The surprising entry of AIMIM & the growth of BJP in WB after the 2019 Lok-Sabha elections, has heated the battle of West Bengal 2021 polls. This article provides a comprehensive view on the subject matter by briefly laying down the overview, entry of AIMIM, communal politics, and mis-governance.
TMC-BJP Tussle in West Bengal
The fight between Mamata Banerjee’s government and Modi-led government has further escalated. It is quite evident that 2021 polls in WB will be one of the fiercest political battle ever in the history. Bhartiya Janata Party is all set to displace TMC from the power in the State.
BJP has already sown its seeds in WB since its sharp increased votes in 2014 elections. BJP’S performance in 2019 Lok-Sabha elections is indeed remarkable. They won a total of 18 of 42 seats. The party made a deep inroads in the State. Immediately after this, a series of violence including murders & clashes took place. The situation gets worse day-by-day in the state. More than 47 political murders have taken place in the state since 2019 elections. BJP’S policy of ‘act east‘ has really stunned millions of people across the country. The party was initially only limited to north & west India. But after the adoption of ‘act east’ policy to gain dominance in the other regions since 2014, has really fetched them some good results. In the year 2016 & 2018, BJP gained power in Assam & Tripura. They have also hold their grip in other north-eastern states. Now they have fixed their eyes on WB 2021 polls. Their impressive victory in Bihar can play a huge role in the 2021 polls.
AITMC history is quite attractive as well. The party replaced Left Front, which had been ruling in the state for 34 years. But this time, the tables have turn. AITMC is at a serious crisis now. AITMC was successful in mobilising bitterness in the minds of people against Left Front. But the party failed to strengthen itself with an alternative governance & a political agenda. This time the contest is between the hindutva agenda of BJP and inconsistent TMC. AITMC has always been illogical with their policy of Muslim communal politics. Also the situation of law and order in the State has deteriorated. Recently, a mob attack took place in JP Nadda’s convoy. Stones were thrown while he was on 2-day visit to WB. The police are ineffective against the violent attacks in Mamata’s governance.
The tussle between both the parties is taking new shape every passing day. For a party whose vote share was only 3% in the state, 2019 elections were an absolute shocker for AITMC. The rivalry is getting intensified day-by-day. Also the joining of TMC’s popular MLAs including Suvendu Adhikari in BJP is expected to make the battle more interesting.
Shifting of votes due to AIMIM’s entry
Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM party is the deciding factor of the 2021 polls. This is, how? Left is losing their vote share every elections. This loss, is the benefit & percentage gain for BJP in the state. This means that all the left votes has now shifted towards BJP. The communist party votes fell from 29.9% to 7.5% during the period 2014-2019. While BJP’s share of votes has increased from 17% to 40.2%, a massive gain. It may so happen, CPIM holds its 7.5% vote share in 2021 polls. Now in order to increase the vote shares, BJP will require a third party. This third party will benefit them by eating TMC’s votes. This third party (here AIMIM) will decide who will conquer Bengal this time.
Although AIMIM does not have any base in the state. But even a small percentage of shift in the Muslim’s votes can make Mamata’s third term difficult. And that is where, BJP’s path for taking the power for the first time will get smoothed.
Muslims in the state constitute around 30% of state voters. They hold over 120 assembly seats. Despite TMC losing seats in 2019 Lok-Sabha elections, its percentage of vote share has increased from 39% to 43%. This was only possible due to their Muslim supporters. Also the party managed to hold its back in south & central Bengal. The Muslim community voted in favour of Mamata’s party in masses. According to a survey, around 70% voted in favour of TMC in 2019 elections. This was only 40% in 2014 elections.
Owaisi’s party is planning to contest elections in 70 out of 294 assembly seats. The party bagged 5-10% votes in the recent elections in Bihar. If the party succeeds to gain this vote share in WB, Mamata’s third term will just remain a dream. She even accused BJP for dividing the Hindu-Muslim votes by importing Owaisi’s AIMIM in the state. Owaisi hit back to her allegations. He said “no man can buy Asaduddin Owaisi with money”. The party is a major challenge for TMC this time. The CAA and NRC will surely make the Muslims look at AIMIM to take on the saffron forces. Smallest vote share of AIMIM will be the end road for TMC.
Communal Politics in the State
The state is quite cosmopolitan with people from different parts of the country. Bengalis take glorious pride in their culture. Until few years, one could be called for lacking basic knowledge of state’s culture. The state has not yet welcomed & accepted other political parties. They can be seen calling Amra v Ora (us v we) for outsiders. With the increase in BJP’s popularity, the party is always attacked with the tag of ‘outsiders’. They are seen as party alien to tradition & culture of Bengal. The tag is also labelled to BJP’s supporters (Biharis & UPites). The communities who have settled in the state & are voting for the saffron forces are seen as outsiders.
The big reason for BJP’s capturing vote share in the state was Mamata’s attempts to appease the minority. Mamata Banerjee has a history of minority appeasement right after her coming into the power. It all started with her announcing stipends for Imams in the state. She along with some senior leaders of the party were often seen wearing caps & offering namaz. The problem wasn’t that she was appeasing Muslims. The problem was that she was only appeasing Muslim minorities. BJP took advantage of this & started attacking TMC.
With the gain of saffron outfit in the state, TMC was forced to balance their act. After 2014 polls, she started distributing public money to Durga puja committees. Recently, TMC also started stipends for priests. Also during 2019 elections, CM was seen accusing some BJP supporters just for chanting ‘Jai Shree Ram’. Anger emerged in the people for preventing Hindus from practising their faith openly.
BJP has quite gained support in some areas of the State, despite their aggressive Hindutva agenda. And with the entry of AIMIM, even one mistake by TMC will turn to be very dangerous. Also the shift of strong leaders from TMC to BJP is a sign which way the electorate might go. And if it is indeed a sign, the winds are quite in the favour of BJP.
Mis-governance in the State
West Bengal has a long trail of political violence. The murderous attacks in political rivals & clashes between police & protesters have worsen. The state has a history of communal bloodshed. Every rally is supported by incidents of political violence. After the Naxalbari movement, this culture of violence of doing politics has embedded itself in the state. The most violent confrontation in the history was itself marked through a march by Mamata leading the Youth Congress on Writers Building. After she came into power, the situations became more terrifying. For her last 10 years of rule, TMC’s governance has been described as corrupt.
The law and order has totally collapsed in the state. There has been no economic growth in the state as such, which the CM claims. Also there is massive deterioration in the education system. The economically backward classes in the state are completely abandoned. TMC’s claim, that the average per person income under her rule had doubled, is incorrect. Growth in different sectors of agriculture, industry, services sector has also declined. The government is also accused of withholding information about state’s budget. Political violence in the state has become a tool to suppress opposition’s voices. Opposition workers are killed in peaceful protests by police firing.
The state healthcare infrastructure have also added to the government’s failure. The denial of CM to implement Ayushman Bharat in the state has made the poor & weak to suffer a lot. The government even failed to control the spread of disease in the state. The state registered highest number of dengue, measles, diarrhoeal & many more diseases. Even the state reported to have the third highest number of Covid cases. Also the government blocked efforts to creation of aadhar cards. It also opposed ‘One Nation, One Ration’ which would have deprive them to carry corruption. Also the government is charged with misappropriation of funds during distribution of post cyclone (amphan) relief. All these deformities are just to name a few, the list is never-ending.
After the shocking performance of BJP in 2019 elections, the party is ready to bag 2021 polls. BJP has launched ‘Mission Bengal’ under the supervision of JP Nadda & Amit Shah. However, TMC has still kept their hopes high. Meanwhile, CPIM is struggling to fight for its existence by forming an alliance with 16 parties. CPIM failed to win even a single seat in 2019 elections. Whereas Congress managed to win just two seats. The alliance of Congress-CPIM is not a threat in the state. CPIM lost its ground against AITMC. Now BJP has positioned itself as the principal opposition party in the state. Also the entry of AIMIM can be a principal challenger for AITMC. Everyone is eyeing on the Bengal polls. The elections which are going to take place in less than 6 months is absolutely going to be breath-taking.
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