If recent elections are taken into consideration then Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) polls, Delhi MCD elections significantly impact national politics. The same is being witnessed in West Bengal civic polls. Elections in seven municipalities across the state have turned into a battleground and outcome will provide us the hint about future of the state politics. Bengal, which was once considered as the Left bastion, has gradually become the citadel of Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee’s TMC. But BJP led by party president Amit Shah has been emerging as the main challenger to the incumbent party, local newspapers say.
Anandbazar Patrika says that it’s BJP’s chance to make a statement that they are the new opposition force in Bengal. Notably, BJP was in the second position in bypolls to Cooch Behar Lok Sabha seat in November 2016 and the Kanthi Dakshin assembly seat last month.
According to Ei Samay report, seven civic bodies’ elections are a matter of prestige for ruling TMC, Congress, CPI(M) and BJP. Bartaman Patrika says that these elections assume significance as state politics has been witnessing a change following Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. Earlier it used to be a fight between TMC and Left and Congress. Now BJP has gained foothold in the state and situation has changed since then, it says.
Among the seven civic bodies, four are in Darjeeling hills. These are Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong, Mirik Notified Area Authority in the Hills. Rests are Domkal in Murshidabad, Pujali in South 24-Parganas, and Raiganj in North Dinajpur.
Last month, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Amit Shah had fired salvos at each other during BJP President’s three-day visit to the state where the saffron party wants to expand its footprint after a string of electoral successes. Shah had then targeted the TMC government, saying under it West Bengal had become the “most poverty stricken state” in the country, and promised to help it “flourish like Maharashtra and Gujarat” once the BJP came to power there, according to PTI report.
Banerjee, who, after decimating the Left in its bastion in 2011, has been fiercely defending her turf, she accused the BJP of trying to “intimidate” her party and declared she would “capture Delhi”. “Such poverty is not there anywhere else in the country,” Shah told a meeting of booth-level BJP workers in Kolkata while winding up his three-day visit to the state.
The BJP chief who, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is being credited for the massive upswing in the party’s fortunes, winning assembly elections in several states including Uttar Pradesh, had said West Bengal was “next” on his radar.