With the Left Front and Congress largely going their separate ways for the Lok Sabha elections in West Bengal, the Trinamool Congress and BJP stand to benefit. As talks for seat adjustments between the two parties failed, a four-corner contest loomed — with most gains for the TMC, followed by the BJP.
Over the past year, the political landscape in West Bengal has changed dramatically in favour of these two parties. While the TMC dominated the rural polls, the BJP emerged second in bypolls.
Both parties increased their vote share at the expense of the Left Front and Congress, which were decimated in every bypoll they contested separately since the 2016 Assembly elections, for which they had entered into an electoral understanding.
The BJP emerged as a potent force in West Bengal in the 2014 Lok Sabha Sabha elections, riding the Modi wave. It produced its best ever performance in the state, getting 16.8 per cent of the vote, much more than its previous best of 11.66 per cent in the 1991 Lok Sabha elections.
The TMC, too, put up its best performance in a general election since its inception in 1998, winning 34 seats out of 42 in the state. It was a significant achievement for the party, considering it had come to power in West Bengal only three years previously. In 2011, Mamata Banerjee had ended the Left Front’s 34-year rule in the state.
For the CPM and Congress, on the other hand, 2014 brought massive defeat, with the two parties, winning just two and four seats respectively. This situation has not changed over the last four years. In 2014, they had contested separately, and the botched electoral understanding for the 2016 Assembly polls only helped the TMC make huge gains, winning 211 of the state’s 294 Assembly seats.
One among the CPI(M) and Congress, however, came second in 195 of the 294 seats. The BJP won three seats and came in second in only six. But now in four-corner contests, the TMC and BJP are likely to once again find the wind in their sails.