The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is headed to post its best-ever tally in West Bengal, thanks to a surge of votes from northern and western Bengal, backed by orthodox Hindus and tribals in face of anti-incumbency factor against the Trinamool Congress (TMC).
At the time of going to the press, the BJP, in West Bengal had won six seats and maintained lead over another 12 – taking the total estimated seat count to 18.
On the other hand, the TMC faced disappointment as it managed to win 12 seats while maintain a lead in another 10 seats taking the total estimated count to 22. Factors like anti-incumbency, anti-Muslim sentiments and displeasure of the voters with the party at grass-roots level have played a part in the voting pattern.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won only two seats while the TMC had sent 34 legislators.
The Congress on the other hand maintained a lead in two seats as compared to its tally of four seats in the previous Lok Sabha elections while the Left Front has been wiped out.
From preliminary estimates, political observers believe that the way the mandate is headed, the TMC’s vote share will be in the range of 43-44 per cent while the BJP’s vote share may be around 40 per cent. The Left Front and the Congress is expected to be reduced to around 7.5 per cent and 5.5 per cent respectively.
In the last general election, the TMC had a 39.05 per cent vote share while the Left Front accounted for 29.71 per cent of the total votes cast. The BJP and the Congress had a 17.02 per cent and 9.58 per cent vote share, respectively.
While the TMC was able to maintain its hold on southern and coastal parts of the state, the BJP is doing well in northern and western parts of the state — all predominantly tribal areas.
Dilip Ghosh, BJP’s state president, who won from Medinipore after defeating TMC heavyweight Manas Bhunia, said, “The people have placed their trust in us and the results are a reflection of this. In the 2021 State Assembly elections, we will challenge the TMC to claim power and win with people’s support”.
In the BJP camp, old-timers like Rahul Sinha and Chandra Kumar Bose were trailing, while in the TMC camp, apart from Bhunia, heavyweight candidates like Subrata Mukherjee, Dinesh Trivedi and others were trailing. A close fight is going on in Dum Dum, Barrackpore and three other constituencies.
“Congratulations to the winners. But all losers are not losers. We have to do a complete review and then we will share our views with you all. Let the counting process be completed fully and the VVPATs matched,” said Mamata Banerjee, TMC supremo and chief minister.
According to political observer Sabyasachi Basu Chaudhury, the results indicate three basic trends — firstly, the TMC wasn’t able to handle its anti-incumbency and in-fighting particularly in the tribal areas, the Left Front supporters had perceived the TMC as a greater danger than the BJP and voted for it, and thirdly, en masse, a sentiment in the state was to give the BJP a chance to prove itself.
“The trends are extremely encouraging for the BJP and its effects can be felt in the forthcoming Assembly elections, slated for 2021,” he said.