sickle_s.gif (30476 bytes) People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)

Vol. XXV

No. 17

April 29, 2001

A Much Ignored Opinion Poll

It’s bad news for Trinamul, say its own pundits!

Naazish Abbas

OPINION polls are being cited by many as a "sure indicator" of the Left Front’s "imminent defeat" in the West Bengal assembly elections due next month. Complex techniques used by pollsters conducting surveys for The Times of India and The Week have already given their verdict. They have, in turn, been used by many of those anxious to see the Left Front leave Writer’s Building, as a vindication of their position.

In this context, one opinion poll is not being given the coverage it deserves. A poll commissioned by the Trinamul Congress [the results of which are with some sections of the press] has indicated that, despite all the hype created by the bourgeois press in and around Kolkata, the news is not so good for Mamata Banerjee. Carried out by the Core Consultancy Group and Initiative (two market research organisations) between March 9 and April 2, the survey says that the Congress-Trinamul combine would get "140 to 145 seats," which is short of the 147 seats required to form a government in the state. The survey says that the Left Front would have an edge with "145 to 155 seats." The survey says that "8.75 per cent of the floating vote" in Bengal would eventually decide the fate of the election in the state where the Left has been in power for over two decades now.

This survey becomes interesting as it has been commissioned by the Trinamul. The fact that the party felt the need to commission such a poll is an indicator of the degree of insecurity that the party is experiencing about the latest of its alliances --- the one that it has struck with the Congress party. It is still not very clear how seriously Mamata Banerjee is taking this poll, now that it hasn’t given her the news that she must have been desperately hoping for. Trinamul Congress leaders are of course completely tight-lipped about the commissioning of this poll, but that is not very surprising!

The most important tool in Mamata’s armour so far has decidedly been the press. They have never disappointed her over the past few years, though there has been some disenchantment amongst her loyalists when she used to periodically enact her resignation dramas when in the Vajpayee government. Her dramatic (and final!) resignation has been primarily to pick up some of the credibility that she had lost, playing the part of the sullen cabinet minister whose heart was not quite with the BJP. She may have won back some of her supporters through her latest alliance --- some of that dwindling so-called minority vote may have returned --- but to what end? Mamata cannot perhaps this time say that the cards have been stacked against her, and she is the street fighter who has "actually won the vote" (so what if she loses elections?). She cannot say very much this time, as her own survey is showing her the writing on the wall which she has so far failed to see.

Trinamul party loyalists now say that they are not actually expecting to win this battle. It is the next assembly elections that they are aiming to win. But if Mr Ajit Panja’s latest tearful mutterings are any indication, just keeping the grassroots of the Trinamul intact would be a long haul after this round of elections. Never mind Writer’s Building.

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