The odds are on, and the battle could rage and win either way. Some things hold in favor of a government ruling at the center, which holds a larger sway over events, and on the other hand, a powerful political leader who knows her turf is also at a great advantage. Over the days, new events could converge and merge, so all is in the waiting.
Yashwant Sinha former Minister of Finance and former senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party before he quit in 2018 had a defining moment when he called Derek O’Brien of TMC recently said, “If I can help to win one vote for TMC, I am willing to join!” Yashwant Sinha expresses that democracy is a threat under BJP. In the heart of the unique secular melting pot of Bengal, Yashwant Sinha expresses the same views of millions.
Soon after this, Swapan Dasgupta resigned from Rajya Sabha when BJP declared him as a candidate for West Bengal polls. The party switching and realigning at the twelfth-hour politics in India leaves voters shaky with NOTA or many not voting.
The Bengal elections are presently the toughest neck and neck battleground where the All India Trinamool Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party are considered the main contenders.
All said and done, BJP has made commendable inroads into Bengal whereas in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, won 18 out of 42 seats in the state while the Trinamool Congress won 22 and in 2014 got only 2 seats, BJP’s vote share also shot up — from 10.16 percent in the 2016 Assembly polls to 40.64 percent in 2019.
Right now, the election battle is the fiercest in Bengal, which was once the British capital of India, the land of the freedom fighters, poets, great writers, and philosophical thinkers, the seat of art and creativity known as the “City of Joy.”
Bengal the home to people of all diversities, with Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Anglo Indians, Sindhis, Biharis, Punjabis, Nepalis, Chinese, Tibetans, and myriads of cultures living in harmony. The Communist Left inculcated a good harmony and tolerance of cultures and Mamata Banerjee kept it up being supportive and protective of the minorities with an equal outreach to the Hindus.
Politics in Bengal has always been muddy, murky, and violent over the decades while Mamata Banerjee claims the National Crime Bureau records show Bengal has a better law and order than BJP-ruled ones like Uttar Pradesh and improved from the era of the Left Front regimes (2001-2011).
On March 15th, Amit Shah Home Minister was to hold a rally in Jhargram, Bengal, but this was canceled due to a chopper snag. He delivered his speech virtually from Kharagpur, blaming his cancellation on a technical snag in his helicopter. Visuals from the TMC showed poor turnout with empty chairs at the site, and they say this was why he canceled his visit. Images of black flags shown to the BJP leaders are also circulating through the Internet.
The alleged attack on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee leaving her with fractured bones is gaining more of a sympathy wave. Whether accidental or not remains to be proven, but certainly, her lionhearted fearlessness is energizing her cadre, adding strength to her battle. Mamata’s decision to take on Suvendu Adhikari on his own turf may certainly inspire demoralized TMC workers on what initially looked like a losing battle.
Mamata Banerjee, Bengali, fighting in her own turf holds more ground in its bastion than BJP, with Home Minister Amit Shah and Prime Minister Modi as the poster boys projecting a more North Indian ideology with differences in the way they view things. Well, for one, Kali, Durga, Lakshmi are prevalently worshipped in Bengal while BJP’s slogans of Jai Shri Ram may not sit well for a certain cadre of Bengalis.
There are rumors spreading that BJP-controlled areas of Bengal are not allowing fish into dwelling localities. While fish creams the Bengali cuisine where Bengali Brahmins eat fish, onions, garlic, ginger, etc., chicken, crab, and prawns, BJP’s Hindutva food politics is going to have detrimental side effects.
Mamata also has placed umpteen pro-poor schemes, which have been hugely successful.
In February 2021, she launched ‘Maa’ scheme to provide meals at Rs. 5 to poor and destitute people. Per reports, “They will get a platter of rice, dal, a vegetable and egg curry for Rs. 5”, and said that the Bengal government will bear a subsidy of ₹15 per plate.
There are 20 schemes implemented by the TMC in the last seven years that have had very successful results. Some of them are empowering the girl child, gifting bicycles to students of classes IX, X, XI, and XII as a tool of student empowerment, giving nearly free rations monthly, environment protecting schemes, scholarship schemes and for scheduled castes, and a host of other powerful schemes that have benefited the common citizen.
Bengal has run comparatively a safe state for women where they can venture out safely and girls dress as their please with no comments or attacks from men, unlike some BJP-run states where they would probably be attacked at the onset! There is an underlying fear among women that they will not be as safe if BJP comes into power.
While BJP has accused her of minority appeasement, Mamata reached out to the Hindu priests giving them stipends and promised to build houses for them. She visited several temples during her campaign trail and also recited the Chandipaath — mantras for the worship of the goddess Chandi.
Mamata’s secular credentials are strongly rooted yet her Hindu identity is firm. While BJP could run the same schemes, their communal politics will destroy the richly-textured multicolored fabric of Bengal, home to millions with the greatest diversities.
Known as a street fighter, a grassroots leader, she toppled the 34- year rule of the Communist Party in West Bengal, in 2011. She knows how to put on a tough fight and move on the rhythm of the waves of Bengal. Mamata who knows the pulse of the people will likely win in Bengal.