West Bengal Polls: Is Majoritarianism A Liability For BJP?
Predicting the outcome of a forthcoming election
is always a tough job and you often run the risk of
being proved wrong in the end. In fact no wise
a person other than those who have some monetary
or political gain to make should do so.
However, for politicians, political party workers, and political
correspondents electoral politics is bread and
butter and they cannot help talking about it
howsoever wide of the mark their assessment may
be. This is what is happening in relation to West
Bengal the assembly elections are at least four
Social media is full of opinion polls -based news stories as to who will win how many of
294 seats of West Bengal Assembly.Of the four states and one Union Territory where
assembly elections will take place this year, West Bengal is clearly the most important State. For one it is the Biggest State in terms of assembly size after U.P. and then in Chief Minister Mamata
Banerjee of the Trinamool Congress the BJP leadership sees the biggest challenge to its authority
and political clout in the country. Little wonder the BJP is going all out to dislodge Mamata Banerjee
from power in Kolkata.
The BJP’s unexpectedly good showing in 2019
parliamentary elections when it won 18 of the 42
seats have set the narrative that the assembly
elections will see a close and keen contest between
Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and Prime
Minister Modi’s BJP. Most of the assessments and
opinion surveys are based on this narrative. More
than anybody else, BJP leaders themselves believe
in this narrative and think that West Bengal is all
set to welcome them with open arms.
However, this may not come true because of
several reasons. In fact to assess the electoral
outcome in the forthcoming elections one must first
try to understand the typical Bengali mind.
An average Bengali is steeped in tradition and is extremely proud of his culture, history, language, and literature. He is non-conformist, is irreverent to authority, and by and largely unimpressed by the status of those who have power or money. Their excessive sense of self-importance often limits their all-India vision and, therefore, they are often accused of sub-nationalism.
Whatever one may say but it is rather difficult to
reach Bengali mind through a typical North Indian
pathway. To be on the right track those writing on
West Bengal elections have to keep this in mind
We may like Mamata Banerjee or not but there is
no denying the fact that she perfectly represents
the Bengali mind.
She is proud and defiant and that
makes her someone as a class apart. Perhaps no
other Opposition leader had registered a protest
so tellingly before the Prime Minister of the country
as she did on Parakram Diwas on Netaji’s birth
anniversary function at Victoria Memorial. She may
never be able to attain an all-India stature but she is certainly Prime Minister Modi’s most formidable
the opponent in Indian politics at the moment.
The all-important question is if Mamta Banerjee
will be able to convince the voters of West Bengal
that she is not only the best votary of Bengali
subnational identity but also it’s most powerful
She will also have to convince the voters
that if the BJP comes to the power in West Bengal it
will mean dilution of this identity into the cultural
the confluence of the Hindi belt something that the BJP
champions and an average Bengali abhors.
There are indications that Mamata is winning this
the battle to capture Bengali’s mind.
She is succeeding in proving BJP to be an outsider. An NGO has already
started an “ Anyone but BJP “ campaign and as a time
to go to the polling booth approaches such voices
may become louder.
In fact, the stance the Left Front and the Congress
take will have a decisive impact on the West Bengal
election results. It is no secret that the spectacular
victory of BJP in the 2019 parliamentary elections was made possible by support from CP-M cadres who
were angry by Mamata Banerjee and wanted to
teach her a lesson. But it may not be so this time
Both parties the Congress and the CP-M are as
strongly pitted against the BJP as Mamata’s
Trinamool Congress in the 2021 assembly
elections. The big question, therefore, is if they will
go for some understanding with Mamata to keep
the BJP out. However, it is a Catch 22 situation for
both. They also see a powerful Mamata as a
threat to their existence.
Elections are quite some time away and a lot will
depend on what happens in between. The road for
BJP however is not as smooth as it has thought it to
be. For one the charges against Mamata are not
cutting much ice and the BJP government’s image is
also not improving.
Then maybe BJP is helping Mamata Banerjee in her bid to be the leader-
protector of Bengali identity. Indifferent to the fact of the cultural diversity of India and unfamiliar with
the federal and democratic culture of its politics, BJP’s stress on the slogan of Rashtravad strokes those
emotions that islands of regional culture like West Bengal does not like it.
For all, we know BJP’s strategy of communal
polarization may not succeed because to its chagrin
Bengalivt may prove more powerful than Hindutva.
That is the reason which may prompt strong
opponents of Mamata like CPI-M and the Congress
to be weary of the BJP and go soft on, if not back
Mamata.In that case the BJP’s strongest weapon
of Rashtravad, a euphoria for majoritarianism, will
prove to be its worst liability.
NOTE: The author, a veteran journalist and a former Professor at IIMC, New Delhi, is editor of Media map, a monthly thought journal on current affairs. He was Head of, Department of Journalism, and course director. He retired from IIMC in the year 2008.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of newsabode.com. newsabode.com does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)
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