KOLKATA: As West Bengal is set for an eight-phase poll schedule, the ruling TMC is gearing up for a neck-to-neck fight with the BJP which not only made deep inroads into the state but also emerged as her arch-rival since the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Political observers opined that the upcoming poll battle will be Mamata’s fight for survival as the saffron camp increased its stake in Bengal’s electoral arena significantly by bagging around 40% vote share, only 3% behind the ruling party. Though the Left Front and Congress formed an alliance, the elections are considered as an eyeball-to-eyeball contact between the TMC and the saffron camp.
"It doesn’t matter in how many phases the elections will be held. We are all set to participate in the game and win it," said Mamata, shortly after the election schedule was announced.
But the lieutenants of the TMC supremo don't think it will be a cakewalk for TMC. "The BJP’s vote share was 10.16% in the 2016 Assembly elections and it shot up to 40.7% in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections which triggered a massive jolt to our party. It will be a tooth and nail battle," said a senior TMC leader. In the 2011 Assembly elections, BJP’s vote share was 4.06%.
Political analysts said it will be a prestigious fight for Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who repeatedly claimed to bag more than 200 seats and a battle for Mamata’s survival. In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, BJP secured the lead in 121 Assembly constituencies out of 294.
"Posing a threat to TMC’s dominance and Mamata’s charisma over a period of 10 years in Bengal politics in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP surfaced as a strong contender against the ruling party. This election is a litmus test for the saffron camp and the state is likely to witness a tough electoral contest. Since there was a largescale exodus from the TMC to the BJP in the recent past, Mamata's party might collapse with cascading effect if she fails to retain Bengal," said Bishnupriya Dutta Gupta, a political scientist.
BJP’s state vice-president Jayprakash Majumdar, however, ruled out the possibility of the tough contest with the TMC. "The electorates of Bengal have made their mind. Mamata Banerjee’s party has already lost the battle. She is still in power because of the constitutional process. We will whitewash her party in the upcoming Assembly elections."