TMC covers ground after Lok Sabha polls fright
- The trends indicate that the TMC has made gains since the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and the BJP has lost ground.
As of 11pm, 96% of the total votes polled had been counted in West Bengal and trends are available for all the 292 assembly constituencies (ACs) where polling was held. The All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) is set for a big victory with a vote share of 48% and wins/leads in 214 ACs. The BJP is a distant second with wins/leads in 76 ACs and a vote share of 38.1%. The Left-Congress alliance has been wiped out, with just one AC and a vote share of 10%.
The trends indicate that the TMC has made gains since the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and the BJP has lost ground. The 2019 vote shares of the TMC, BJP and the Left-Congress was 43%, 40% and 13% respectively.
At an AC-wise level, the TMC and BJP lead in 164 and 121 ACs in 2019, while the Left-Congress alliance lead in nine.
What explains the West Bengal results?
One of the questions which will be asked is whether the second wave of Covid-19 infections hurt the BJP. Covid-19 cases started increasing rapidly since the beginning of March. On April 6 India crossed 100,000 daily new cases. This increased to 200,000 and 300,000 on April 15 and April 21. These grim milestones coincided with the 3rd, 5th and 6th phase of elections in West Bengal.
The TMC and Left-Congress alliances demanded that the last three phases of polls be clubbed together in West Bengal, and the BJP received a lot of flak for organising big rallies. Did this work against the BJP in the state? And did, to some extent, people also penalize the BJP for the Union government’s handling of the pandemic’s second wave? An HT analysis shows that it is difficult to give a conclusive answer to this question. Here’s why.
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The TMC’s vote share is more than 45% in ACs which went to poll in every phase except the fifth phase, when 45 ACs in the districts of Purba Bardhaman, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Nadia, and North 24 Parganas went to polls.
In three phases, the TMC’s vote share is 50% or more, which includes the third phase, which was held before the Covid-19 situation became really bad. This suggests a pan-state rather than post-second wave tailwinds for the TMC.
See Chart 1: Phase-wise vote share
Another important statistic is the change in vote share of the TMC, BJP and the Left-Congress alliance between 2019 Lok Sabha and the 2021 assembly elections. The headline vote shares suggest that the TMC managed to eat into the support base of both the Left-Congress and the BJP.
A phase-wise break-up of change in vote shares gives an insight into how exactly voters changed loyalties between 2019 and 2021. The TMC made the biggest gain in its vote share in the last two phases of the elections, largely at the cost of the Left-Congress alliance. These two phases included ACs from the districts of Paschim Bardhaman, Birbhum, Dakshin Dinajpur, Kolkata, Maldah, and Murshidabad.
The BJP’s biggest loss in vote share was in the ACs which went to polls in the first, fifth and seventh phase. To be sure, it did make small gains in terms of vote share in the second and eighth phases. In phases where it lost vote share between 2019 and 2021, the smallest margin was in the third phase. These numbers suggest that a Covid-19 backlash alone might not explain the TMC’s massive victory in West Bengal.
See Chart 2: Phase-wise change in vote share of TMC, BJP and Left-Congress
Post-poll surveys might throw more light on what exactly happened, but a complete minority consolidation and favourable swings among women and the poorest voters might have given the TMC another five years in power and huge political capital in Indian polity.