Trinamool Congress (TMC) has scored a landslide win in West Bengal, putting to rest speculation by political pundits that the hastily fashioned Left-Congress combine might make a dent in the ruling party’s vote share.

 

Rather than do that, the “jot” (combine) has just managed to get 36 % vote share, down from 39.64% in 2014. The Trinamool, on the other hand, has increased its vote share to 46%, up seven per cent from 39 in 2014. The vote shares of the Left Front and the Congress in the 2014 poll, which they contested independently, were far lower than that of the Trinamool. Once their vote shares are combined at the state level, however, the contest with the Trinamool was almost neck and neck with Left-Congress at 39.64%. The Left has suffered a sharp decline from 28 % to 25%. The BJP, which had an impressive vote share of 17% in 2014, probably on the strength of the Modi wave during that time, has to be happy with a 10 % vote share this time.

 

That the “jot” experiment appears to be a complete loss is evident from the fact that the combine could not make much headway in North Bengal, considered a stronghold of the Congress. Instead of the alliance’s expectation of getting about 67 out of 76 seats in North Bengal and Murshidabad, the coalition partners were stopped short at 44 seats. In South Bengal and the western districts of Bankura, Purulia, Birbhum and West Midnapore, the Trinamul has won the majority of the seats. In Bankura, Birbhum, West Midnapore, and Purulia, Trinamul has won 43 out of 48 seats. The chief architect of the “jot”, former state minister Surjya Kanata Mishra of the CPM, has lost from Narayangarh in West Midnapore.

 

Political pundits are now doing their best to explain this unexpected landslide. Political analyst Rajat Roy said, “I must admit that I expected the LF-Congress combine would work and have an impact on the election. But that did not happen. It is evident now that transferability of the vote, which we took for granted, did not take place. So, while the Left voter did transfer his vote to the alliance partner the Congress voter did not. In North Bengal, for example, the Congress and Left should have done well. But the Congress voter did not transfer his vote to the Left. In South Bengal too, in many areas, the Congress voter transferred his vote to the Trinamul instead of the Left.”

 

“I must admit that I expected the LF-Congress combine would work and have an impact on the election. But that did not happen. It is evident now that transferability of the vote, which we took for granted, did not take place. So, while the Left voter did transfer his vote to the alliance partner the Congress voter did not. In North Bengal, for example, the Congress and Left should have done well. But the Congress voter did not transfer his vote to the Left. In South Bengal too, in many areas, the Congress voter transferred his vote to the Trinamul instead of the Left.”

 

Another factor that Roy speaks of is the BJP’s impact on the vote share. “The vote share of the ruling party has risen from 39 % in 2014 to 47 %. On the other hand, BJP was 17 %, which has fallen to 10 %. There is seven per cent decline in BJP vote did not go to the Left-Congress combine. It went to the ruling party. These two factors contributed hugely to the swing towards the TMC,” said Roy.

 

“There are going to be certain ramifications of these election results. One is the resentment it will give rise to within the Left and the Congress camps. Congress has lost in Kerala and Assam. They will be irritated and will now pin the blame on the Bengal alliance and count it as one of the blunders that led to their defeat. Also, the fact that the Left gained in Kerala and did not do well in Bengal will now prompt the CPM to put pressure on its Bengal lobby.”

 

“There are going to be certain ramifications of these election results. One is the resentment it will give rise to within the Left and the Congress camps. Congress has lost in Kerala and Assam. They will be irritated and will now pin the blame on the Bengal alliance and count it as one of the blunders that led to their defeat. Also, the fact that the Left gained in Kerala and did not do well in Bengal will now prompt the CPM to put pressure on its Bengal lobby.”

Another area that has led to surprises is Kolkata, where allegations of corruption vis-à-vis the Sarada scam, the Narada sting operation and the recent collapse of a flyover (which left several people dead), were expected to steer voters away from the ruling party. Here the Bengali “bhadralok” was expected to vote for the “jot”, but the Left-Congress combine has got a nasty jolt. Of the 11 seats here, all have been taken by the Trinamool. “What you see on TV channels is the same 10 to 15 people being circulated, expressing their own views, which the Bengali bhadralok tends to believe. But this is an illusion. The truth is that the allegations of corruption did not have any impact on the results in Kolkata, contrary to what one would have expected,” said Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury, political commentator.