Rise in BJP’s vote share in Bengal and other number games

Though the BJP lost the West Bengal Assembly elections, it increased its tally from three seats in 2016 to 77 seats now, making it the main opposition party in the state legislative body.

Though apparently it seems that the BJP made a dent in the Left-Congress alliance that suffered a huge loss in vote share this time compared to the last Assembly polls, it also cannot be ignored that a different kind of voting pattern is also responsible for the rise in vote share for the saffron brigade.

In 2016, the BJP had a vote share of 10.1 per cent, allowing it to win three Assembly seats, but in the last Lok Sabha elections in 2019, the party’s vote share rose to a staggering 40.7 percent — the highest for the saffron camp in the state so far, which enabled it to win 18 seats.

It was also ahead of the other parties in 121 Assembly segments, but in the recent Assembly polls, the BJP saw a dip of 2.6 per cent in vote share to 38.1 per cent, giving it victory in 77 seats.

On the other hand, the Trinamool Congress had a vote share of 44.9 per cent in the 2016 Assembly elections and got 211 seats, but in the recent polls, the ruling party increased its share to 47.9 per cent — an increase of 3 per cent — to win 213 Assembly seats.

The vote share of the ruling party came down to 43.3 per cent in the last Lok Sabha elections, when the party managed to keep lead only in 164 Assembly segments.

So, both the BJP and the Trinamool increased their vote share substantially in this election, which had a direct effect on the traditional vote bank of the Left-Congress combine, which reduced from 36.3 per cent in 2016 to only 8.5 per cent now, witnessing an erosion of 27.8 per cent.

Apparently, it seems that this 27.1 per cent erosion in the Left-Congress combine directly contributed to the growth of the BJP in the state, but experts believe that the poll mathematics in Bengal is not that simple, rather it follows a more complex mechanism in its distribution among the political parties.

“The Left and the Congress had a traditional secular vote bank which had a presence in all sections of the society. It is true that the voters discarded the alliance, but all of them didn’t create a direct allegiance to the saffron party. The 27 per cent Muslim votes that had a significant role in the state went to the Trinamool camp while the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes shared their loyalty with the BJP and the Trinamool equally.

“The BJP, on the other hand, had been successful in gathering the support of the upper caste Hindu votes. So though they didn’t get the full support of the lower caste Hindus, they were successful in retaining nearly the same vote share as in the last Lok Sabha polls,” poll analyst Biswanath Chakraborty said.

When asked whether the Left-Congress vote went to the BJP, Chakraborty said, “It is true that the erosion in the Left-Congress alliance had an indirect effect on the growth of the BJP in the state. A portion of the votes went to the saffron party definitely, but not fully.

“The BJP has managed to get the votes of the upper caste Hindus, a portion of which had their loyalty with the alliance, but the Muslim votes largely went to the Trinamool, allowing the ruling party to increase its vote share from 44 per cent to 47 per cent.”

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed.)


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