The West Bengal Assembly election is fast approaching its endgame. On April 30, 53 assembly constituencies will be voting. This phase is in TMC’s stronghold, in the districts of South 24 Paraganas, Kolkata and Hooghly. The party won 46 out of these 53 seats five years ago, and a similar performance on Saturday should be enough to ensure Mamata Banerjee’s re-election on May 19.So if the fourth phase was batting powerplay for TMC, this is the slog over where the party will look to score a lot of runs (err, votes). But the big question is— can Mamata Banerjee’s party do an encore of 2011? Or will the recent spate of bad publicity, which has taken the sheen off the party, affect it electorally in this mix of urban and rural centres?<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Never before has the analysis from 2014 been more significant in deciphering the tea leaves. So let’s see how the electoral battle has unfolded in the last 5 years. What happened in 2011 South 24 ParganasParty TMC Congress CPI(M) BJP Seats 20 0 4 1 TMC completely dominated the show winning 20 of the available 25 seats. The Left only won in Basanti, Kultali, Bhangar and Canning East. SUCI won the Jaynagar seat, but they were supported by TMC, though now they are part of the Left fold. Kolkata Party TMC Congress CPI(M) BJP Seats 10 0 0 0 In Kolkata, it was a complete sweep with the TMC taking all the seats and with a margin of close to 90,000 in some of them. The fervour of the paribartan was enough to get TMC a comfortable victory in almost all constituencies. Even then CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharya lost his seat at Jadavpur. HooghlyParty TMC Congress CPI(M) BJP Seats 16 0 2 0 In Hooghly, the district where Singur is located, most constituencies voted decisively for TMC. The Left could manage to win only a couple of seats. Congress was in alliance with the TMC in 2011.The party has very little influence in this part of South Bengal. Now cut to 2014. All the parties contested separately. Suddenly BJP became a factor, especially in the urban centres, riding the Modi wave. Here’s how the parties performed.What happened in 2014 South 24 ParganasParty TMC Congress CPI(M) BJP Seats 24 0 1 0 Once a fortress of the Left, South 24 Parganas has shifted loyalties big time. Thanks to the Left’s terrible performance, TMC was ahead in 24 out of the 25 seats. Kolkata Party TMC Congress CPI(M) BJP Seats 8 0 1 1 In Kolkata, TMC was ahead in eight constituencies. BJP was ahead in Bhawanipur by 185 votes and the Left was ahead in Jadavpur by 308 votes. Although TMC was ahead in eight of the 10, the margins were drastically less. It was a testament to BJP’s strong performance and some amount of resentment towards the TMC in the urban pockets.Hooghly Party TMC Congress CPI(M) BJP Seats 17 0 0 1 Mamata’s party continued its dominance in Hooghly and was ahead in 17 of the 18 seats. BJP was ahead in Sreerampore.So, in 2014, TMC was ahead in 49 out of 53 seats. It, in fact, managed to better its 2011 results— a virtual annihilation of the opposition. In this election, the Left and Congress have come together. So let us tally the seats, adding the votes of Congress and Left together. Rahul Gandhi and Buddhadeb Bhattacharya addressing a rally (AFP)What would have happened if there was an alliance in 2014 South 24 ParganasParty TMC Alliance BJP Seat 18 7 0 KolkataParty TMC Alliance BJP Seat 15 4 1 Hooghly Party TMC Alliance BJP Seat 16 2 0 TMC is ahead only in 39 out of 49, if the Congress and Left votes are combined. While its fortress in Hoogly remains unbreached, it drops four seats in Kolkata and five in South 24 Parganas. This is something will keep TMC unsure in the run-up to Saturday’s polls. Congress has a sizeable vote bank in seats with significant Muslim share and if those votes go to CPI(M)’s quota, it may spell trouble for TMC. The ruling party was behind in seats like Budge Budge, Metiaburuj, Kolkata Port, Maheshtala and, shockingly, in the elite Ballygunge. In Mamata Banerjee’s own seat Bhawanipur too TMC trailed. What are the issues? If in any phase, the Narada sting can become a make-or-break issue, it’s this. Subrata Mukherjee, Firhad Hakim, Sovan Chatterjee and Iqbal Ahmed, who have been discredited by the scam, are all in the fray in the fifth phase. Mamata Banerjee herself has played the sympathy card by saying, “Don’t give us votes if you think we are thieves”. In many constituencies, she has referred to the candidates saying that they haven’t taken any bribe and asking for people to give them their votes. She seems to imply, “Look, the boys may have done some mischief, but please excuse them”. Whether the desperate plea will work on people is something worth asking. The ten seats of Kolkata going to polls are Kasba, Jadavpur, Behala East, Behala West, Tollygunge, Bhawanipur, Rashbehari, Ballygunge, Kolkata Port and Metiaburuj. TMC will be wary of the opposition in Jadavpur, Kasba, Behala East and Metiaburuj. In Hooghly, TMC continues its stranglehold in the rural belt. It has introduced decent programmes for the farmers which has ensured pro-incumbency. But whether farmers will get their land back in Singur is a question that is now becoming an albatross around TMC’s neck. Constituencies like Goghat, Khanakul and Arambag are known for bloody political conflict. The EC’s ability to ensure peaceful elections may seal the fate of those seats. In South 24 Parganas, especially near the Sunderban area, the availability of clean water and development work in the Post Aila phase are important issues. Many of the constituencies have a large number of Muslim voters, and, hence, the slight possibility of local level polarisation cannot be ruled out. Mamata Banerjee, though, has tried to work hard to ensure that she maintains her iron fist over the Muslim votes by offering several doles as CM. But there is a distinct sense of disquiet among the Muslim community also, that true development has eluded them. It is up to the Left to exploit that sentiment. How the parties stack upTMCMamata is omnipresent in TMC campaign (PTI)There is little chance that the party will repeat its 2011 performance. In fact, winning 39 out of 53 like in 2014 will be tough, considering the tailspin in TMC’s fortunes. One big hope of TMC is the clout some of the leaders have, who can win the seats based on their personal charisma. That may make the difference in some of the closely contested seats. The party has also been riddled with infighting, especially in South 24 Parganas. Rezzak Mollah, who recently joined TMC after a long stint with the Left, isn’t getting the support he hoped to. Deputy speaker in the state assembly, Sonali Guha is also facing the same predicament. The allegations of the presence of a syndicate raaj run on the patronage of some of TMC’s top leaders have created a negative perception among people. The Narada scam is particularly relevant in this context as it seems to confirm the worst stereotypes about the party. So for TMC, it finally boils down to whether sound ground presence and its organisational prowess can work against a growing public perception, an emboldened Congress-Left alliance and a proactive Election Commission. A large percentage of silent voters could upset many well-laid plans, which the TMC will be wary of. Congress-Left allianceCPI(M) candidate Jyotirmoyee Shikdar on the campaign trail (PTI) Congress has some pockets of influence but is largely absent in these 53 constituencies, as its entire vote bank nearly shifted en masse to the TMC nearly one and half decades ago. So, in most cases, the Left will bear the burden of playing the opposition. The party is still badly hampered by weak organisation and is mostly banking on ‘public resistance’ to win some seats. It has done itself some favours by picking smart, young candidates who started early and may provide some alternative to the jaded TMC MLAs, many of whom have been elected more than once to the assembly. Overall, the Left will hedge its bets on South 24 Parganas and will hope that in Kolkata TMC’s iron grip is loosened. A big deciding factor will be the vote transferability between Congress and Left. There are many voters who cast their choice on an ideological basis. They may not simply flip their long held belief system just because the Congress and Left have come together. BJPThe party did remarkably well in the 2014 elections. They are almost sure to lose massive vote share and unlikely to win any seat in this phase. In some of the urban centres of South 24 Parganas, they have an outside chance. For all the hype Chandra Bose, Netaji’s descendant, has generated, he will probably find it tough to save his deposit. Chandra Bose with Amit Shah. (PTI)The big question is, who will get the votes which BJP received last time? Conventional wisdom says TMC is likely to get it, but this election has already busted several myths and commonplace notions. If the incremental vote goes towards the alliance, it may spell deep trouble for BJP. All in all, this phase will decide who gets to rule Bengal for the next five years. The alliance will look to keep TMC down to 30 seats or less. They will hope to carry forward the momentum they got in North Bengal. Can TMC’s Great South Bengal firewall save Mamata Banerjee from the great predicament she is currently in? We will know the answer soon.

Taken from:  

West Bengal Elections Phase 5: Will the Narada sting breach TMC’s great South Bengal firewall?