Unquestionably, the 2021 Assembly polls of West Bengal are being seen as one of the most important battles the BJP has ever fought. Overthrowing the TMC regime in the state has now become a prestige battle for the party, and when in 2019, the BJP thundered with a victory over 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats from the state, poll analysts, psephologists and political enthusiasts alike were taken by complete surprise. The BJP had back then garnered a massive 40.5 per cent vote in the state.
Having been successful in the 2019 polls, the saffron party has now made it a life mission to win West Bengal’s Assembly polls early next year as well. In 2019, a study of the party’s vote across the state showed that it was ahead of the TMC in more than 125 of the 294 assembly seats in the state.
On its part, the BJP, like a mature party, has realised that Lok Sabha and Assembly polls are completely different ballgames. To the same effect, the BJP recently concluded two surveys in the state of West Bengal, across close to 78,000 booths, and gathered a sense around the public mood, their hopes, aspirations and demands, and also the winnability of not just BJP leaders in constituencies, but also the popularity of TMC leaders on the ground.
Much to their satisfaction, the results of the first two surveys have given a tremendous sense of hope to the BJP, as it has been revealed that Mamata Banerjee faces a massive 10-year anti-incumbency and that people, in general, are no longer even remotely enthusiastic about the TMC government returning to power.
Meanwhile, another agency has been roped in by the BJP to conduct a similar survey, which will begin by the end of this month. According to PTI, the findings of the previous surveys, conducted in 2019-end and July, have been tabled before the BJP top brass. The second survey also found that corruption charges levelled against the TMC in the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan have changed the ground realities more in favour of the BJP.
“Although there was a wave of support for the BJP in last year’s Lok Sabha elections, parliamentary and assembly elections are different ball games and we don’t want to take chances. So, the surveys were conducted to assess the ground realities,” a central BJP leader told PTI.
While the ground situation favours the BJP tremendously, the party has also been cautioned by the results of the two surveys to immediately address all loopholes that its machinery in the state suffers from. Primary concerns for the party are organisational weaknesses in some areas and infighting among certain sections.
The infighting, particularly, is no good news for the BJP, and the party must take immediate steps to quell all such petty fights within its state machinery. It would be silly for the saffron party to have immense support among the people, but underperform due to infighting in its ranks.
The primary cause for such infighting is being seen as the influx of TMC and other ideological leaders into the BJP in the runup to the Assembly polls, with the older generation of saffron leaders arguing that accepting such individuals and accommodating them in the party would dilute the BJP’s “core ideological inclination”.
The new entrants (mostly from TMC), meanwhile, claim that it is a prerequisite for the BJP to accommodate leaders like them and provide them with working positions if it is to grow and win in the state.
It is not like the BJP is indifferent to the petty fights among saffron cadre in West Bengal. In fact, the party has also addressed the situation to an extent. However, for it to ensure a rout of the TMC, the BJP must get its own house in absolute order. The surveys have revealed that there is massive resentment against the Mamata-led TMC regime in West Bengal. It is now completely hinged upon the BJP to tap into this sentiment, and ensure that a saffron government is installed next year in the politically-volatile, yet an extremely crucial state.