BJP entry queers pitch for Mamata

BJP entry queers pitch for Mamata

BJP entry queers pitch for Mamata

The ongoing Lok Sabha polls have thrown up a number of factors that could set precedents for the poll scenario in West Bengal.

Besides the much talkedfour-cornered fight among  the Trinamool Congress (TMC), the Congress, the Left and the BJP for the first time, several other facets have come up that could forever change the way elections have been looked at in the state.

Strategic voting by Muslims, as it happens in Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Bihar is one such aspect, political polarisation on the basis of religion and caste has also pushed the proverbial envelope. A factor of personal charisma is also at play as people identify their support with the draw of individuals like BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and Congress chairperson Sonia Gandhi, going beyond just that of TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee. Added to these is the glamour factor with a large number of candidates coming from film industry is drawing people.

The BJP, when it realised that Bengal was one of the 18 states in which it won no seats in 2009, put in play a plan to win over the state’s voters. It knew that Mamata’s Muslim-wooing policies are bound to have an effect on a large portion of the electorate and these voters would look for an alternative in Modi’s nationwide wave. The BJP, which did not give much importance to Bengal, went out of its way this time, a fact which is revealed in the number of rallies Modi addressed in his five visits to the state.

Hitherto, the poll battle in Bengal was marked by political polarisation — it was between the organised might of the Left versus the Congress. This time it is about personal charisma with Mamata on one side, Modi on the other besides Sonia-Rahul Gandhi. The Left, which still boasts of a monolithic structure instead of an individual leader-driven organisation, is somewhat missing, turning the quadrilateral into a triangle in this aspect.

The Left, however, has not missed out on the Muslim votes, the community forming an integral part of its electorate since it came to power in 1977.

Trinamool Congress, which was affiliated with the BJP for a long time, missed out on the Muslim votes till Mamata returned to the state’s political scenario with a bang in 2006. Since her disassociation with the BJP and repeated assurances that she is not going back to the saffron fold, Muslim votes played a significant role in Mamata becoming chief minister in 2011, besides giving her a major boost in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls and subsequent elections in the state.

With around 27 per cent Muslim vote in the state, the community having influence over at least 20 of the 42 seats, they are expected to play a crucial role.

Infiltration issue

If the topic of infiltration of Bangladeshi Muslims was a late entrant to the poll fray with Modi first dropping the bomb recently, issues which have been raised throughout the poll campaigns have hardly been spoken of as deciding poll factors in earlier elections, when campaigns remained confined to issue of “bijli-sadak-pani” (power, roads, water).  Modi has also raised the issue of caste politics, previously unheard in Bengal.

There are undercurrents of divide between Bengalis and Marwaris/Biharis, and between upper classes with the scheduled castes and tribes, which most feel is a bid towards further polarisation.

The BJP is believed to have dented into the vote banks of all parties and party leaders hopeful that they will not just play a spoilsport for others but will win a few seats on their own.