All the opposition parties, including the Congress, the CPI, the CPI-M, the RJD, the SP, the Shiv Sena, the BSP, the AAP, the Abdullahs’ NC and the Muftis’ PDP, and all the “secular” commentators, have been asserting day-in and day-out since May 2 that the people of Bengal “defeated and destroyed BJP”. It was on May 2 that the EC announced the election results. Significantly, neither the Congress nor any of the Left parties, including the CPI-M, which had misruled West Bengal for 34 long years, could even open its account.
Did the people of Bengal really defeat and destroy the BJP? The answer to this question lies in the election-related statistics, which are now in the public domain. It would be only appropriate to first refer to the political status the BJP enjoyed in the last Legislative Assembly of West Bengal and then examine the official statistics to find if the BJP was really defeated and destroyed by the people of Bengal in the 2021 Assembly elections.
The BJP increased its tally from three in 2016 to 78 in 2021 and also increased its vote-share from 10% in 2016 to 38.13% and snatched the office of the Leader of Opposition from the Congress. 41.6% of Hindu voters voted for the BJP.
The BJP had won a paltry three out of 294 seats in 2016. Its vote-share was only a paltry 10%. It was not the main opposition in the Bengal Assembly; the Congress with 44 seats was. The third-largest chunk of legislators in the Bengal Assembly belonged to all the Left parties. The fact of the matter is that the BJP was virtually non-existent in the West Bengal Assembly before 2021.
And now a reflection on the 2021 election-related statistics. What do they say and suggest? The BJP fielded 291 candidates. Its candidate Suvendu Adhikari defeated the two-time Chief Minister and TMC chief Mamata Bannerjee in Nandigram by over 1600 votes. The BJP won 78 seats. It came second in no less than 200 Assembly constituencies and third in 13 constituencies. The BJP won in as many as 48 constituencies previously held by the TMC. In other words, it performed well in the constituencies which were held previously by the TMC, and not by the Congress or the Left. The BJP’s vote-share was 38.13%.
To be more precise, the BJP increased its tally from three in 2016 to 78 in 2021 and also increased its vote-share from 10% in 2016 to 38.13% and snatched the office of the Leader of Opposition from the Congress. 41.6% of Hindu voters voted for the BJP. The Hindu voters constituted almost 70% of the total electorate in West Bengal. On May 10, Suvendu Adhikari was elected as the Leader of Opposition in the Bengal Assembly.
What was the vote share-share of other parties? The TMC, which won 213 seats, got 47.94% of the total votes polled. These votes included almost all the Muslim votes, which constituted over 27% of West Bengal’s total electors. In fact, 91% of Muslim voters voted for TMC. 25.5% of Hindu voters also voted for the TMC, the Congress, the Left and other parties and independent candidates. Leave aside the methods, including the wheel-chair and appeal to the Muslim voters that they must vote for the TMC candidates en-block, Mamata Bannerjee used to win the Bengal elections.
All this should clear all the cobwebs of confusion being created by the non-BJP parties, secular commentators and the biased international media and websites and establish that the BJP performed exceedingly well in West Bengal. The voting pattern also established that the Muslim voters rejected outright the BJP’s oft-repeated “Sab Ka Saath Sab Ka Vikas Sab Ka Saath Sab Ka Vishwas” slogan. Over five crore scholarships to the Muslim students, almost two dozen special schemes for them and many other steps taken by the Modi Government after 2014 failed to win Muslims’ Vishwas.
The voting pattern in the neighbouring Assam, where the BJP-led NDA won the election for the second time in a row, was no different. The BJP-led NDA won 75 seats in the 126-member Assam Legislative Assembly. The BJP repeated its 2016 performance in 2021 by winning 60 seats, mostly from the Upper Assam and the Barak Valley. It had fielded eight Muslim candidates but all suffered humiliating defeats. The Muslims didn’t vote for the BJP Muslim candidates.
In contrast, Congress won 29 seats. 16 of its winning candidates were Muslims. The remaining 13 seats went to all other communities, including the Hindus. If in West Bengal, the BJP defeated Mamata Bannerjee, in Assam, it defeated the Assam Pradesh Congress president Ripun Bora.
As for the ally of the Congress, Badruddin Ajmal’s All-India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), also called the party of Bangladeshi Muslims, won 21 seats and all its winning candidates were Muslims. The Congress-led alliance “Mahajot”, which won 50 seats, comprised the Congress, the CPI, the CPI-M, the CPI (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation, the Anchalik Gana Marcha (AGM) and the Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF). The Congress and the AIUDF won most of the seats in the Lower Assam.
It is hardly necessary to reflect more on what happened in Bengal and Assam and how the Muslim voters voted as the statistics speak for themselves. Suffice it to say that the BJP has to review its whole election strategy given the fact that the Muslims would never give votes to it and that their one-point agenda is to defeat it and vote for parties that could defeat it.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.