West Bengal elections are turning out to be the most interesting, competitive elections in recent times. However, the centre stage of debate is not the report card of the TMC government of the past 10 years. Mamata Banerjee has hired Prashant Kishore (IPAC) for a few years now. Hence, her whole campaign has been reduced to a big PR drama and theatrics. Her speeches are also more centred around badmouthing PM Modi, BJP and even Lord Ram. Her party workers such as Mohua Mitra, Derek O’ Brian are even worse. And let’s not even get into stories of the Gunda raj of TMC goons across West Bengal as that topic requires a dedicated detailed article.

One key theme of Mamata didi’s campaign is Bengali vs outsider. Didi is invoking regionalism, Bengali superiority and even the superiority of Maa Durga over Lord Ram (which is shameful & downright anti-Hindu). All this to consolidate the non-secular Muslim vote bank and votes of foolish secular liberal Hindus. Here is the reason why Didi is hell-bent on playing downright Muslim League style politics in West Bengal.

Decadal growth in Muslim population in WB, disproportionately higher than other communities

The demographic shift in West Bengal is a matter of concern and topic for another detailed article, but one thing to keep in mind: demography shape politics, society and even nations.

Let’s talk about development. West Bengal was the most industrialized state at the time of independence. There was a thriving community of Sindhis, Marwaris, Gujarati industrialists in WB. Then communism happened and the rest is history. However, when Mamata came to power in 2011, there was a ray of hope. She had an absolute majority for 10 years. Compared to Gujarat where BJP has been in power for almost 20 years now. So, Gujarat was already comparatively well developed in 2011 when Mamata came to power in WB. In theory, if Mamata had corrected the corrupt governance, the legacy of Gunda raj of communists, promoted industrialization, trade, infrastructure, the potential for development and growth in WB was immense. So, let’s compare the progress made by Gujarat and WB from 2011 to 2019 in various indicators.

  1. Per Capita State GDP (constant prices: base year 2011-12):
    West Bengal: 2011-12= 51543 | 2018-19=67300, Growth=30.57%
    Gujarat: 2011-12= 87481 | 2018-19=153495, Growth=75.4%
  2. Gross State Domestic Product (in lakhs):
    West Bengal: 2011-12=52048504 | 2018-19=73952500, Growth=42%
    Gujarat: 2011-12=61560607 | 2018-19=118637907, Growth=92.7%
  3. Gross Value Added Agricultre (constant prices in lakhs):
    West Bengal: 2011-12=7245329 | 2018-19=8912899, Growth=23.02%
    Gujarat: 2011-12=7950972 | 2017-18=9365086, Growth=17.8%
  4. Gross Value Added Manufacturing (constant prices in lakhs):
    West Bengal: 2011-12=6952409 | 2018-19=10646014, Growth=53.1%
    Gujarat: 2011-12=15681931 | 2018-19=38665712, Growth=146.6%
  5. Gross Value Added Construction (constant prices in lakhs):
    West Bengal: 2011-12=4440021 | 2018-19=6266309, Growth=41.1%
    Gujarat: 2011-12=4469267 | 2018-19=5693510, Growth=27.4%
  6. Gross Value Added Industry (constant prices in lakhs):
    West Bengal: 2011-12=13251365 | 2018-19=19503117, Growth=47.2%
    Gujarat: 2011-12=24192354 | 2018-19=52476745, Growth=116.7%
  7. Gross Value Added Banking & Insurance (constant prices in lakhs):
    West Bengal: 2011-12=3194965 | 2018-19=4159065, Growth=30.2%
    Gujarat: 2011-12=2942743 | 2018-19=5913688, Growth=100.7%
  8. Gross Value Added Services (constant prices in lakhs):
    West Bengal: 2011-12=24885034 | 2018-19=37566107, Growth=51%
    Gujarat: 2011-12=20263330 | 2018-19=36543820, Growth=80.34%
  9. Per capita availability of power (kwh):
    West Bengal: 2011-12=419.1 | 2018-19=570.1, Growth=36%
    Gujarat: 2011-12=1232.6 | 2018-19=1930.5, Growth=56.6%
    All India: 2011-12=708.9 | 2018-19=1028.9, Growth=45.14%
  10. Attempt to commit murder (NCRB):
    West Bengal: 2019=13557
    Gujarat: 2019=1059

The manufacturing sector in Gujarat is over 3.5 times the size of WB. The per capita GDP of Gujarat is more than double that of WB. Gujarat’s agriculture, the service sector is almost the size of WB’s despite the fact that Gujarat’s population is approx. 60% of WB. Per capita power availability and consumption in Gujarat is almost 4 times that of WB while WB’s power availability is below the national average. And the surprising thing is, growth rates of Gujarat is consistently better than WB by quite a big margin meaning this disparity is only going to increase unless some drastic changes occur in WB.

Gujarat is around 60% of West Bengal by population. Gujarat had already reaped its potential due to years of good governance under Narendra Modi. West Bengal on the other hand, once a prosperous, flourishing region was in a state of misery due to decades of communist raj. Mamata didi had the chance to change that. But her style of politics was not very different from the communists. Even before becoming CM, her protests against the TATA factory in Singur caused immense harm to West Bengal.
13 Years After Tata Nano Drove Out Of West Bengal, State Faces Choice Between Singur And Sanand Models (swarajyamag.com)

West Bengal was at significantly lower levels of development and had the opportunity to record sustained higher growth rates. Instead, it’s growth rates on most parameters are well below Gujarat and even below the national average. Uttar Pradesh like WB was a backward state. But since Yogi Adityanath coming to power, UP has picked up a different pace altogether and is now the second-largest state in Bharat based on state GDSP!
Amid Pandemic-Pushed Slowdown, Uttar Pradesh Climbs To Second Spot On State GDP List (swarajyamag.com)

WB state government has been notoriously undermining Central government schemes such as Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, PM Kisan Samman Nidhi, Ayushmaan Bharat, etc. That’s just petty politics and stupidity because it’s disproportionately hurting the people of Bengal and causing even more inequity between WB and other states. Crimes are rampant in WB. We have heard a lot about this. However, the WB government and Police have been unwilling to share proper data. FIR registration is also poor and BJP, RSS workers have alleged that WB Police has been openly working with TMC goons. Data of West Bengal not included in NCRB report (asianetnews.com)
NCRB Data Shows Bengal Recorded Highest Political Murders in 2019, Revised Figures to Show Higher Deaths (news18.com)

Bengal is the land of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Swami Vivekanand, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee. Bengal was at the forefront of Bharat’s freedom struggle. Yet, it went into a deep slump of misery under Congress and then, the communist raj. TMC raj proved to be no better and their best bet now is PR by a corporate agency, Muslim appeasement and regionalism. It’s up to the people of Bengal to decide. It’s also up to BJP whether they are able to project possibility of real change from the current Gunda raj and counter Muslim appeasement, regionalism by pulling votes of Muslim women and Bhadralok Bengalis as well.
Didi promised relief from an era of misery a decade ago but the misery continues. Bengal desperately needs another renaissance.

Sources: NSSO data compiled by RBI: Reserve Bank of India – handbook of statistics on indian states (rbi.org.in)
NCRB: Crime in India 2019 | National Crime Records Bureau (ncrb.gov.in)

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