This election in the hills will come to pass as an uneventful , issueless and uncharacteristic election, full of rhetoric, devoid of societal passion, but replete with usual zeal and brinkmanship that only ubiquitous money power can trigger.
The voters have no clarity of options to choose from the list of candidates given the (in)credibility or their issue- based manifesto. Ideological differences and political conundrum have led to further obfuscation of the whole spectrum of voting process. Political retaliatory theory for who did what in the past has polluted the thought process of majority of the clear thinking populace. Even as this insensibility persists, other polarising views suggest that religious nationalistic agenda is afoot amid certain section of educated elite which in this scenario is not unreasonable.
Let’s analyse some of the chronological occurrences that have contributed to this bizarre situation and impasse.
During the last agitation in 2017, TMC or rather it’s supremo Mamata didi wreaked havoc in the hills in connivance with police force and administration while trying to crush the agitation that was increasingly becoming violent and uncontrollable. A number of agitators were brutalised, shot at, killed and scores arrested. Thousands flee their homes. A spate of state sponsored violence and persecution forced top-rung leaders to go underground.
Stringent criminal act such as UAPA was slapped on Gurung and his coterie forcing him and his men to remain in hiding and be incommunicado for over three years. Conversely some feeble -minded turncoats through chicanery and subterfuge, shifted their allegiance to Didi to enjoy freedom and power till recent EC dictat. Thus agitation died an agonising death.
Meanwhile, few months ago, Bimal Gurung suddenly dramatically surfaced in Kolkata and in a press conference announced his severance of longstanding ties with saffron party, literally fawning before Didi singing paeans to support her in hustings, surprising many and evoking stinging trolls in the hills. This hugely changed the equation vis-a-vis other stakeholders. His trusted friends deserted him as in the past opting for greener pastures. The idea of retaliatory bashing to Didi through hustings for how she persecuted hill people is gaining currency. Now clearly this abrupt change in political perspective has pushed sensible people to the corner, bursting to the seams.
The inevitable questions doing the rounds in social media etc. would be something like the following: –
- Should we vote for candidates supporting BJP (GNLF, CPRM, ABGL etc.) with the sole aim of punishing Mamata for her role in crushing our legitimate demands, ignoring BJP’s equally questionable lies and passive stance which now stand exposed after Gurung’s unceremonious departure? Freshly resurrected GNLF, supporting BJP, seems to be embroiled in internal differences with a frontline powerful leader Ajay Edward openly rebelling against party president’s decision in fielding candidates in Darjeeling constituency ignoring his candidature. The insensitivities disappeared somehow but resonance persists. Such an action without rhyme and reason would amount to perversion. The most crucial and topical issues should hinge on assurances and betrayal, our safety, development, job opportunities, price rise, constitutional rights and freedom at national level that dog our society and nation and not on personal aggrandisement.
- Should we vote for either of the 2 factions of GJMM? They have announced their allegiance to Didi who has so far unilaterally manoeuvred her way into the core of this divided house. Will their allegiance change if we vote for either of the two factions, dividing their votes thereby helping BJP gain more vote shares paving way for their ideological defeat? These narratives are based only on conscientious assumptions amongst politically savvy and erudite voters. Other than this, pattern of casting votes will depend mostly on personal ethos and individual reckoning which invariably reek of bias and prejudice. Here it is important to scrutinize and ascertain how Gurung’s entry in the fray with his assurance of alliance with Didi albeit his meek Gorkhaland gimmicks, can determine and influence voting pattern. There is this Binoy faction with strong support base to reckon with. Has Bimal Gurung unwittingly committed political harakiri by dumping his mentors at the wrong time? Or is there any guarantee that Binay & Co. will also not jump ship, as their won’t is, in the event of BJP coming to power?
- Irrespective of how the game is played out, one thing is for sure. Conscious voters shall be hugely impacted and influenced by the dramatic occurrences unfurling in the political arena of the two predominant parties pitted against each other in Kolkata. This election in the hills will be watched with intrigue as mere three seats could make a difference to both stakeholders. All the voters who can make a conscious decision will be caught between a proverbial rock and hard place. Fight for your right by casting your votes to individuals who you believe can uphold your self-esteem and dignity which at the moment seem moribund.
Writes: Ashok Waiba