West Bengal election a different COVID perspective - May 08, 2021

A lot has been said about 'Khela Hobe' and 'Khela Shesh' or consolidation of Muslim vote for Trinamool or shifting of Left-liberal towards Mamata Didi or strong regional identity or linguistic politics or may be Chandi Path or electoral Violence or Imposition of Central security forces or Federalism etc. Elections are won sometimes by momentary perspective, comment by celebrities or actions of well knowns but In Bengal it is difficult because elections are always held in multiple phases. 8 phases this time around. Thus, elections should be looked at in a temporal dimension as well.

Eight phases such a long period from March 27 to 29 April. First five phases BJP was performing not as bad as the final results show. Vote share of BJP for first five phases is 43%, 44%, 36%, 37% and 40% where BJP won nearly 55 seats of their 77 seats. Vote share dropped drastically in last two phases to 32% only and fate of BJP in Bengal was sealed.

Another important statistic that we should co-relate is number of Deaths due to COVID in India with

Perception management of BJP which generally they are considered Masters of.

Phases Total seats Vote share TMC Vote Share BJP Covid Deaths in India per Day
First 30 47 43 275
Second 30 47 44 469
Third 31 50 36 630
Fourth 44 47 37 839
Fifth 45 43 40 1501
Sixth 43 47 38 2263
Seventh 34 52 32 2771
Eighth 35 52 32 3498

BJP is always considered as masters of Creating perception supporting their claim to winning election, Discrediting opposition chances of winning in elections or supporting Nationalistic or religious fervour before elections. One Survey suggested that 27% people supported Congress for nationalism before Balakot Strike where only 8% remained afterword’s.

Elections in India are swung in recent times on recent issues just before elections. In Bengal the same story got repeated, BJP which kind of had a fighting chance to may be, dislodge Mamata Didi before elections were Scheduled, lost to her very badly. Here Major issues which swung election are listed in first Paragraph though I think COVID crisis played important role. Kumbh Mela Videos, Photos on Social Media, News or Lack of News on Electronic media also raised questions on BJP and Central leadership which remained silent, which is fatal in such closely fought election. Narendra Modiji’s Tweet on 17 April was much discussed and reactions started coming in thick and fast from all quarters. Media houses which were neglecting or side-lining this issue were taking cognizance of it in more visible manner.

Last three phases very less amount of Campaigning was also done by Central leadership it showed drastic impact on Results.

2019 I wrote that to beat BJP in elections regionalism or Regional Chauvinism would be only faceable option with other political parties. There also till last stage BJP and TMC were neck and neck with each other but issue of Ishwar Chand Vidyasagar’s Bust came and TMC scooped total seats available in Last phase there. Here also Mamata Didi used COVID perception for her own benefit. She started calling BJP leaders as outsiders who are spreading COVID in Bengal. She also claimed COVID situation was normalized before but only these outsiders from BJP are spreading it. Last two Phases Mamata claimed nearly all vote. Bystanders who never readily voted for her swooped in to support her.

Role of leadership is thus important. In 2019 also India was going through tough Economic Crisis but leadership was missing from Opposition. Here that played an important rallying point.

- Swanand Galgale