Bengal assembly elections are approaching closer and the competition is getting intense. The claim to victory in these elections will also play a key role in national politics. Let us see what is working for different political parties in Bengal.
Starting with BJP:
- They performed extremely well in the Lok Sabha 2019 elections. RSS has been expanding all across Bengal. In fact, state president Dilip Ghosh is an RSS member as well.
However, sometimes, Dilip Ghosh makes a slip of tongue. (Like saying that Non Bengalis have done more for Bengal than Bengalis themselves). But, overall, their chances seem good.
- In 2014, even after winning the Lok Sabha, BJP couldn’t do well in the then Bengal assembly elections. So, they approached Mukul Roy, formerly a member of TMC. Not just him, Suvendu Adhikari and Sovan Chatterjee of TMC have also joined. They will bring the inside info and so have been granted top party positions. However, their involvement in Saradha Chit Fund scam is a concern.
- Mamta Banerjee’s image may be clean but her party people are deeply involved in one scam or another. The biggest of which is the saradha Chit Fund scam. But, what hurts people more, is the Cut money scam, in which the local politicians take their cuts off a big project. In fact, this happened even with the relief package for Amphan victims. BJP is highlighting this vigorously.
- BJP accuses Mamta Banerjee of appeasement politics. (That she works majorly for the Muslim population). BJP has mixed into this the promises of CAA-NRC. They claim that Bangladeshi intruders are destroying the culture of Bengal. Amit Shah has called these people termites. This can lead to polarization which may benefit BJP.
- These days Mamta’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee is in the news for all the wrong reasons. Recently, CBI team investigated and inquired Abhishek Banerjee and his wife over coal scam allegations. BJP has therefore got an opportunity to call out nepotism as well as corruption in the family.
- Left ruled over Bengal for over 30 years. Not much development happened. Even TMC could not bring about major changes in the state of Bengal. Now, BJP says that they will ensure Asol Parivartan. They claim that when the center and state both have BJP, acche din will come, thanks to double engine.
- This time, IT cell is in full flow, led by their head Amit Malviya. The target is 50 lakh social media messages every hour so you can imagine the kind of situation there. Plus the contest is both, on ground, and on phone!
- BJP is showing its love for Bengal. Modiji speaking Bangla, Nirmala Sitharaman quoting Tagore, tribal leader Birsa Munda being remembered, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose claimed as their own. The goal is to win over the hearts of Bengalis which will help remove the outsider tag.
Now let us take a look at 8 points that will work in TMC’s favour:
- Mamata Banerjee has partnered with political strategist Prashant Kishor. She is being projected as the true daughter of Bengal and BJP as outsiders. Very effective strategy.
- TMC is showing the fact that Bengali children are healthier than Gujarati children. That unemployment in Bengal is less than the national average. That economy recovery of Bengal has been smooth after corona.
- Targeted welfare has been practiced, such as, schemes for women. Opponents say that she has a large Muslim vote bank. But, on the contrary, she has targeted women specifically.
- TMC may have been involved in corruption cases but Mamata’s own image is good as new. Critics also say that TMC is a one-woman party, but, Mamata believes otherwise.
- The strongest point that will work in TMC’s favor is TINA (There is no alternative). BJP is fighting the election under Modiji’s leadership and vision for Bengal. But, the voter, wants a CM face, which TMC has.
- Many leaders have left TMC and joined BJP. But, TMC is teasing BJP by calling them “washing machine” because those politicians that joined had corruption allegations against them.
- BJP has money power, 8-phase election, social media army but Mamata Banerjee has booth level management.
- Farmer leaders have urged Bengal voters not to choose BJP unless they withdraw the farm laws. So that should work in TMC’s favour.
Lastly, let’s talk about the new alliance: Left + Congress + ISF.
Left parties are trying their best to regain power in Bengal. But, they haven’t been able to evolve with time, nor have they any viable talent. In 2019 general elections, left managed to earn only 7% vote share in Bengal, the same place where they had ruled for 30+ years. Their vote share has been shifting towards BJP for many years.
In 2021, though, left has tried to make its presence felt on social media. Plus, an alliance with congress and Abbas Siddiqui’s Indian secular front. Religious cleric Abbas Siddhiqui has a strong following among Muslim youth. The left, which was proudly secular, has for the first time announced an alliance with a religious figure. Will it prove to be a blunder or a masterstroke? (Only time will tell.)