Trinamool Congress wins big in Bengal and BJP scores less than half of what it aimed for

Trinamool Congress wins big in Bengal and BJP scores less than half of what it aimed for
Trinamool Congress (TMC) has scored a thumping win in the race against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in West Bengal. Latest data from the Election Commission, showed that incumbent Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's party was leading in 213 seats compared to BJP's 77.

This would be the third consecutive term for the TMC and Mamata Banerjee who stormed to power in 2011 overthrowing a communist government that ruled the state for over three decades.

However, there would be a bitter taste from Nandigram, where Didi, as the TMC supremo is popularly called in Bengal, lost to her former aide, Suvendu Adhikari, who won by a narrow margin of 1700 seats. "Let the Nandigram people give whatever verdict they want, I accept that. I don't mind," Banerjee said earlier in the day.

A total 34 leaders from the TMC left the party to join to the BJP ahead of this election. However, only 13 of them got the tickets to fight in the polls. As it stands right now, only three of the turncoats have a lead over their former colleagues.

Faced with the challenge from the mighty Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the incumbent Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee fought tooth and nail in a high-decibel and intensely violent battle where both sides held no punches, verbal or physical, back. BJP, which claimed it would win over 200 seats in Bengal, and left no stone unturned in its bid, has ended up with less than half of what it aimed for.


All that violence and political drama over the last year have come to fruition as the results for the 294 seats ⁠— the polls in 2 of those, in Jangipur and Samserganj, were postponed were delayed due to the deaths of contesting candidates⁠ — which took place over 8 long phases.

Party Seats in West Bengal Assembly 2016Leads in West Bengal Assembly 2021
Trinamool Congress and allies211213
BJP and allies 377

TMC wants a third straight term whereas the BJP wanted to sustain its uptrend in the state ⁠— the saffron party’s vote share went from 17% in 2014 to over 40% in 2019 ⁠— enough to claim the seat of power. The vote share of BJP has just fallen short of its tally in 2019 and nearly all the seats that it has gained has come at the expense of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and its alliance partners like Congress.

Party2014 vote share2016 vote share2019 vote share2021 vote share
Trinamool Congress39.7%44.9%43.3%47.9%
Election commission data

Was the coronavirus pandemic an issue in Bengal elections?

The COVID-19 pandemic, and the response from both the state and centre, has been missing from the political rhetoric from either side. Part of the reason is that the official figures peg the total cases in the state at a little over 800,000 and the deaths at over 11,000. However, there is no dearth of anecdotes on how the data from the state, too, may be under-reported just like in other states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Both TMC and BJP have been negligent, to say the least, in recent months as they went about holding political rallies where the guidelines like social distancing and wearing masks were all but ignored. The cases have seen significant increase in both infections and fatality.

Trinamool Congress wins big in Bengal and BJP scores less than half of what it aimed for
FILE PHOTO: An election rally in West Bengal this year.

Constituencies in areas around Jungle Mahal, North Bengal, Medinipur, South 24 Parganas, Murshidabad, and Barrackpore will be some of the interesting ones to watch out for.

The constituency that garnered maximum interest in the run up to, and possibly after the election results too, will be Nandigram. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had taken on her former aide Suvendu Adhikari (who flipped over to the BJP just months before the election).

The candidates who are leading in some of the key constituencies as of 6:30 pm are marked in bold below:
ConstituencyTrinamool Congress candidateBJP candidate
NandigramMamata Banerjee Suvendu Adhikari
Krishnanagar NorthKoushani MukherjeeMukul Roy
DomjurKalyanendu GhoshRajib Banerjee
BallyRana ChatterjeeBaishali Dalmiya
Diamond HarbourPannalal HalderDipak Halder
SingurBecharam MannaRabindranath Bhattacharya
TollygungeAroop BiswasBabul Supriyo
NatabariRabindra Nath GhoshMihir Goswami
ChunchuraAsit MazumdarLocket Chatterjee
DebraHumayun KabirBharati Ghosh
BolpurChandra Nath SinhaAnirban Ganguly

Exit polls predicting the results have been sharply divided. TMC still seems to have a slight edge as six of the surveys predict a win for the ruling party in West Bengal whereas four others project a win for the challenger, BJP. The coalition between the left parties and the Indian National Congress may have to settle for embarrassingly few seats.

There is a lot of pride, too, riding on the election results from Bengal. TMC’s political advisor was Prashant Kishor, the psephologist credited for playing an important role in Narendra Modi’s rise in 2014, who has now achieved a certain cult status in India for repeated success. Kishor, this time rallying against Modi, has put his job on the line saying that he would quit his career as election advisor if the BJP got more than a 99 seats in West Bengal.

The polarisation in West Bengal is estimated to be worse than it is at the national level. The TMC is hoping to consolidate the votes from Muslims based on the fear of the new Citizenship Amendment Act in the community. Meanwhile, the BJP is looking to garner enough votes from Hindus who see the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as a Muslim ‘appeaser’.

Scandals like the Saradha chit fund scam and the corruption charges in the relief measures for those affected by the cyclone Amphan last year are stacked against the TMC.

Trinamool Congress wins big in Bengal and BJP scores less than half of what it aimed for
<sup></sup>Suvendu Adhikari was accused in the Saradha chit fund scam before he joined BJP.

Add to that, an influential chunk of the Bengali intelligentsia including actors, writers and poets have thrown their weight against the BJP⁠ — who they accuse of hate politics ⁠— but not necessarily in favour of TMC. But as the exit polls seem to suggest, the coalition of Congress and the left parties led by Communist Party of India (Marxist), which goes by the acronym CPI(M), has barely gained anything from the tug of war between TMC and BJP.

On the other hand, a big chunk of the Hindi-speaking population in the state is rooting for BJP, which went into the polls without declaring its candidate for Chief Minister. The ploy to ride on the popularity of Narendra Modi, even in state elections, is one that the party has seen success with in the past.

34 West Bengal legislators went from TMC to BJP – only 13 of them got tickets to contest the election for the saffron party

West Bengal assembly elections: BJP has the most number of candidates with criminal cases, followed by CPI(M) and Trinamool Congress in Phase 2