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General election 2019: Battle to conquer Mamata's Bengal bastion heats up!
In the run up to the 2019 general election, West Bengal will play a very important role. Mamata Banerjee is expecting a massive mandate so that she can play an important role in the next Central government.

In 2014, despite a huge mandate of 34 seats, she couldn't play a decisive role because the BJP had a majority of its own with the NDA having 336 seats. However, it's expected by the opposition that the BJP may not get a mandate like 2014 resulting into a hung Parliament. In a hung Parliament regional leaders with massive mandate in their respective states always get to play a much larger role in national politics.

On the other hand the BJP is hopeful of getting around 22 seats from West Bengal to compensate some of its losses in the Hindi heartland. BJP's expectations have increased due to some recent developments. For example, in the Maheshtola Assembly by election the BJP's vote share was around 35 per cent compared to the earlier just 8 per cent. In the Panchayat election 2018 also, the BJP had done extremely well although it remained far behind the TMC. Some say that the BJP had got around 32% votes in the Panchayat elections but I doubt that figure particularly when 34% seats were won by TMC unopposed.

However, there have been certain developments which have enhanced BJP's prospects in Bengal. During the Panchayat election 2018, the party had got massive tribal support in five districts, two in north Bengal and three in Jungle Mahal where TMC lost seats to the BJP. The TMC also suffered severely in Jhargram, Bankuda and Purulia bordering Jharkhand where the BJP won around 40 per cent seats. So it's most likely that being the second largest party at the moment, the BJP will increase its number of MPs from 2 in 2014.

However, there's a catch. The BJP will be benefited if there's a four corner contest like it happened in the Panchayat election 2018 or the recent by-elections. It's being discussed that the Left front and the TMC will have a tactical alliance. Tactical or non-tactical, if there's an alliance between two incompatible parties then their vote banks don't add up, rather the dominating party (TMC in this case) always benefits more.

Let's take the example of 2016 Assembly election where the Left front and the Congress had formed an alliance. I am mentioning a paragraph from my article 'SP-BSP gathbandhan in UP is no guarantee that their vote banks will add up' published on 1 November 2018 to understand how the TMC benefitted due to the Left-Congress alliance.

"In 2014 Parliament election the vote share of TMC, Congress, CPM and BJP were 39.05% (34 seats), 9.58% (4 seats), 29.71% (2 seats) and 16.80% (2 seats) respectively. The ideal of Left and Congress alliance was that if vote share of both is added then it would be 39.29% (29.71+9.58) which would be more than TMC's 39.05%. However the assembly results showed that Congress got 12.25% and CPM got 19.8 percent vote share. Congress vote share marginally increased whereas CPM lost around 10% vote share. At the same time BJP increased its vote share marginally to 10.2% but TMC benefited a lot getting 44.9% vote share which is around 5% more vote share. This comparisons of vote share is between 2014 general election and 2016 assembly election."

A tactical alliance between Left and Congress will push the dissenting workers from both parties and voters towards the TMC instead of their own party or BJP. The point must be realised that elections are won or lost at polling booths and thus local booth workers always play an important role. A booth-level worker, local leaders if remains with a winning party, his/her political clout increases and also got some business through political supports. That's the reality of Indian politics. Thus, I feel that if there would a Left-Congress alliance the BJP will not be benefit at all.

Some may say that the issues are different in the Assembly and Parliamentary elections. But then at ground level does it bring any difference whether the election is for the Assembly or the Parliament? Hard to say, but one thing is sure that there's internal feuds among TMC workers for simple reason that from all parties (read Left parties and Congress) workers joined TMC over the last couple of years to remain as members of the ruling party. When the number of workers increases, automatically share of political benefits reduces. That's why the BJP is getting more workers now and there's chance that some worker staying in the TMC may sabotage TMC's prospects just to blame some of their colleagues. Politics is a very dirty game, isn't it?

To conclude I would say if Left and Congress contest separately or both Left and Congress became allies of the TMC, the BJP has good chance to perform impressively. However, if the Congress and the Left become allies and there would be three way contest, and there's every possibility that the TMC would win almost all seats. Let's see what actually happens on 23rd May, the result day. The only caveat is that in politics things change very fast and nothing is impossible in an Indian election.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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