New Delhi: Politics or the outcome of the electoral process do not shape up in a day. History and contemporary sociology are key factors too. Thus analysing a verdict would require taking a closer look at multiple aspects.
Unlike Punjab, there would be Bengali ‘refugees’ from East Pakistan who had landed in Calcutta in 1947-48 and died after four-five decades still without a house of their own. This was hardly the case with people crossing over to Delhi and parts of north India from West Pakistan. Fast pace to circa 2020.
West Bengal minister for Mass Education and Library Services, Siddiqullah Chowdhury, wasted no time and said that ten persons who were arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from West Bengal and Kerala for their alleged link to a terror module of Al-Qaeda were “innocent.”
Still raising the issue of ‘minority appeasement’ was wrong or even sinful – so think ‘Sickular’ intellectuals and Bhadralok in Kolkata. So much appealing and convincing is Kolkata’s influence on people’s mindset vis-a-vis Muslim appeasement that few years of stay in ‘City of Joy’ have often converted die-hard supporters of Hindu cause from Rajasthan or northeast turn into strong proponents of Mamata Banerjee’s ‘Khela hobey’ school of thought.
In 2021 elections, ISF of Abbas Sidiqqui slogged hard in South 24-Parganas and North 24-Parganas, telling Muslims how the Mamata had kept them merely as a vote bank. Yet, the voters went with TMC.
There are 64 seats from these two districts – North 24-Parganas with 26 per cent Muslim population has 33 and South 24-Parganas with 35.5 percent Muslims accounts for 31 assembly seats. Of these seats, only five came to the BJP.
In Murshidabad district, Mamata-Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury (only formidable Congress leader) old rivalry came to the fore. Trinamool Congress gave a shocker to the Congress picking up as many as 18 from the region. Incidentally, 66.27 percent of population here are Muslims.
The Bhadralok might have let down the BJP poll managers. But for saffron party, the battle was always pretty tough in the state. The ‘chemistry of Bengal politics’, for all practical purposes and historical legacies, always put the BJP on a back foot. Same was the case with the Bharatiya Jana Sangh and Hindu Mahasabha too.
Hence a jubilant TMC leader told this journalist: “Didn’t we tell, the BJP arithmetic was poor on the chemistry of Bengal politics”. As many as 70 seats minimum were already with Mamata. So, Trinamool’s 213 win in the ultimate is ‘win’ of 143. Hence the over confidence – “Khela hobey”. Please recollect, during campaigning too, Mamata Banerjee herself said, the BJP would at best manage around 70 seats.
The BJP leaders in Bengal knew about this. Hence there was reluctance on the part of many prominent leaders to contest elections. Still banking on the Narendra Modi factor did help many BJP candidates sail home.
In Malda, despite 51 per cent Muslims, out of 12, the BJP managed a win in four and eight seats went to TMC.
Even from Hindu voters’ trust with BJP perspective, demography was an important decider in this year’s polls; but absence of Hindu unity was visible.
It can be argued that the Leftists campaign made Hindus almost forget the real reason of being rendered homeless in East Pakistan and even ethnic cleansing. They developed a craze to run for jobs.
In Coach Behar with 74.1 per cent Hindus, BJP won 7 out of 9. In Alipurdwar, BJP had a clean sweep of 5.
In Jalpaiguri, despite 84.16 per cent Hindus, out of 7, three seats went to TMC and 4 to BJP.
In Darjeeling district, the BJP scored a neat five and the 74 percent Hindu population knew whom to vote for.
In North Dinajpur, out of nine seats, 7 went to Mamata camp and remaining 2 for BJP. Here Hindu-Muslim population was 49.31 to 49 per cent. South Dinajpur voters gave each TMC and BJP three seats each. Here Hindu population is around 73.55 percent.
The Hindu voters’ strength did not help BJP in Kolkata, Howrah and Hooghly.
In Howrah, despite a 73 per cent Hindu population, all 16 seats went to TMC mainly because of Muslim consolidation.
Similarly, Kolkata’s 11 seats went to TMC despite 76.6 percent Hindu population. In Hooghly, BJP managed to win four out of 18 as 82.89 percent Hindu population stood divided. But around 15 percent Muslims came together as a bloc.
In Paschim Medinipur, the Mamata-led outfit managed 13 seats out of 15 despite 86.52 per cent of voters were Hindus. In Purba Medinipur, however, out of 16 seats, BJP’s share was 7 as against 9 of Trinamool Congress.