West Bengal Lok Sabha Election 2019: West Bengal Lok Sabha Election 2019: While the BJP has made significant inroads across Bengal, its success has been concentrated in rural Bengal. In Kolkata, and suburbs around it, the saffron party has been unable to so far make any inroads. In Kolkata South, TMC's Mala Roy was leading ahead of BJP's Chandra Kumar Bose - Subhas Chandra Bose's grand nephew and CPI(M)'s Nandini Mukherjee. In Kolkata North, TMC's Sudip Bandypadhyay was leading against former BJP state president Rahul Sinha and the CPI(M)'s Kaninika Bose Ghosh.
A key factor in the bitterly contested and often violent battle, that culminated with the Election Commission curtailing the time for campaigning, was marred by widespread violence during BJP president Amit Shah’s massive road on May 14. The incident also saw a bust of 19th century Bengali icon Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar being vandalised. This polarised the already fraught polls and the result for the two seats in Bengal’s capital – Kolkata North and Kolkata South – with Shah dubbing it an attempt to “strangulate” democracy. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee countered that the violence was triggered at the behest of BJP goons from outside the state.
1. While the trends in the state suggest that the Left vote -- that had hovered around the 20 percent mark since 2011 -- had shifted largely to the Right, chosing the BJP as an opposition. However, this trend - admitted BJP leaders - didn't extend to urban areas, where the Left leadership is stronger
2. The desecration of the Vidyasagar bust, a key figure in the Bengal Renaissance, further angered voters in the urban areas of the state. A BJP leader told News18.com, "The fact is that the idea of Bengali Pride is one that is concentrated in urban Kolkata. When the TMC raised the issue that the BJP was an anti-Bengali party or a party from outside, it resonated with the upper class voters of the area, who have in the past voted for the BJP."
3. The BJP had finished second in the north Kolkata seat. The south Kolkata seat, meanwhile, has been synonymous with Mamata Banerjee where she has contested for decades.
4. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Sudip Bandyopadhyay of TMC won in this seat by defeating the BJP candidate by a margin of 96,226 votes which was 10.07% of the total votes polled in the constituency. TMC had a vote share of 35.96% in 2014 in the seat. There were a total of 18 contestants in 2014. In 2009, Sudip Bandyopadhyay of TMC emerged victorious in this seat by defeating the CPM candidate by a margin of 1,09,278 votes which was 12.45% of the total votes polled. TMC had a vote share of 52.50% in 2019, in the constituency. There were 13 contestants in 2009.
5. In the 2014, Subrata Bakshi of TMC won the Kolkata South seat by defeating the BJP candidate by a margin of 1,36,339 votes which was 11.67% of the total votes polled in the constituency. TMC had a vote share of 36.96% in 2014 in the seat. There were a total of 15 contestants in 2014. In 2009, Mamata Banerjee of TMC emerged victorious in this seat by defeating the CPM candidate by a margin of 2,19,571 votes which was 21.79% of the total votes polled. TMC had a vote share of 57.18% in 2019, in the constituency. There were 13 contestants in 2009.
6. On May 14, suspected ABVP supporters allegedly barged in to the nearby Vidyasagar College at Shankar Ghose Lane and went on a rampage, damaging college property. They also desecrated a statue of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, a key figure of Bengal Renaissance who was instrumental in introducing widow remarriage. While Amit Shah escaped unhurt, he was forced to cut short the roadshow and had to be escorted to safety by police.
7. A war of words ensued between the BJP and Trinamool Congress, with Amit Shah accusing the Trinamool Congress of indulging in violence in the state and alleged that the Election Commission has been a "mute spectator". The BJP is contesting polls in all states. There has been no violence. But there has been violence in West Bengal as TMC is contesting elections there ... it is simple," he said.
8. Shah also accused TMC "goons" of vandalising the bust of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar inside a college, saying it was done to gain "sympathy" as the Mamata Banerjee-led party has realised its "reverse count" has begun.
9. While home minister Rajnath Singh held Banerjee "responsible", finance minister Arun Jaitley wondered if Bengal is being run by a "government of gangsters" and Union minister Mahesh Sharma said that Banerjee has turned the state of Rabindranath Tagore and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose into a zone of violence and hatred.
10. In response, TMC spokesperson Derek O' Brien claimed that BJP had brought in "desperate goons" to smash Vidhayasagar's bust. "Violent mob of BJP 'outsiders' in presence of Pukeworthy Shah. How little you know about Bengal, its rich history, its culture. Bengal will never forgive for what you did today. (sic)," he wrote in a tweet.
11. While the BJP and Trinamool continue to trade barbs, the incident seems to have wounded the Bengali sentiment with a majority of people, irrespective of their class and political opinion, condemned the incident at Vidyasagar College.
12. The saffron party is eyeing victory from Kolkata Uttar and Kolkata Dakshin as it houses more than 40% percent non-Bengali voters. Trinamool Congress veteran Sudip Bandyapadhyay is pitted against the BJP’s national secretary Rahul Sinha to retain his Kolkata North seat.
13. In the adjoining seat of Kolkata South, the TMC’s Mala Roy faces BJP’s Chandra Kumar Bose, grand nephew of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. In both the seats, the CPI(M) has fielded women candidates Nandini Mukherjee from Kolkata South and Kaninika Bose from Kolkata North.