Tribune press service
New Delhi, March 27
PM Narendra Modi’s stopover in Bangladesh at a temple in addition to the birthplace of the spiritual guru of the community of Matua will have a marginal impact on the 30 West Bengal constituencies that went to the polls today. Mamata Banerjee can consider herself in the race for a third term if she manages to win even half of the 30 seats at stake.
Comparisons with the 2016 election will be misleading. The terrain changed in most of these constituencies, first in the 2018 panchayat elections, followed by the defection of the Adhikari family from the BJP.
The fact that the dice are being loaded against the TMC can be judged by the fact that the elections are largely held in five parliamentary constituencies, four of which are held by the BJP (Midnapore, Jhargram, Bankura and Purulia) while Sisir Adhikari, who won Kainth on the TMC ticket, switched to BJP.
A big picture would show that the BJP won at least 20 of the 30 seats in the 2019 election. In addition, the TMC won all seven seats in Kainth. But the balance of power changed after Adhikari moved to BJP. All of these constituencies were once left-wing strongholds. These fell into the hands of the TMC after the listed tribes and castes began to aspire to material development.
The battle in this election is between the material advancement promised by the BJP and the progressive social welfare of TMC. Questions such as Hindu-Muslim and foreigner versus tourist do not resonate here. This is because Muslims make up less than 10% of the population and the SC T population is so high that TMC’s “outsider versus tourist” war cry finds little resonance.
While Mamata organized rallies in all 30 seats, the Mithun Chakraborty roadshows were a huge success. The campaign led by Union Minister Arjun Munda was countered by Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren who presented TMC candidates. Well-respected BJP Jyotirmay Singh Mahato won the Purulia Lok Sabha seat in 2019, leading to six of the seven Assembly seats. The BJP won Bankura and led generously in all seven seats.