Historic poll grabs Internet headlines

KOLKATA, 13 MAY: The historic election in West Bengal grabbed eyeballs of the global media like never before. While The Guardian with The Observer wrote that “the opposition Trinamul Congress smells blood as corruption and the rise of violent Maoism take their toll on the CPI-M”, Reuters reported that the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, risks the rise of a fickle populist ally in West Bengal.
Several correspondents, camped at the Trinamul chief’s residence for several days ahead of the declaration of results, seemed charmed by the woman whom The Washington Post called “the frugal, flip-flop wearing chief of Trinamul Congress who campaigned on the issue of land rights”. Some even visualised her as the new Gandhi, a leader of the poor and hungry ~ interestingly, a profile that the communist party had been touting for long.
While the Al Jazeera reporter was seen talking to farmers who lost their land in Singur and wrote “disillusioned poor farmers imperilled the three decade long communist rule in West Bengal”, The Washington Post columnist wrote that: “Analysts said victories by the ruling Congress party, and the resounding defeats of some parties tainted by corruption scandals, could give Manmohan Singh more freedom to act against allies charged with massive financial wrongdoings.”
Agence France Presse wires say that the victory for Miss Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress in West Bengal, home to the “once-grand but now crumbling city” of Kolkata, marks the end of an era in modern Indian politics. On the other hand, Reuters reported that: “Miss Mamata Banerjee’s win in West Bengal will be hailed as a victory for the Congress coalition, but the populist maverick who holds the balance of power in the national parliament will prove a thorn in the side of government economic reforms plans.”
The CNN correspondent, Ms Moni Basu, wrote that more than three decades of communism is about to fall in her native state ~ not through revolution or bloodshed but by the sheer power of the ballot box.
Mr Partho Rahman, a correspondent of Channel One of Bangladesh, said that he is overjoyed to see such a huge crowd at Miss Banerjee’s house. He said victory needs to be celebrated and LF should learn from their mistakes. Mr Imran Garda, a South African filmmaker, said that communism functions in unique ways in various parts of the globe. “34 years of regime had to be ended to see a new beginning,” he added. It was his first day of shoot of a documentary on Indian democracy.
Other international media that are covered the elections in the state included the BBC, Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, Nikkei, New York Times, Gulf News, Netherlands Radio and France 24 TV.

Soma Basu

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