–Mohd Naushad Khan
The verdict of Bihar is most likely to make assembly elections in West Bengal more interesting and far more challenging. It calls for renewd poitical strategy, greater political acumen and flexibility. Political parties of West Bengal will have to think afresh keeping in mind the performance of BJP in Bihar assembly elections and Hyderabad municipal polls.
The elections in West Bengal is going to be different because Bengal is politically, culturally and demographically different from Bihar. BJP is expanding its base in Bengal one election after another. The road ahead for All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) may not be easy because West Bengal is gearing up for the tough battle ahead. BJP is mot likely to give tough fight to TMC but will it be able to overthrow TMC out of power is the big question. Experts believe that BJP can give tough fight but it would find difficult to upset the applecart of the TMC.
According to Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay who is a Delhi-based writer, journalist, political analyst and the author of Narendra Modi, “Demography of West Bengal will not enable BJP to win only by raising the minority bogey. Diluting Hindutva line will result in BJP losing on traditional constituency. BJP also doesn’t have strong and charismatic state leadership to match up to Mamata Banerjee. BJP cadre network will be unable to match TMC network. Owaisi will unlikely make a dent because this is first AIMIM effort in the state. Recall, earlier attempts in Bihar. TMC remains the fulcrum of WB politics so multicornered contest will split anti TMC vote and damage BJP prospects.”
On the lesons political parties of West Bengal should learn from the Bihar polls, Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association and a member of the politburo of the Communist Party of India said, “The Bihar polls show us that jobs, education, workers and farmers rights are viable and powerful poll issues, issues which are a weak wicket for the BJP and NDA. The Bihar polls also show the resurgence and renewed relevance of the Left as a committed anti fascist force, without which any anti fascist alliance would be incomplete.”
“In the forthcoming Bengal elections, the Bihar alliance model cannot be replicated as it is, since in W Bengal the TMC is in power unlike the RJD in Bihar. But there is no doubt that the Left must resist the BJP as the number one enemy for democracy and the Constitution. Any formulation like “Ram (BJP) in 2021, Baam (Left) in 2026” would be disastrous because it fails to recognise the gravity of the BJP threat. So the Left must help the people of W Bengal to recognise the BJP disaster, and to hold the TMC accountable for failing to combat and confine the BJP, said Krishnan on why Bengal elections would be different from Bihar polls.
“The victory of the BJP led NDA in Bihar Elections 2020 despite facing one of the strongest incumbency disadvantages speaks volumes about the changing template of state electoral competitions in India. The success of the saffron party highlights that winning elections is all about strategic micro management and forging alliances with smaller political parties with substantive support base and getting the arithmetic right. The lotus bloom in Bihar not only arrested its losing streak in state elections, but also gave it the pole position in the forthcoming election in West Bengal, said Praveen Rai who is a Political Analyst at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies(CSDS), Delhi.
Rai added, “The TMC needs to forge an alliance with the Congress and the left parties to stave off the BJP, which has already expanded its ideological wings and party cadres in the state. An alliance could act as a neutralizer, as the loss of seats by TMC can be counterbalanced by gains of alliance partners, like it happened in Bihar. JD (U) led by Nitish Kumar lost 20 plus seats in the election due to strong anti-incumbency, while its ally BJP gained almost the same number of seats, that helped the NDA to retain power in the state. The BJP win has reinvigorated the party and provided it the electoral momentum, which combined with early bird advantage could help them in achieving their goal to dislodge Mamata Banerjee from her political perch,”
On Asaduddin Owaisi led-AIMIM, Praveen is of the opinion that brilliant performance by Asaduddin Owaisi led-AIMIM will provide the party an impetus to foray into Bengal to increase its electoral growth curve and political space. The solo entry of the Hyderabad party, if it happens, may lead to fragemenatation of Muslim votes (27 percent of popluation) and dampen the chances of TMC to return back to power with a big majority.