On March 9, West Bengal chief minister and All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) chief Mamata Banerjee recited from Hindu scriptures (Chandipath) whereas addressing an election rally in Nandigram, the place she’s going to face protege-turned-challenger Suvendu Adhkari on April 1. Banerjee’s act was an effort to counter the Bharatiya Janata Social gathering’s (BJP) spiritual polarisation technique within the state. “Those that are taking part in the Hindu-Muslim card, I wish to inform them clearly that I’m additionally lady from a Hindu household. Don’t play the Hindu card with me,” she stated.
Whereas the theatrics related to Banerjee reciting spiritual hymns may need grabbed the headlines, the Trinamool Congress’s ticket distribution technique within the forthcoming elections – it’s the solely occasion to have declared all its candidates thus far – reveals a transparent sample that it’s attempting to counter BJP’s technique. The most important proof of that is the truth that the TMC has dropped Muslim candidates in meeting constituencies (ACs) the place the BJP did higher within the 2019 Lok Sabha elections compared to the 2016 meeting ones.
General, the TMC has fielded fewer Muslim candidates in 2021 than in 2016
On March 5, Banerjee introduced the names of 291 candidates for the 2021 elections. The TMC has determined to depart three ACs within the hill area for its smaller allies. An HT evaluation of TMC candidates within the 2016 and 2021 meeting elections reveals that it has fielded 45 Muslim candidates in 2021 in comparison with 54 in 2016. A subregion clever evaluation of the TMC’s candidates, when learn with 2016 and 2019 election outcomes, reveals that these choices may need been pushed by cautious political arithmetic.
HT has categorized West Bengal into 5 subregions: Hills, North Bengal, Central Bengal, South Bengal and Jangalmahal. Of those, South Bengal is the most important subregion with 167 out of the full 294 ACs within the state. West Bengal is the second largest state after Assam in India by way of share of Muslim inhabitants. Twenty-seven per cent of the state’s inhabitants was Muslim based on the 2011 census. However Muslim inhabitants is just not distributed uniformly throughout the state. When learn with subregion clever share of Muslim inhabitants, the TMC’s choice of candidates, each in 2016 and 2021, appears to be in line with political geography.
South Bengal, the place the stakes are highest, has seen the most important fall in variety of TMC Muslim candidates
The place precisely has the TMC dropped its Muslim candidates? There are 42 ACs the place it fielded a Muslim candidate in 2016 and has additionally fielded one in 2021. There are 3 ACs the place Muslim candidates weren’t fielded in 2016, however have been fielded in 2021, and there are 12 ACs the place the TMC fielded Muslim candidates in 2016, however has changed them with a non-Muslim candidate in 2021. A subregion evaluation of such ACs reveals that south Bengal alone accounts for eight out of the 12 ACs the place the TMC fielded a Muslim candidate in 2016 however has put up a non-Muslim in 2021. Not solely is south Bengal the most important subregion within the state, it’s also the one space the place the BJP didn’t carry out effectively in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Did the BJP’s rise in 2019 play a job within the TMC dropping Muslim candidates? An evaluation of 2016 and 2019 outcomes on the AC degree appears to counsel so — whereas it’s also solely attainable that the candidates have been chosen on different standards. In any case, the TMC has not given tickets to 27 sitting MLAs this time.
This evaluation classifies the state’s 291 ACs, the place the TMC is fielding candidates into 4 classes: no TMC Muslim candidate in each 2016 and 2021, Muslim TMC candidate in each 2016 and 2021, Muslim TMC candidate in 2016 however non-Muslim in 2021, and non-Muslim TMC candidate in 2016 however Muslim in 2021.
A comparability of median vote shares –the center worth in a given distribution – of the TMC and the BJP reveals an attention-grabbing sample. The BJP elevated its vote share in every class; that is to be anticipated since its general vote share jumped from 10.2% in 2016 to 40.2% in 2019. Nonetheless, the TMC’s vote share (in 2019) elevated solely in ACs the place it fielded a Hindu candidate in 2016 however has changed them with a Muslim in 2021, or the place it fielded a Muslim candidate in 2016 and can also be fielding a Muslim candidate in 2021. A comparability of TMC’s benefit over the BJP, measured by a ratio of their respective vote shares in these ACs in 2019, additionally reveals an identical sample. The TMC had the smallest benefit in 2019 over the BJP in ACs the place it has dropped a Muslim candidate for a non-Muslim one in 2021 and the biggest benefit in ACs the place it has dropped a non-Muslim candidate to subject a Muslim one.
There may be subregion dynamic in TMC’s candidate choice.
To make certain, the headline numbers above disguise subregional variations. A subregion-wise disaggregation reveals that it was solely in South Bengal and Central Bengal that the TMC suffered a decline in its 2019 vote share in ACs the place it had put up a Muslim candidate in 2016 and has changed them with a Hindu candidate in 2021. In North Bengal, the TMC truly considerably elevated its vote share in such ACs between 2016 and 2019. Nonetheless, even in North Bengal, the TMC had the smallest benefit over the BJP (by way of ratio of 2019 median vote shares of TMC and BJP) in ACs the place it fielded Muslim candidates in 2016 however has changed them with non-Muslims in 2021.
Is that this an effort by TMC to counter the BJP’s techniques of spiritual polarisation by tactically changing Muslim candidates with Hindus?
Will it work?
That can solely be identified on Might 2 when the outcomes are declared.