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Lok Sabha 2024 Polls: 3 Reasons Why Mamata Banerjee's TMC Swept Bengal

The Trinamool Congress' gamble at going solo seems to have paid off in West Bengal.

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Elections
4 min read
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The Trinamool Congress (TMC) swept the Lok Sabha elections in the 42 seats of West Bengal, setting a strong narrative ahead of the Assembly elections in the state scheduled for 2026. At 7 PM, the TMC has won in 3 seats and leading in 26 seats – up seven seats from their 2019 Lok Sabha tally.

The BJP’s tally came down to 12 seats from its earlier tally of 18. Meanwhile, the Congress, which was fighting in alliance with the Left, saw its tally come down to one from two, with senior party leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury trailing behind the TMC’s Yusuf Pathan by over 85,000 votes.

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As preliminary data rolls out, the TMC seems to have done three things right to limit the BJP to 12 seats.

  • First, it focused on breaching the BJP’s North Bengal and Jungle Mahal bastions. At the same time, it also tried to neutralise the small gains the saffron party had made in South Bengal.

  • Second, its bet of going solo in the elections paid off, with the TMC emerging as a clear choice in most minority-dominated seats.

  • Third, the party, having learnt from its 2021 Assembly election victory, went into the election on the back of its welfare schemes and Bengal sub-nationalism.

In this article, we will discuss these three factors.

1. BJP’s Losses in Jungle Mahal, North & South Bengal

Let’s look at the seats that the BJP is trailing in but won in 2019: Bankura, Medinipur and Jhargram in the tribal Jungle Mahal areas; Coochbehar in North Bengal, and Hooghly and Barrackpur in South Bengal.

The BJP had swept all eight seats of the Jungle Mahal region in 2019. On the back of its specific SC/ST outreach, the TMC managed to wrest three from the BJP, though it did not retain its 2021 gains. In Bankura, sitting MP Subhash Sarkar was trailing to Trinamool’s Arup Chakraborty by about 32,000 votes.

In Medinipur, the bastion of Suvendu Adhikari, who’s the BJP’s Leader of Opposition in the state, the TMC’s June Maliah bested the BJP’s Agnimitra Paul. The seat was held by BJP’s former state president, Dilip Ghosh.

In Coochbehar, former Union Minister, Nisith Pramanik was trailing against the TMC’s Jagadish Chandra Barma after the former also faced a battle against his own party colleagues in the seat.  

In Hooghly, the TMC’s Rachana Banerjee had a considerable lead over BJP’s heavyweight leader Locket Chatterjee, also the incumbent MP.

In Barrackpur, the incumbent BJP MP Arjun Singh, who’s since gone to the TMC and come back, was also trailing.

Mamata Shunning INDIA Alliance & Going Solo

The lack of an INDIA alliance in West Bengal seems to have hurt the Congress and Left more than it has hurt the TMC. Of the 29 seats in which the TMC was leading, one is a Congress seat that was held by Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury in 2019. Chowdhury, who was seeking a sixth term from the seat, was trailing to TMC’s Yusuf Pathan, a former cricketer who’d been propped up by the party as a celebrity candidate.

In Murshidabad too, the CPI(M)’s Mohammad Salim was also in second place behind the TMC’s incumbent MP, Abu Taher Khan.

The only place where the lack of an alliance has hurt the TMC is in the two seats of Malda.
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While the party’s candidate from Malda South, Shahnawaz Ali Raihan, polled third, the Congress’ Isha Khan Chowdhury managed to secure Ghani Khan Chowdhury’s legacy in the seat. Isha will take over the seat from his father, Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury. In Malda North, like the last time around, a split of votes between the Congress and the TMC has handed a win to incumbent BJP MP Khagen Murmu.

During the campaign, TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee had extensively criticised the Left and the Congress, stating that they were working with the BJP. The results across the state show that, in a national election too, the voters have preferred the TMC, a regional party.

TMC’s Welfare Schemes & Bengali Sub-Nationalism

In the run up to the elections, the TMC focused big on its welfare schemes, especially Lakshmir Bhandar, which gave a monthly income support of Rs 1,000 to general category women and Rs 1,200 to SC/ST women.

The scheme, it seems, has led to Mamata Banerjee retaining her women's vote that has stayed with her since 2011. It also shows that the BJP’s Sandeshkhali narrative, ostensibly to sway these women votes, has not been successful.

The party also went into the elections with the slogan: ‘Jonogoner gorjon, Bangla birodhir bisorjon’. Roughly translated, it means: 'The public’s roar will drown the traitors of Bengal'. The party used issues like that of central funds due to the state to say that the BJP was anti-Bengali. Along with that, the narrative that the BJP tried to build with the CAA does not seem to have paid off either, helping in further consolidating votes for the TMC.

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