Elections in West Bengal: How Didi won the battle for personality

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On Sunday afternoon, for the first time in weeks without a wheelchair, Prime Minister Mamata Banerjee spoke the people of the state as the winner. Which factors led to the result?

For the BJP, May 2nd should be a high point when they would win West Bengal. A number of central ministers participated in an election campaign that lasted more than a month, including Interior Minister Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But on Sunday afternoon, for the first time in a few weeks without a wheelchair, Prime Minister Mamata Banerjee spoke the people of the state as the winner.

Welfare Web 

Three years after a huge 2016 election victory, the 2019 Lok Sabha elections were a wake-up call for the Trinamool Congress. The BJP won 18 out of 40 seats and over 40% of the vote. The already extensive welfare network for the poor was doubled by Duare Sarkaar and Didi ke Bolo. In this campaign, complaints could be directed to a centralized telephone number. Over the past decade, Trinamool had introduced various programs such as Rupashree, Kanyashree and Sabooj Saathi that saw monetary benefits for the disadvantaged. The BJP has classified these plans as centers of corruption by the leaders of Trinamool. Two things were evident on the ground: First, Trinamool had focused on making the programs more accessible to the people, and Duare Sarkaar and Didi Ke Bolo also gave.For example, Triinamool leaders said that one of the most common complaints was the lack of SC certificates in some areas, which were then freely distributed. Second, many of these programs focused on women, a group that Mamata Banerjee has remained loyal to.In all districts, many women from the same household stayed with Mamata, even if men from one household voted for the BJP.

Battle of Personalities

As the election campaign progressed, the election turned into a battle of personalities, Prime Minister Mamata Banerjee versus Prime Minister Narendra Modi and, to some extent, Interior Minister Amit Shah. There was local anger against local violence and minor corruption, this was against Trinamool and not Mamata herself; She maintained her popularity as a Bengali matriarch, and people blamed the local party cadre for her problems. The party then designed its campaign around the personality of Mamata Banerjee, the street fighter who sits in a wheelchair but is still fighting. His attack with the Prime Minister’s comment “Didi or Didi” became the leitmotif in elections. But this wasn’t 2019, and the local people knew Modi wasn’t elected to serve as West Bengal’s chief minister. Although Modi was not unpopular, he was not at the forefront of conversations and was only discussed when a question was asked about him. And the ridicule or criticism of Mamata was not well received.

Politics of Polarization

Religious polarization was at the heart of the campaign throughout the process. The BJP accused Trinamool of “appeasing Muslims” and using the slogan “Jai Shri Ram” is almost a political slogan, while Mamata and Trinamool were forced to walk a tightrope and even sang Chandipath during the campaign.Ultimately, polarization seemed to work better for one side than the other. Faced with the prospect of the BJP coming to power, the Muslim community, even in the strongholds of Congress and the left, chose the BJP. On the other hand, the BJP set a goal similar to Everest to win Bengal without closing the Muslim vote to 30%, which required an extremely high degree of polarization among Hindus, which did not happen. and his decision not to openly fall for the religious binary paid off as Trinamool increased its voting share starting in 2019, widening the gap with the BJP, which was falling.

Organizational Differences

In the run-up to the campaign, important changes were made from Trinamool to the BJP, from Ministers Suvendu Adhikari and Rajib Banerjee to powerful local leaders like Jitendra Tiwari from Asansol. Political arenas enabled Mamata to create a siege mentality around herself and her party. Much of the picture revolved around Mamata, who herself fought against BJP resources. The narrative lent itself to domestic and foreign policy when the Chief Minister referred to the BJP as “Bargis” (looters). Downstairs, Trinamool leaders were fighting the election with their backs to the wall, and many were keen to show those who had left their seats. The BJP, on the other hand, with its newcomers, looked unusually ideologically empty. Differences in the distribution of seats arose between the old guard of the BJP, the leftists who joined the party to defeat Trinamool, and the newcomers to Trinamool. While the BJP would argue that it would not have had the organizational strength to take over Trinamool if the inductions had not been made, it actually created a contradiction on the ground. As non-violent and non-corrupt, many of their Trinamool candidates have faced their own local allegations of corruption and violence.

 

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