Bengal Government tenure ends on May 2021; Election preparation begins sharply

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  • The Election Commission has started taking stock of the preparations for upcoming West Bengal Legislative Assembly election.The Bengal Election 2021 is still 10 months away but the State is heating up. Nearly 10 years ago, Mamata was able to end 34 years of Communist rule in Bengal, now she finds herself under threat as well.
  • The tenure of the current Mamata Banerjee led government is coming to an end on May 30, which means the elections will be scheduled in April, close to the board examinations.
  • A team of the poll panel led by deputy election commissioner Sudeep Jain is on a two-day observation tour in Kolkata. Jain is scheduled to meet senior IAS and IPS officers including the district magistrates, superintendents of police and police commissioners in various districts of south and north Bengal to gauge the current situation on ground in the state.
  • ECI officials have met with Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) officials and a discussion on the dates of the upcoming board examination has taken place. Given the violence in the state, the commission is getting regular updates from state election officers.
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  • BJP has emerged as a huge threat after winning 18 seats out of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The Bengal BJP under President Dilip Ghosh as well as the work done on the ground by numerous central Governments have grabbed large proportions of the SC/ST vote during the General elections and put Trinamool Congress TMC under huge pressure.In the meanwhile, the BJP has tightened the screws by elevating 3 Ex TMC leaders to the post of General Secretary.
  • The Commission has asked all the DMs and SPs to send daily report to the EC and identify the trouble mongers from now onwards so that none of them stays outside jail once election notification is issued. The Commission is keeping a close watch on the law-and-order situation and will take all possible steps so that voters can exercise their franchise.
  • Sources close to the Chief Electoral Officer in Bengal said Jain, who arrived in the city on Wednesday night, will be interacting with government officials over the next two days. He is also likely to coordinate with health officials to find out about the Covid-19 safety measures that need to be put in place during the poll process.
  • With 10 months to go for the assembly elections, Mamata is ahead. However, a whole host of factors – Anti-incumbency against Mamata, Perceived appeasement of radical Islamists, Issue of Bangladeshis, India’s relationship with China, the State of the Indian economy, West Bengal BJP’s CM candidate etc will all play out. Whoever manages this well will win Bengal Election 2021.
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What Bihar Election taught us?

  • Even though the state election is scheduled to be held in 2021, the threat of the pandemic still looms large. According to sources, a few lessons learnt from the Bihar Assembly elections will come handy this time around.
  • Interactions between health officers in charge of Bihar elections and their counterparts in states going to polls next year is already underway. The Commission is facilitating these as it will lead to sharing of experiences and lessons learnt on holding elections during a pandemic.
  • Preparations for putting up additional polling booths near the main polling booths to help voters maintain physical distancing, witnessed during the Bihar elections, will also be done in West Bengal.
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News on Polling Booths:

  • According to several sources, more than 28,000 polling booths are expected to take place during the West Bengal Assembly Election 2021.
  • To provide minimum assured facilities like toilets, drinking water and ramps, on the polling day, the poll panel has also started the process of checking all 78,000-odd polling booths across West Bengal.
  • The election commission had held regular press briefing on the counting day, four to be precise, the last one at one in the night during the Bihar polls. This process of regular press briefings on the day of counting would now be a ‘template’ for all upcoming polls.
  • Also being arranged are additional EVMs, including VVPATs, owing to the current pandemic.
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Is the commission ready to meet Bengal the upcoming year?

  • The commission will visit the poll-bound state next year to assess the situation and to take stock of the situation.
  • The commission will seek report on sensitive areas. State officials including West Bengal CEO will give presentations on law-and-order situation, sensitive booths, police deployment in the state, updated voter list, EVMs, VVPATs etc.
  • Earlier this week, a Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) delegation from West Bengal also met the chief election commissioner Sunil Arora to request early deployment of Central police forces. The delegation also requested early enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct to avoid any kind of violence during election campaigning.
  • Political parties in the state have also urged ECI to prepare an error-free electoral roll and to include the names of migrant workers who have returned to the state during the pandemic.

West Bengal Assembly Poll Prediction 2021

  • A few weeks ago, an opinion poll by ABP CNX has predicted a comfortable win for Mamata Banerjee
  • Recently, ABP Ananda-CNX released its prediction for the opinion poll of West Bengal Assembly Elections 2021. The prediction saw Mamata Banerjee, the representative of TMC party as the winner of 2021. This opinion was made by ABP calculating how much ahead is TMC compared to those of other parties in the state.
  • Though Trinamool (TMC) is ahead in the list, yet numerous voters are in the verge to make up their minds to quit TMC. This creates a quite tension out of riskiness for the Trinamool Congress party.
  • The TMC is predicted to win 35% of the Hindu Vote, 80% of the Muslim Vote. These are almost similar to 2019 Lok Sabha election with additional Muslim consolidation behind Mamata probably due to NRC.
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Party NamePredicted Seats and reservation of wards
TMC155-163
BJP97-105
Left+Congress22-30
Others6-10
Total294.
  • AITC: 194-225 (47%)
  • BJP: 60-87 (37%)
  • INC: 6-9
  • Left: 1-2 (Left+INC 12%)
  • GJM: 2

Key Factors for the Prediction:

1) Anti-Incumbency against State Govt:

After 2019 results, TMC was on sticky wicket because of “Cut-Money” Issue & then BJP did a mistake by shifting the Narrative to NRC, so anti i/c took a backseat. But there’s a Resentment among people on Corona & Amphan Management though we don’t know the extent of this till this period ends but it’s also true that BJP leaders were seen nowhere in Lockdown Period

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2) Organizational Strength:

BJP has grown Organizationally since 2019, but TMC has not weakened either and hence it is advantage TMC. But if BJP can get Suvendu Adhikari on Board then Election will be wide open

3) Anti-Incumbency against Central Govt:

This is Restricted to Urban Areas only.

4) If Not Mamata Then Who?

Though Opposition lacks CM Face, TMC hasn’t been able to Capitalize into this issue wholly.

5) BJP Wave in the State:

After 23rd May many people believed that TMC govt will not survive till 2021 & even if they survive, they will surely get defeated in 2021. Then the By Elections took place & this Wave Evaporated.

6) NRC CAA

Results of By-Elections proved that NRC benefited TMC but BJP has able to neutralise this a bit after enactment of CAA. Violence Created by Muslims helped BJP to continue their Propaganda.

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What the sources have to say?

  • Dilip Ghosh of BJP has improved quite a bit since April 2019 as a potentially challenger but the gap with the TMC leader Mamata Banerjee is quite stark. For example, in Jharkhand, the gap between Hemant Soren and Raghubar Das was much lesser in April 2019. The Bengal Election 2021 is still 10 months away, enough time for BJP to consider an alternative or Dilip Ghosh to step up his presence.
  • In the meanwhile, the COVID Situation in Bengal is improving. This was a major source of criticism until a few weeks back. Bengal’s active cases have fallen for nearly two weeks now and in this period, death rate amongst completed cases was 2.6%, much lower than many States.
  • After former TMC leader Suvendu Adhikari wrote to Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar expressing his concerns of being framed in “false criminal cases”, Dhankhar on Thursday wrote to Mamata Banerjee asking her to take “affirmative steps”.
  • Janata Dal (United) on Thursday said it will contest in 75 seats in upcoming Assembly elections in the state. The party will fight the election alone if an alliance with ally, the BJP, fails to materialise.
  • While on a two-day tour to Bengal, Union Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah on Sunday alleged that political violence has reached its peak in Bengal and around 300 BJP workers have been killed under her tenure. He hits on the Mamata Government with a warning blow off that the people are now aware of the dark hidden side of TMC.
  • Shah said the people of Bengal want change in the state to end political violence, extortion and Bangladeshi infiltration.Sending out a warning to CM Banerjee, Shah Saturday said the BJP will win more than 200 seats in next year’s state Assembly elections.
  • The leader visited Vishwa-Bharati; Siddeshwari Kali Mandir of Habibpur; memorials of Rabindranath Tagore and Khudiram Bose; as well as scheduled to have lunch with a farmer’s family in Balichuri village along with BJP leaders. After the public meeting, he is supposed to return to Kolkata and hold meetings with BJP state leaders.
  • Ending weeks of speculations, West Bengal political heavyweight Suvendu Adhikari along with nine MLAs of different parties and a TMC MP joined the BJP at Shah’s rally in Midnapore. 
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