05/03/2021, 13.17
INDIA
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West Bengal, Modi defeated by 'big sister' Mamata Banerjee

by Nirmala Carvalho

Setback for Hindu nationalists of the BJP in regional elections held despite the pandemic. In Calcutta the head of the outgoing government triumphs, leading a local party. Archbishop D'Souza: "She knows the needs of the people and she is a friend of the poor".

Calcutta (AsiaNews) - Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP has suffered a setback in local elections held in various Indian states, with greatest anticipation around the outcome of the vote in the state of West Bengal.

Despite the relentless advance of the pandemic, the premier went there several times to campaign, openly aiming to win the leadership of the local government with the slogan "one nation, one party".

Instead, he was trounced by outgoing Prime Minister Mamata Benerjee, the only woman at the head of a local government in India and leader of the Trinamool Congress (Tmc), a regional party strongly rooted in West Bengal.

With the count almost completed, the TMC has won more than 200 seats out of 294, relegating the BJP - although growing - to only 80 seats. And even in the other states in which Modi's party campaigned, it confirmed its government only in Assam; in Kerala the Democratic Front of the Left (LDF) maintained the leadership of the government, while in Tamil Nadu victory went to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), another regional secular party.

Archbishop Thomas D'Souza of Calcutta comments on the election results in West Bengal to AsiaNews: “We are all very happy, Mamata Banerjee fought to the end, facing all odds against her, she worked hard and ensured that the goal was achieved. We are very happy that Didi (the "older sister", as she is nicknamed ed) is back. Mamata Banerjeeis a person of the people, she has travelled the length of the State, she knows the needs of the people, and she is a friend of the poor.”

The Archbishop knows her personally: “As a person, she is simple, and straightforward, and simplicity in her lifestyle and hardworking. Her house where she resides, near Kalighat (close of Mother Teresa's Nrimal house), is as simple as when she became Chief Minister. simplicity in her lifestyle, she projects that and Mamata Banerjee a person of compassion and a great admirer and lover of Mother Teresa and a friend of us all. We want to congratulate her on her victory and wish her God's Abundant Blessing on her as she takes up another term as our Leader in the state.”

Regarding the results of these elections, Father Babu Joseph, former spokesman for the Indian Bishops' Conference (CBCI), adds to AsiaNews: “This is a breath of fresh air for India's multi-party tradition. This is all the more significant against the all-out efforts of the ruling dispensation to relegate all other political parties to the margins thereby hoping to build a formidable political force in the country. These results are also an indication of a possible direction for Indian politics with regional parties that are regaining ground, posing a challenge to the hegemony of the BJP”.

“The fact that Kerala has again voted the Democratic Front of the Left (LDF) - continues Father Joseph - is also significant: it breaks the tradition that saw in this State the administration in office never reconfirmed. This result was possible because the minorities confirmed their vote on the left; at the local level there has been good management of the disasters and the pandemic and the people did not believe the accusations mounted against the head of the government. As for West Bengal, the confirmation of the Trinamool Congress (Tmc) is a clear sign of the failure of the social polarization strategy pursued by the BJP for its own political interest. For the country this is a blessing because this strategy was leading the country on the path of social conflict. The voters were wise and this is a sign of hope for Indian democracy”.

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