An aggressive presence of Trinamool Congress in the Junglemahal seats took the air out of BJP’s sail in the recently concluded Assembly elections in West Bengal in which the ruling party cruised to a landslide victory.
In the last Lok Sabha elections in 2019, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was ahead in all the 40 Assembly segments in the Junglemahal area comprising four districts — Purulia, Bankura, Paschim Medinipur and Jhargam.
However, this time the Trinamool has snatched 25 seats from the saffron brigade, proclaiming that it has been successful in winning back the confidence of the tribal population of the region.
Junglemahal comprises 40 seats of which 16 are in Paschim Medinipur, 12 in Bankura, 9 in Purulia and 4 in Jhargram. Of these 40 seats, 15 are reserved for SC and ST.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, all the seats in Junglemahal, including Purulia, Medinipur, Bishnupur in Bankura and Jhargram went to the BJP.
However, this time, out of the 40 Assembly seats, the Trinamool bagged 24, while the BJP won 16, which was a major setback for the saffron party, as Junglemahal is considered to be an electoral swing region in Bengal.
A closer analysis of the seats shows that Trinamool bagged all the four seats in Jhargram, 13 out of 15 seats in Paschim Medinipur, 3 out of 9 seats in Purulia and 4 out of 12 seats in Bankura.
Though the BJP’s performance has been relatively better in Bankura and Purulia, but in the other two districts it couldn’t make a mark at all.
Interestingly enough, of these 40 seats, 15 belonged to the reserved category. The Trinamool has managed to win 9 out of these 15 seats, leaving the impression that the tribal people have started migrating to the ruling party.
The people who deserted Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and believed in Prime Minister Narendra Modi seem to have started flocking back to the ruling Trinamool Congress. This is perhaps Banerjee’s greatest success that was evident in the landslide victory of her party in the Assembly polls.
It has become evident that unlike in some other constituencies in the Bengal polls, the BJP’s Hindutva push did not prove effective among the tribal community mainly dominated by the Santhals and the Kurmis in the Junglemahal region.
The results declared on May 2 revealed a poll debacle for the BJP in Junglemahal, while the party’s internal assessment revealed that a majority of the Santhal vote share, which was its biggest base in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, shifted to the Trinamool this time.
On the other hand, Banerjee tried to reach to the doorsteps of the tribal people who are hungry for love and respect. Her social welfare schemes like Swasthya Sathi, Duare Sarkar and Khadya Sathi providing rice at Rs 2 per kg throughout the year seem to have satisfied the basic needs of these underprivileged people. Also, the party workers were told to reach out to these people so that they could speak about their grievances, a ploy which worked wonders for the party.
“If you respect them, they will shower everything on you. This is exactly what we did in Junglemahal. We listened to their grievances and fulfilled their demands with full dignity. We tried to understand the problems they faced over the past decade.
“Most of them demanded that they want to become self-reliant and alleged that they were finding it difficult to avail the government schemes as there was no one to guide them. We formed a body comprising representatives of 13 tribal communities, including Kurmi, Santhal, Lodha, Sabar, Mahali, Munda and others, so that their problems could be addressed,” said a senior Trinamool leader.