Just five years ago, Mamata Banerjee’s TMC scored 67 per cent vote in Nandigram. Back then, the BJP was a distant third force, and the main challenger was the Left-Congress combination.
The scenario has changed radically in last five years. Now BJP is perceived, as evident from most of the surveys, as the party coming to power by the maximum number of the respondents. And no one is sure who would emerge as the winner from Nandigram.
Mamata Banerjee decided to contest from Nandigram this time to offset the effect of ‘bhumiputra’ Suvendu Adhikari’s desertion from her party. But the fight between the two has been marked by utter bitterness, betraying the nervousness of both sides.
Not only Nandigram, almost all the 30 seats, where polling is being held today are on the edge. These 30 seats include 9 from Paschim Medinipur district, 9 from Purba Medinipur, 8 from Bankura and 4 from South 24 Parganas. Five years ago, TMC swept this region. Even in 2019, when the BJP stormed Bengal and won 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats (TMC won 22), more than half of these 30 seats stayed loyal to TMC. BJP is trying hard to reverse the trend, and the TMC is fighting back to retain the dominance.
If the polling percentage touches or crosses 80 in Bengal, it is generally read as an indicator of anti-incumbency wave. In the first phase, the polling percentage was 85. If the percentage remains as high or even higher on the first day of April too, it may create uncertainty in the Trinamool Congress (TMC) camp, and encourage fresh exodus from the party in remaining areas.
In a way, during the run-up of today’s poll, Mamata Banerjee has betrayed some signs of nervousness. On Wednesday, she wrote a letter to the leaders of 15 political parties opposed to the BJP for coming together, and the list of the leaders included Sonia Gandhi. In Bengal, however, the Congress has formed an alliance with the Left and Indian Secular Front, and is vehemently attacking the Chief Minister and her government.
The BJP feels Mamata knows she is not going to come back, and has started sending a distress signal to the third force. The party has decided to mention this letter in its campaign in the rest 234 constituencies of Bengal.
Many unexpected developments have marked the campaign so far in Bengal. After today’s polls, the trend will become more evident to the political parties, and will either boost or lower the morale of the leaders. That will surely influence the voting pattern in rest of Bengal.