Polarisation, NRC, transfer of Left votes help BJP breach Mamata Banerjee's fortress

PTI Kolkata, West Bengal, India May 24, 2019, 05.42 PM(IST)

FIle photo: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee. (Courtesy: PTI, AFP) Photograph:( Agencies )

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Up from two seats and 17 per cent vote share it had in 2014, the BJP not only pulled through an unprecedented victory in the bordering state of Bengal, where it was once considered as a marginal force but also took a lead in around 130 assembly segments of the state in terms of vote share.

Riding on communal polarisation, NRC, infighting within TMC and transfer of Left votes, the BJP in West Bengal breached the impregnable fortress of Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee by winning 18 out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats and grabbing a vote share of 40.5 per cent.

Up from two seats and 17 per cent vote share it had in 2014, the BJP not only pulled through an unprecedented victory in the bordering state of Bengal, where it was once considered as a marginal force, but also took a lead in around 130 assembly segments of the state in terms of vote share.

The state is scheduled to go for Legislative assembly polls in two years time in 2021.

Bengal witnessed a saffron surge on Thursday as the BJP inflicted a deadly blow to ruling Trinamool Congress by winning 18 of the total 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

The ruling TMC won 22 seats down from 34 in 2014.

BJP's national general secretary and Bengal minder, Kailash Vijayvargiya, said it was vote against Banerjee's appeasement politics and misrule.
"This is the penultimate step, the final step will be the formation of BJP government in Bengal," Vijayvargiya said.

According to the BJP sources, among the several factors that led to BJP's stunning growth in Bengal are polarisation of votes due to TMC's minority appeasement politics, it's promise to implement NRC in Bengal to drive out infiltrators, overwhelming shift of the Left Fronts vote share to the saffron party besides infighting within the ruling TMC.

The BJP built its political narrative mostly around Hindutva and nationalism, which resulted in massive polarisation in the state, where Muslims constitute 27 per cent of the population.

Since independence Bengal, where the electoral discourse has largely steered clear of communal politics, witnessed one of the most polarised elections with both TMC and the BJP accusing each other of resorting to minority and majority appeasement.

Riding on polarisation, both TMC and BJP managed to sideline Left Front and Congress.

Watch: BJP party workers celebrate in West Bengal and Mumbai

Promises of NRC in Bengal to drive out infiltrators, allegations that TMC government stopped Durga Puja in Bengal, Ram Navami rallies, hundreds of communal riots in various parts of Bengal sharpened the communal divide with TMC lapping up the much of the Muslim vote share and BJP bagging a major chunk of the Hindu votes in the states.

The issues of NRC, citizenship bill and polarisation playing an important role in BJP's vote share can be gauged from the fact that the saffron camp made substantial gains in areas close to the India-Bangladesh border, which have a substantial minority vote.

The gamble of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill reaped huge dividends for BJP in seats like Bongoan and Ranaghat, which has huge Matua population- who originally hail from erstwhile East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, and began migrating to West Bengal at the beginning of the 1950s, mostly due to religious persecution.

It also worked wonder for BJP in tribal-dominated areas of Junglemahal, where TMC faced a complete rout.

Another most important factor that played an important role in BJP's victory in Bengal is the massive shift of the Left Fronts votes to it.

Compared to the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Lefts vote share of 29 per cent dwindled to about 7 per cent this time whereas BJP, which had around 17 per cent votes in 2014, bagged around 40.5 per cent votes this time.

According to senior Left leaders, a huge section of Left voters, including party cadres, chose BJP to defeat Mamata Banerjee in the state.

BJP's spectacular performance may have raised several eyebrows given its poor organisational strength in the state, but according to senior BJP leader, and one of main architects of saffron surge, Mukul Roy, this victory was much anticipated as there is huge undercurrent against TMC both inside and outside the party.

"In most of the areas a large section of disgruntled TMC workers and leaders have voted in favour of BJP. Several TMC leaders have actually worked in favour of us. Now it's time for us to bring those TMC workers and leaders into BJP and work towards the final battle for assembly polls," he said.The way lakhs of people including TMC workers were denied to cast their votes during last rural polls, backfired for TMC, Roy said.

The saffron camp which is now eyeing the next assembly polls in the state want to consolidate on the factors that led to its stupendous triumph and work towards new avenues to grab a much larger pie of vote share.