ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A New Trajectory of Politics in West Bengal

The electoral implications of the 2019 Lok Sabha election results in West Bengal are traced, and whether it heralds a movement from “poribarton” to “real poriborton,” is analysed. The National Election Study 2019 data is used to explain the rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party in the state and the eclipse of the Congress as well as the Left Front.

The 17th Lok Sabha election in 2019 has signalled certain new directions in West Bengal electoral politics. First, it appears to have brought the decade-long process of political change continuing since 2009, to near completion. The electorate of West Bengal seems to have responded positively to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) call of “real poribarton” (change) displaying scepticism over the All India Trinamool Congress’s (AITC) much fancied narrative of poribarton. Second, the success of the BJP might be a popular referendum on its nationalist project against the similar effort either of the AITC to showcase the regional Bangla identity, or the Communist Party of India (Marxist)’s—CPI(M)—version of Bengali left politics (Palshikar 2019). Third, the success of the BJP vis-à-vis the AITC might be indicative of the political futility of the loosely organised “individual centric” politics of the latter. Finally, the future course of party competition in West Bengal might acquire a new configuration of bipolarity, where the ruling AITC would be facing off against an upbeat BJP.

Table 1 clearly reflects the political ascendance of the BJP in West Bengal. Compared to the 16th Lok Sabha election of 2014, it has secured 16 more seats with a significant increase of more than 23% in its vote share. Although the AITC has managed to increase its vote share a bit, its seat share has fallen by 12 seats as compared to 2014. Both the Indian National Congress (INC) and the left have been pushed to the background, but the magnitude of this is indeed very steep for the latter. The left parties, particularly the CPI(M), besides failing to win the two seats it had in 2014, have registered a massive decline in vote share to the tune of 22 percentage points.

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Updated On : 2nd Aug, 2019
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