Its TMC vs BJP in Bengal, Left and Cong struggle

The ruling party in West Bengal under the leadership of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has so far been a step ahead of its rivals. PTI file photo

West Bengal is all set to witness a four-way contest in the Lok Sabha elections. Among the major players— the Trinamool Congress (TMC), the BJP, the Left Front and the Congress— the TMC has so far been the most dominant political force in the state in terms of organisational clout, candidate selection, electoral strategy and campaigning.

While the CPM-led Left Front and the Congress are fighting to retain their political relevance in the state, the BJP has emerged as the key rival of the TMC.

The ruling party in West Bengal under the leadership of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has so far been a step ahead of its rivals.

Often targeted by the BJP as a “regional party”, the TMC supremo sought to shed the regional tag in the party manifesto by focusing more on national issues such as the Rafael deal, defense and demonetisation.

The TMC has also trumped its rivals by fielding the highest number of women candidates (41%) for the Lok Sabha elections.

Mamata during her campaigning has mostly targeted the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi instead of her arch-rivals the CPM and the Congress.

TMC sources said that the party leadership is not much bothered about the CPM and the Congress due to their declining organisation in Bengal but are more concerned about the BJP getting a foothold in the state.

TMC’s performance in the last Lok Sabha and Assembly elections also shows its electoral dominance. While the TMC led in the state with 39.77% votes in the Lok Sabha elections, the Left Front became the distant second with 29.93% votes followed by the BJP (17.02%) and the Congress (9.68%).

The TMC got 36 seats followed by the Congress (4), the BJP (2) and the Left Front(2).

With regard to the 2016 Assembly elections, the TMC was ahead in 36 out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the state. The Left Front and Congress who were alliance partners in the last Assembly elections had lead in six Lok Sabha seats such as Raiganj, Malda Uttar(North), Malda Dakshin (South), Jangipur, Baharampur and Murshidabad. It remains to be seen whether the Left Front and the Congress who are going solo this time in the state are able to retain their earlier lead.

As for the BJP, the party witnessed a significant drop in 2016 Assembly elections (10.31%) as compared to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections (17.02%).

However, the party’s organisational strength has considerably increased since the Assembly elections and in several parts of the state, the BJP went blow for blow with the TMC during the last Panchayat polls.

The party is expected to perform well in Jhargram and some parts of North Bengal where it did well in the panchayat elections.

The CPM-led Left Front and the Congress wasted precious time in squabbling over the seat sharing arrangement which never saw the light of the day. It is expected if the BJP makes a significant gain in terms of seats and vote share it will be at the expense of the Left Front and the Congress, as the BJP is yet to have enough organisational strength to erode the TMC’s vote share in Bengal.

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Its TMC vs BJP in Bengal, Left and Cong struggle

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