In once-red, now-green Bengal, signs of saffron sprout

Despite the massive victory in West Bengal, the danger of BJP is here and now for Trinamool Congress

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Puja Bhattacharjee | May 16, 2014



The Trinamool Congress might have had a victory bigger than even the party itself imagines, with the Left Front, especially CPI(M), Mamata Banerjee’s biggest nemesis decimated, but the party has suddenly got another problem on its hands. And that problem comes in saffron hues.

So, while the BJP might end up with just two seats, what will give the saffron camp a huge leg-up is the vote share: 17.4 percent (as of 4 pm on the election commission website), and up from 6 percent last year. It is way above the Congress’s 9.4 percent and not very far from the CPI(M)’s 22.7.

What this means is simple: come 2016, when the state goes for the assembly elections, the BJP, for the first time in Bengal’s history, would go with a fair chance to be the third biggest party, if not the main opposition.

And going by predictions of the pro-Hindutva vote consolidation, the party can hope only to gain from here on.

If in the next five years, Narendra Modi manages to usher in drastic changes at the Centre, there is a strong possibility that the BJP would get a sure footing in the state.

What is also significant in today’s number game is the margin with which the BJP is leading in the two seats: over 1.90 lakh for SS Ahluwalia in Darjeeling and over 66,000 for singer Babul Supriyo in Asansol. And Trinamool is coming the second best in both constituencies: former India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia in Darjeeling and Dola Sen in Asansol.

It would thus be not only unwise but virtually impossible for Mamata Banerjee to ignore the signs. With incidents of violence and allegations of booth rigging widely reported across the state, the TMC is also running the risk of alienating the middle class. Many have already voiced concern, saying the party is walking the same path as that of its predecessors.

West Bengal in the past has been ruled by the Congress, the Left Front and now by the TMC. Though its best performance till has been two Lok Sabha seats from Bengal, the BJP has never had a grip on the state. Experts are of the opinion that the intelligentsia, which had supported the Left for so long before lending a hand to the TMC, has shown a distinct leaning towards BJP in recent times.

The highlight of these elections in Bengal was the faceoff between Banerjee and Narendra Modi. Banerjee rebuffed Modi’s overtures and made it clear that she is in no mood for an alliance with the national party. It is noteworthy that although BJP is yet to build a strong base in the state, Modi’s rally in Kolkata saw a huge turnout of over 2 lakh people. 

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