The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is pulling all stops to ensure women voters move away from Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) in the 2021 West Bengal assembly polls.
The saffron party is arranging 23 booth-level organisational activities over the next two months, ThePrint has reported citing individuals aware of instruction given by BJP General Secretary (Organisation) BL Santosh to party workers.
Many of these initiatives are aimed at wooing women voters, considered a crucial vote base for Banerjee.
According to the news report, the party’s mahila morcha (women’s wing) will organise padyatras at every booth and mandal, and youth morcha workers will organise cycle rallies and prabhat pheri (morning rallies).
The party high command has also reportedly suggested induction of at least four women in every booth and mandal committee.
Earlier in the week, the party had divided the state into five organisational zones and gives their charge to the party’s senior central leaders. Senior leaders Sunil Deodhar, Vinod Tawde, Dushyant Gautam, Vinod Sonkar and Harish Dwivedi were chosen to lead in these zones: North Bengal, Rarh Banga (south-western districts), Nabadwip, Midnapore and Kolkata.
Following their victory in the Bihar assembly election, the BJP has asserted that it would win the polls in West Bengal slated to happen in April-May 2021. The party has repeatedly said that it aims to defeat Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress in the 2021 polls. Both parties have been preparing for this contest since at least the conclusion of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
BJP National General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya had said on November 10 that the victory would be "much bigger" in Bengal (than in Bihar) and claimed that the "party would storm to power with a two-thirds majority".
Bengal has seen the dramatic rise of the BJP over the last few years. Its efforts on the ground led to the party winning 18 of Bengal’s 42 parliamentary seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, up from just two in 2014. This rise came at the cost of not just the TMC, which saw its tally fall from 34 to 22, but also the Congress and the Left Front.
BJP’s vote share in the state (in the general election) soared to 40.6 percent in the 2019 general election from about 17 percent in 2014. This brought the saffron party’s vote share close to TMC’s 43.6 percent.
Yet, BJP is also likely to face challenges. The Banerjee-led government’s handling of the pandemic will be among key factors that would decide which way voters sway. Plus, the BJP has not portrayed a chief ministerial candidate to take on two-term chief minister Banerjee.
Recent election results and voting trends have clearly shown that India has moved towards ‘split-ticket’ voting where voters tend to vote very differently for elections at the Centre and in the state.
The introduction of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)
and the proposed pan-India National Register Citizens (NRC)
remain contentious issues, especially in the state of Bengal which borders Bangladesh.