- Dr. Ganesh Mantri
All eyes are set on West Bengal as the most vital national contest of today is taking place between BJP and the two-term Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. After Bihar assembly election, BJP has set the target of winning West Bengal by cashing upon the anti-incumbency vote and setting narrative of CAA though in a toned-down manner. Making in-roads in Bengal matters a lot to BJP as it has never been a major player in the state. No doubt, BJP has daunting task against formidable opponent in the form of Trinmool Congress and its chief Mamata Banerjee. It’s interesting to see BJP accusing its opponents of polarising votes and appeasement politics while it is trying to woo Hindu votes by propagating CAA as its main plank. In turn religious polarisation will definitely affect voting patterns. As battlelines are drawn between Narendra Modi and Mamata Banerjee, the voting pattern will be most interesting affair to analyse once the results are out.
In 2016 assembly election, TMC won 211 seats to drub the Left Front-Congress alliance. BJP was not even in the picture 5 years ago as it could win meagre 3 seats. Ever since, there has been the upside down political upheaval in the state. BJP is fighting its battle persistently and with grit as it knows the importance of defeating the most ambitious of regional satraps in the country. Winning Bengal has many consolation prizes as well. It means establishing national imprint as a national party, marginalising regional parties, giving a clear message to other state regional parties like SP, BSP, BJD, RJD, NCP and most importantly TRS and YSR Congress about their future.
BJP is aware that fighting Mamata Banerjee is not an easy task. Hence BJP has ushered in its full capacity - from PM Narendra Modi to young brigade like Tejasvi Surya for electioneering propaganda. BJP is trying to pitch into the vacuum created due to retreat of Left Front as anti-incumbency has set in for 10 years’ rule of TMC led by Mamata Banerjee. BJP sensed it early and utilised every opportunity to generate issues to oppose Mamata Didi. Given that state with Muslim population of approx. over 30%. BJP is aiming for majority of majority votes and minority of minority votes.
On the surface, BJP is downplaying the religious divide and is focussing on twin engine growth for the state. It means the BJP government at the centre and in the state would mean much faster growth for West Bengal. On the other hand, Mamata Banerjee has made Ma, Mati and Manush as symbol of her campaign. In this backdrop, whether cleric Abbas Siddiqui and AIMIM’s Owaisi would prove to be vote splitters needs to be analysed cautiously. If Abbas Siddiqui’s Indian Secular Front, Congress and Left parties together could take away anti-incumbency votes, then prospects of BJP weaken in Bengal. The Left Front is vying and vouching for new faces, which has given tickets to new comers and sports personalities. In this third front in the state, the Left and Congress are fighting for survival while Abbas Siddiqi is trying to make a mark in state’s politics. The state of Bengal and the entire country is waiting for the 2nd May moment when the results will be clear and so as the political future of India.