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4-min read

West Bengal Election Results 2019: Left Decimated as Saffron Spreads in Mamata Banerjee's Bengal

The 2019 election saw West Bengal polarised like never before. The entire state found itself divided, over religion, caste and, above all else, politics.

News18.com

Updated:May 23, 2019, 5:21 PM IST
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West Bengal Election Results 2019: Left Decimated as Saffron Spreads in Mamata Banerjee's Bengal
West Bengal Results to Decide Winner in No Holds Barred Battle Between Modi and Mamata Banerjee
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West Bengal Lok Sabha Election Results 2019: It is not accidental that the BJP is leading, and seems set to win, in exactly the same groupings of seats that the CPI(M) last held onto in the 2009 Lok Sabha Elections. By 3pm, the BJP was leading at 19 seats - an improvement of 17 seats in the state that had historically resisted itself. The Trinamool Congress, with leads in 22 seats, found itself restricted to south Bengal.

The state, which in many ways is the birthplace of Hindutva and from where its founder Shyama Prasad Mookherjee represented in the Parliament, has undoubtedly chosen the BJP as the prime opposition for the Trinamool Congress. The Left’s seeming decimation appears to confirm the Trinamool Congress’s worst fears -- that the traditional Left voter shifted to vote for the BJP in a bid to foil the Mamata Banejree bandwagon in the state.

With leads in key north Bengal seats like Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar along with south Bengal seats such as Krishnanagar and Sreerampur, the BJP’s formula of identity politics, aggressive Hindutva and caste equations appears to be paying off. Incidentally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s poll campaign on Mamata Banerjee’s turf didn't start from Kolkata, but north Bengal.

Follow all the live updates of Lok Sabha Elections 2019 here: Lok Sabha Election Results 2019 LIVE: Vote Counting Starts at 8am as India Awaits Verdict of Modi vs Rahul Referendum

Top Developments:

1. The party’s lead is focused in north and south west areas of Bengal -- a state that had so far resisted it. The common factor in all of these seats is the BJP’s formula of identity (both caste and religious), the presence of RSS at the ground level and an opposition, vacuum.

2. Alipurduar saw the Revolutionary Socialist Party dominate from 1977 to 2014. However, with the weakening of the Left Front, the BJP has sensed an opportunity. The tribal-dominated seat has also seen the RSS create an expansive network of schools and grassroot organisations that have worked extensively with the rural poor. Add to this, an expansive network of schools and grassroot organisations of RSS that have worked extensively with the rural poor.

3. Apart from tribal-dominated seats, the BJP is also leading at seats like Krishnanagar and Bongaon -- where the split in the infuential Matua community appears to be aiding the BJP. In the third phase, it was hopeful of its chances at Maldah North and Balurghat. In the fourth, its targets included Krishnanagar and Bolpur (SC). In the fifth phase, Sreerampur, Barrackpore, Bongaon (SC) and Howrah, while in the sixth, it's focus was on the tribal-dominated seats of Purulia, Bankura, Jhargram (ST) and Mednipur. Finally, in the last phase it'll look to focus on the two seats in Kolkata and adjoining Dum Dum and Barasat seats.

ALSO READ: In West Bengal’s Jhargram, Decisive Kurmi Voters Swinging Towards Saffron, Leaving Mamata ‘Blue’

4. Although Mamata Banerjee has not openly expressed any prime ministerial ambitions, her party has projected her as the “leader that India needs” and she has been at the forefront of attempting to stitch an opposition alliance between different leaders ahead of the 2019 polls.

5. Another key factor will be the Dalit vote in the state. Historically, parties in the state — especially the Left — have underplayed caste as a political factor. This changed with Mamata Banerjee after the influential Matua Mahasangha lent her support openly in 2011 and paved the path for her decimation of the 34-year-rule of the Left. With the sect now split, after the death of its spiritual leader, into two factions - the results in at least 6 seats in south Bengal will be determined by this.

6. The BJP has also benefited by the systematic weakening of the Left — something which the TMC had actively worked towards — and have sought to fill up the opposition vacuum. In fact, a section of traditional Left voters and functionaries have reportedly switched to the BJP to try and stop the Trinamool Congress.

ALSO READ: Partition, Caste & Dalit-Muslim Formula: Once Non-Issues in Bengal, How Mamata Politics Changed Rhetoric in 3 Years

7. The Panchayat polls held in the state last year were marred with widespread violence and saw a number of seats go uncontested. This remains a key reason for anger against the TMC, even in pockets that traditionally supported the ruling party.

8. The Left, meanwhile, faces an existential threat. Virtually out of the electoral race, the party is looking to cling to the 2 seats it managed to retain in 2014 at Raiganj and Murshidabad.

9. The Congress, which won 4 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, is looking to hold on to its pockets of influence - eroded over past elections by both the TMC and BJP - in areas such as Maldah.

ALSO READ: Hat in the PM Ring, It’s Wait-and-Watch for Mamata Banerjee on KCR’s Backdoor Entry Into Oppn Alliance

10. Key contests in the state include the ones between BJP leader and union minister Babul Supriyo and TMC MP Moon Moon Sen, TMC-turned BJP leader Arjun Singh versus TMC MP Dinesh Trivedi, IPS officer turned BJP Bharati Ghosh against filmstar and TMC MP Deepak Adhikari .

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