On March 7, Prime Minister Narendra Modi formally kicked off the Bhatariya Janata Get together’s (BJP) marketing campaign in West Bengal with a rally at Kolkata’s Brigade Parade grounds. Whereas talking on the rally, Modi took a jibe on the incumbent chief minister and All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) chief Mamata Banerjee. “We don’t need anybody to get harm. However your scooty landed in Nandigram as a substitute of going to Bhawanipore; nothing might be executed now,” he stated. He was referring to Banerjee’s resolution to shift from Bhawanipore to Nandigram meeting constituency (AC), the place she is going to face Suvendu Adhikari, the incumbent MLA, who was till lately, among the many most essential AITC leaders within the state.
Is there extra to the Nandigram contest than the same old optics of two political heavy weights contesting towards one another? A cursory take a look at West Bengal’s political geography and a recap of the state’s current political historical past reveals that the notion across the Nandigram contest could be a key consider setting the political narrative within the state each earlier than and after the outcomes. Listed here are two charts which clarify this.
South Bengal will determine whether or not the BJP can unseat the AITC or not
The BJP inflicted a shock to the AITC when it received 18 Lok Sabha seats with a vote share of greater than 40% within the 2019 Lok Sabha selctions. The AITC, although it elevated its vote share by round 4 proportion factors between 2014 and 2019, noticed its seat tally go down from 34 to 22.
It’s the 2019 Lok Sabha efficiency which has made the BJP a critical contender for energy within the state. The BJP’s advances within the 2019 elections, whereas they have been spectacular by all means, have been closely skewed geographically talking. Whereas the social gathering did very effectively within the hills, north Bengal and the Jangalmahal area, it didn’t cross a important threshold within the south Bengal area. South Bengal is essentially the most populous area of the state and accounts for 167 out of the 294 meeting constituencies (ACs) within the state. Except the BJP makes important advances in south Bengal, it’s tough to envisage it unseating the AITC within the state.
See Chart 1 and a pair of: region-wise seat share in West Bengal and efficiency of various events in sub-regions
The importance of Suvendu Adhikari’s defection
One of many BJP’s greatest challenges in West Bengal is the shortage of a preferred Bengali face. This isn’t very stunning, given the truth that the BJP has not had a lot of a presence within the state till lately. It’s to make up for this organizational/management deficit that the social gathering has been actively wooing defectors from current political forces within the state; particularly the AITC. That the BJP has inducted each Mukul Roy and Dinesh Trivedi, the 2 AITC leaders who succeeded Mamata Banerjee because the Railway Minister within the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) authorities, after she took over the chief minister’s submit, underlines the BJP’s willingness to co-opt the AITC’s current management. Nevertheless, neither Roy, nor Trivedi are a match for Banerjee’s widespread attraction among the many state’s citizens.
The 2019 Nationwide Election Examine (NES) performed by CSDS-Lokniti underlines this level. The hole between the expected vote share (assuming meeting elections have been held tomorrow) of the AITC (40.4%) and BJP (28.4%) – the NES considerably below estimated the BJP’s vote share if the Lok Sabha outcomes are any indication – was considerably smaller than the hole between Mamata Banerjee and every other chief, when it got here to who ought to be subsequent chief minister of the state.
See Chart 2: NES 2019 responses on subsequent chief minister of West Bengal
When learn with geographically skewed political consequence within the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, it implies that Banerjee’s recognition within the south Bengal area have to be even larger. By managing to get Suvendu Adhikari to modify sides — he was reportedly upset with Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee being potrayed as her heir-apparent — the BJP has managed to pay money for a pacesetter who has a longtime mass following among the many AITC voter base within the politically essential south Bengal area.
Nothing is usually a larger endorsement of the significance of Adhikari’s defection than Banerjee’s resolution to shift to Nandigram and face him within the polls