KOLKATA: It now was the turn of Mamata Banerjee to offer to resign. She told a hastily called meeting of her Trinamool Congress leaders on Saturday that she was ready to resign, as “communal” BJP has come from behind and made a major electoral success in West Bengal. She told a press conference later in the day that the party rejected her offer, and reposed complete faith in her.
Banerjee, still failing to come to terms with the rout of the non-BJP parties in the Lok Sabha polls, said she has “some suspicion.” She said foreign powers were involved in this facilitation of a huge victory (for Modi). This must be investigated. Also, an emergency-like situation was created by the BJP in the state to win the polls, she said.
Banerjee, in a pensive mood, had spent the entire day on Friday at her home in Kalighat, and did not stir out. Nor did she respond to media calls. Instead, she sat back and poured out her anger by writing what she termed a “poem” on the fate that befell Bengal.
The former second-in-command in the TMC who shifted allegiance to the BJP some time ago, Mukul Roy, meanwhile said several Trinamool MLAs were in touch with him, expressing their interest in joining the BJP. Prime Minister Modi had himself hinted about this during the campaign period.
Mukul Roy was actively involved in building up the BJP network in West Bengal in recent months. He had also identified non-Muslim areas for the BJP to pitch in. In retaliation, Banerjee ousted Roy’s son from the party on Saturday.
Banerjee told the meeting that the BJP won the polls by playing the religious card — whereas the BJP has all along been accusing the CM of playing the “Muslim/minority” card to win polls in West Bengal. West Bengal has a 30 per cent Muslim population — large numbers of them having migrated to India from Bangladesh in recent decades.
The BJP won 18 of the 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal. This was a huge jump considering the saffron party’s 2014 tally in West Bengal — two seats. Trinamool this time won 22 seats, unlike the sweep it made in last three polls.
Worse, the BJP took the lead in assembly bypolls in more constituencies than the ruling TMC this time, and both the Congress and the CPIM failed to make a mark in any polls in this round.
The BJP had polled a little over 4 per cent of the votes in the state in 2011 assembly polls, and raised this to over 10 per cent in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. In the 2016 assembly polls, the BJP rose its vote share to 17 per cent. In the present Lok Sabha polls, its vote share of the BJP rose to over 40 per cent.
This time, the BJP surprisingly took a lead in as many as 130 assembly segments, resulting in the victory in 18 LS constituencies.
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