Bengal votes within the first part on Saturday of an meeting election that won’t solely be its longest but in addition one among its fiercest with id politics getting into the state’s political narrative like by no means earlier than.
Yes, there may be the promise of growth, trade and jobs and carpet-bombing publicity of welfare schemes – like PM Kisan and Swasthya Sathi – however it’s round faith, caste, language and the ‘Bengali vs outsider’ themes that the defining battle traces of this marathon eight-phase contest between chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress and the Modi-Shahled BJP have been drawn.
Bengal, a Left citadel until 2011, is akin to a last frontier for BJP, which has thrown the complete would possibly of its formidable election equipment into the state with the promise of a ‘double engine’ authorities.
Bengal’s 3-year saffron surge in two maps
The saffron occasion has additionally taken its social engineering template to Bengal and has been assiduously stitching collectively a coalition of the marginalised. As a consequence, a bunch of castes and communities — like Matuas, Aguris (Ugra Kshatriya), Poundra Kshatriyas, Mahisyas, Bauris, Rajbanshis and Kudmis — have made their manner into the political house. Sensing a risk within the seats dominated by these communities, Trinamool has been racing BJP to woo them.
Both events have saved a watch on the demography whereas fielding candidates. Mukherjees, Banerjees, Chakravartis, Mitras and Dasguptas, who usually had the key pie, have ceded house to Dalits and OBCs on candidate lists.
Aspirations of communities — the machhuaras (fishermen) in South 24-Parganas and Kudmis in Jangalmahal, for example — have by no means discovered as a lot political illustration as they’ve this time.
Micro-messaging by PM, CM to the touch hearts
Modi used a Kudmi greeting from the political dais whereas addressing a rally in Kharagpur when he mentioned, “Jai Goram” – a robust private contact from the Prime Minister not simply in a district (West Midnapore) the place Kudmis have sizeable presence but in addition for members of the group in Bankura and Purulia. At Jhargram, residence minister Amit Shah promised a Jangalmahal Development Board devoted to Santhals, Oraons, Mundas and Bhumijs. “We are also looking at bringing the Mahisyas and the Tilis under the OBC category,” Shah mentioned.
Before this, at a gathering in Gosaba (South 24-Parganas), Shah had promised a particular annual assist to the Jele group (fishermen) together with direct profit transfers (DBT) of Rs 18,000 to farmers beneath PM Kisan. “Mamata didi has deprived farmers of Bengal when those in other states have got it (the DBT). The BJP government will transfer the amount to each farmer account without cuts the day it assumes office in Bengal,” Shah mentioned.
Trinamool has been agile in its response. Mamata retains saying “Jai Johar” at her rallies (a greeting utilized by Adivasis, primarily of the Kherwal clan). She has additionally introduced a “Jai Johar” state scheme and allotted land for Johar thans (non secular locations for Santhals). The CM has additionally been swift off the blocks in organising growth boards for backward communities – Rajbanshis in north Bengal, Lepchas within the Darjeeling hills, Nashya Sheikhs in Dinajpur, who converse the Rajbanshi language however are Muslims who migrated from Bangladesh, and the Matuas concentrated in North 24-Parganas and Nadia.
The new equations after 2019 Lok Sabha vote
BJP has been constructing on the deep inroads it made within the 2019 Lok Sabha election wherein it emerged because the main occasion in additional than half of Bengal’s 81 reserved constituencies (now 84). From only one seat within the 2016 meeting polls, the saffron occasion leapfrogged to 46. It got here at the price of the Left, which went down from 12 to a clean, however largely the Trinamool that gained 59 in 2016 however discovered itself because the main occasion in solely 34 meeting segments in 2019.
The shift within the voting sample was important as a result of Dalits, SC/ST and Muslims have largely stood by the events in workplace, Trinamool since 2011, the CPM-led Left Front earlier than that. The intention of BJP’s caste coalition is to splinter Trinamool’s Dalit-Muslim base and woo Dalits and Adivasis.
It labored to a big extent in Alipurduar, West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia and Bongaon, the Bangladesh border division in North 24-Parganas, within the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. BJP is seeking to prolong these positive factors within the meeting polls into south Bengal – to East Burdwan and Kolkata’s two adjoining densely populated suburban districts of North and South 24-Parganas. These three areas are residence to a 70% of the state’s scheduled caste inhabitants.
Why Rajbanshis & Matuas are necessary
The race for the Rajbanshi and Matua votes has been a gripping one as a result of Rajbanshis and Namasudras – of whom Matuas are an element – represent 74% of the SC inhabitants within the state. Besides a Development and Cultural Board and Kamtapuri Bhasa Academy for the Rajbanshis, the state authorities has named Coochbehar University after Rajbanshi icon Panchanan Barma. Mamata additionally introduced organising of a Narayani battalion in West Bengal Police, which Shah countered by promising to lift a Narayani battalion within the Army.
For the Matuas, apart from organising a board, the Mamata authorities has undertaken growth of the Matua Thakurbari temple and the Thakurnagar railway station in North 24-Parganas. Mamata has additionally named a brand new school after Matua gurus Harichand Thakur and Guruchand Thakur.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, BJP trumped Trinamool within the Matua belt, promising citizenship by CAA to refugees, together with the Matuas, who migrated from Orakandi in Bangladesh. Modi would be the first PM to go to the seat of Matua faith at Orakandi on Saturday.
Mamata’s counter-attack and the Yogi issue
Mamata has been a vocal opponent of the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act).
“Matuas are already citizens. Don’t you have a voter card, a ration card, a land patta? If the people you voted for are citizens, you are also citizens,” the CM mentioned at a Bongaon rally.
A Matua member mentioned a whole bunch of Matuas settled within the Bongaon North meeting constituency don’t have voter playing cards. “They are harassed when they apply for a passport. They won’t get sarkari jobs unless the Citizenship Act, 2003, is replaced by the CAA,” mentioned the Matua member.
BJP has promised to take up the CAA on the first cupboard assembly whether it is voted to workplace in Bengal.
The CM has additionally been reciting the Chandipath and in addition to Saraswati bandanas at her election rallies to counter BJP’s Hindutva narrative.
BJP, in the meantime, is shedding no alternative to focus on Mamata’s “changed stance” as a fallout of her “tushtikaran (appeasement)” politics. In polarised areas like Malda and Nandigram, which have a considerable Muslim inhabitants, BJP has parachuted in UP CM Yogi Adityanath. “You are greeting me with Jai Shri Ram. But your CM gets angry with the chant. I would like to tell the Bengal CM that you don’t like Ram bhakts but have gathbandhan with jihadis, who are a threat to the country’s security,” Yogi mentioned at a Malda rally. It’s over to the voters now.