Parties play polarisation game to win some, lose some
NEW DELHI: The thread of polarisation runs through the results of Assam, West Bengal and Kerala, playing out in different ways with the beneficiaries changing in political scenarios where community and ethnic faultlines operate in different ways.
BJP’s push for a Hindu consolidation was the key factor in its West Bengal strategy, an effort that ran parallel with a bid to attract specific caste groups to its fold. The anticipated subaltern revolt failed to materialise while Mamata Banerjee clearly mobilised the Muslim vote in her favour, elbowing out the Congress-Left-Furfura Sharif alliance, the rival contender for the ‘secular’ vote, out of the arena.
BJP’s polarisation push didn’t come off as the party had hoped, reflecting the challenge of demographics, pull of regional identity, as well as organisational shortcomings that are cruelly shown up in a long drawn assembly election. The X factor of the Lok Sabha polls, where the issue was a second term for PM Narendra Modi, was absent in the state-centric topography. Banerjee, who after the reverses in the 2019 LS polls had started softening her hard ‘secularist’ image by offering stipends to priests and highlighting her Chandi-worshipping credentials, managed to blunt BJP’s “appeasement” plank.
But polarisation paid dividends for BJP in Assam as it returned to office, getting the better of a Congress-Badruddin Ajmal alliance which had the consolidation of Muslim votes as the lynchpin of its campaign. It was tricky terrain for BJP to overcome the resentment over CAA — which touches a divide over Bengali speakers — and frame a larger narrative over illegal migrants.
Both sides played the game of polarisation, but the Congress-AIUDF combine seemed to help BJP argue that such a combination would provide sanctuary to illegals. Congress’s bid to consolidate all possible anti-BJP votes reduced the incumbents’ seats but failed to prevent it from returning to office.
The Sabarimala issue did not seem a major factor in Kerala but CPM may have made amends by promising to deal with the issue of entry of women by consensus rather than by force. However, the Left seems to have benefited from the perception that a Congress-led government may be influenced by its partner IUML. LDF may have received Christian as well as Muslim votes which might explain its numbers.
BJP’s performance in Kerala remains modest even if it can claim to have become a subject of discussion. The results of the assembly polls will make BJP ponder about what went wrong in West Bengal, but it may not move far from its Hindutva-plusdevelopment pitch that has served it well in states where it is an entrenched force.
Courtesy : TNN