New Delhi, May 23, 2019 : The BJP was looking at an impressive double digit score in Bengal, giving Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress a tough challenge as votes were counted for the national election on Thursday. The Trinamool was ahead in 23 of the state’s 42 seats two hours into counting; BJP was ahead in 15, NDTV reported.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seems set to concede much ground to the BJP in the state she has ruled since 2012. The BJP’s performance shows the party has been able to make inroads in the state over the past few years.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah addressed the maximum number of rallies in Bengal. While PM Modi dubbed the Chief Minister as "speed-breaker didi", Mamata Banerjee retaliated by calling him "Expiry Babu", implying that his government was past its expiry date.
Every phase of voting in Bengal saw clashes and street battles between the BJP and Trinamool.
"Mamata Banerjee fights and we contest elections. The results show that we should not fight in politics," said the BJP’s Kailash Vijayabvargiya, who led the BJP’s Bengal campaign.
Mamata Banerjee has accused the BJP of resorting to violence and even vote-rigging to raise its tally in Bengal.
"The game plan is to manipulate or replace thousands of EVMs (Electronic Voting Machine) through this gossip. I appeal to all opposition parties to be united, strong and bold. We will fight this battle together," the Chief Minister had posted.
In 2014, the BJP had won just two seats in the state. Since then, the party campaigned hard in what appeared to be an unbreachable fortress of Mamata Banerjee.
Over the past two years, the BJP’s efforts on the ground saw multiple confrontations with the state government, especially over rallies and marches held on religious events, and chants of "Jai Shri Ram" competing with the traditional "Ma Durga".
With an increased tally in the state, the BJP is expected to dial up its campaign to take Bengal in the 2021 assembly polls.
For Mamata Banerjee, it will be a lone battle; the only two other parties in Bengal, the Congress and the Left, have almost negligible presence in the state. The Left seems to be staring at a wipeout; the support that it has lost, say analysts, has benefited the BJP. Several traditional Left voters and functionaries were seen to have switched to the BJP instead of the Trinamool Congress.
The Trinamool chief is accused by her critics of inviting trouble with her minority appeasement policies and with her poor control over unruly