West Bengal Elections

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The assembly elections in West Bengal have been a highly discussed topic and will remain so until May 2021. This election is very important not just for West Bengal, but for the nation itself as it will show us if India remains a “Multiparty Democracy” or becomes a “One nation one-party state”.  I am not here to predict who will win, neither will I ask you to vote for a particular party, I am just here to present facts and the rest you can figure out.

It is clear that the Bhartiya Janata Party is desperate to win this election, and they have all the reasons to. BJP, in order to dominate the nation in the upcoming assembly elections, relies on the east and the south. It knows that they are way behind the dominant parties in the north. BJP went from 2 seats in the 2014 general elections in WB to 18 seats in the 2019 general elections in WB. Although the performance in general and assembly elections varies, it supports the desperation. Hence, BJP highly relies on the east to maintain its national dominance. 

After the victory of TMC in the 2016 assembly elections, the left-jote collapsed, and the BJP took the opportunity to establish itself as a strong opposition. The left-jote and TMC have always talked about minorities and gained support. But then BJP came into the picture and focused on the majority and said “let’s go majoritarian”. Not just this, no matter how much we want to believe that we as a nation have developed into a progressive society, casteism is not to be ignored. While the left and the TMC always had upper-caste-leaders and did not specifically focus on the backward caste, BJP alloyed Hinduism with the lower-caste-leaders and seems to benefit immensely. There is a Hindi-speaking population in Calcutta and in the neighbouring towns, who always felt that they never belonged, but with BJP they feel recognized and feel that they have been identified. At last, there are ‘Modi Voters’, influenced by the face of BJP. These factors account for the dramatic rise of the BJP in the state.

Now that we have focused on the rise of strong opposition in WB, it is time to focus on the political dynamics. what is actually happening and what are the factors affecting the public’s decision. According to me, there are three pivoting factors:

Anti-Incumbency

In the past few weeks, the BJP had managed to sway some of the leaders from TMC, which the political pundits claim will harm the TMC. No doubt, losing important members can harm the respective parties. But these leaders are not the face of the party, Mamata Banerjee (Didi) still remains the face and the prominent leader of TMC. The BJP has successfully swayed the leaders but has been unsuccessful in tarnishing Didi’s image. 

Using All the Resources 

The recent news of Didi getting injured during a campaign and suffering from a fracture was unfortunate. She even alleged that it was BJP’s doing to jeopardize her campaign, to the election commission. The allegations were dismissed by the commission. It is also very “coincidental” that the CBI has served Didi’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee’s wife Rujira Banerjee in the coal pilferage case, just before the elections. It must be noted that the investigation in the case started in December 2020 and gained pace right during the election campaigns during February. 

All of these incidents seem very familiar to the 1972 assembly elections. The election witnessed the landslide victory of Indira Gandhi-led Congress. Congress was ready for a narrow victory because of the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation war, but at the last moment in the fear of losing the elections, they hit a panic- button. This led to booth capturing and no one could explain the changed voting behaviour. In short, the elections were rigged. Similar to this, BJP seems to use all of its resources to break TMC. Well, the public is not in the dark anymore, most of them have access to the internet and can figure out the “central influence” in the assembly elections. 

The Slogan Sentiment

Both the parties have created enough slogans for the campaign. Narendra Modi has promised, “Aashol Paribartan” which means if we come as a ruling party, we will bring development with us. Now you must be aware of Amit Shah’s visit to Assam. In a rally in Assam he said “If BJP comes as a ruling party, we will make Assam flood free”. This statement is very aligned with the “Aashol Paribartan” slogan. But it is very laughable. Guess who is the ruling party in Assam? BJP! Whereas TMC has projected Mamata Banerjee as “Banglar Meye” meaning Bengal’s daughter. Although this slogan doesn’t promise something unique, it makes Didi’s image stronger. Showing that she stands as strong as ever for the people, no matter what.

BJP has not presented its CM candidate yet. Now, this creates a quandary for the people, as they don’t know who will serve them as their CM. But, it may play in favour of BJP because they don’t have a candidate who can match Didi’s image of “Banglar Meye”, and if they put a face on the CM candidate, they will be making it easier for TMC to win.   

It has been a significant rise for the BJP in the state. They have played their Hindutva card alloyed with “sabka sath sabka vikas’‘ very well. But they have failed to tarnish Didi’s image. Now everything comes down to the voting day, this may as well turn into a sequel to the 1972 WB assembly elections, which is not only unethical but horrifying for democracy. In the end, it all comes down to you, the voters. Who will win the elections? Or will we have another overnight coalition government like Maharashtra and Bihar? We will find out in May. 

Reference

Sankarshan Thakur. (2021, March 21). The Bengal election is critical to whether India will become a one-nation one-party state. The Telegraph. Retrieved March 22, 2021, from https://www.telegraphindia.com/west-bengal/west-bengal-assembly-elections-2021-the-bengal-election-is-critical-to-whether-india-will-become-a-one-nation-one-party-state/cid/1810129

Yogendra Yadav. (2021, February 25). I worry about 2021 Bengal election. You should too. The Print. Retrieved March 22, 2021, from https://theprint.in/opinion/i-worry-about-2021-bengal-election-you-should-too-yogendra-yadav/610830/

Image credit: Flickr.com

Saurav Anand
I think privilege is having an education, so let me use this privilege to help you understand and analyze the political and economic dynamics.

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