The fourth phase of the West Bengal Assembly election scheduled on Monday (April 25) is the most vital one for the BJP, which is otherwise a fringe player in the state's politics.
If the saffron party has to make any impact in the eastern state in this election, this phase is its chance. In fact, this phase is also crucial for the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) for if the BJP succeeds in maintaining its vote-share which it had bagged in the 2014 Lok Sabha election in the seats going to polls on April 25, then the former is likely to have an advantage.
As per the results of the 2014 general election, the TMC is ahead in 43 of these 49 seats while the BJP and Left-Congress alliance are ahead in three seats each. [4 reasons why BJP will not want Mamata to lose this election]
If BJP fails to maintain its vote-share of 2014, then the TMC has a worry
But if the BJP fails to hold its impressive vote-share of 2014 which is 17 per cent and the Left-Congress alliance makes dent into it, then the TMC will have worry. Mamata Banerjee's party had won 43 of these 49 seats in 2011 and this laid the foundation for her overwhelming victory that year. In 2014, the BJP snatched one seat from the Left to open its account in the Assembly. The Left now has three and the Congress two seats. [BJP leaders' anti-Mamata speeches are tiring; what's its vision for the state?]
BJP's 2014 show in North 24-Parganas was impressive...
In North 24-Parganas district, the TMC had won 28 of the 33 seats in this district in 2011 with 51.46 per cent vote-share. In 2014, the BJP had over 17 per cent vote-share in 25 assembly segments in this district and even 28 per cent in seven of these seats. [What if Mamata loses this election?]
These seven seats are Habra (30.2%), Bhatpara (37%), Rajarhat-Gopalpur (28%), Bidhannagar and Basirhat South (38%), Barrackpore (29%) and Barasat (28%). [Top 10 contests of April 25 polls]
...and so was in Howrah
In Howrah district, the BJP got more than 17 per cent vote share in nine of the 16 seats. In another four seats, it was between 10-17 per cent. The saffron party's vote-share in Howrah North where actor-politician Roopa Ganguly is contesting was as high as 33 per cent.
Will those votes that went to BJP as a disapproval of Mamata's rule in 2014 stay with the saffron party?
This means all eyes will be on those votes that went to the BJP as a disapproval of the Mamata Banerjee regime and distrust on the Left and Congress. If those votes go to the Left-Congress camp in this election since there is no Narendra Modi wave now, then it is a big worry for the TMC.
On the other hand, if those votes persist with the BJP owing to the facts that the saffron party has a natural support base in the urban areas and not many are still feeling convinced with the Left-Congress as an alternative, then the TMC will be on a stronger wicket.
Left will also hope that those votes return to them
For the Left-Congress alliance, too, this phase is crucial for if it can not make a dent into the BJP's 2014 vote-share and the TMC benefits from the division of the votes against it, then all the efforts to dethrone Mamata Banerjee will remain a dream.
We will get to know how things turn out on May 19.