The fiery West Bengal elections 2021 results came with a defining verdict. So much was the excitement to unfold Bengal’s verdict that the COVID conundrum or even the election results of other 4 states were all side-lined. All eyes were glued too the vote count tally of Bengal. The much-awaited date, May 2 announced a result that not many expected. The landslide victory of Mamata Banerjee’s TMC is giving anti-BJP forces a new wave of hope. It is now being seen as a focal point for politics against BJP. How far-fetched these claims are, let us analyse.
Can Mamata Banerjee put together an all India anti-BJP force?
TMC’s vote share rose from 44.9% in the 2016 assembly elections to 47.94% in 2021. The politics of polarization might have helped BJP gain some Hindu elite votes but the real gains went to TMC.
The state party has fought back and won against the full might of BJP and the central government. But, it would be too early to call this an anti-BJP force in the making at the national level. A single party today can not stand against the mighty force of saffron wave.
To fill in the gap, we cannot count on Congress. Its possibility to bounce back in near future is bleak given its unwillingness to address its organisational issues. With its defeat in Kerala and its once stronghold, Assam, it is difficult to see hopes around Congress.
The regional parties combined do not have the ideological synergy needed to put a united front to BJP.
Understanding the loss of BJP
Mamata Banerjee with her regional appeal was quick to retort the Modi-Shah duo as outsiders. When BJP appealed to the Bengali speaking masses in Hindi, it deep-down knew that it was difficult to win hearts. Afterall, there is just a 15% non-Bengali voter base in west-Bengal. BJP knew that it needed a ground-level local cadre, which it tried to build by attracting a bandwagon of TMC turncoats. What else could be done in such a short period in which BJP was trying to win over Bengal. We were not wrong when we said that it is not BJP versus TMC in Bengal, it is ‘Dada versus Didi’. (Read: https://ncairways.co/nandigram-bengal-election-campaign/ ) The war of Nandigram was indeed a neck to neck competition of two ground level leaders of Bengal. The razor-thin majority with which Adhikari won Nandigram, is in no way a victory for BJP, but rather his own. The era of the Left and Congress is completely over in Bengal. The entire CPM-Congress vote bank which could have helped BJP in these elections went entirely to TMC.
It was not after all a defeat for BJP
While the Bengal verdict is far short of BJP’s tall claims, the party has not performed bad at all. It would be naive to ignore the expansion of BJP in West Bengal. BJP has levelled up its vote share from 10.16% in 2016 to 38.14% in 2021. This is no small a feat. By wiping off Left and Congress from Bengal, BJP has altered the framework of competition in Bengal to its advantage. If BJP takes slow steady steps towards understanding the culture of the state and the real needs of people, it can turn the political mileage it has gained towards political victory.