Preparations for the upcoming West Bengal 2021 election are in full swing with the tenure of the current Mamata Banerjee-led government coming to an end on May 30. But the question before the election commences is – Could West Bengal turn saffron from green?
In 2013, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was just a fringe political party. But in 2019, it got 18 out of the total 42 Lok Sabha seats. BJP had gained ground in West Bengal. It is a fact none can deny. BJP was aided partly by the RSS’s exponential growth during Mamata Banerjee’s tenure as the chief minister from 2011 to now.
In the 17th Lok Sabha polls held in 2019, BJP increased its share of seats by 16 – from 2 to 18 seats. BJP also had an increase of 16 per cent in the vote share. The ruling TMC in the state lost 12 seats – from 34 to 22. It also experienced a 12 per cent reduction in its vote share.
The TMC poll pundits think BJP got a share of the Left vote in that election. At that time, the Congress and Left alliance was not as structured as today. So, TMC leaders have given a clarion call to Bengali Left voters to give their vote to TMC, to stop BJP’s “communalism”.
This is a new interesting twist in the Bengal poll Kurukshetra.
BJP’s IT cell head Amit Malviya tweeted on the clarion call of TMC. He wrote: “Isn’t it ironic that WBs ruling party which had won 211/294 seats in the outgoing Assembly and claims there is no challenger in Sougata, is publicly pleading parties that finished behind it for an alliance – can there be a more emphatic admission of BJP in poll position?”
WHAT SAUGATA ROY SAID?
He said if the Left and the Congress are genuine anti-BJP forces, they should line up behind TMC as it is the only party that is fighting against the divisive politics of the BJP.
Before Saugata Roy, another TMC senior leader Tapas Roy also said the same thing. So, it is not Saugata’s personal line. It is the party line.
But why? There is no Mahagathbandhan or Grand Alliance. In the last election, Didi was not keen to form an alliance with Congress too. She turned down the Congress proposal for seat-sharing. However, at one point in time, a section of Congress was interested in seat-sharing in Bengal as a secular front. But not only Adhir Chowdhury, Mamata Banerjee too was not keen on any pre-poll alliance.
After Mamata became CM, the CPM had once met her as well.
On June 9, 2014, a delegation comprising top leaders of the CPM, RSP, FB submitted a memorandum on the TMC atrocity against Left workers. Didi was a brilliant host that day. Left leaders were served fish fries, cakes, sweets, and Darjeeling tea. But the CM did not meet the BJP delegation that time for some reason. On 31 May 2014, BJP leaders met the chief secretary. They did not meet the CM.
After the fish-fry diplomacy, a section of CPM leaders was upset. They told the leadership that BJP may be the main enemy but if they did not fight against the TMC and Mamata Banerjee, their political existence will be finished. State Congress leaders also said 2024 is not their priority, their target is 2021.
But Sharad Pawar has a different take. The leader recently met Sitaram Yechuri and CPI leader D Raja. He told the communist leaders not to do anything by which BJP can become the beneficiary. Left and Congress cannot form the government but they can oust TMC.
Pawar thinks if BJP comes to Bengal then the success of Bengal can give them major enthusiasm for 2024. It will be an advantage for Modi.
Pawar thinks if Mamata can retain power then the anti-Modi opposition unity index will be more. Ahmed Patel is no more. So Pawar has become the virtual UPA Convenor. After seeing the success of the farmers’ movement, Pawar has become active suddenly.
BJP is saying that TMC thinks in the last election they only cut into the Left vote share and is denying the fact that the BJP also eroded TMC’s vote share.
Mamata has a different take on this controversy. She thinks – first, the Lok Sabha result will not be repeated. Usually, the LS result doesn’t get repeated in the Assembly. Second, the Left and Congress result may be zero. It is a highly polarised vote – TMC vs BJP. So all anti-BJP voters should vote for TMC to not waste their votes.