Despite her party’s spectacular performance, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee refused to flash the V sign when photographers pressed for it. Winning 34 out of 42 seats was not enough it seemed. The reason for her despondency perhaps lies in the tectonic shift in the state’s political equation with the BJP emerging as the main opposition party.
From 3.05 per cent in the 2013 panchayat polls and 4.14 per cent in the 2011 assembly polls, the BJP’s vote share increased to 18 per cent in this Lok Sabha election. Initial analysis shows a decline of over 10 per cent in the Left vote share has been BJP’s gain. In comparison, the TMC suffered 2 to 3 per cent loss in vote share.
Mamata, however, refused to make any reference to BJP’s rise but hinted at money power. “If you have money you can render an election one-sided, from the national to the regional,” she said. “This election had many lessons to give. The biggest question out of this outcome is if we will have value-based politics or valueless politics.” She said TMC will play a constructive role as an opposition party.
The BJP’s win in just two Lok Sabha seats — Darjeeling and Asansol — does not tell the real story. The BJP’s inroads becomes clear when one finds that in Mamata’s Bhawanipore assembly segment under Kolkata (South), BJP candidate Tathagata Roy for some time had a lead over TMC’s Subrata Bakshi. In the final outcome, Bakshi defeated Roy who emerged second in the race beating the CPM and Congress. In Kolkata (North) too, BJP state chief Rahul Sinha got the second highest vote share beating Congress stalwart Somen Mitra and CPM’s Rupa Bagchi.
Preliminary results indicate that in over 50 assembly segments, BJP emerged as the number one party. This will certainly change the political dimensions of 2016 assembly polls, said political observers.
With two seats, the BJP equaled its tally of 1999 when Tapan Sikdar and Satyabrata Mukherjee won. But unlike this time, the 1999 election was fought in alliance with the TMC.
The saffron surge was felt right from the time the ballot boxes were opened around 8 am with early trends showing Bollywood singer Babul Supriyo taking a lead over TMC’s Dola Sen, a heavy weight. With her vast experience in politics and trade union — Asansol has a large number of factories — Dola was considered to have an edge over Supriyo. But right from day one he put up a fight and was rewarded with the most stunning upset. In the other BJP win in Darjeeling, S S Ahluwallia defeated footballer Bhaichung Bhutia despite Mamata campaigning aggressively for him.