LS 2019: Is Mamata losing her iron grip on West Bengal?

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Mumbai: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, once considered a formidable force to reckon with in her state has been left biting the dust with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s impressive performance there.

The Amit Shah led party, which won a staggering 303 seats in the Lok Sabha elections, put up an impressive show in West Bengal as well, bagging 18 seats, leaving the West Bengal chief minister, who also heads the Trinamool Congress and had expected a clean sweep in her state, astounded.

The TMC barely managed to keep the BJP away from power by whiskers, after winning 22 seats, 12 seats less than its performance in 2014, while the BJP secured a massive mandate with 18 seats in its kitty.

While the BJP was nowhere in the picture in West Bengal in 2014, having a mere 2 seats there, the party has emerged as the key rival of the TMC, with its massive vote share, leading to speculations that Banerjee’s party is on the verge of being uprooted in the state.

The BJP’s spectacular performance has brought down the number of seats won by the Congress to 2, and crushed the Communist Party of India(CPIM) led left front leaving nothing for them.

According to the information made available by the Election Commission, the BJP has garnered 40 per cent of the vote share, while the TMC is slightly higher with 43 per cent vote share.

Among the seats won by the BJP, it has succeeded in majorly denting the strongholds of the TMC by winning major constituencies in rural parts of the state.

The major schemes of the Banerjee led government were targeted towards the rural population and the BJP’s victory there shows she failed to convince the rural population to lay their trust on the TMC again and on the contrary, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal is not limited to the Hindi heartland.

Modi’s incessant attacks on the TMC, claims of high handedness of Banerjee’s party and a state of anarchy there, along with allegations of the indulgence of West Bengal ministers in scams successfully created an environment of anti-incumbency there.

Over and above these factors, an increase in polarization of the atmosphere led the voters of the CPIM shifting loyalties towards the BJP, thus further increasing its votes hare.

With the ever increase in instances of violence in West Bengal among party workers of both parties, Banerjee faces an uphill task to cap the BJP’s growth to save herself from being seen as an ineffective leader who failed to contain lawlessness and therefore risk economic growth there.

In the 2006 West Bengal assembly elections, the left front had secured a massive victory by acquiring as many as 176 seats whereas the TMC managed to win only 21 seats. In 2009 Lok Sabha polls, the TMC won as many as 19 seats topping the charts and establishing itself as the prime opposition to the the thirty-year long regime of the Left Front.

In 2016, the TMC made a land slide victory winning 211 seats at the State Assembly whereas the BJP won only 3. The Congress won 44 seats and the Left Front finished with 26 seats. But in the 2019 assembly elections with 18 seats, BJP has not only finished second but also crushed all the major opposition parties of the state, raising questions on the once iron grip of Banerjee on West Bengal.

The BJP in 2019 stands where the TMC stood in 2009. The Mamata Banerjee led party
in 2019 is where the Left front stood in 2009. It therefore remains to be seen if the fiery chief minister of West Bengal is able to turn the table before 2021 state assembly elections or if the BJP will manage to become as the largest party there.