This week, the Indian National Congress has announced that it will be contesting the upcoming West Bengal assembly elections in alliance with the Communist Party of India (CPI(M)). While the details of the alliance (seat sharing ratios) have not yet been announced this is the second assembly election in a row (after Bihar), the Left has aligned with the INC.It seems to be understood that the alliance has been made hoping to be a third option after Trinamool Congress (TMC) and Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state. However, given the increasing dominance of both the parties in West Bengal, the election has slowly turned into a direct contest between the BJP and theTMC.
The BJP, eager to make a footprint in the East has proclaimed it will make West Bengal “Sonar Bangla”. On the other hand, the TMC, which has been in power for 10 years and is battling against increased anti-incumbency, is transforming the election into a fight between the “insiders” and “outsiders”. The party’s narrative is trying to portray the BJP as bringing leaders into the state from “outside”, those who do not understand the people and culture of Bengal.
Shiv Sehgal Director, Polstrat, a political consultancy