The exit polls went awry again. The entire machinery of the BJP at the Centre was pressed into service against Mamata Banerjee, but until 6.30pm on Sunday, the BJP had managed 80 (trends/leads), while the Trinamool Congress had a whopping 130 seats more - around 210. In 2016, the BJP managed merely three assembly seats while in the 2019 Lok Sabha, it bagged 18 seats out of 42, coming back to log in about 80-odd seats in the 2021 assembly poll. It is evident that the BJP has become a power to reckon with in Bengal but still has miles to go.
So, what went wrong for the BJP? Was it involved too much in the polarisation of votes and did the agenda of progress, jobs and health take the backseat? Because clearly, the NRC and CAA issue did not cut much ice with the common man.
Polarisation over development
Bengal has not been with the Centre since 1977 as far as polls are concerned. We may have had post-poll alliances with the Centre but that hardly helped Bengal achieve anything concrete and hence, the masses may have felt dejected for decades together, not getting that elusive facelift. The BJP could have shown them that beacon of hope, with its agenda of development and welfare projects but on the contrary, it chose to harp more on polarising the vote share. It felt more pressurised to outshine the TMC rather than vice-versa. The TMC was already in power and just had to get its act together.
Don’t forget that some big names had also deserted the TMC but finally, the BJP, with all its might, failed, mainly because it did not have local biggies and hence, had to depend on national leaders like Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Yogi Adityanath, J P Nadda and Smriti Irani. It is now evident that people went to see them but the spectacle did not translate into votes. It is reminiscent of the 70s when crowds surged to see Indira Gandhi who flew down in a copter, only to return and vote for the left parties en masse!
In the entire poll season, not once was a sense of ‘apnapan’ evident in the BJP’s campaigning, banking as it did on ‘paratrooper’ leaders. The party will have to go back to the drawing board; as for Didi, this mandate will catapult her to the status of a huge national opposition leader. However, this does not mean that she can take things easy. Surely, she can see, the BJP has leapfrogged in growth, from just three seats earlier. Didi must now go ahead collectively with all sections of the society, forgetting who all voted for the BJP and so on, if she wants to regain her former glory.
The people of Bengal, in general, would expect her to move ahead with all and not promote any particular section. This is the people’s mandate and she should not alienate anyone after a verdict she has achieved after the toughest fight in her life, probably. The victory has indeed, made her stronger because it was a direct contest between her and the BJP behemoth, led by PM Modi.