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    Trinamool record is better in West Bengal elections; task cut out for BJP

    Synopsis

    BJP is optimistic about 2021 West Bengal Assembly elections solely on basis of its 2019 Lok Sabha poll performance where it won 18 of the 42 seats and bagged 40.64% of the votes.

    AFP
    Mamata Banerjee
    NEW DELHI: BJP's political graph in West Bengal has seen a significant rise since the 2014 Lok Sabha elections but the 2021 polls in the state are not going to be an easy task as Mamata Banerjee-led TMC has a record of improving its performance in the Assembly elections vis-à-vis the general elections.

    BJP is optimistic about 2021 West Bengal Assembly elections solely on basis of its 2019 Lok Sabha poll performance where it won 18 of the 42 seats and bagged 40.64% of the votes. This comes close to the TMC tally of 22 seats and 43.69%votes but the saffron party was still four seats and 3% votes behind. However, BJP had seen a quantum jump last year from the 2014 tally when it could win only 17.02% of the votes and just two seats- Darjeeling and Asansol.

    BJP’s performance in Lok Sabha elections of 2019 was a vote for Narendra Modi as PM. TMC’s political clout is confined to West Bengal politics and the voter chose BJP over the Congress, Left and the regional parties.

    A worrying factor for BJP would be that while its performance slides in the Assembly elections in West Bengal, TMC sees an upswing. This is probably due to the charisma of Mamata Banerjee (as is Modi’s for BJP in LS polls) over the saffron party which has no leader of stature in the state. TMC makes the Assembly polls presidential as it seeks votes in Mamata’s name.

    BJP had won only 4.06% votes and failed to open its account in 2011 Assembly polls while in 2016 it got three seats and its vote-share was only 10.16%. The 2016 polls, held two years after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections where Modi magic had won BJP a majority on its own, did not see the Prime Minister’s clout get votes.

    TMC has grown by leaps since the 2009 Lok Sabha polls when it won 19 seats and 31.18% of the votes. In 2014, despite the Modi wave, TMC had won 34 seats and 39.79% of the votes in the state. The party improved its performance in the Assembly elections of 2011 and 2016.

    In 2011, TMC had won 184 seats and got 38.93% of the votes. It had fought the polls in alliance with Congress and SUCI (C). In 2016, TMC improved its tally bagging 211 seats and 44.91% votes, fighting on its own steam. In 2019, its vote share fell only by 1.22% over 2016 Assembly polls.

    By all accounts, it is obvious that the 2021Bengal polls are going to be highly polarised. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the NRC issue, the differences between the Centre and the state government in the fightback against Covid and allegations of minority appeasement on the matter, are going to dominate the polls.

    TMC has a strong support base among the minorities in West Bengal, who constitute 27% of the electorate. With CAA and NRC looming large, the minority vote may rally solely behind Banerjee though Asadudin Owaisi’s AIMIM will be snapping at her heels.
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