West Bengal’s results will have two key aspects to look out for. One, how much the BJP vote share will rise from the 5 to 6 per cent of last time; and two, how much the Trinamool Congress will suffer.
The ruling party is contesting independently for the first time ever. In its seven elections before, four have been in alliance with the BJP and three with the Congress.
The party has also been stressing that the 2014 Lok Sabha polls will in effect be a measure of the government’s performance in the past three years. That in effect means any setbacks too will be linked to the Saradha scam. “It (the election) is going to be a referendum on our government’s performance. And the government has done exceptionally well on several fronts despite financial stringency,” says Derek O’ Brien, the party’s spokesman.
Exit polls put the Trinamool tally at around 25, far short of the sweep Mamata had been projecting before the polls.
The Left is faced with an existential crisis and will be hoping to notch up enough seats to remain relevant in national politics. Its hopes largely hinge on the outcome in Bengal and the party is waiting to see how the three- and four-cornered contests with a rising BJP play out. The Left hopes to gain out of BJP’s rise.
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A possible sequel to the counting could be violence. The multi-cornered contests will produce close results. Clashes have already broken out since the third phase of polling and after the polls there have been killings, arson, and assault. Some bureaucrats fear the violence might even overshadow the counting climax.