Updated: April 12, 2018 9:16:37 am
In the 2013 panchayat polls, the BJP had received a meagre three per cent votes after being able to field around 9,000 candidates in the 58,692 seats-strong three-tier panchayat system in West Bengal. Five years later, the party has fielded total 34,507 nominations, which is 12,406 more than its closest rival CPM, which has filed 22,102 nominations. From a fringe player in 2013 to the main opposition party this year in terms of vote share (Cooch Behar, Uluberia bypolls), the BJP has, in the last five years, come a long way in West Bengal to emerge as the top challenger to the ruling Trinamool Congress.
The party not only pushed the CPM to the third position in Lok Sabha bypolls, but also registered a sharp increase in its vote share. In the Uluberia bypoll, which was held at the end of January, BJP received 2,93,018 votes — around 1,60,000 more than what it had received in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. It received 23.29 per cent votes, a 12 per cent increase from 2014.
“From 3 per cent vote share in 2013 to 23 per cent vote share in 2018, no other party has recorded such a huge success in the recent political history of the state. If it was not for the ruling party violence over the nomination process, we would have fielded more candidates this time,” state BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu.
This time, in 825 zila parishad seats, the state BJP has filed 766 nominations while CPM and Congress have filed 563 and 377 nominations respectively. TMC has filed around 1,066 nominations for the same. In 9,217 panchayat samiti seats, BJP has filed 5,952 nominations while CPM and Congress have filed 4,236 and 1,646 nominations respectively, and TMC has filed 12,343. In 48,650 gram panchayat seats, BJP has filed 27,789 nominations while CPM and Congress have filed 17,303 and 7,239 nominations respectively, and TMC filed 59,475.
Speaking to The Indian Express, BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha said, “In several areas, TMC cadre attacked our candidates and drove them away from BDO and SDO offices. Still it is clear from the nomination report that BJP is the only opposition party, which is fighting tooth and nail to give TMC a run for their money.”
According to political analyst Biswanath Chakraborty, BJP gained a lot from the deteriorating organisational strength of CPM and Congress. “Supporters of CPM and Congress have moved to the BJP in the last few years. BJP’s vote share has increased rapidly in previous bypolls, which is indicative enough that the party has managed to strengthen its organisational base in the state. It is also apparent from the recent incidents of violence that BJP workers were at the receiving end of ruling party terror in most cases. This trend will continue in the state and in the next elections, the political contest will be between TMC and BJP,” he told The Indian Express.
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