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7 seats with highest win margins and 7 seats with lowest win margins: What does it say about Hindu and Muslim consolidation in Bengal

While BJP did multiply their total vote percentage to 38.12% from 10.2%, the Hindu mobilisation and Muslim vote division that BJP was banking on did not work out the way they had hoped.

The West Bengal Assembly Elections 2021 proved to be a massive upset for the BJP. While BJP did increase their tally massively from a mere 3 seats in 2016 to 77 seats in 2021, the Hindutva undercurrent that most people had predicted fell completely flat as the results showed a landslide victory for TMC with 211 seats.

The underlying reason for BJP not being able to win the state clearly seems to be the lack of Hindu consolidation, as much as expected, in the state. That fact is rather evident from the detail that the 7 seats with the lowest margins (below 1,000 vote margin) were mostly overwhelmingly dominated by Hindus and the 7 seats that had the highest winning margin were seats mostly with over 25% Muslim population, some, even with as high as 70% Muslim population. Barring a couple of exceptions.

If one looks at the table below, there were 7 seats where the win margin was less than 1,000 seats.

ConstituencyLeading PartyTrailing PartyMuslim %Hindu %Margin
DinhataBJPTMC316957
BalarampurBJPTMC991423
DantanTMCBJP1288623
KultiBJPTMC2179679
TamlukTMCBJP1486793
JalpaiguriTMCBJP1189941
GhatalBJPTMC1486966

4 of those 7 seats were won by the BJP and 3 were won by TMC. However, the important information that is contained in the table is that all of those constituencies that had less than a 1,000 vote margin were mostly overwhelmingly dominated by Hindus except for one seat.

In 6 out of 7 seats, there seems to be hardly any Hindu consolidation. In a seat, Balarampur, where the Hindu population is over 90%, BJP managed to win with a narrow margin of only 423 votes. In other seats like Tamluk and Jalpaiguri where the Hindu population is over 86 and 89% respectively, TMC won with a narrow margin of 793 and 941 seats respectively.

One exception in the lowest margin category, which has 7 seats, is that of Dinhata. In Dinhata, with 31% Muslims, BJP managed to take the seat away from TMC in 2021. In 2016, TMC had won this seat with an almost 22,000 vote margin. In 2021, BJP seems to have won the seat with a narrow margin of just 57 votes.

This, however, does not necessarily mean that the Muslims of Dinhata voted for BJP. It could also be that with a 31% Muslim majority, the Hindus felt more under threat and therefore, compelled to vote BJP into power as compared to other seats where Hindus were in an overwhelming majority and therefore, felt no immediate threat to their life and property.

Other than the one seat of Dinhata, the other seats with a low win margin failed to see overwhelming Hindu consolidation for the BJP or the TMC.

However, the story is vastly different when one looks at the seats with the highest winning margin. We will consider only the 7 top seats since there are only 7 corresponding seats where the margin was less than 1,000.

ConstituencyLeading PartyTrailing PartyMuslim %Hindu %Margin
SujapurTMCINC2278130163
MetiaburuzTMCBJP2872119604
BhagabangolaTMCCPI(M)7921106008
RaghunathGanjTMCBJP732798313
MuraraiTMCBJP613998246
MalatipurTMCBJP326891949
Basirhat UttarTMCRSMP287289351

The highest margin seats, the highest being Sujapur with a 1,30,163 vote margin, had a 22% Muslim population. All of these 7 seats were won by TMC, with some seats with over 70% Muslim population.

All the candidates who won from these 7 highest margin seats were Muslim candidates.

ConstituencyLeading CandidateLeading PartyTrailing CandidateTrailing Party
SujapurMd Abdul GhaniTMCIsha Khan ChoudhuryINC
MetiaburuzABDUL KHALEQUE MOLLATMCRAMJIT PRASADBJP
BhagabangolaIDRIS ALITMCMD. KAMAL HOSSAINCPI(M)
RaghunathGanjAkhruzzamanTMCGolam ModaswerBJP
MuraraiDR MOSARRAF HOSSAINTMCDEBASISH ROYBJP
MalatipurABDUR RAHIM BOXITMCMOUSUMI DASBJP
Basirhat UttarRAFIKUL ISLAM MONDALTMCMD BAIJID AMINRSMP

From this table, however, it is important to note that the BJP candidates who trailed were Hindus and not Muslims, thereby indicating that BJP did not necessarily field Muslims from seats where they knew there would be heavy Muslim consolidation.

The obvious conclusions from the data above is that there was no Hindutva consolidation in Bengal as much as BJP had hoped for. In fact, a large swath of Hindus even voted for the TMC. A seat where BJP managed to wrest control from the TMC, with a high Muslim concentration with a very narrow margin is where Hindus perhaps realised that they were under immediate threat from the Muslims. However, the highest margin seats make it evident that there was massive Muslim consolidation in favour of TMC. In fact, the hopes that Muslim votes would be divided between TMC, Abbas Siddiqui and Owaisi have not panned out at all.

While BJP did multiply their total vote percentage to 38.12% from 10.2%, the Hindu mobilisation and Muslim vote division that BJP was banking on did not work out the way they had hoped.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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