KOLKATA: BJP’s gradual rise in vote shares in by-elections of West Bengal over the past one year is not threatening Trinamool Congress yet. On the contrary is benefiting it as the saffron party is eating up opposition votes of CPM and Congress thus ensuring smoother victories for the ruling party, opined several observers of West Bengal politics.
While BJP is pitching central leaders to campaign for Uluberia Lok Sabha and Noapara Vidhan Sabha by-elections slated on January 29, the ruling party has already fielded heavyweight candidates to ensure victories in the by-elections before the crucial panchayat elections in May.
“The results of Tamluk, Kanthi Dakshin, Coochbehar and Sabang by-elections in the past one year show that while BJP has increased its vote share, TMC has widened its winning margins. However, vote shares of CPM and Congress have reduced drastically. This means that traditional CPM and Congress voters are finding a new alternative in BJP. This new base of BJP voters is apart from the disgruntled Hindu voters who had voted for TMC in 2011 but have increased the distance from the ruling party over its alleged ‘Muslim appeasement’ policies. However, the basis of the votes of the traditional CPM and Congress loyalists to BJP might be more for dislike of TMC than for like of BJP’s Hindutva agenda,” said political observer Satyabrata Mukherjee, who has been tracking the rise of BJP over past two years.
Sources revealed that CPM, which has lost its strength over the past seven years since losing power in 2011, has become so nervous with BJP eating up its traditional votes that the issue of BJP’s rise benefiting TMC has been discussed in three district meetings held recently.
“The only way CPM and Congress can survive BJP’s growth is by joining hands before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. It will be both logical and beneficial to have a pre-poll alliance and launch a united campaign. Local alliances already work well during panchayat elections but Congress and CPM need to capitalise on a thorough alliance and campaign together against both threats of communalism and problems of incumbency to ensure a face-saver in 2019 Lok Sabha and 2021 Vidhan Sabha elections,” said another political observer Somnath Banerjee.
Others compare BJP’s role with that of TMC played during the last decade of Left Front rule. “TMC also grew by eating up the votes of Congress in the 2000 decade. That only ensured smoother victories for Left Front with greater margins in 2001 and 2006 elections. BJP is doing exactly that. However, BJP would also need to channelise mass anger in agitations or movements like TMC did in Nandigram and Singur agitations to dethrone the incumbent government,” said political observer Trideep Saha.