KOLKATA: As if Trinamool was not a big enough opponent, the Left in Bengal now has to take on the BJP too. If the recently concluded municipal election results in Bengal are anything to go by, both Trinamool Congress and BJP are eating into the Left vote bank.
While the TMC’s power remains unflinching, it is no longer unchallenged. Though the saffron party is still far from being a major opponent, it is slowly making its mark with its organisational strength and presence throughout the state.
Take for example the Dhupguri municipality in Jalpaiguri district. While TMC won 12 of the 16 wards in the civic polls, the remaining went to the BJP. The Left, which was a force to reckon with till even the last municipal election, was decimated.
The port town of Haldia in Purba Medinipur district reported a similar result. With the shifting of loyalties of former CPM MLA Lakshman Seth to the BJP, the saffron party gave a tough fight to the TMC in all the wards, though it could not win in any.
The town was known as a CPM bastion and was allegedly a launching pad for the Nandigram violence — located on the other bank of Haldi river — in 2007.
Now in 2017, the BJP is a force to reckon with not only in Haldia but the entire Tamluk Lok Sabha constituency where it came second to the TMC in the by-elections last year.
With panchayat elections knocking at the door, the poor performance of the opposition would mean that TMC will sweep the rural polls that are crucial for 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The panchayat elections will also be a litmus test of the growth of BJP’s power in rural Bengal, with more than 70 per cent of the total electorate.