Bad news for Mamata Banerjee, TMC: Survey shows BJP gaining big in rural West Bengal

West Bengal Panchayat election date is yet to be announced by the State Election Commission (SEC) but Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress is overwhelmingly favourite to sweep the rural body polls, according to an opinion poll conducted by ABP Ananda-C Voter. The survey, however, predicts the BJP is set to rise as the principal opposition party in the state, at least in rural areas.

While the erstwhile ruling dispensation and powerhouse in villages CPI(M)-led Left parties are expected to capture the third spot, Congress is likely to finish a distant fourth.

TMC’s march towards victory prediction comes even as previous dates for polling were cancelled, making opposition parties protest against the ruling Trinamool Congress’ alleged strong-arm tactics. The matter has even reached before the Supreme Court and the Calcutta High Court.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) appears to be gaining the most with the ongoing controversy over the poll date, the survey shows.

According to the opinion poll, TMC is likely to win 538 Zila Parishads (District Councils) out of total 825. BJP may win 167 Zila Parishads, followed by Left parties’ 73. Congress may end up with just 43 district bodies. The survey was carried out between April 10 and April 24. TMC is likely to get 34 per cent vote share, BJP may win 26 per cent of total votes; the Left parties may get 13 per cent votes and the Congress just 7 per cent.

Interestingly, since the first opinion poll by ABP Ananda was aired on April 9, TMC’s predicted vote share has gone down by 1 per cent, though the number of its seats has increased by six. The vote share and seats of the Left and Congress have been shown as declining since April 9. BJP, meanwhile, has gained 2 per cent of vote share and 23 seats in the opinion poll.

According to the survey, BJP is set to do well in districts like North 24 Parganas, Nadia, Cooch Behar.

TMC has so far not reacted on the second opinion poll by ABP Ananda-C Voter. State BJP chief Dilip Ghosh has, however, exuded confidence that his party will win 200 to 250 Zila Parishad seats and 30 per cent of vote share.

If the opinion poll translates into actual results then it will be a big leap for the BJP in rural West Bengal. In 2013, TMC had swept zilla parishads of 11 of the then 17 districts.

Good performance by BJP in West Bengal rural body polls is likely to increase headache for TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, who is hoping to sweep the Lok Sabha elections in the state next year.