Bhartiya Janta Party under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah, a master in social engineering, is currently ruling in 19 states. Out of these 19 states, they have a coalition government in four states. But, the dream of conquering three states- West Bengal, Kerela, and Orrisa, must be giving the sleepless night to Amit Shah. Especially, the West Bengal where BJP is struggling to make inroads.
BJP has never been in power in the state. Even the during the ‘Modi wave’ in the 2016 assembly elections and 2014 Lok Sabha elections the party failed to woo voters. While it managed only 10% votes and three seats in assembly elections, the party registered 17% votes share and won two seats in the previous Lok Sabha elections.
Why West Bengal is a hard ground to conquer for BJP? Here are the five possible reasons for this:
- There are around 27% Muslim voters in the state. Post Babri Masjid demolition and 2002 Godhra riots, the voting patterns of this community confirm that BJP isn’t their choice. This one-third of the voters have a significant impact on 292 seats in the state assembly and 42 seats in the Lok Sabha. With this scenario, it is extremely challenging for the party to fulfil its dream of forming a government in the state.
- Unlike the northern states of UP, MP, and Bihar, the Hindu votes consolidation in West Bengal is relatively weak. Moreover, being the erstwhile ground of the left party, the state never really fell into the clutches of the Sangh Parivar’s ideologies.
- The state has different dynamics altogether, be it based on caste or linguistic grouping. Unlike business-oriented Gujaratis or caste-ridden society of northern India, West Bengal’s social construct is very different, making it difficult for the party to execute its conventional social engineering tactics. While the state has its set of disappointments with the 34-year-long rule of the communist party, BJP’s trademark caste and religion politics isn’t potent enough to woo the voters. As a result, the party could manage only three seats in the 2016 assembly elections.
- There’s a big communication gap between the general Bengali speaking people in the state and the Hindi-speaking party (BJP). There is an absence of a feeling of belonging between the voters and the party. Also, the party lacks strong regional aspirations compared to Mamta Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC). In a recent rally, Banerjee targetted BJP, which was once TMC’s ally, saying that ‘the Hindi speaking party will never accommodate Bengalis’. The ‘Bengalis’ are still in a state of dilemma whether the Delhi-based party will accommodate their demands and concerns.
- BJP has been thriving on the Babri Masjid-Ram Mandir controversy and has strong support in favour of the construction of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya. The issue is the central point of the party’s political strategies and election campaigning. The religious beliefs of Bengalis are contrary to that of BJP’s. Bengalis worship goddess Durga. A 10-day festival before Dushhera – Durga Pooja – is more than a festival for Bengalis and in whole West Bengal. Since both share different religious ideologies, it becomes quite difficult for the party to thrive on the same agenda in West Bengal as they do in UP or Bihar.
However, in the recent panchayat elections, BJP had gained some momentum, but it only managed to replace CPM and Congress, while TMC is way ahead in the race.