Kolkata (West Bengal) : As the ‘Khela’ of power in West Bengal ended with the completion of vibrant eight-phased state assembly elections on Thursday, all eyes are on the counting of votes that will take place on Sunday.
The game of thrones in West Bengal has been the most dynamic state assembly elections in recent years. It would not be wrong to say that the West Bengal election was a tussle between the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister or the Central and the state governments.
The power-packed campaigns involving stormy rallies and mega roadshows were dominated mainly by the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The third front i.e. the coalition of the Congress, Left Front and Indian Secular Force seemed to be on the backfoot when it came to campaigning.
The ambitious BJP did intense campaigning with the goal to topple the incumbent TMC government in the state. To continue its stride in Bengal especially after an overwhelming result in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls in the state, the party brought Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, party president JP Nadda and many others for campaigning.
It will not be wrong to say that West Bengal became the second home for Shah and Nadda who held roadshows and rallies every other day.
The BJP targeted the incumbent TMC over ‘tolabaazi’ (extortion), ‘cut money’ and syndicate raj and appeasement politics. It was Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek, who had been the target of attacks by the BJP that called him ‘Tolabaaz bhaipo’ (extortionist nephew). Prime Minister Modi’s jibe “Didi…o…didi” against the TMC supremo in his rallies also caught much attention among the public.
Mamata endorsed her governance as the rule of three ‘M’s, that is, ‘Maa’, ‘Mati’ and ‘Manush’ (mother, soil and people). But the Bengal elections had another 3M factor this time, that is, ‘Mamata’, ‘Modi’ and ‘Muslim’. So, Banerjee’s challenge was to counter Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity in Bengal on one side and regain her support base of the minority community that was impacted by the Left-Congress-ISF alliance and stepping in of Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM.
Plus, an air of anti-incumbency could perhaps be felt against the ruling TMC government in the state. However, the Mamata Banerjee-led TMC banked upon its welfare schemes like Duare Sarkar, Swastho Sathi and Kanyashree.
Now making the battle of power more interesting, Mamata chose Nandigram over her home turf Bhabanipur seat this time to test her fate in the 2021 elections.
Now not just Bengal, but the country’s eyes were on Nandigram that witnessed the most high-profile contest on April 1 with the chief minister taking on her former ministerial colleague Suvendu Adhikari, who had joined the BJP in December last year.
Events took a fresh turn when Mamata started campaigning in a wheelchair after she suffered an injury in March in Nandigram. The West Bengal Chief Minister did not spare any opportunity to attack Prime Minister Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah. After the top BJP leadership, it was the Election Commission that was the subject of Mamata’s attack.
When the ‘Jai Sri Ram’ and ‘Sonar Bangla’ slogans became synonymous with the BJP, sitting in a wheelchair Mamata exemplified that a “wounded tigress becomes more aggressive.”
Another slogan that dominated this election season was ‘Khela hobe’ (game is on). Though the slogan was raised by the TMC, it was used across party lines.
Now after political leaders, TMC’s poll strategist Prashant Kishor caught attention of the media in this election season. Kishor said on different platforms that he would give up poll strategy if the BJP crosses 100 seats in the West Bengal assembly election.
Despite high-security arrangements, violence erupted in the Sitalkurchi constituency in Cooch Behar district during the fourth phase of polling on April 10 in which four people were killed in firing by central forces. The EC had ordered the adjournment of the poll in polling station 126 Amtali Madhyamik Siksha Kendra in Sitalkuchi. The repolling happened on April 29 during the last phase of the West Bengal elections.
Now after the completion of all phases of polling, several surveys gave an edge to the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC). In West Bengal, all exit polls predicted that the BJP would make major inroads and a few also said that the party would emerge victorious.
Times Now-C voter exit poll predicted 158 seats for TMC, 115 for BJP and 19 for others. ABP-C Voter predicted TMC to get 152-164 seats, BJP 109-121 seats and Left-Congress alliance 14-25 seats.
According to Republic-CNX exit poll, BJP with 138-148 seats has an edge over TMC which is predicted to get 128-138 seats.
As per India TV- People’s Pulse, BJP is expected to get 173-192 seats while TMC will be reduced to 64-88 seats and Left-Congress alliance will get 7-12 seats.
Axis My India predicted a hung assembly in Bengal with the ruling TMC expected to get 130-156 seats and BJP 134-160 seats.
Besides West Bengal, the counting of votes of the assembly elections in the states of Assam, Tamil Nadu and Kerala and the Union Territory of Puducherry will also be done on Sunday. (ANI)