Politics

West Bengal: TMC Wins 22 Seats; BJP 18

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury took responsibility on Thursday for his party's dismal performance in the Lok Sabha polls, saying that as the chief of the party, he was the "first" person who was accountable for its poor show.

New Delhi: The All India Trinamool Congress won in 22 out of 42 seats while the BJP won 19. The Congress won in two constituencies

The state is witnessing massive changes in the poll equation. BJP won in Burdwan-Durgapur, Alipur Duars, Asansol, Bongaon, Bishnupur and Ghatal. Clearly, all opposition votes are being consolidated under the BJP.

Interestingly, TMC is increasing its vote share by almost 5 percentage points. While BJP has jumped from around 17% to nearly 35%. CPI(M) at around 3% has come down by almost 20 percentage points according to the initial trends.

The Left rapidly went downhill since 2011 after the government led by the CPI-M lost power to the TMC. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the CPI-M’s earlier vote share (from 2009 Lok Sabha polls) dipped to 22.96%

In the prestigious Jadavpur constituency, TMC’s Mimi Chakraborty was leading with 11, 5348 votes, followed by Anupam Hazra ( BJP) with 72, 570 votes and Bikash Bhattacharya (CPI-M) coming third with 44,697 votes.

Babul Supriyo, BJP’s sitting MP from Asansol, is leading against TMC’s Moon Moon Sen by 66,413 votes. TMC’s Manas Bhunia leading against BJP’s Dilip Ghosh in Medinipur by a narrow margin of 604 votes.

CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury took responsibility on Thursday for his party’s dismal performance in the Lok Sabha polls, saying that as the chief of the party, he was the “first” person who was accountable for its poor show.

“The people of the country have given a decisive verdict in BJP’s favour in this highly-polarised election and it is now time for us to introspect and analyse what went wrong. We will hold a politburo meeting on May 26-27 and a central committee meeting from June 7-9.

The trends show that in West Bengal, a state ruled by the CPI(M)-led Left Front for 34 uninterrupted years, the party may draw a blank in its worst performance ever.

Refusing to reply to queries on the reason behind the Left Front’s route in West Bengal, Yechury said no conclusive explanation could be given before analysing the results thoroughly.

Background

In 2011, the Trinamool Congress opened a new chapter in Bengal’s political history by defeating the CPI-M-led 34-year-old Left Front government. The political equations since then have drastically changed.

Following the installation of the Narendra Modi government at the centre in 2014, political calculations in Bengal, once a Left bastion, started to change. The pace accelerated after 2016. By then Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which till then was a political outlier, came to replace the CPI-M as TMC’s primary opposition. The BJP’s vote-share shot up from 6.14% in 2009 to 17.02 in 2014.

The latest Lok Sabha poll results are a culmination of this transformative process.

In the last 2014 general elections, out of Bengal’s total 42 parliamentary seats, TMC got 34, Congress 4 while the BJP and CPI-M got 2 seats each.

Two years on, the TMC secured a two thirds majority with 211 seats in Bengal’s 294- member assembly. The TMC was pitted against a Congress-CPI-M alliance. The Congress managed to get 44 and the CPI-M 26 seats. The BJP picked up three seats.

Main governance issues and failures

Mamata Banerjee came to power in 2011 on the slogan of Poriborton (transformation). Maa, Maati, Maanush, the other slogan defining the 2011 regime-change, was coined during the mass movement against the Left Front government-sponsored land acquisition in the villages of Singur and Nandigram.

Before the militant anti-land acquisition struggles broke out in Bengal, Banerjee struggled in vain for decades, to dislodge the CPI-M-led Left Front government.

Taking a leaf out of J. Jayalalithaa’s welfare model, Banerjee, on coming to power, put together a network of welfare schemes. Notable among them are Kanyashree, for empowering girls through education. And Khadya Sathi, a food security scheme, providing rice at Rs 2.

Despite going from strength to strength between 2011 and 2016, Banerjee however, failed to transform the normalised culture of violence that has come to be one of Bengal’s defining markers. Rather than break the machinery of violence created by the CPI-M, Banerjee appropriated and worked it to her own advantage.

The violence marking all seven phases of the recent Bengal polls bears testimony to the still continuing culture of political violence in the state.

Polarising campaign 

In the 2019 polls, the BJP used three emotive issues – Citizenship Amendment Bill, National Register Commission and Bangladeshi immigration – to attack Banerjee and leverage the already existing communal fault-lines in Bengal.  One of the party’s main charges against Mamata centred around what the BJP as well as the CPI-M, described as Banerjee’s “appeasement politics.”

The Muslim voting population, standing at 30%, constitutes a solid support base for the TMC, like it was for the Left Front from 1977 and 2011.

Banerjee has been a fierce critic of NRC and the Citizenship Amendment bill, alleging that such policies will reduce people to the status of stateless refugees.

The road ahead

If the BJP is able to substantially notch up its vote-share and move into a double-digit tally, it will spell trouble for Banerjee. Her party will move into a vulnerable zone. The TMC will face even more daunting challenges in the assembly elections two years from now.