Today’s Indian Express has the Lokniti-CSDS analysis of the post-poll conducted in West Bengal. The headline article co-authored by myself and Professor Jyoti Prasad Chatterjee of Barrackpore Rastraguru Surendranath College examines what went wrong with the Left-Congress alliance. Here’s the key takeaway:
The Assembly elections tested whether a ‘jote’, or alliance, between the Left Front, led by the CPI(M), and the Congress could successfully uproot the Trinamool Congress (TMC) government in West Bengal. That experiment clearly failed. The Lokniti-CSDS post-poll analysis reveals that in contrast to the ‘mahagathbandhan’ in Bihar or the BJP-AGP-BPF combine in Assam, the chemistry of a Left-Congress alliance was not conducive to electoral victory in West Bengal. Insofar as the alliance did succeed, it worked more to Congress’s benefit than the Left’s.
…The fundamental weakness of the Left-Congress ‘jote’ was simple: voters vote differently in state elections than national elections because issues of state governance are different from issues of national governance. The 2014 elections were defined by a debate about development and change at the national level. By contrast, these elections were largely a referendum on the performance of Mamata Banerjee’s TMC government. Fifty-seven per cent of voters were satisfied with the performance of the TMC government, while only 33 per cent were dissatisfied. Among this dissatisfied third, the Left-Congress ‘jote’ won only 65 per cent of votes, indicating that many anti-TMC voters did not think it presented a credible alternative to the TMC.
While the Left’s votes largely transferred to Congress, Congress’s votes did not transfer as consistently to the Left. Among those who voted for the Left Front in 2014, 88 per cent voted for the ‘jote’ while only 9 per cent voted for TMC in 2016. But among those who voted for Congress in 2014, 73 per cent voted for the ‘jote’ and 24 per cent voted for TMC. This lopsided transfer of votes helped Congress win more seats than the Left Front and emerge as the next leader of the opposition.
Links to all articles below:
On what went wrong with the Left-Congress alliance by Sam Solomon and Jyoti Prasad Chatterjee
On the popularity of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee by Jyoti Mishra and Aasmita Aasaavari
On the loss of the Left’s base to the TMC by Shreyas Sardesai and Suprio Basu
On the relative insignificance of corruption as a political issue by Vibha Attri and Souradeep Banerjee
On the BJP’s disappointing returns by Pranav Gupta, Shashwat Dhar, and Nitin Mehta