If public speeches are any indicator, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee is confident her party has achieved the numbers for a second term after five rounds of this April-May assembly poll. All she needs is 148 lawmakers, the simple majority mark in the 294-member West Bengal assembly.
But she is not taking the final round — in East Midnapore and Cooch Behar on May 5 — lightly.
Going by the vote share in the 2011 assembly and 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Bengal’s ruling party has much to fear from the historic union of traditional rivals Congress and Left to fight a common enemy, Trinamool, this election. This means clubbing of opposition votes.
In 2011, Trinamool got 39.08% votes, while Congress’s 8.91% and the Left’s 41.05%; together the latter two accounted for 49.06%. In 2014, Left votes eroded but the two still managed 39.30%. In comparison, Banerjee’s party almost retained its share — 39.02%.
If the BJP loses some of its 2014 votes, a historic high of 16.8%, to the Left, Banerjee will have trouble retaining her throne.
Cooch Behar has only nine assembly seats but Banerjee spent two days in the small district where improving the 2011 tally is a target of both camps.
Of the 25 seats going to the polls on Thursday, Trinamool has 16 of 16 in East Midnapore and four of Cooch Behar’s nine. The opposition alliance hopes to bag at least 10 of these.
East Midnapore poses toughest challenge for Left-Congress alliance. Contesting from Nandigram, TMC’s Suvendu Adhikary is a high-profile candidate.
In Cooch Behar, the contest appears evenly balanced. Going by the trend of the 2014 general election, Trinamool is comfortably ahead of the Left-Congress alliance in four seats but the rival alliance is well-placed in rest. Dinhata and Cooch Behar South seats may be too close to call.
Dinhata not only has the highest number of erstwhile enclave-dwellers but also has Udayan Guha, the Forward Bloc heavyweight who switched over to Trinamool about a year ago. The fight is now between him and former comrade Akshay Thakur, the Forward Bloc candidate.
“In 2011, people elected Guha as a Forward Bloc candidate. He betrayed the voters and the party. He will surely be taught a lesson,” Thakur said.
In Cooch Behar South, Trinamool bagged 61,000 votes in 2014 while the Congress and Left together got 60,000. The BJP polled 29,000 votes. The number of votes going to BJP may seal the fate of the candidates this time around.