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Sarada Lahangir

There is a turning point in every competition and match, which changes the whole picture of the story. There were also many turning points in the Bengal elections from where the story turned into Mamata Banerjee’s court and the BJP’s hard work was lost. So what were the turning points in Bengal elections? See the report.

BJP had emerged as a force to reckon with in West Bengal as it swept away with 18 out of 42 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in the State, and using this power of resurgence, the BJP prepared itself on all fronts to defeat Mamata Benerjee, who has been in power in the State for the last 10 years.

With the slogan of “unnis mein half ikkish mein saaf” (Half in 2019 and wipe out in 2021), the BJP had set a target of winning more than two hundred seats in Bengal. Despite BJP veterans and national leaders like PM Modi, Amit Shah and JP Nadda jumping into the battleground Bengal; BJP could not score even a hundred.

The BJP had set its election plan in Bengal since the Bihar polls. In fact, by winning the west Bengal election, Prime Minister Modi wanted to strengthen his hold in Indian politics and BJP did not want to left any stone unturned in the eastern coastal State.

For this reason, Home Minister Amit Shah himself started preparation for this election long time before. Shah and JP Nadda themselves took command of the electoral fronts in Bengal for a long time and as part of their election strategy, both of them frequently visited Bengal every month.

But the BJP did not project anybody as the party’s face and the Chief Minister candidate in the Bengal. And this was another point that perhaps kept the electoral wave in favor of Mamata.

To raise the Bengali sentiment against the BJP, Mamata also played Bangla pride and Bengali identity card which also hit on target.

The BJP also targeted Mamata’s close ones during the elections. Mukul Roy, who had been overseeing Mamata’s election management earlier, was brought to BJP’s camp, while many TMC leaders, MLAs, also joined the BJP. Even Mamata’s very faithful aide and right hand Suvendu Adhikari also left her at the last moment which can also be construed as another turning point in the Bengal elections.

When Mamata called the leader who left the party as a traitor, she played a card of sympathy. She decided to contest against Subhendu from Nandigram and it was from there that the battle was announced.

As soon as Mamata landed in Nandigram’s election battlefield, Nandigram Assembly seat of the East Medinipur district had become the epicenter of the Bengal elections and BJP veterans mostly concentrated on this seat.

On March 10, Mamata filed her nomination from Nandigram and the same day there was another turning point in the Bengal elections. The BJP which has been relatively aggressive in its poll strategy lost significant ground and was pushed on the back foot which created sympathy for Mamata in the hearts of the voters.

When Mamata was returning from a temple after filing her nomination papers for the election, she sustained injuries on her leg and shoulder. Mamata alleged that it was a conspiracy and some miscreant outsiders forcibly closed the door which led to her accident.

After this, Banerjee started her election campaign on a wheel chair with a plaster tied on her feet. It is difficult to say how much this has impacted on the election but after this incident, the grip of BJP and their leaders against Mamata was seen to be weakening. Even after the election results, how Mamata got injured is a mystery, but this incident definitely changed the trend of election in West Bengal and its effect is clearly visible in the election results as well.

Election experts believe that couple of schemes launched by Mamata like Kanyashree, Roopashree and Swasthya Saathi was able to lure women voters which helped TMC register such a spectacular victory.

Elections in West Bengal were held in eight phases. Before the last two phases of voting, the Election Commission banned large rallies and road shows in the states due to a surge in Covid pandemic and this was the third major turning point in the Bengal elections.

Mamata Banerjee continued to fight against all the BJP’s big star campaigners and did more than a hundred rallies and road shows in different districts, but after the sixth phase elections, when rallies and road shows got interrupted, Mamata was relieved somewhere in Bengal.
Holding big rallies and road show has been the main strategy of BJP from the beginning. In many states, the rallies of PM Modi and Amit Shah have been seen to have a huge electoral advantage. So in response to the rallies of PM Modi and Amit Shah, TMC’s only one star campaigner Mamata was also doing big rallies and road shows.

But as the election commission barred rallies and road shows, and only allowed door to door campaign with less than 500 people, the BJP whose campaign remained confined around the faces of its top leaders probably had to bear the biggest loss. Apparently, BJP could not put its much effort in its election campaign in last two phases which was the biggest setback for BJP. On the other hand, Mamata took advantages with her fractured leg as she continued her door to door campaign in her wheelchair and finally came out with flying colours.

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