Sarada Lahangir

Election campaigns in Bengal are in full swing. BJP is trying hard to turn Bengal into Saffron. All BJP veterans including Prime Minister Narendra Modi are in an attacking mode. Since the last couple of months many heavy weights and well known faces of TMC like Suvendu Adhikari, Mukul Roy, Sisir Adhikari, Dinesh Trivedi, Rajiv Benerjee, Sonali Guha and many more have left TMC and joined BJP .But how much will the BJP benefit from TMC's big leaders, including Suvendu, and what are the challenges before the BJP to enter Mamata's fortified bastion?

It is necessary to capture south to win West Bengal

The landscape of West Bengal, one of the country's large and populous states, is quite diverse. The state can be divided into five parts. The hilly and foothills of Darjeeling, Cooch Behar and Jalpaiguri districts form a separate sub-region. It is followed by North District Malda and North-South Dinajpur. Central region Murshidabad and Birbhum form the third part of the state. West Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura are the extension areas of Chotanagpur plateau are called Jungle Mahal. However, the largest sub-region of the state is South Bengal which includes Greater Kolkata. South Bengal is also a densely populated region and holds the key to power. Out of the total 19 districts of South Bengal, 8 districts account for 57 per cent of the assembly seats in the entire state.

Even in 2019, this citadel of Mamata was not conquered by BJP

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP surprised the Trinamool Congress by winning 18 seats in 42 Lok Sabha seats. Looking at the constituency-wise performance, BJP gained in 121 assembly seats while TMC won 164 assembly seats. From 2014 to 2019, the BJP had a spectacular lead in West Bengal, while the Trinamool Congress managed to retain its hold in South and Central Bengal. Of the 121 assembly constituencies where the BJP's lotus blossomed, 67 seats are of hills; North Bengal and Jungle Mahal came from subfields. At the same time, BJP was ahead in 6 and 48 seats in 33 and 167 assembly constituencies of Central and South Bengal respectively. The TMC, on the other hand, had an edge in 119 of the 167 Legislative constituencies in South Bengal in the 2019 elections. With the stronghold of Mamata in South Bengal, TMC is again expected to repeat it’s traditional performance this time too.

Polarization and politics of Hindu vote bank in Bengal

Since 2014, polarization has increased in the politics of West Bengal. The Communist Party-led Left Front lost election after election from TMC. At the same time, BJP established itself as the main opposition party in the state. BJP's lead in West Bengal can be divided into two phases. The 2014 election saw a significant increase in the party's vote share. At the same time, in 2019, it organized this edge and also broke into TMC's vote bank. Even though TMC had the highest vote share, the BJP had left it far behind in the hill, north Bengal and jungle mahal areas.

Will BJP get help from Suvendu Adhikari?

Overall, the leftists in West Bengal now have only their ideologically committed core voter base which will never go with the BJP. In such a situation, the only way for the BJP to improve its performance is that it has brought a portion of the TMC's Hindu voters, especially in South Bengal, and leaders like Suvendu Adhikari can help the BJP in this task.

Will communal polarization increase in the state?

West Bengal has the largest Muslim population in the country after Jammu and Kashmir and Assam. According to the 2011 census, the state has over 27 percent Muslim population. The Muslim population is not evenly distributed in the state. The hill and junglemahal areas have a low Muslim population, while a large number of minorities live in North, South and Central Bengal. Murshidabad (66 per cent Muslim) and Malda (51 per cent Muslim) are the two Muslim-majority districts in Central and North Bengal. Half of the population (49.9 per cent) in Uttar Dinajpur in North Bengal is Muslim, which also means that TMC's support in South and Central Bengal is due to the support of both Hindus and Muslims. BJP is trying to dissuade Hindus from TMC's vote bank; on the other hand, Muslims are turning more strongly to TMC. So there is an apprehension that communal polarization will be rapid in West Bengal in the coming days and violence may also be seen. Although political violence has been the special identity of the state, but in the past it has never taken a communal color.

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