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TMC Regained Lost Ground in Bypolls But Must Consolidate Minority Votes to Continue Winning Streak in 2021

Mamata Banerjee has found herself in a ‘do or die’ situation as she predicts the possibility of Muslim votes swinging towards Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM, which is trying to make inroads into Bengal.

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated:December 4, 2019, 3:47 PM IST
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TMC Regained Lost Ground in Bypolls But Must Consolidate Minority Votes to Continue Winning Streak in 2021
File photo of Bengal Chief Minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee.

Kolkata: While the TMC’s clean sweep in all three West Bengal assembly by-elections held in November, amid fear and confusion over BJP’s pitch for the National Register of Citizens (NRC), has brought smiles on the faces of party cadre, the journey ahead is far from easy.

To win the 2021 Assembly polls with a big mandate, TMC chief Mamata Banerjee needs to tap nearly 30 per cent Hindu votes, which coalesced towards the BJP (mainly from Left-Front and the Congress).

In the 2016 Assembly elections, the BJP’s vote share was 10.2 per cent and in 2019 Lok Sabha it went up to 40.3 per cent. There was an increase of 30.1 per cent vote share mainly because of Hindus coalescing towards the BJP. In the last three years, the BJP managed to cultivate religion-driven politics in Bengal and it was evident with its significant rise in Bengal in terms of its vote share.

A close analysis says that from 2011 Assembly to 2016 Assembly polls, Left-Front has lost its vote share by 9.88 per cent, and from 2014 Lok Sabha to 2019 Lok Sabha its vote share further plummeted to nearly 16 per cent.

However, Congress’s vote share from 2011 to 2016 Assembly elections increased from 8.91 per cent to 12.3 percent but fell drastically (9.6 %) in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. In the general elections held this year, the party managed to secure only 5 per cent votes.

“Most of these votes, which were once with the Left-Front and Congress, went to the BJP as there was no decline in our vote share. In the 2011 Assembly polls, our vote share was 39 per cent, which we increased to 39.56 per cent by 0.56 per cent. Similarly, in 2014 our vote share was 39.03 per cent which we increased to 43.3 per cent by 4.27 per cent. So there was no decrease in our vote share. The only factor which went in the favour of BJP is the Left and the Congress votes,” TMC leader colonel Diptanshu Chaudhary (Retd), said.

Chaudhary said the BJP, Left and the Congress misled the people against the TMC claiming the Mamata Banerjee-led party is not concerned about the Hindus.

“They mislead the people by presenting wrong facts. But now they are exposed and this was evident in the bypoll results. They only campaigned about remuneration to imams but didn’t talk about schemes such as Kanyashree, Sabuj Sathi, Khadya Sathi, Sabujshree, Sikshashree, Gatidhara, Gitanjali, Lok Prasar Prakalpa, fair price medicine shops, Shishu Sathi, Shishu Aloy, Pathasathi, Swasthya Sathi, Sabala, Anandadhara, Yuvashree, Samabyathi and Baitarani, Swabalamban, Khelashree, Safe Drive Save Life, Mission Nirmal Bangla. These schemes were launched by chief minister Mamata Banerjee. Do you think these schemes are only meant for Muslims or for Hindus?” He said.

“We believe in working under the parameter of Constitution. We believe in humanity and we work for poor, irrespective of their cast and creed. I am sure those who were misled will certainly vote for us in the coming polls,” Chaudhary added.

While the ruling TMC is brainstorming on how to get a share of BJP’s 30 per cent (approx.) Hindu vote share, Banerjee has found herself in a ‘do or die’ situation as she predicts the possibility of Muslim votes swinging towards Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), which is desperately trying to make inroads into Bengal.

With more than 31 per cent vote share, Muslims are undeniably a deciding factor for all political parties in the state. The community proved to be a deciding factor for the Left rule till Banerjee came to power in 2011.

Banerjee knows it well that any significant division in the Muslim vote share – in nearly 90 Assembly segments out of 294 Assembly seats in the state – could jeopardise her mission ‘Ekush’ (2021 Assembly polls).

“It’s true that she (Mamata) is trying to get the share of Hindu votes. But she will never succeed because it will be difficult for her to stop the Muslim appeasement strategy. If Muslim votes split, the TMC is finished in Bengal. You must have noticed that Mamata Banerjee chants ‘shlokas’, ‘Durga’ and ‘Kali stutis’ during her political speeches to appease the Hindus. This will not work as our voters are angry over her Muslim appeasement,” said Rahul Sinha, national secretary of the BJP.

“Everyone knows why she accused them of being extremists (AIMIM) from Cooch Behar where majority of voters are Hindus. Her strategy is exposed and everyone knows this is not going to work in the coming elections in Bengal,” he added.

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