The lady in white

The metaphor of a lone woman fighting against the most powerful men of the country was not lost on anyone — least of all, the voters of West Bengal. The clean sweep of two-third seats by Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) is also an appalling loss for the BJP leadership, which had turned the Assembly election into a personality clash by making the now infamous catcall — Didi-o-Didi — the signature tune of the polls. Finally, the diminutive woman in a white cotton sari and a leg in a cast prevailed against the weight of the Central government and the might of the Sangh Parivar. The scale of her success has overnight turned Banerjee into a star in the national political firmament. Even her personal loss from the Nandigram seat tells the story of a gritty woman, who took the battle to the enemy camp.

The story of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s win is that of a grateful electorate rewriting a 40-year-old tradition to bring back a government that cared for it during the devastating floods of 2018 and the Covid pandemic. The poor were sustained by the government’s distribution of household essentials in Covid kits and a decent dole that saw them through the difficult days of joblessness. While Kerala rewrote its recent electoral history, Tamil Nadu voted out a largely ineffective alliance weighed down by the BJP and brought to power MK Stalin, the son and heir of the late Dravidian patriarch, M Karunanidhi.

While BJP retained Assam and won the Union Territory of Puducherry in alliance with local heavyweight N Rangaswamy, the biggest loser in this round of elections is the Congress. Party leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury’s personal pique against Banerjee and his flawed election strategy to tie up with the Left instead of the TMC has reduced the Congress to a big zero in West Bengal. The Congress leadership elsewhere too failed to measure up to its opponents. After the polls, we cannot term the voters as the ultimate victors because now they will have to pay for the feverish electioneering unleashed on them in the times of the pandemic.

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