Lok Sabha Elections 2019: Once ‘invincible’, Mamata Banerjee fiercely fighting for her turf
When Mamata Banerjee unseated West Bengal’s 34-year-old Left regime in May 2011, she seemed invincible and many thought that Trinamool Congress would last a similar term as its predecessor.
Eight years and a couple of Lok Sabha and Assembly elections later, doubts have surfaced on whether she would be able to continue the entire five years till 2021 Assembly polls, if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) manages to win anything close to the 22-23 seats Amit Shah set as a target.
Bengal has 42 Lok Sabha constituencies, of which the Trinamool won 34 in 2014. The Congress managed four and the Left two. The BJP secured only two, despite the Narendra Modi wave in the country that year.
There is no discernible Modi wave this year, but an anti-incumbency against Bengal’s ruling party is hanging in the air, which has caused a great air of uncertainty in the TMC camp.
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And the exit poll predictions, projecting gains for the BJP at the cost of Trinamool, has added to the unease in the party.
The chief minister’s relevance in the state will critically depend on the numbers she manages in the state and the numbers the Opposition win in the country. Even if her party manages a number close to its 2014 score, but the National Democratic Alliance returns in Delhi, Mamata Banerjee will have a tough time in keeping her turf intact in her home state.
According to BJP leaders, whether the TMC government will last till the 2021 Assembly elections will depend on the number of seats they will win on Thursday. If they win anywhere close to Shah’s target, there will be a scramble for TMC MLAs to join the BJP which can lead to a majority of the legislators moving to the BJP that has only three members in a House of 294.
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The BJP hopes have been fuelled by the fact that various exit poll results have estimated the saffron camp tally to be anywhere between 11 and 21.
During the campaign, Modi had remarked that 40 TMC MLAs were in touch with him. Former four-time TMC MLA and BJP candidate from Barrackpore claimed that as many as 60 legislators were keeping in touch with him.
Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said on Tuesday that he has started getting “courtesy” phone calls from TMC leaders as well as those of other parties.
During the campaign Mamata vowed to win all 42 seats, hoping to emerge as a power behind the throne in Delhi, if the Opposition parties could manage to oust the Modi government.
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