The West Bengal Assembly election is passing through its most crucial phase. Four of eight phases of the Bengal Assembly election are over. Altogether, voters have decided the fate of candidates in 135 of 294 seats. The remaining 159 will go to the polls between April 17 and 29.
The fifth phase, polling for which will happen on Saturday, completes the most significant troika of election phases in Bengal — phases three to five for 120 seats.
Phase 1: 30 seats
Polling for the first phase took place on March 29, when 30 seats went to the polls. Of these seats, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) had won 27 in the 2016 West Bengal election. The Congress bagged two and the RSP (Left Front) one.
The TMC had strengthened its position in 2016 over 2011 when it had won 19 of these 30 seats. The BJP drew a blank here in 2016. But it changed the election calculus in Bengal in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The BJP was leading in 20 of the 30 seats that voted in the first phase.
Phase 2: 30 seats
Another 30 seats went to the polls in the second phase on April 1. Of these seats, the TMC had won 21 in 2016, almost maintaining its 2011 figure of 22. The BJP had won one of these seats five years ago. The Congress-Left alliance bagged eight.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the TMC maintained its lead despite the BJP’s massive challenge. It took lead in 18 of the 30 constituencies that voted in the second phase of the West Bengal Assembly election. The BJP took the lead in 12.
Nandigram voted in this phase. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took a huge gamble by standing against local heavyweight and her former aide Suvendu Adhikar, who joined the BJP in December last year.
Phase 3: 31 seats
In the third phase, 31 seats went to the polls. This phase saw voting in areas where the TMC had enjoyed complete dominance in previous polls. In 2016, the TMC had won 29 of these seats. The Congress-Left alliance had won two, winning one seat each in Howrah and South 24 Paraganas.
In 2011, the TMC had won 25 and the Congress-Left alliance five. The BJP drew a blank. Even in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, the TMC maintained its hegemony by taking lead in 29 of these 31 constituencies. The BJP, however, replaced the Congress-Left with lead in two other constituencies.
The TMC’s performance in this phase and the next two phases would, to a large extent, decide whether Mamata Banerjee returns as the Bengal chief minister on May 2 or not.
Phase 4: 44 seats
Polling in the fourth phase of the Bengal election took place on April 10 for 44 seats. This was the phase in which Singur went to the polls. Along with Nandigram, Singur had played the catapulting role in the 2011 Bengal election in which the TMC defeated the Left Front.
In 2011, the TMC had won 33 of these 44 seats. The party bettered its record in 2016 winning 39 of these seats. The Congress had won two and the Left Front eight.
The BJP did not win any of these seats in 2011 but it got one in the 2015 Bengal polls. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP surprised the TMC in its stronghold by taking lead in 19 seats.
The TMC was still ahead with a lead in 25 seats but it was a serious jolt to Mamata Banerjee’s party. The Congress and the Left had been pushed out of the race.
Phase 5: 45 seats
Bengal will vote for 45 assembly seats on Saturday. The fifth phase has the maximum number of seats going to the polls. This is a crucial phase of the 2021 Bengal Assembly election.
The 45 assembly constituencies that vote in the next phase are the ones where the BJP collectively had more votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha election than the TMC. The BJP got nearly 45 per cent votes compared to the TMC’s 41.5 per cent. However, in terms of seats, the TMC led 23 and the BJP 22.
In 2016, the TMC had won 32 of these seats — six more than 2011 — going to the polls in the fifth phase. The BJP drew a blank. The Congress and the Left combined won 10 seats.
If the TMC does not crawl back to regain its lost foothold in this phase, Mamata Banerjee’s road to the Writers’ Building might be rough and bumpy.
Phase 6: 43 seats
Forty-three seats will go to the polls in the sixth phase. It is again a TMC-dominated region that will be voting on April 22. In 2011, the TMC had won 28 of these seats and improved its tally to 32 in 2016.
The Congress-Left had won 11 of these seats in 2016. But the real fight is likely to be between the TMC and the BJP. They had taken a lead in 24 and 19 assembly segments, respectively during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Phase 7: 36 seats
The final two phases of the Bengal election will see polling in 71 seats. Of the 36 seats that go to the polls on April 26 in the seventh phase, the TMC held 14 in 2016 and 17 in 2011.
The Congress-Left alliance got the better of the TMC in 2016 on these seats as it won 22 seats here. In 2011, their combined share was 18.
During the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP matched the TMC, sharing the lead in 16 constituencies each. In the remaining four, Congress was in the lead.
Phase 8: 35 seats
Among the 35 seats going to the polls in the eighth phase, the TMC had 14 in 2011 and 17 in 2016. The Congress-Left alliance won 16 of these seats in 2016 with the Congress winning 13 alone. In 2011, their combined share was 21. The Congress had back then won 14 seats.
Of all the seats that will go to the polls in the last phase, the BJP won just one. But in 2019, the BJP secured a lead in 11 constituencies. The TMC was ahead in 19 and the Congress in five.
The 2019 Lok Sabha election brought a sharp change in the electoral dynamics of West Bengal.
Going by the latest electoral output, the TMC has a tougher fight at hand in the last three phases of the Bengal election (phases 6,7 and 8). As per the trends seen in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, it led in 59 of the seats in these phases, while the BJP was close behind, leading in 46 seats.
This is why for the TMC, the fifth phase this weekend becomes very crucial.
Courtesy – https://www.indiatoday.in/