With the rise of BJP in Bengal, the pressure is on Mamata Banerjee’s TMC to hold fort as CPM becomes non-existent
The Baharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under Narendra Modi has made sizeable inroads in Bengal with 18 out of 42 seats in the just concluded 17th Lok Sabha Elections at the expense of the Left parties, particularly the CPM. In simple terms, the Left — as a force — ceases to exist in Bengal any more. But it wasn’t a huge surprise as the social media is making out to be. Last time in 2014, Left somehow managed to win in Raigunj and Murshidabad which they failed to retain in five years’ time. It was on the cards, particularly after BJP’s overwhelming mandate of 300-plus seats nationally and the obliteration of Congress-led UPA who couldn’t even touch the 100-seat mark.
Had Left wanted to be in the fray, they could have jolly well learnt the lesson back in 2014 itself — when the gap (in both seat and vote share) with the ruling party widened and in few places they were relegated to third position. The Left was down to two seats compared to 15 in 2009. Even till then, BJP didn’t pose a big threat in Bengal with a couple of seats, but the threat was there which went unnoticed. Media failed to sense that and so did Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, who actually bore the brunt in 2019.
When Ms Banerjee was taking a sadist pleasure at the fast disappearing Left Front, she had no clue how it come back to haunt her, half a decade later. Cut to 2019, the biggest loser was Ms Banerjee having conceded as many as 16 seats to strongest and largest party of the country. As the ruling party in the state, their seats came down to 22 from 34, a clear loss of 12 seats. In that way, BJP snatched two seats from Congress while wiping out the Left front completely from the eastern state.
Is it end of the road?
Whether Ms Banerjee still realises where she went wrong is anybody’s guess, but her party workers seem to be still relishing the fact of Left votes hit a rock bottom of a shade over six percent. With CPM hinting a walk-out from the electoral politics may mean all anti-TMC votes will go to the saffron party henceforth. Being a new force, the saffron brigade’s popularity is only set sore in contrast to TMC’s fate keeping an eye on the Assembly Elections due in two years’ time.
However, social media’s surprise to see Bengal clad in saffron is meaningless at this point in time. Those who are beating their chest “how could educated Bengalis fall in RSS trap?” should understand the voting pattern in Bengal has undergone a radical change over the years. They seem to be in the mood of rotating all political outfits, so that no party can take them for granted. The model that Kerala is known for is being applied in Bengal too.
In late nineties or early 2000s, a mere thought of uprooting the Leftists was an object of ridicule in any circle. When the Left parties took the electorate for granted with Congress feebly opposing the ruling party, Ms Banerjee broke away from Congress to form Trinamool Congress in 1998. The beginning of the end for the Left was signalled loud and clear, but went unheard by the CPM bosses.
Though acknowledging the rise of Ms Banerjee, they ignored her organisational capacity and a chunk of vote bank that slowly tilted towards the TMC. The entire process of breaching the red bastion had come to fruition in 2011, marking the end of 34-year Left rule. But then, Ms Banerjee had compounded her problems by already giving entry to the saffron brigade in the state in pursuit of ultimate power. Little did she know that in some point in future, she would have to deal with both Leftists and Rightists.
How it changed
As far as people’s choice in last few elections is concerned, it has enough indication that Bengalis have done away with the idea of being governed by a party for years and decades. They seem to have adopted the use-and-throw policy since 2011. Fed up of Left Front’s arrogance and misrule, people elected Ms Banerjee to be the guiding force, but she made a mess of all in the eight years she has been in power. Still one was term was granted in 2016, but Ms Banerjee’s government brazenly refused acknowledge. She and her party colleagues thought they could win an entire election instilling fear among the voters and unleashing violence on the streets.
Also, for years, it is the Lok Sabha election the people of Bengal chose as the launching pad for the Assembly election. So, the big leap of BJP from two seats to 18 seats is a clear enough indication what the Maa Mati Manush can expect in 2021 Assembly Elections, if at all the government survives till then. If murmurs in the BJP corridors are anything go by, the state Assembly Elections may be held as early as this year-end and the process to pave way for that is under way.