With the West Bengal elections inching closer to the D-day, Nandigram will once again become an integral platform for the All India Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee. Ahead of the polls, she has announced that she will contest from the census town, which is her former right-hand Suvendhu Adhikari’s power centre.
This contest is important on two fronts. Firstly, the Nandigram violence pushed the Trinamool to power in 2011, with them campaigning against the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee-led communist government. Secondly, Suvendhu Adhikari, during his tenure with the Trinamool, amassed enough power within the area, which would now benefit the BJP with his transition. Defeating Adhikari in Nandigram would solidify Mamata’s position within the party as well as the state.
The WB election, however, is not that easy to determine. Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majilis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen will participate in the election, and if his participation in Bihar election were anything to go by, then it would severely affect vote share in key locations. Political observers maintain that Owaisi will be able to pull Muslim vote share in the state, which has been a determining factor for Trinamool since 2016. Since West Bengal has one of the largest Muslim population, any split in that is estimated to affect TMC’s chances. However, another group claims that while there might be a split, it will not be important.
Interestingly, the BJP is also gaining more and more power in the state. From two seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections to six in the 2016 Assembly elections and finally, to a whopping 18 in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the saffron party has amassed power within the state. If their increasing base wasn’t enough, they were able to start a migration of TMC leaders to their folds starting with Adhikari. Moreover, they were also able to pull MLAs from Congress and the Left. This strategy has already worked for them in many states, and they were able to solidify their position, despite going into by-elections.
While they were confident about taking on TMC, the BJP now has to face Shiv Sena in WB. Sena leader Sanjay Raut announced from his Twitter handle that the party would be contesting in the West Bengal Assembly polls.
However, this is not their debut as they had already contested the 2019 WB general elections from 15 seats. While some claim that Shiv Sena is making their latest entry to spite BJP, others believe that the Sena will be unable to split enough vote to affect the saffron party. However, any split would inadvertently help TMC.
Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena and AIMIM have not fixed the number of contestants and locations, and the Congress-Left alliance has only begun discussion on the seat sharing, which would likely go until the end of the month. After the particulars have been set, the details of who has what kind of advantage will become clearer.