The survey findings from the CNN-IBN-The Hindu Election Tracker on West Bengal’s political and electoral situation have sparked divergent reactions among political players.
The survey suggests that compared to 2009 the ruling Trinamool Congress will gain one percentage point if elections are held immediately, the Left Front will plummet from 43 to 28 per cent of the vote-share. The BJP, the findings reveal, will double its vote-share to 12 per cent, while the Congress will gain eight percentage points.
Derek O’Brien, Trinamool’s chief whip in the Rajya Sabha, told The Hindu that the ballot was the final word in a democracy. “At best, opinion polls are tools for discussion.” He added that the figures seemed “conservative.” “The reality is that both the Left and the Congress will be down to single digits in seats in the next elections.”
Mr. O’Brien said the poll would have missed a major element, given that it was conducted before the results of the panchayat polls are out in the State. “Currently, we are in control of two districts but by the end of July, more than a dozen will be under our control. This is a significant element.” Claiming that the Mamata Banerjee-led government had delivered “peace and development,” Mr. O’Brien said there was no doubt the party would sweep the polls.
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) refrained from commenting on the poll findings. But, the Communist Party of India leader and Rajya Sabha MP, D. Raja, said it was “too early.” “I am not sure if the sample size is representative or not of all cross-sections of society. I have my doubts. All other parties, except the Left, are gaining seats. This is difficult to understand and raises doubts about objectivity and scientific nature of the poll.”
Other national parties, however, read the results differently.
A senior Congress leader, who insisted on being anonymous, said he was “surprised” at the results. “I don’t think the Left Front will do as badly as it is being made out. Mamata Banerjee’s popularity has reduced drastically.” Explaining the Congress’ surge, he said: “Many of those disillusioned with Trinamool, but ideologically averse to the Left, will come to us.”
BJP deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha Ravi Shankar Prasad called the projected doubling of the BJP vote share a “welcome development,” and said this reflected the “national yearning and mood.” On the potential reduction in the Left’s vote-share, he said, “The Left will now be on the margins of Indian politics. It has had disproportionate influence by holding on to the apron strings of the Congress or Third Front till now.”