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