In Bengal, TMC scripts constituency-specific manifestos for assembly bypolls
TMC’s opponents and political analysts, however, see the workings of Kishor who was appointed by the TMC after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dealt it a rude blow during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, increasing its tally from two to 18. TMC’s tally came down from 34 to 22 seats.Updated: Nov 14, 2019 20:27 IST
In a first, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) is releasing constituency-specific manifestos for Assembly by-elections in three seats scheduled for November 25.
The party started with the release of a manifesto for the Kharagpur Sadar seat by state transport minister and TMC heavyweight Suvendu Adhikari on Thursday and manifestos for Karimpur and Kaliaganj seats will be published in the next few days.
“The manifesto has been prepared on the basis of information, complaints and demands collected from local people through the Didike Bolo helpline,” said a senior TMC leader who did not want to be named.
For a party that always said that Mamata Banerjee is the candidates in all seats – be it elections to the Lok Sabha or Assembly – this is being seen as a major shift. The TMC has never released a manifesto for any by-election. It released a general manifesto for the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in the past. The Didike Bolo helpline was launched after TMC roped in election strategist Prashant Kishor to plan damage control initiatives.
“The manifestos will outline the roadmap for development in the respective areas. Each area has its own set of problems. Area-specific outlook will help us build better connect with the local people,” a TMC minister said.
TMC’s opponents and political analysts, however, see the workings of Kishor who was appointed by the TMC after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) dealt it a rude blow during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, increasing its tally from two to 18. TMC’s tally came down from 34 to 22 seats. BJP’s vote share stood at 40.23 per cent, a marginal three per cent below that of TMC’s.
“Prashant Kishor cannot help TMC survive this time. Let the TMC try to fool people in whatever ways they prefer. It would not make much of a difference in terms of votes,” said BJP state unit president Dilip Ghosh.
The Trinamool Congress is facing a tough challenge in these by-elections, too. Of the three seats, TMC, BJP and Congress won one each in 2016. However, the BJP is being considered the favourite in two of the three seats this time around, as assembly-segment-wise results of the Lok Sabha elections reveal that the BJP had a comfortable lead over TMC in Kharagpur and Kaliaganj, while TMC had a lead in Karimpur.
“Having constituency-specific manifestos carry the hallmark of Kishor’s way of working. The party is evidently unwilling to bank solely on Mamata Banerjee’s public appeal,” said political analyst Biswanath Chakraborty, a professor of political science at Rabindra Bharati University.
Though the number of seats going for the by-polls is insignificant, given that TMC has an overwhelming majority in the 294 seat Assembly, the elections are being considered crucial since it can indicate and influence future trends in Bengal politics.
“Recent elections in other states revealed that voting patterns were different from those in Lok Sabha elections and BJP’s vote share declined in most places. If BJP’s vote share remains the same or increases in Bengal, the TMC would find it difficult to keep leaders in various ranks from switching over to the BJP,” said Amal Mukhopadhyay, former principal of Presidency College.