By Ramanand Nand and Sumit Kr. Gupta:
The exit polls indicated a tectonic shift in West Bengal’s politics and the general election has shown a red letter to the present All India Trinamool Congress government. In what is termed as the ‘awakening’ in West Bengal, the BJP is set to make inroads in the state. The 2019 elections have ended the hegemony of Mamata Banerjee.
What was seen as the invincible stature of ‘Didi’ has now been lowered. While West Bengal politics has been impregnable for national parties, it has long been a bastion for regional parties. But the 2019 election has destroyed this very notion and formed a completely unique situation in the state.
The BJP has won 18 seats out of 42 in West Bengal; it has already made a dent in TMC’s politics in West Bengal. While the reasons for this outcome are innumerable, the repercussions of this election and action of the political parties should be put under the scanner. First of all, Didi’s dream of becoming Prime Minister has come crashing down to the ground which ultimately means that her bargaining power in the Grand Alliance will fall down. Her role in the national level of politics will now become limited. The second development will see the end of the liberal-secular forces (the Left front) from West Bengal’s political arena.
The Left is nowhere in the picture. It has been totally dismantled after its 2004 performance. Except for Kerala, the Left is not in power in any state. But even this time, it is the UDF that has swept the southern state. This invariably indicates that the supporters turned their back on the Left to support the BJP. This will also mean that Left parties might not find a place in the West Bengal state assembly elections. Not a single exit poll predicted even one seat to the Left. And the Congress is likely to get only two seats.
The phenomenal rise of the BJP’s vote share and corresponding fall of the Left’s is indicative of how the Left workers and supporters alike transferred their votes to the BJP. The faltering of TMC is like a flashback to the 2009 elections; the TMC, along with the Congress, breached the Left bastion by winning 19 out of 42 seats. That election saw the rise of Mamata Banerjee and a crushing defeat of the Left Front in the 2011 assembly elections. The TMC gained a blizzard momentum in the state, sweeping the next general election by winning 34 seats out of 42 in West Bengal. The trend was somewhat similar in the 2016 assembly election until now.
This time, the TMC’s strength has been successfully tested by the BJP, with tacit support from a sizeable Left vote. Both the TMC and BJP contested the election on communal lines and the BJP has invariably gained the thrust it needs. But the BJP began its rise from the 2014 parliament election when it won 2 seats with a 17% vote share. Its presence increased in local body polls, however, no one took them seriously at that time. But the voting percentage attracted everyone’s attention—close to 80%. This time it seems the BJP is going to touch the 40.30 % vote share mark, which is as significant as it is alarming for the TMC.
The Trinamool Congress is caught in a situation similar to the 2009 General Election but on the receiving end. This time, with the role of the TMC and BJP changed, the TMC might lose its bastion in 2021 assembly election. There is no doubt that Mamata came to power by challenging giant left forces, by challenging them their bastion; she has ensured Singur was Waterloo for the Left. She replaced Buddhdev Bhattacharya by defeating him in the 2011 assembly election. Now it seems that she will receive the same fate. Appeasement policy and pseudo-secularism are not working anywhere in the country.
The 2019 result has confirmed this as a gaining trend. The TMC also need to introspect on its policies and should revisit their policies which BJP term as anti-Hindu. It would be interesting to see how Mamata Banerjee tries to reverse to this verdict and win the support of the general masses.