On March 5, West Bengal chief minister and All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) chief Mamata Banerjee introduced her occasion’s candidates for the forthcoming West Bengal elections. Whereas addressing the press convention, Banerjee accused the Communist Occasion of India (Marxist) or CPI(M)-led Left Entrance and the Congress of getting struck a friendship with the Bharatiya Janata Occasion (BJP). The Left Entrance and the Congress, together with the newly floated Indian Secular Entrance (ISF) of Abbas Siddiqui, a Muslim cleric, is the third pole in what many see as an basically bipolar contest between the AITC and the BJP.
It’s in AITC’s curiosity to painting the principle contest as one between it and the BJP; many different anti-BJP events outdoors the state have additionally expressed their assist for the AITC. The record to date consists of the Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Occasion, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and the Nationalist Congress Occasion (NCP). A few of these events are the principle challenger to the BJP of their respective states, and in addition the Congress’s alliance companion in these states. That so many anti-BJP regional events have determined to assist the AITC, whose chief is accusing the Congress of being hand-in-glove with the BJP, doesn’t bode effectively for the Congress, which, on the nationwide stage, remains to be the most important (by a distance) opponent of the BJP. There could be two methods of this: it may be dismissed as a state-level native situation or it may be seen as a part of a broader sample, the place the Congress’s refusal to come back to phrases with its shrinking footprint is triggering its alienation from different anti-BJP political formations.
1. Why did the AITC shun the Congress in West Bengal?
Mamata Banerjee walked out of the Congress in 1998 to type the AITC. Eleven years later, in 2009, throughout the Lok Sabha elections, the AITC struck an alliance with the Congress, to capitalise on rising discontent in opposition to the ruling CPI(M), which was going through a barrage of protests after anti-land acquisition protests erupted in Singur and Nandigram. The alliance proved efficient and the Left Entrance couldn’t win a majority of the seats within the state for the primary time since 1977. The AITC-Congress alliance went on to defeat the Left Entrance within the 2011 meeting elections as effectively. Nonetheless, because the AITC expanded its support-base, it shunned the Congress within the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and contested by itself, successful 34 out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats within the state. The Congress’s tally got here down from 6 in 2009 to 4 in 2014. The Congress determined to ally with the Left Entrance within the 2016 meeting elections, and elevated its seat tally from 42 to 44, though its strike fee went down from 63.6% to 47.8%. The rationale? The Left Entrance conceded extra seats to the Congress than the AITC had within the 2011 elections. Even within the 2021 polls, the Congress expects to contest in 90-plus meeting constituencies (ACs). The largest cause the occasion has not allied with the AITC, is just not ideological variations, however the truth that the AITC wouldn’t have given it as many meeting constituencies because the Left Entrance has. The opposite anti-BJP regional events which have provided assist to the AITC should not contesting the West Bengal elections.
2. DMK learnt its alliance lesson with Congress the arduous method in Tamil Nadu in 2016
J Jayalalithaa created historical past of types within the 2016 Tamil Nadu elections, when she turned the primary chief minister to return to energy since 1984. The All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) received 134 seats in opposition to the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s (DMK) tally of 89. The half-way mark within the Tamil Nadu meeting is 118. The distinction in seat tally of the AIADMK and DMK was greater than their strike charges, which have been 57.8% and 50%. Nonetheless, the DMK contested solely 178 meeting constituencies in comparison with the 232 contested by the AIADMK. The Congress, which was the DMK’s largest alliance companion, contested 41 ACs of which it may win solely eight. An evaluation of contests the place the AIADMK and DMK contested in opposition to one another, and the place they didn’t, underlines the truth that the DMK’s alliance companions performed a giant function within the occasion’s 2016 defeat. It’s no marvel that the DMK and the Congress, together with the opposite allies together with the CPI(M) and the Communist Occasion of India, have extended negotiations on seat-sharing in Tamil Nadu, with the previous eager to contest as many meeting constituencies as potential. Lastly, the DMK has agreed to present 25 ACs to the Congress, a lot lower than what it gave in 2016.
3. Does this imply the Congress has turn into a legal responsibility for its anti-BJP allies?
Not essentially. Though the Congress is a shadow of what it was once, it nonetheless instructions a sizeable vote share on the all-India stage, and is the principle challenger to the BJP in eight main states: Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka and Assam. The record excludes Himachal Pradesh and smaller states within the north-east. In three different large states, West Bengal (AITC), Maharashtra (NCP) and Andhra Pradesh (YSR Congress Occasion), events which have come out of the Congress have outgrown it and are the key challengers to the BJP. When seen on this backdrop, the Congress is preventing what could be termed as a proxy conflict with its personal supporters in these essential states, which account for 115 out of the 543 Lok Sabha seats within the nation.
Had been the all-India management of the Congress to purchase peace with these events — this may solely occur if the all-India management itself is a part of the negotiations — the Congress’s fortunes would possibly enhance within the days to come back. In current months, the time period G-23, which refers to 23 senior Congress leaders who signed a essential letter concerning the occasion’s functioning, has been attracting a whole lot of consideration. The Congress’s future will rely extra on the way it offers with the ‘Group of three’ — Mamata Banerjee, Sharad Pawar and Jagan Reddy — than the G-23.
Abhishek Jha contributed to information evaluation for the story; Supply: TCPD