Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Trinamool Digests Major BJP Sweep in Bengal
| Didhiti Ghosh, Bureau Chief, IOP, Kolkata - 24 May 2019

Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Trinamool Digests Major BJP Sweep in Bengal

By Didhiti Ghosh, Bureau Chief (Kolkata), Indian Observer Post

Kolkata, May 25, 2019: Turning the TMC war cry on its head, the BJP replaced chupchap phule chhap (quietly vote for the flower) phrase used by Mamata Banerjee to end the 34 year-train of Left rule in Bengal to chupchap kamal chhap (quietly vote for the lotus).

The BJP posted its biggest victories in West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and the Northeast, apart from keeping its core states - the Hindi heartland, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Powered by a high voltage campaign that ran on the schemes of Hindutva, nationalistic sentiments and welfare schemes for the underprivileged, Narendra Modi is the first non-Congress (and third ever) Prime Minister in India to return to power after a full five-year term.

In the run-up to 2019, when BJP president Amit Shah said his party would win 23 of 42 seats in West Bengal, a modicum of opposition parties took him seriously. But Shah and his lieutenants, party General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya and Joint General Secretary (organisation) Shiv Prakash, kept chipping away before the BJP launched its final onslaught, breaching the Trinamool Congress citadel and making deep inroads.

The BJP finally won 18 seats doubling its vote share in the state from 18 per cent in 2014 (when it won two seats) to over 40 per cent. Talking to Didhiti Ghosh, BJP candidate for Basirhat LS Sayantan Bose, who stood against TMC candidate Nusrat Jahan for the present polls, said that the credibility for the party in Bengal has reasonably increased in the past few years, as the magnum of political violence, corruption and atrocities were on the rise.

In the highlights are the social schemes meted out by the BJP and the realization of the importance of National Security and Territorial Integrity in the present times, said Anirban Bose, a Bengal BJP karyakarta (worker).

However, a BJP karyakarta from Bengal, Sofia Khan said, “The lack of strong opposition and the rising number of anti-Muslim votes” propounded the historic win for the BJP.

West Bengal voted in all seven phases of voting for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on April 11, 18, 23, 29, May 6, 12 and 19. There are 42 seats in the state with prime parties being TMC, Congress, BJP and the Left. The voting percentage in West Bengal was recorded to be between 80-82 per cent in all seven phases in the national election 2019.

Confirming their worst fears, this time the Left parties drew a blank and the Congress managed only two seats. The CPM vote share in Bengal plunged from 22.96 per cent in 2014 to 6.54 per cent.

In these electoral swings lies the story of the BJP's rise in Bengal, one of assiduous planning, poaching and standing strong in the face of the TMC might and the political violence that rocked the state during the polls was not witnessed elsewhere in the country.

Aware of what the BJP was up to, the TMC chief tried to introduce her own version of the Hindutva narrative, one that invoked the culture and traditions unique to the state from blowing conch shells to uludhwani (ululation at Hindu rituals); from invoking Ma Durga to targeting the BJP over tax notices sent to community puja clubs in Kolkata, and the chanting of mantras.

For the BJP, winning Bengal was more an ideological dream than an electoral victory. Many in the BJP consider it the party's birthplace because its founder Syama Prasad Mookherjee hailed from the state.

Dripto Bakshi, Policial Activist & Economist from WB said that the Centre has placed much more importance in Bengal this time because of the failure of the TMC Govt to uphold women’s welfare & security, poor standards of education, law and order, apart from a lack of robust industry verticals.

The party won 18 per cent votes in the Panchayat elections in 2018, despite the TMC's uncontested wins in 33 per cent of the Panchayat. According toJayant Singh, Vice-President of Jaipur Prant Hindu Jagran Manch, an RSS affiliated organization who has had an active involvement in West Bengal’s political developments, Modi did not leave any opposition party valiant enough to defeat him in a national level, be it Rahul Gandhi or Mamata Banerjee. “The chowkidar will now save Bengal from further collapse,” he said.

Our party chief has always said that Baam (Left) and Ram (BJP) are working together in Bengal, said Sougata Roy, TMC candidate from Dum Dum who defeated BJP’s Shamik Bhattacharya by a margin of 53,002 votes.

While talking to the Correspondent, Rathindra Bose, BJP Convener of North Bengal Zone said, “apart from the security breach, the verbal abuse of CM Banerjee toward PM Modi had crossed its threshold.”

"The BJP has won 7 out of 8 seats in North Bengal, of which a significant number of votes is from the Muslim population. If the BJP comes to power in the Assembly elections of 2021, we will readily support the NRC and accommodate people of different religious backgrounds in the state. The same will be considered for social benefit," he added.

This battle has been a semi-final of sorts for the TMC before the 2021 Assembly elections. Two years is a long time in politics but Banerjee has much to introspect about. As the leads increased, she tweeted: Congratulations to the winners. But all losers are not losers. We have to do a complete review. And then we will share out views with you all.

This time, around 90 crore people have been eligible voters and among these, around 15 crores are first-time voters. Much awaited is the turnout in the next elections, where the BJP’s dream of emerging as a superpower in Bengal will be subject to an enthusiastic tally. 

Image Courtesy: The Economist, CNN International, Orissa Diary, HT

(DIDHITI GHOSH is an India Columnist at La Agencia Mundial de Prensa, USA, and is the Bureau Chief of Indian Observer Post based in Kolkata. E-mail: didhiti.24@gmail.com | LinkedIn: https://bit.ly/2H6gNAv).


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