Elections 2019: Voting begins in West Bengal amid simmering communal tensions that have polarised the state’s population

BCCL
  • West Bengal sends 42 members to the Lok Sabha.
  • The two major political parties playing big roles this elections in the state are the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Trinamool Congress (TMC).
  • However, the state’s election is also marred by communal politics.
The state of West Bengal sends 42 members to the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Indian Parliament, which has 543 seats. The polling has been spread out through all the seven phases of the ongoing election, not because of the states’ strength in the Parliament, but because the state embodies the country’s polarised and vitiated political environment like few others.

The two major political parties playing big roles in this election are the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and both have completely different stance in the state. The fallout of the Congress and CPI(M) alliance further led to the BJP and TMC command authoritative positions in the elections.

In its election manifesto, the BJP has once again pushed for the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which will move to grant citizenship to immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and to deport undocumented immigrants, even though Muslim immigrants will not be considered for it.

The BJP’s charge is that the TMC has covertly built a Muslim vote bank for itself by bringing in illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries. The party’s growing prominence is a sign that the allegation is being accepted by a part of the state’s hindu population.

Meanwhile, the TMC had called the bill “discriminatory” and the state’s muslim minority is backing her despite the annoyance with the government’s performance. A slew of governance issues and corruption scandals have marred chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s image. But the minorities back the chief minister, against the BJP, for the fear of vilification if the latter were to gain ground in the state.

"Despite having anger against the state government over various issues including several riots that took place in the state, the minorities will vote for TMC in the state to ensure their safety and security," Mohammed Kamruzzaman, General Secretary of All Bengal Minority Youth Federation told PTI in March.

Bengal used to be the hotbed for communal violence even before independence but communal violence had nearly disappeared by the turn of the previous century. It is making a comeback now.

It is because of the heightened tensions that the BJP had even asked the Election Commission to declare West Bengal as a “super sensitive state”.

The EC had then deployed 24 police observers in the state. “In every state, police observers are deployed. According to rough estimates of appointment, a police observer will supervise two constituencies. This is not unique to Bengal. In some places, the number of officers can be lesser, depending on the political situation,” a senior EC official had told ET.

See Also:
Election 2019: BJP Candidate list for West Bengal
Lok Sabha Election 2019: TMC Candidate List for West Bengal
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