Reduced to 75 in West Bengal, Why BJP Failed to Live Up to Its 2019 Lok Sabha Performance

Aman Sharma
·3-min read

Building up on its success of making a mark in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP had an ambition to expand in new areas in West Bengal in recently concluded Assembly elections and enhance its leads from 121 assembly segments to the magic mark of 147 seats. But the target was missed and the saffron party ended up even losing its stronghold areas like Jangalmahal, Hooghly and Jalgaipuri to the Trinamool Congress and dropped to a low of just 75 seats.

The BJP showed aggression as it tried expand in Midnapore district and South 24 Parganas District with Suvendu Adhikari drafted to take on Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram. In South 24 Parganas distrit, the BJP launched an offensive against Diamond Harbour MP Abhishek Banerjee. But in the process, the BJP lost many seats in Junglemahal area which went to polls in the first two phases with Banerjee making a strong comeback here in the tribal belt.

The TMC had alleged that the election schedule was drawn up to give momentum to the BJP in areas where it was strong in the earlier phases. But the results show this worked entirely the opposite way with the TMC getting the momentum here. In fact, the results show the BJP never get any momentum in the eight-phased election and the TMC went from strength to strength post the fourth phase.

Adhikari could beat Banerjee narrowly in Nandigram and the BJP won five more seats in Midnapore. But that was not enough to offset the big losses the party has suffered in Junglemahal, an area it swept in 2019. In the South 24 Parganas district, the TMC has made a clean sweep of 30 out of the 31 seats with only ISF supremo Abbas Siddiqui’s brother winning a seat, denying the BJP any entry here.

The saffron party also lost in its erstwhile strong areas of 2019, like Hooghly where MP Locket Chatterjee lost her own seat. The BJP had also fielded former Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta in Hooghly, but he also lost narrowly. Former TMC minister Rajib Banerjee, on whom the BJP was banking to deliver Howrah district, lost his own seat, Domjur.

A stronghold area of the party that the BJP retained was the Matua belt of Bangaon. But this did not matter much as what happened in Malda and Murshidabad is the biggest story of these elections with the TMC winning a major number of seats here to offset its losses elsewhere. These seats were mostly held by the Congress and the Left who have been wiped out from the 34 seats of these two districts this time. The BJP had hoped that the third front would damage the TMC here, bringing some seats to the BJP in this Muslim-dominated region. But the Third Front disappearing from the campaign post Sitlkuchi killings gave an unexpected chance to the TMC and Banerjee encashed on the same.

The BJP had also swept the Jalgaipuri region of North Bengal in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, but the TMC made a comeback here as well, winning seats in the Jalgaipuri, North Dianjpur and South Dinajpur districts. It also failed to make any headway in the urban Kolkata seats or urban seats of North 24 Parganas where all its key candidates like Lt Gen Subrata Saha, actress Payal Sarkar and Babul Supriyo lost. BJP had rolled out a major outreach programme for the bhadrolok (intellectuals) in urban Kolkata seats but the same had no impact on voters. TMC also won the Bhawanipore seat in Kolkata comfortable which Mamata Bannerjee had left to contest from Nandigram.

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