With BJP's strong show in Lok Sabha elections 2019, uncertainty ahead for Mamata’s Bengal

Since 2009, the Trinamool has been steadily consolidating its base as the front running political party in WB till he situation underwent a radical change in the run up to the 17th Lok Sabha polls.

Published: 02nd June 2019 08:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd June 2019 10:44 AM   |  A+A-

West Bengal Chief Minister and TMC Supremo Mamata Banerjee during interaction with media at the end party poll result review meeting at her Kalight residence in Kolkata Saturday May 25 2019. | (File | PTI)

With the summer of 2019 simmering in intensity, it was no wonder that the 17th Lok Sabha elections would be fraught with great violence and hostility.

Tempers would run high, and the election pitch would be queered with different political parties fighting tooth and nail to hold on to their bastions.

Given the quasi-federal nature of the Indian polity, the past few decades have witnessed the local and regional political parties seeking to extend their political clout and influence in the arena of national politics. 

With the advent of Independence, it was but quite natural that the Grand Old Party would assert its omnipotence in every field of national and even regional politics.

However, gradually, with the states seeking to break off the shackles of Centre, regional parties began to ascend on the national political scenario, with the South leading the surge.

At the Centre, the first non-coalition Congress government came to power in 1977, effectively entrenching regional dominance over national politics in the years to come.

West Bengal is the third largest state in India with 42 seats in the Lok Sabha. It is a state which has perhaps the controversial reputation of not being one where political governance has been provided by any big national party dominating at the Centre, but instead by smaller national parties and regional players- first by the Left front, then Trinamool from 2011 onwards. 

The Trinamool was a state party from 1998-2016. It was recognized by EC as India’s seventh national party in September 2016.

Therefore, it is no wonder that the Trinamool would seek to augment its base and widen its prospects in the national political agenda as well. Since 2009, the Trinamool has been steadily consolidating its base as the front running political party in WB, with very few other options on offer.

Thus WB has become a state where the bigger national parties have had very little say in ensuing politics.

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The situation has undergone a radical change in the run-up to the 17th Lok Sabha elections. With the BJP making prolific inroads in WB politics and managing to scupper the prospects of many Trinamool aspirants, it is but natural that politics in the state would take an ugly turn.

It is rural WB which has had to bear the brunt of violence unleashed by the forces of the competing political parties. The Panchayat elections in WB in 2018 was extremely tense and blood–splattered, with the TMC sweeping across rural Bengal.

However, the BJP had gained considerable ground, with its strongest showing in the state polls ever. And with the Panchayats determining the allocation of Central and State funds for development work at the grassroots level, there would be fierce fighting to gain the major share in fund allocation.

With the 2019 LS polls witnessing a major haul for the BJP with 18 of the 42 seats in the state, post-poll violence has just been waiting to break loose.

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In many places, workers of the Trinamool and BJP have been roughed up and party offices demolished. The BJP has been accused of capturing Trinamool’s party offices at many places.

In Gangarampur in South 24 Parganas, BJP activists captured a TMC party office, where the erstwhile TMC workers had declared that they had “converted” to the BJP.

In another remarkable fallout unfolding across rural Bengal, there has been alleged instances of cadres of the CPI (M) capturing 160 Trinamool party offices across several districts, with the tacit support of the BJP.

This can be termed as a throwback to the culture of ‘revenge politics’ in WB, which came to the forefront in 2011. In 2011, after the TMC stormed into power defeating the Left Front’s reign of 34 years, its workers reportedly took over 1000 party offices belonging to the Left.

In the aftermath of the 2019 results, the tacit, if at all, BJP-CPI (M) understanding at the rural level, can be analysed from a certain perspective.

If the vote share of the TMC was 43%, for the BJP it was a remarkable 40%. And with the majority of the minority community vote going to the TMC, it might be a well-formulated plan of the BJP to assist the CPI (M) to garner some of the minority vote bank to weaken Mamata. 

Finally, it can be surmised that given the emerging political scenario in the country, the people of WB can look forward to a time of great political fragility and uncertainty. 


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