Opinion

Is The Unending Political Violence In West Bengal The New Normal ?

Picture :Twitter / ANI

Ever since BJP has set its sight on coming to power in West Bengal, the battle lines has been drawn between the BJP and the ruling Trinamool Congress. And it is turning out to be bitter slug- fest . The unending violence in West Bengal between the TMC and BJP workers indicate the kind of animosity and distrust both parties have for each other. As per media reports as many as 130 BJP workers have been killed in West Bengal.

And what is more important to note is that there is no topic on which both parties have not clashed on in recent times . Be it Article 370, NRC, CAA, Demonetization, GST, latest been the farmers issue ( Three Farm laws).  it was only on the confrontation with China on the LAC that the TMC backed the Modi government.

This bitter war has now taken an unprecedented turn when in the latest round of fierce clash between the TMC and the BJP, party president JP Nadda’s convoy while on its way to Diamond Harbour area in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district was attacked by stones allegedly by supporters of the ruling TMC . Party General Secretary BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya’s car was also completely ransacked. This  attack is reprehensible and needs to be slammed by all.

TMC supremo and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee  denied any TMC hand in an attack but to say that the attack was planned by the BJP is indeed laughable . Why would a BJP party workers physically harm their own party president ? It is a bizarre charge by the TMC to say the least.

And this nervousness of Mamata is quite palpable ever since the results of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.  Out of 42 Lok Sabha seats, BJP won 18 and TMC 22. It was very close to the target set by then BJP president Amit Shah of winning 23 seats. The TMC before the Lok Sabha polls had dismissed  the BJP challenge and said the saffron party would not reach double figures  .

The 2019 Lok Sabha polls had given BJP the foothold it was looking for  in  West Bengal. The BJP vote share was a stunning 40.25% a change from 22.5%, whereas the ruling Trinamool vote share was 43. 28 % and change of only 3.48 %.

Moreover, It is not only the seats and the vote share that has the TMC on the edge. There are signs of dissent in the party as well . Influential TMC leader Suvendu Adhikari is apparently unhappy with the party and there are reports of him jumping the ship too in the near future.

TMC has relied heavily on the muslim votes in the elections be it assembly or Lok Sabha. In 2016 assembly polls out of 125 seats with sizeable muslim electorate, the TMC had won 90 seats. What is striking to know that about 30 percent of Muslim voters in Bengal are in a decision-making role in about 100 of the state’s 294 seats. But the party in 2021 could see this vote bank slip away to Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM which is set to make its impact in West Bengal polls too after its fine performance in the Bihar polls.

BJP too has been trying to get the muslim vote by reaching out to them . The BJP also held Muslim conferences to woo 30 percent strong Muslim votes in the 2018 Bengal Panchayat elections. The BJP had given tickets to more than 850 people from the Muslim community, in which 27 had won. In the 2016 assembly elections, the BJP fielded 6 Muslim candidates.

In the battle for the muslim vote between the AIMIM and the TMC the Hindu vote could well go the the BJP. The other parties namely the Congress and the Left have still not made up their mind about their alliance. Rahul Gandhi has asked interim party president Sonia Gandhi to take a final call on the alliance. The long delay in announcement means the battle in West Bengal is straight one between the TMC and the BJP.

As violence seems unending and clashes between TMC and BJP workers become a routine and uglier with every passing day before the polls, it is quite clear that Mamata Banerjee  is feeling the heat of the BJP which eager to make its presence felt in the state and keen to capture power .

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has already begun the mind games and during his recent visit to the state he expressed confidence that the party would get 200 seats out of 294 assembly seats and will form the government. With charges and counter charges flying between TMC and BJP the stage is set for a bitter hard fought assembly polls early next year.

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