Among the four poll bound states, the one that is getting much attention is the West Bengal. The state is witnessing the rallies by cabinet ministers including Home Minister Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Also the state is getting much coverage from national media in their debates and prime time shows. While the other states are yet to see the high voltage electoral campaign, Bengal has been experiencing it from long ago. The BJP has, from the last 10 years is trying to make inroads in West Bengal. The frequent visits of top political leaders imply it importance. In fact BJP has earned around forty percent vote share by winning 18 seats out of 42 in the last Lokshabha election and becoming the major face of opposition in the Bengal’s politics leaving behind the Left party which is struggling to bounce back. And this time, of course they are expecting high. Irrespective of the result on the May 2, Bengal is seeing the polarising electoral campaign much more than it has seen during the Communist regime. This election is mainly between Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party. It is the do or die situation for them. However combining Congress, Left and the newly formed platform of Muslim parties of Owaisi’s AIMIM and an influential Bengal cleric Abbas Siddiqui’s Indian Secular Front is making the battle for Bengal more twisting. These parties may not have any real chance to form the government on their own but their importance cannot be ignored in the post-election developments. But the recent differences seen during joint rally organised by the grand alliance of Left-Congress- ISF where verbal attacks were exchanged between Congress’s Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and ISF founder Abbas Siddiqui which may divide the vote share and ultimately benefiting BJP or TMC.
Trinamool Congress claiming their leader Mamata Banerjee as Bengal’s daughter stressing upon the BJP as “outsiders”. They have come with the slogan – “Bengal wants its own daughter”. . The vote share hold by Trinamool Congress can’t be ignored as it has clean swept in 2011 and 2016 even during Modi’s wave. In 2016 state assembly election TMC won 211 seats of the 294 alone. Mamata Banerjee’s influence is not limited to her state only but she is often considered as a face of opposition against the ruling party BJP in the centre. She is always vocal about the national issues too; be it the controversial farm laws or CAA-NRC. Narendra Modi on the other hand, attempts at appropriating Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. The BJP is constantly highlighting the issues of corruption in W est Bengal by TMC. The issue of illegal migrants is often repeated in the speeches of Amit Shah.
The shift of political party from TMC to BJP recently by tall leaders like Mukul Roy, once Mamata Banerjee’s close aide and Suvendu Adhikari who was a widely popular leader of TMC has made BJP more confident. The sheer push of Hindutva, CAA- NRC and anti-incumbency make BJP’s hopes closer. While some believes polarisation will help Trinamool Congress as the state shares over 30 percent minority voters particularly Muslims who has voted for TMC in the last election. BJP is successful in injecting the fear of existential crisis among majority voters. Ms. Banerjee’s policies revolve around the subsidised benefits to all sections of society. But also she is facing the allegations of appeasement politics for providing subsidy to the Imams and Muezzins (prayer callers) whereas obstructing Durga Puja and Hindus’ religious processions. The rhetoric speeches of top BJP leaders also mention the same.
Well it is still too early to read the minds of the voters but this is surely an election to watch.
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