(Photo Courtesy – OneIndia Bengali)
The past couple of months have seen West Bengal emerging as a battlefield between the central and the state government, putting Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at loggerheads. The recent CBI-Kolkata Police face-off and the state government denying permission to Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Rath Yatra and other rallies have been enough to rile both parties against each other.
A lot of onus is put on a good performance in Bengal, both by the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) as well as the BJP. Riding high since her party’s victory in the 2011 Assembly Elections, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will be looking for a good run in the upcoming elections as well. With a total of 42 seats, West Bengal is only next to Uttar Pradesh (80 seats) and Maharashtra (48 seats) in the General Elections. Therefore, a good show in West Bengal may propel her to be a strong contender for the power-position in New Delhi, if the post-poll scenario comes down to the coalition or the ‘mahagathbandhan’.
With its recent losses in the states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in December 2018, it seems that the BJP may not end up with an impressive tally, as it had been able to achieve in the 2014 elections. In such a scenario, it would be crucial for the BJP to compensate for the losses in the Hindi heartland, with other states. Since 2014, the party has made successful inroads into the North-eastern states. However, for the General Elections, the seven states account for only a total of 24 seats. This may explain the continuous interest the BJP has in the states of West Bengal and Odisha.
Dr Anupama Ghosh is Senior Research Associate and the Internship Co-ordinator at CPPR. She holds a PhD in History from the University of Delhi. She can be contacted by email at email@example.com and on twitter @anupama86ghosh