Mamata Banerjee is well on her way to registering a thumping victory for the Trinamool Congress in the West Bengal Elections 2021. The BJP, which was expecting to create history, has received a stunning setback with its vote-share decreasing from 2019.
The party might look for some consolation in something or the other but, truth be told, there isn’t any. There is no way to spin this, the results were disastrous for the BJP. Nevertheless, there are certain factors that went against the BJP in retrospect.
Hyperfocus on Matuas and Mahisyas did not pay off
The hyperfocus on the Matua and Mahisya community does not appear to have paid off. Matua dominated constituencies are being won by the Trinamool Congress as of this moment. The Mahisyas dominate South Bengal and that is where the BJP derived its core strength from in 2019.
But even there, the Trinamool Congress has managed to make massive inroads. Simultaneously, the hyperfocus on individual identities deflected from the BJP’s primary hopes on Hindu consolidation. The net effect was clearly negative for the BJP.
No local leader to match Mamata Banerjee
This is more obvious. The Bengal BJP does not have any leader to match the incumbent Chief Minister’s stature in Bengal politics. True, leaders such as Dilip Ghosh, Locket Chatterjee and some others are popular in the state. But they are clearly no match for Mamata Banerjee.
The biggest mass leader in the state is Suvendu Adhikari, and he is someone who joined the BJP very recently. On its own, it just did not have anyone to match Banerjee. With Prime Minister Modi not on the ballot in the Assembly Elections, the party paid the price.
It is also to be noted that there were likely some BJP voters in 2019 who preferred Narendra Modi as Prime Minister but Mamata Banerjee as Chief Minister. If such voters were even 3-4% of the electorate, that is enough to change the fortunes of the party completely.
Intra-party angst due to influx of TMC turncoats
The inclusion of numerous Trinamool leaders in the party created some angst among the workers of the party. The workers had terrible relationships with some of these leaders. Some of the TMC turncoats themselves had fomented violence against BJP workers.
Therefore, the inclusion of such leaders in the party is likely to have angered workers on the ground. It is unclear the extent to which it affected the party’s fate in Bengal.
Inclusion of TMC turncoats denting image
The inclusion of TMC turncoats into the party might have even dented the BJP’s image among voters. There were doubts raised by some that some of these leaders were corrupt and had a negative perception among the electorate.
At the time, it seemed that the inclusion of such leaders was sinking the TMC boat and awarded the momentum to the BJP. But in retrospect, it could have worked the other way as well.
Non-implementation of CAA
The CAA was passed late in 2019 and one and a half years later, the law has still not been implemented. The delay in implementation of the law has been attributed to the Coronavirus crisis and it has been promised that it will be implemented as soon as the crisis was dealt with.
But the electorate on the ground cannot be blamed for not caring about such details. Meanwhile, the Trinamool government in Bengal announced several schemes for the Matuas, the community most affected by the law.
Thus, while the community received concrete benefits from the TMC, all they received from the BJP were promises in the abstract that had not yet been implemented. The voting pattern in Matua dominated constituencies does indicate that the delay in CAA affected the results.
Certain people associated with the BJP had raised issues with the ticket distribution in the polls. It was said that many who had worked hard for the party had been sidelined while turncoats and celebrities had been awarded the ticket in key seats.
For instance, in Behala Purba, Sovan Chatterjee, who is a TMC turncoat himself, did not receive a ticket and it was instead awarded to celebrity Payal Sarkar. That had caused significant anguish among Chatterjee’s supporters. Sovan Chatterjee had quit the party as well.
All in all, everything that could go wrong for the BJP appears to have gone wrong. And everything that Mamata Banerjee needed to work in her favour did work.