Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave many hidden messages during his speech in Chittorgarh, and according to sources those messages were meant to for the Gehlot government and the BJP as well.
When the West Bengal election commission announced the dates for the panchayat polls on the evening of June 8, giving a mere five-day window for nomination filings, it caused a flurry of activity among the state’s leading opposition politicians. The following day, both the BJP and the Congress filed petitions in the Calcutta High Court, seeking an extension of the deadline and requesting the deployment of central forces to oversee the polls. The Court has directed the state government to respond to the opposition’s demands by Monday, June 12.
The question is, will the West Bengal Panchayat polls cast a shadow on 2024 Lok Sabha polls? Of course, it seems, it will. Which is why the matter had to be taken to court. The answer lies in the fact that the results of the Panchayat polls will determine the political strength of each party in the state before the upcoming Parliamentary elections next year.
West Bengal has a total of 63,329 Gram Panchayat seats, 9,730 Panchayat Samity seats, and 928 Zilla Parishad seats, spread across 3,317 Gram Panchayats. The party that secures the majority of seats will have a significant influence on the political landscape.
According to Chandra Kumar Bose, a member and former VP of the Bengal BJP, it is explained that the results of the rural elections indicate the level of effort required by a political party to strengthen its position and improve its chances before significant elections, whether at the state or central level.
Even prior to the announcement of the dates, the Trinamool Congress has been actively engaging with the rural population to gauge and strengthen its support base in these areas. Abhishek Banerjee, the national general secretary of Trinamool and Mamata Banerjee’s nephew, has initiated a rural outreach campaign to connect with people on the ground before the polls. The “Jana Sanjog Yatra” (journey to connect with the masses) and “Gram Banglar Motamot” (views from the villages of Bengal) initiatives aim to establish contact with a large number of rural residents from north to south.
Mamata Banerjee herself has been holding rallies in various villages. The BJP, Trinamool’s primary competitor in the state, has also been actively involved in the groundwork. Sanghamitra Choudhury, BJP’s district president for South 24 Paraganas, states, “We have already been working closely with the people on the ground and will continue to do so.” In May, the Union Home Minister visited Bengal and reportedly discussed the forthcoming rural polls. According to reports, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to visit the state, particularly the rural areas, prior to the polls.
The high-profile visits by top leaders of the BJP and Trinamool to remote areas in the state serve as clear indicators of the significance of the upcoming rural polls, often referred to as the “dress rehearsals,” in capturing the ground before the general elections next year.