West Bengal Assembly Elections 2016

Did BJP let a bird in hand fly off in Bengal

Union Minister Babul Supriyo campaigning for BJP candidate Locket Chatterjee in West Bengal. The party may have made campaign missteps in the State.  

During the long-drawn Assembly elections in West Bengal, a hopeful Bharatiya Janata Party, however, has not been seen highlighting a couple of flagship schemes of the Narendra Modi government that have registered a huge success in the State.

And now the question is will the BJP match its performance in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in which it had secured an unprecedented 16.8 per cent of the votes. BJP State president Dilip Ghosh has gone on record that the party will play a kingmaker in the elections. But what remains to be seen is which party will gain from the BJP’s loss, if any.

Despite the high-profile campaign it mounted, the BJP strangely ignored certain key success stories, particularly those relating to Central schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) and the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY).

Success stories

These two flagship schemes have been very successful in the State but neither the party’s “vision document” for the polls nor the campaign rhetoric of the party leadership even mentioned it to gain leverage in the elections.

Under the PMJDY, 1.89 crore accounts have been opened in the State with deposits totalling Rs. 4,751.38 crore till March. This is a significant number covering about 20 per cent of the State’s population. Similarly under the PMMY, the beneficiaries number 9.2 lakh people and Rs. 1,982.6 crore was sanctioned.

“It is a total failure of the State BJP leadership to highlight the success of schemes of the Narendra Modi government. One has to take them to the people to translate their success into votes,” Biswanath Chakraborty, political analyst and Head of the Department of Political Science at Rabindra Bharati University, told The Hindu. Though the BJP is considered a relatively weak political force in the State, the party showed promise in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. It won two seats — Darjeeling and Asansol — and its vote share leapfrogged to 16.8 per cent from around 4 per cent in the 2011 Assembly polls.

By-election

Months after the 2014 general elections, the BJP won its only seat in the present Assembly in a by-poll when Shamik Bhattacharya won Basirhat Dakshin. It was the first time in 15 years that the West Bengal Assembly saw a BJP legislator. At a time when the prospects of the BJP do not look as bright as in 2014, the Left-Congress alliance has high hopes that a significant portion of the BJP vote share will come to its side. However, a close analysis of the elections after 2014 presents a different picture.

A huge fall

In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Mr. Shamik Bhattacharya had a margin of 30,000 votes against his Trinamool rival, Idris Ali.

However, months later, in September, the margin was greatly reduced and the BJP candidate won the by-election with a margin of fewer than 1,500 votes.

A similar picture has emerged in Asansol — a seat which Babul Supriyo of the party won with a margin of over 8,000 votes against Trinamool’s Dola Sen. But in 2015, in the civic polls in Asansol, the BJP emerged third after the Left Front, which won twice the number of wards won by the BJP. The Trinamool won 74 wards, the Left Front 17 and the BJP just eight. Even in the Bhawanipore Assembly segment, where Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is contesting, the BJP had a slight lead, securing 47,465 votes against the Trinamool’s 47,280.

Even political analysts are not sure in whose kitty the votes that had gone to the BJP in 2014 will go now.


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Printable version | Aug 2, 2021 11:30:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/westbengal2016/west-bengal-assembly-elections-did-bjp-let-a-bird-in-hand-fly-off-in-bengal/article8548551.ece

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