Mamata relegates Left to footnote
The landslide victory of Mamata Banerjee has not only thwarted the Modi wave that has swept over India but also relegated the Left and Congress to a footnote in West Bengal polls.
Trinamool Congress, which is all set for a third consecutive term in West Bengal, also brought hope for major regional political parties to check Modi's populist sway and posed a challenge to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the next general elections due in 2024.
Samyukta Morcha, the alliance of the Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Indian Secular Front (ISF), managed to get only 8.61 percent of the votes and most of the candidates of Left parties and Congress lost their security deposits.
The only success for the Morcha came through the ISF, formed only months before the elections, which won just one seat in South 24 Parganas district.
On the other hand, the BJP has made a big leap by winning 77 seats, especially since it won three in the last assembly polls in 2016.
According to analysts, Modi's saffron party failed to produce a credible chief ministerial face of its own to match Mamata's charisma. Besides, the party had set an ambitious target of 200-plus seats in West Bengal.Besides, the conflict between the old and new comers in West Bengal BJP came to a head before the election on the issue of choosing nominees.
Many BJP nominees were defectors from other parties -- 36 from the TMC alone -- but only five of them, including Suvendu Adhikari, could win.
Polls result showed that the West Bengal people mostly preferred Mamata's welfare schemes like duare sarkar (government at the doorstep), Kanyashree, Rupashree, Khadya Sathi, Krishak Bandhu and Swasthya Sathi over the central government sponsored PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi and Ayushman Bharat medical insurance scheme.
On the other hand, an unprecedented consolidation of Muslim votes in most of the 141 assembly constituencies where minorities are a decisive factor contributed to the Mamata-led landslide victory of the TMC.
The TMC made a clean sweep in all the 16 seats in Kolkata, 10 out of 11 seats in Birbhum, 30 of 33 seats in North 24-parganas and 28 out of 31 seats in South 24-parganas, and all 32 seats in Purba Burdwan and Howrah.
Voting in these districts were held in the last three of the eight phases of the assembly polls. It happened as the second wave of Covid-19 exploded in India.
The TMC not only won at its strongholds but also in the areas where the BJP had done well in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, including the former Maoist hotbed of Junglemahal.
Another important factor that went in favour of the TMC was that it managed to snatch almost all the seats that were considered traditional Congress bastions like Malda, South Dinajpur and Murshidabad.
The Congress and Left parties had together won 77 seats in 2016 and almost all of those went to the TMC this time.
The Muslim and non-Muslim votes that had in the past gone to Congress and Left also went en bloc to the TMC.
The Muslims have been backing the TMC since 2011 when the party came to power for the first time. But the way Muslims rallied behind Mamata this time was something never seen before.
In the 141 constituencies with significant Muslim presence, the TMC bagged 120, BJP bagged 20 and Abbas Siddiqui's Indian Secular Front one.
A senior CPI(M) leader told The Daily Star wishing anonymity that the Congress and the Left did not stand a chance in the election in Bengal and it was a conscious decision to facilitate the transfer of the votes to the TMC in order to prevent a BJP win in Bengal.
None of the top Left leaders came to Bengal to campaign even for a day. But they were busy electioneering in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Assam.
Congress star campaigners Rahul Gandhi addressed just one meeting in Bengal while his sister gave the state a total miss. But the siblings had extensively campaigned in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Assam.
The Congress, which ruled Bengal for 30 years, got only 3 percent of the votes, while the CPIM, that ruled WB for 34 years, got less than 5 percent.
However, CM Pinarayi Vijayan, the Communist party stalwart, created electoral history by returning to power.
Besides, the young candidates of the CPIM, who created a lot of media hype, including Meenakshi Mukherjee, Aishi Ghosh and Dipsita Dhar, failed to make their mark.