TRINAMOOL CONGRESS leaders were under intense pressure in the fortnight leading up to Monday’s exit polls, admitted a West Bengal minister in the outgoing cabinet. “A fear had gripped many of us that the tables would be turned on us,” the minister said. “The exit polls have released the pressure.”
A number of Trinamool leaders told The Indian Express some doubt had indeed crept into their minds during the final phases of polling.
“A lot of things seemed to be going wrong as many urban voters spoke about the changing body language of Didi [Mamata Banerjee] amid the proactiveness of the Election Commission and bold steps taken by the administration. We were wondering, is the TMC really sliding, is the Congress-CPM jot a challenge?” one leader said. “After the exit polls, Didi too is happy. Since Tuesday morning, instructions are once again being sent out from Harish Chatterjee Street.”
Towards the end of the polls, Mamata had told a rally in South 24-Parganas: “I have never been through such an election before. So much stress, so much mud-slinging, so much pressure.” Since her last rally in Cooch Behar on May 3, she apparently took time off to introspect. Until Monday, she confined herself to home, barring a couple of visits to the secretariat at Nabanna.
Partha Chatterjee, TMC secretary general and spokesperson, refused to discuss the exit polls. “No comments. Only Didi will speak after the results. But obviously, the mood in the party is upbeat,” said Chatterjee.
Several Left Front leaders, meanwhile, dismissed the exit polls saying such predictions have often gone wrong, including in Bihar. Shamik Lahiri, a CPM leader, told journalists that voters in Bengal are too secretive to declare their choice, so exit polls are not to be taken seriously.
Biman Bose, a politburo member believed not to have been keen on the jot, sounded cautious. He discounted his party colleague Surjya Kanta Mishra’s claim that the alliance was moving towards 200 seats. “Hyperboles used during election campaign should not be taken seriously once electioneering is over. A more rational thing would be to wait for two more days,” he said.