With over 200 seats to its credit, TMC has registered a resounding victory against the Left Democratic Secular Front of the Congress and CPI-M in the 2016 West Bengal Assembly Elections. With Congress registering the second largest Vote Share, the CPI-M was perhaps the biggest loser in West Bengal as BJP made great inroads in West Bengal for the first time with a 10% vote share.
Despite burdened with incumbency and numerous leaders tainted by scams and corruption, Mamata Banerjee showed no signs of weakness as she crossed the double century mark with remarkable ease. The campaign phase which saw TMC’s reputation suffer a severe dent with the Narada scam and the collapse of a flyover in the middle of Kolkata caused no major problems for the lady as she strolled towards victory.
Considering the result, one would say it was Political Suicide for the CPI-M to ally with the Congress before the West Bengal Assembly Elections. Congress brought its own baggage of scams and incompetence which was too heavy for the Left to bear.
On hindsight, one might argue it would have been much better had the CPI-M contested the West Bengal Assembly Elections alone instead of allying with a party which has been on the decline for quite some time.
Considering the massive negative publicity and numerous charges of corruption and scams that TMC had to deal with, one is forced to ask how Mamata Banerjee managed to register a victory with such a huge margin. One answer might be that barring her tainted ministers, Didi has the reputation of being an honest leader herself that doesn’t fade and has actually improved the living conditions of the masses, which is highly debatable. Another reason might be the numerous doles that politicians usually promise to lure voters into voting for them. Yet another theory might be that Mob power propelled Mamata into her second term. But the most credible reason and the one I find to be most believable is the majority of the voters in West Bengal remember all too well the terrible atrocities that the Left committed during its regime and they would vote for anyone to keep them out of power. Also, the fact that Mamata Banerjee inspires a lot of loyalty for putting an end to the terrible Left rule certainly played its part.
West Bengal boasts of a youth that is very politically conscious. There was considerable despair all over Facebook at the prospect of Mamata Banerjee as the Chief Minister for another 5 years from expected corners. However, without any credible opposition, TMC would continue to dominate West Bengal politics for a long while. Also, for the youths to make doomsday prophecies after TMC’s victory is a bit amusing considering the Left Alliance was the only other credible option. Do they honestly expect five years of CPI-M would be better than TMC’s? Hilarious. As a small consolation, Madan Maitra, the star of the Sarada Chit Fund scam, did lose the seat he was contesting from.
The CPI-M is visibly rattled by the huge inroads BJP(+) has made in West Bengal. Despite winning only 6 seats, BJP has increased its vote share from 4% in 2011 to 10% this time around. If BJP continues to make inroads, it will be a major force to reckon with in the coming West Bengal Assembly Elections. The biggest takeaway from the 2016 West Bengal Assembly Elections might be the fact that consistent with National Trends, BJP is growing strong in the state while Left is a power in decline in West Bengal. However, Politics is a funny game and things often change very quickly. Ask Congress, they know all about it.
Wisdom seems to have dawned late on the Communist party. “I think this understanding between the Left and the Congress did not work. We could together get only 35-36 per cent of votes. Somehow, I think the votes might not have got transferred,” said CPI General Secretary Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy. Congress was back to its usual apologetic self that it has been forced into after the thorough thrashing it received at the hand of NDA in 2014. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala in a subdued demeanor said, “We humbly accept the verdict. We extend our best wishes for good governance and pro-development policies to the winners — the Left Front in Kerala, AIADMK in Tamil Nadu, Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, BJP in Assam.”
After the Delhi and Bihar debacle, the mainstream media and the opposition was overeager to assert the NaMo wave was over. But recent results suggest otherwise. NaMo’s image has undeniably helped BJP make strong gains in West Bengal with considerable hard work from the State unit. Furthermore, much to the chagrin of communists, BJP is gaining traction with the youth for its solid development agenda.
All in all, it can be concluded that Mamata Banerjee has proved that in the absence of a non-Left opposition, she is one of those leaders who is beyond scams and collapsed flyovers which would otherwise seriously dent the prospects of any average politician. The Congress has once again proved that it’s a bad ally to have in present circumstances unless the equations overwhelmingly favor the dominant party of the alliance. The Left needs to do a serious reevaluation of its strategies and whether it can actually continue to support Antinational elements without damaging its electoral prospects. The BJP can complement itself on a job well done as it has increased its vote share tremendously. If the TMC continues to be marred by scams, the Left continues to falter and the BJP maintains its momentum, it won’t be too long before West Bengal Assembly Elections become a three way battle with the Left at the bottom of the ladder.