Mamata Banerjee’s emphatic victory in the Bhowanipore assembly bypoll not only confirms her dominance as Bengal CM but also firmly puts the Trinamool supremo in pole position among the challengers to BJP for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. Despite BJP’s spirited campaign to repeat Nandigram and deny Mamata Bhowanipore — which would have created problems for her position as CM — Bengal’s Didi delivered a massive win margin of more than 58,000 votes, leading in all eight wards of the seat and picking up 71.9% of the vote share.
This meant that BJP candidate Priyanka Tibrewal was able to garner just 22.2% of the vote with CPM getting just 3.5% and losing its deposit. This result along with Trinamool’s assembly election victory earlier this year means that the party has successfully stopped the BJP electoral juggernaut in the state.
And with her position in her home state now rock solid, Mamata will surely intensify her focus on national politics. That Trinamool has already seen former Congress leaders from Assam and Goa join the party exemplifies the party’s national ambitions. That said, Trinamool is still largely seen as a Bengal party. And with no presence in the Hindi heartland, it is difficult to see Mamata dislodge the BJP.
She could very well emerge as the tallest opposition leader — some say she already has — but leading a coalition of regional opposition units will be difficult given their own contradictions and absence of a national vision. Besides, regional parties like Trinamool have only grown at the expense of Congress, which again dents the national opposition space.
Therefore, Mamata is likely to make the 2024 contest interesting and may even take on PM Narendra Modi directly during campaigning. This will surely create some space for Trinamool in some states other than Bengal. But Trinamool is unlikely to pose a serious threat to BJP’s position nationally or challenge Modi’s popularity in the Hindi heartland. Hence, the Bengal Tigress will largely be confined to her home state.
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