2019 Lok Sabha elections are drawing to a close with only one phase of elections due for completion. While the odds look overwhelmingly in Narendra Modi led BJP’s favour, there are some states which are set to throw up a shocker. One of them is West Bengal led by CM Mamata Banerjee. The BJP, which traditionally had no party base in the state is emerging as a strong challenger to Mamata Banerjee’s brute majority in the state.
As per a report in Hindustan Times, Trinamool Congress (TMC) is rather edgy about several variables that may just result in a rude shock to Mamata Banerjee. According to the report, TMC is worried about the Left’s vote share, which was as much as 30% during 2014 Lok Sabha elections, might be shifting to PM Modi led BJP.
The report quotes a TMC leader who says, under the condition of anonymity, “Our prospects now hinge on the level of the shift of the Left vote. We hope to get more than 30 seats but if the Left loses more than 10% of its share, we may even go down to 25”.
Interestingly, however, there is another worry that might end up being more troublesome of Mamata Banerjee than the Left’s votes transferring to BJP.
The TMC leader says that the party is worried about its prospects in 15 seats of West Bengal where the minority concentration is rather low. He also says that BJP has gained considerable strength to take on the BJP in these seats.
West Bengal is seeing a tectonic shift in how it votes. Mamata Banerjee has often been seen as a leader who has appeased the Muslim minority of the state. She has been vehemently against the National Registry of Citizens as well, which would facilitate the deportation of illegal Bangladeshis and Rohingyas. With all of this, the Bengali Hindu majority of West Bengal has been looking for a change in power. In 2019, the cultural undertones are palpable in West Bengal. One recalls how youths had chanted ‘Jai Shree Ram’ as Mamata Banerjee’s convoy passed and how Banerjee had gotten out of their car to scream at them and to claim that she was being abused.
The shift of the Left vote to the BJP is also an interesting phenomenon. This was first seen in Tripura. The Left bastion had decisively voted for BJP in the last assembly elections. Several psephologists were also left stunned by it. Many had theorised that the Left vote, ideologically, could have shifted to the Congress but for it to shift to the BJP marks a deep-seated cultural change that the country is undergoing.
In West Bengal, where BJP has traditionally had no base whatsoever and many pollsters believe is poised to bag 15 to 18 seats this time around, 51.21% of people prefer PM Modi as the Prime Minister as opposed to 14.18% for Mamata Banerjee and 27.24% for Rahul Gandhi.
With TMC leaders now fearing not only the Left voter’s shift to BJP but also their losing grip over 15 seats with the concentration of minority is low, West Bengal certainly is the state to look out for on 23rd May 2019.