Kolkata: Elections in Bengal, poised to be a tough contest between the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) , will be held in eight phases between March 27 and April 29.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been in the headlines over the coming assembly elections but the situation in the poll-bound state became even more dramatic as Ms Banerjee was allegedly manhandled on Wednesday and sustained a leg injury with post-traumatic symptoms reported.
Ms Banerjee accused of conspiracy and planning but never uttered the name of the Bharatiya Janata Party in all of it.
The BJP leaders are promising the people that if they win they will turn West Bengal into ‘Sonar Bangla’(Golden Bengal)
Union Home Minister and BJP’s second-in-command after Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set his party’s electoral target in West Bengal at 200 seats, not one less.
Undoubtedly, Subhendu Adhikary has become the face of the party in Bengal elections. The idea is gaining ground that in the unlikely event of the party winning, he will be the chief ministerial face of the party.
It was the 2019 Lok Sabha elections that saw the saffron party making massive electoral gains, relegating the Congress and once-powerful Left Front to the fringes.
The BJP, which had won two seats five years ago, won 18 of the 42 constituencies, seeing its vote share rise to 40.64 per cent, just 3 per cent less than the TMC’s, and bagging seats all the way from North Bengal to Jangalmahal. Analysis showed that the votes came principally from Adivasis, backward castes and Dalits.
From the outset, the BJP has mounted a formidable social media campaign to paint Mamata Banerjee biased toward the Muslim community. In 2019, a video of her angry response to BJP workers chanting “Jai Shri Ram” at her went viral.
However, the BJP is finding it difficult to contain the anger of those who had been with the party when it was no political force in West Bengal at the mass induction of Trinamool Congress leaders and workers. These TMC people have not, contrary to what the BJP would have the people believe, defected to the BJP for serving the country under the “inspiring leadership” of Prime Minister Modi. For some reason or other they thought Mamata may not make it to the Nabanna (the seat of the state Government) and it is time for them to jump on to the BJP bandwagon.
Mamata Banerjee with her charismatic personality is still the idol of the masses, especially of the masses of rural Bengal who have been the biggest beneficiaries of her welfare schemes.
Amid defections and mass exodus, Ms Banerjee has finally got the man behind the Bharatiya Janata Party’s success in the hilly region — Darjeeling and Kalimpong — of North Bengal beside her.
Feeling betrayed by the BJP, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) founder and president Bimal Gurung last year in October announced that he would leave the saffron party to join the Trinamool Congress.
Gurung is a stalwart supporter of Gorkhaland. His outfit GJM has a significant presence in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Jalpaiguri — they together have 13 assembly seats.
The GJM also has minor presence in three other districts of North Bengal, Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, and North Dinajpur — these three districts have 23 assembly constituencies. This number is huge considering the kind of close contest is expected between the BJP and the TMC.
In total, North Bengal has 54 assembly seats and they are in Malda, North Dinajpur, Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Jalpaiguri, Alipurduar, Cooch Behar, and South Dinajpur. This region has 8 Lok Sabha seats and in 2019, the BJP had swept this part by winning seven of eight seats with support from Gurung’s GJM. In this election, the saffron party had won 18 of 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal.
Now with Gurung joining Ms Banerjee may have serious repercussions for the saffron party which was hoping to repeat its parliamentary performance. This time, the TMC has given three assembly seats — Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong — to the GJM. The GJM had won these three seats in 2011 and 2016.
Unbiased observers opine that tha TMC will come back to power again, but with a reduced majority.