With the dates of the Assembly elections declared, West Bengal, where the BJP is trying to come to power for the first time, will be in focus. Once considered a fringe element in Bengal, the saffron party gained the status of the principal Opposition by winning 18 seats in the last Lok Sabha elections.
However, BJP will be up against the formidable challenge of the Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee. Assembly elections in the state will be held in eight phases starting from March 27 and results will be declared on May 2.
With the BJP yet to announce a chief ministerial candidate for the state and heavily banking on the personal charisma of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it will most likely boil down to a Modi versus Mamata battle. However , the lack of a prominent face in the state who can rival the political stature of the TMC supremo may have an adverse effect on BJP’s performance.
Citizenship (Amendment) Act, corruption, law and order, infiltration of migrants and development will be the key issues in the upcoming polls. BJP is trying to corner TMC by accusing it of resorting to “rampant corruption” such as demands of “cut money” by its leaders; their alleged involvement in “syndicates” and “misappropriating” Central aids and funds after the Cyclone Amphan.
Mamata is looking to capitalise on the confusion and delay over implementation of the CAA. and counter the BJP by alleging that by applying for citizenship under the CAA, one would automatically be classified as a foreigner.
In a bid to woo the refugee and minority voters, Mamata made it clear that she would never allow the NRC and NPR to be implemented in Bengal. TMC is banking on the state government’s developmental schemes and the “outsider” tag labelled on the BJP by Mamata.
The CPI(M)-led Left Front and Congress will look to arrest their steady decline in Bengal.
While the TMC won 211 seats in the 2016 Assembly elections, the CPI(M) won 26 seats, the Congress got 44 seats and BJP only got three seats. The other Left Front allies like Forward Bloc won two seats, the Revolutionary Socialist Party won three seats and the CPI bagged one seat. Other smaller parties own three seats.