West Bengal Assembly Elections 2021 : Fall of Mamata’s Bengal?
West Bengal Assembly Elections 2021 : In the state of West Bengal, the Bhartiya Janata Party replaced the left to achieve the tag of main opposition in the state. The party that was almost a non-entity in the state is now knocking hard on the doors of Mamata Banerjee. The 2019 Lok Sabha election result proved that path for Mamata Banerjee to retain the state once again is not going to be easier. The BJP made a huge entry in the state once ruled by Left and then by Trinamool Congress for a long time.
Until 2019, the state of West Bengal was completely untouched by the BJP. Even at height of Modi wave in 2014, BJP had managed to win 2 Lok Sabha seats out of 42. However, in 2019 things changed dramatically. BJP rose from 2 to 18 Lok Sabha seats in the state while TMC which swept the state in 2014 lost 12 Lok Sabha seats. Their tally was reduced from 34 in 2014 to 22 Lok Sabha seats in 2019. But how was BJP able to make a way through the mammoth wall of Mamata Banerjee?
“Look East” Policy
Since 2014 Lok Sabha election, BJP followed the policy of “Look East”. In order to remove the tag of “Hindi Heartland” party, BJP did put in all its efforts to conquer the states of east and north-east. State of West Bengal which alone carries 42 Lok Sabha seats became BJP’s main hunting ground. However several factors played in favour of BJP to register a remarkable growth in the den of Mamata Banerjee.
2018 Panchayat Election
The Panchayat election of 2018 was the beginning of the rise of BJP in the state of West Bengal. Widespread violence and the poll rigging by the ruling TMC led to the massive gain of voters by BJP in the state. In a state where 34% of the rural seats was won by the ruling TMC uncontested, BJP for the first time made huge inroads in the state. Mamata Banerjee’s strategy of opposition free state back-fired. BJP was able to consolidate voters behind itself. The violence unearthed by the ruling TMC proved a blessing in disguise for the underdogs BJP in the state. BJP, which was nowhere in political scene of West Bengal came second in the state. The result was enough to send warning signals to Mamata Banerjee. The rise of BJP in the state was reality.
Defection of TMC Leaders
Ruling TMC always considered the defected leaders of TMC to be of non-importance in the state. However, the results of Lok Sabha proved their misconceptions to be null and void. Defected leaders like Mukul Roy, Arjun Singh, Soumitra Khan, Anupam Hazra and few others played a key role in the landmark success of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Mamata’s Bengal. Mukul Roy proved to be one of the most important leaders in scripting the victory of BJP in Bengal. His organisational skills and knowledge about the Bengal voters helped BJP gain in the state.
Congress and Left Debacle
The 2019 Lok Sabha election proved to be the end of roads for the Left front in Bengal. In 2014 Lok Sabha election, Left’s vote share was 29.93 per cent while in 2016 state Assembly election, it was 40.03 per cent. However, in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the vote share of Left in Bengal to reduced to 6.28 percent. Once the undisputed rulers of Bengal, the Left front have been completely wiped off from the state. It did not manage to even a single Lok Sabha seat. Raiganj and Murshidabad seats that it had won in 2014 Lok Sabha election, was lost to BJP and TMC and respectively in 2019 Lok Sabha. For the first time since the formation of the CPI(M) in 1964, the party did not win a single seat in West Bengal.
Loss of Muslim Stronghold
Congress on the other hand were able to win 2 Lok Sabha seat in the state. In 2014 Lok Sabha election, Congress had won four Lok Sabha seats. Congress lost its traditional bastions of Malda, Murshidabad and Uttar Dinajpur and its vote share dipped from 9.58 per cent in 2014 to around 5.6 per cent in 2019. Malda North, which was once considered to be the fortress of Congress, BJP registered a surprise win. Even in Malda south, the party strongman Abu Hasem Khan Choudhury pulled off a narrow victory of just 8,222 votes from BJP’s hand. Thus, it was clear BJP managed to make inroads in the state of Bengal at the cost of Congress and Left front in the state.
The Middle-Class dissatisfaction
The anti-incumbency or the pro-Modi factor played an important role in rise of BJP in the state. In 2011, TMC’s victory was mainly due to the anti-incumbency against the Left and the syndicate raj that had gripped entire state of Bengal. However, 8 years down the line, Mamata Banerjee was pursuing the same mistake that Left had committed. It took 34 years for people of Bengal to realise then but this time within 8 years the middle class of Bengal were fed up with TMC government. Thus they found a new ray of hope in BJP. The middle class were very much disappointed with the syndicate-raj, failure of law and order, lack of jobs, development etc. If the trend continues, middle class may again vote in favour of BJP in West Bengal Assembly Elections 2021.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s campaign was mostly focussed on religious polarisation. Anti-government feeling coupled with a huge polarisation along religious lines fuelled the BJP’s success. Bengal has been a state where every election has witnessed communal clashes. Mamata Banerjee’s policy of minority appeasement proved to be blessing for BJP in the state. Hindutva drive by BJP in the state helped BJP grow its organisation at the ground level. Mamata Banerjee’s state’s policy was thereby driven by consolidation of minority votes. BJP taking advantage of it consolidated Hindu votes behind itself. However, it must be noted that BJP had also gained large chunk of Muslim votes in the state. Victory in the Muslim majority district of North Maldha is an evident that even Muslim voters preferred BJP over TMC in many constituencies.
Central Government Schemes
BJP managed to win 18 Lok Sabha seats in the state of West Bengal securing 40 percent vote-share. Many political pundits credited anti-incumbency wave and the religious polarisation for BJP’s victory in the state. However, none of the political pundits could gauge the effect of central governments scheme in the state. It must be noted that these schemes went inside the houses of poor of the state. It is wisely said, a poor will never betray you if you provide him with a small help.
Swachh Bharat Abhiyan
In Bengal, the Swachh Bharat Mission began from 2nd October 2014. During this period there were around 39% of household in gramin Bengal which did not have access to toilets. This mission of PM Modi played an important role in winning the hearts of rural Bengal. Before the beginning of Lok Sabha election 2019, Modi government was able to penetrate in almost 100% of rural households of Bengal. Almost every household in Bengal has a toilet of its own.
Saubhagya Yojana has been one of the revolutionary scheme of the BJP government. Electrification of villages of the country turned out to be a blessing for BJP. In Bengal, after BJP government came to power in 2014, there were around 38,000 villages where since independence electricity did not reach. None of the governments before 2014 took any initiative to electrify the un-electrified villages. However, by the time of Lok Sabha 2019 election, Modi government was able to complete its mission of 100% electrification of around 38,000 un-electrified villages of West Bengal.
Added to it, the central government had identified more than 1,50,00,000 households without electricity. Modi government worked tirelessly day and night and was successful in bringing light in the life of more than 1 crore 50 lakhs households of Bengal.
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana
Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana was launched on 10th October, 2016. Under this yojana 5 crore free gas connections was provided to the rural poor of India. West Bengal was one of the most important beneficiary of this scheme. Under this scheme around 69 Lakh poor families of West Bengal got the free gas connection. Modi government was successful in touching the lives of almost every poor family of Bengal through its schemes.
Ayushman Yojana in Bengal?
Apart from these schemes, several other central governments schemes proved to be a weapon to touch the lives of rural population of Bengal. Be it PM-Awas Yojana or PM Gram Sadak Yojana, every central government scheme led to the inclination of voters towards BJP. Mamata Banerjee realised this when the battle was almost lost. It must be noted that West Bengal is one of those state where central government’s Ayushman Yojana was not allowed to implemented. Under this scheme a poor family can inherit a medical benefit of upto 5 lakh of rupee. The reason for Mamata Banerjee not allowing this central scheme in her state was not a conflict with Modi government. The only reason was the impact of other schemes on voters and her fear to lose more votes to BJP if the scheme was implemented in state.
BJP now commands the support of about 40.25 per cent of the voters, inching closer to TMC which has a vote share of 43.28 per cent, a lead of just 3.03 per cent. The BJP has also established a lead in 129 out of the 294 Assembly segments, Trinamool on other hand has in 158. It must be noted that along with the Lok Sabha results, results to 8 assembly bye-elections were announced. Out of eight, BJP won four, the Trinamool three, and the Congress one. If BJP is able to hold on to its lead and increase its vote share by few percentage, West Bengal Assembly elections 2021, would be a major upset for Mamata Banerjee’s TMC.
Lok Sabha election result has set a warning bell ringing for Mamata Banerjee. It has not only shattered her political ambitions at the national level, but also put a question mark on her own position of supremacy in the State. Saffron surge in the state is no more a myth. BJP is knocking hard at the doors of Mamata Banerjee. If the trend follows, Mamata Banerjee may land up losing in West Bengal Assembly Elections 2021. The result of Lok Sabha election 2019 has forced “DIDI” to drop her national ambition and focus on retaining the power in the state. The recent incidents in Bengal however, does not prove that Mamata Banerjee has learn any lesson from the result of Lok Sabha election.
Title: West Bengal Assembly Elections 2021 : Fall of Mamata’s Bengal?